Saturday, May 31, 2008

Vive la France...

Oh France, it has been awhile. This is my third time visiting this country and it holds a very special place in my heart. It was the first international destination that I visited at the tender age of 16 - it was my first taste of international travelling independence. I returned at the age of 19 when I backpacked around Western Europe with my friend Cole.

Now, at 27, I have returned and found that much is the same.

There is dog shit everywhere. I know that this is a stereotype of French cities, but with good reason. It is quite gross how people don't pick up after their dogs. I had a near-miss with my suitcase - how gross would that have been.

Everyone smokes. I had forgotten how many people smoke here. Even in Quebec where there are quite a few more smokers in comparison to the rest of Canada, it still doesn't compare to this. Luckily, they recently went smoke free in many public places. Awesome.

Cars park on the sidewalk. I had forgotten about this and it brings me joy when I see it. I think it is hilarious. It defeats the purpose of a sidewalk as pedestrians have to walk on the road.

Boobs. They love their naked ladies here. Boobs cover posters, billboards and tv shoes - they are everywhere. And it is normal. We, in North America, are extremely prudish in comparison to our European counterparts.

So, my first two days in Europe weren't too bad. It was nice to start in a country where I at least speak the language. I will write a blog post about the city of Marseille when I get back. In the meantime, I will do small little posts about the type of trouble I manage to get into while here; which, after 3 days, is more than you would think.

" But, Belle, je ne comprends pas francais, so you'll have to speak to me some other way. " - Jack Johnson

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

One week down...

I have officially worked for six whole days and so far so good. It is strange to think that I am now officially in my "work until I can retire" phase of life. Let the 35 year count-down begin!

I will be honest - on that first day, the French kind of broke my brain. I had just gotten home from SK and was all of a sudden immersed in the French health care system. But it has gotten easier in the last week, so I imagine it can only get easier still.

I am working in a very busy prenatal clinic. As a student, the most patients I saw in any given week was 8. However, in this clinic, I will be seeing around 18 per week. It is a huge increase in the case load, but I am looking forward to the challenge. I work with really great people who understand that I am a fresh graduate and are allowing me to pick up the load slowly, however, the other two counsellors go on holidays in mid-June and I have to be able to take the reigns.

And so far, Jeff and I are coping well with the distance. I think it helps that I was home for three weeks before I started work. He'll be here for two weeks in June, as well. Awesome.

So that is my brief update from my first week. I worked so hard in the last week that I feel I need a 1.5 week vacation. I am headed to Barcelona, Spain for a conference - should be great and I get to present a poster. I will tell you how that trip goes when I get back.

I also want to thank everyone who have dropped me a line with a kins message in the past few weeks - I have fabulous friends and you have been such great support. I truly appreciate it.

" Sing and dance i play for you tonight, the thrill of it all. Dark clouds may hang on me sometimes but i work it out." - DMB

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Capital City...

So, back when I was a student (whoot), I spent a month in Ottawa. I was doing a rotation at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). I had a good time during the rotation but I had an even better time with the wonderful friends who allowed me to stay with them.
Tracy and Chris were great hosts and allowed me to stay with them for a month. Their house is awesome and their company is even better.

I tried a bunch of things for the first time while I was there: Pho, Rayman Raving Rabbids and snowshoeing! I quite enjoyed snowshoeing and it was actually more of a work out than I expected. It was a nice day so we took a picnic lunch with us. We had originally planned to hike to a cabin, but 10 km was more than we expected and we just sat in the snow and enjoyed our wine, brie, baguette and grapes.

During the month of February in Ottawa, the Winterlude festival is on. There are plenty of fun winter activities to partake in during Winterlude. Ice sculptures to look at and snow mazes to go through - what isn't there to do at a winter festival?

While I was in Ottawa, I also got to do the quintessential Canadian winter activity: I skated on the Ottawa Canal. I hadn't skated in years but I didn't do too badly. I only fell roughly six times.

Seriously, like I really wanted to see that sign.

I also dog sat their dog while they were away for the weekend. Lola is a cute dog with a lot of personality. She demands to be loved. She will whine for hours if you don't love her. She is needy, but makes up for it by loving you.

I had a good time in Ottawa, but I was also excited for it to come to an end, as Jeff was coming back out East after eight weeks apart. At the time, eight weeks felt like sooo long, but now with us being separated full time, I am sure in hindsight, this will have felt like a piece of cake.

" I love you oh so well, like a kid loves candy and fresh snow" - DMB

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Friday, May 09, 2008

New York, New York....

So, a few months ago (October) Jeff and I and our friends Tracy and Chris went to New York for Thanksgiving. We had a fabulous time, aside from a few errors in judgment. You may have also read Jeff's version of the trip which is his more condensed version of the trip.

Luckily for us, New York is only a six hour drive from Montreal. Awesome. We drive out Friday morning and we get to our apartment in...Harlem. Yes, we stayed in Harlem. Apparently in the last few years it has be rejuvenated and is not the same place that movies and tv of the 80s and 90s have told us to fear.
Our first day saw us walking around and taking in some of the sights and shopping at Macy's. I am not someone who typically loves a big city but everything they say about New York is true. It has this amazing energy and you can't help but fall in love with it.

Jeff took this awesome panoramic photo. I think he did an awesome job with it.

We sorted out how to use their subway system. Montreal has 4 lines - New York has 26. So it was a bit more complex than I am used to. And there were rats. Actual rats in the subway. Disgusting.

That night, we had 11 pm reservations at a nice Italian place. 11 pm reservations. I basically had to eat supper to tide me over until supper. The food was good and Jeff ate black spaghetti.

Day two had us going to Central Park. We only got to stay there for a couple of hours and I wish we had more time to spend there - it was gorgeous. If I lived in New York, I think I would be at the park quite frequently.
After the park, we headed to Time Square and enjoyed ate a vendor hot dog. It was not as good as I expected. Considering the amount of times I've seen people order them on TV, I expected them to be awesome. They were menh.

After the hot dogs, we went to "Rent" the musical. It was quite good - I really enjoyed it. I am not too sure how many of you know much about the story, I didn't when I went, but it involves themes such as poverty, AIDS and homosexuality. There was this older couple who sat in front of us and I think it would be an understatement to say that they did NOT enjoy the show. I think that made me love it more.

That evening, we had hoped to clubbing but I am cheap and there was really no way I was going to pay 300$ for bottle service (minimum 2 bottles) with only four of us. Instead we went to a nice little lounge-y place and drank martinis for a few hours.

The next day, we did a two hour harbour cruise around the island of Manhattan. It was alright but ate up a huge part of our day. It was nice to see the statue of liberty and some of the other sights without having to actually go to them.

We also did some "shopping" on 5th Ave. Tracy and I pretended that we could afford Tiffany's jewelry and Jeff was in his element in the Apple Store. We also hit up one of the world's largest toy stores - FAO Schwartz.

I caught the golden snitch!Jeff being sorted into Slytherin.
On our last day there, Jeff and I went to the Empire State Building. It was foggy, which was awesome for us because that meant no line ups. When we got up there, you could actually see around 2 miles around, which, for us was totally worth not having to wait in line.
After the view, we went to the Met - the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was a huge museum and required more time than we could give it. Well, at least I did. Jeff's goal was to get through the whole thing in an hour and a half and although he may not have sat and contemplated any of the displays, he saw everything.
My favourite statue in the museum:
We also went to the Natural History Museum. I enjoyed this one more than the others and would have liked to spend more time here. Unfortunately we didn't have much time to spend as Jeff and I had a night bus to catch (Tracy and Chris were going on a tour of the wineries of the region...not fair).

So, overall, we had a great time. Tracy and Chris were great travel companions and New York is an amazing city. I hope to get back there once more before I leave Montreal next May.

And with this post, I believe that I have no more posts from 2007 left to do! It's about time I entered the year 2008.

" Could I have been a parking lot attendant? Could I have been a millionaire up there on fifth Avenue? Oh could I have been lost late at night somewhere in Central Park? Could I have been a mistake? Well could I have been anyone other than me?" - DMB

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