Saturday, June 23, 2007

Les jours dans Toulouse: Alsace Lorraine et la Fête de la Musique

I should probably have started on all of this several days ago. But I just wasn't really in a state to make coherent or interesting posts. I can't promise this will be interesting, but it will at least be coherent. I think.

(Also, I know I promised Kim that I would post separate entries for different things, but... well... there just isn't time. Hopefully I will be better at tracking individual events when I am actually in Cambridge studying. Until then, you might just end up with a big post for Toulouse and a big post for Paris. So be it.)

I've been in Toulouse, France now for five days. Basically, I have slept, drank, eaten and walked around, not particularly in that order, for the full five days. Tonight is my last night before heading up, by train, to Paris for five more days. That is a whole lot of Frenchie-French.

While being here, I've been extremely lucky. Jessie, since her apartment is no longer under her name, has been staying in the very spacious apartment of several of her friends from the program, which they all call Alsace Lorraine -- the name of the street. Dana and Sammy were the only two left (though their roommate Lauren came back two days ago), and then Dana's boyfriend Olivier (he's French, doesn't really speak English), Kailey, Jessie and myself were additions to the apartment. Everyone is so chill, very inclusive, and crazy-ass partiers! =) Justin and Eli -- both guys from UCSB, who are actually living across the street from me next year -- are constant guests at les chateaux. I wish I could post pictures of EVERYONE, but you'll just have to live with the few I can fit here.

(1) (2) (3)

(4) (5) (6)

1. Amanda, Jessie, Dana, Sammy -- 2. Sammy and Eli playing "Asshole" at Alsace Lorraine -- 3. Jessie, Elodie, Dana -- 4. Jessie and Kailey at the laundromat -- 5. Jessie, Kailey, me, Beck during la Fête -- 6. me and Jessie during my first tequila shot

There are more, somewhere. Variations of these. Jessie has some. I have some. Other people have some. Getting a chance to live in Toulouse for five days has been remarkable. Particularly since it's with a group of people who not only speak the language (Kailey is completely fluent), but they have been living in this area for almost 1 year -- they had great suggestions for bars and restaurants.

The #1 favorite thing for everyone to do -- besides drink and eat and sleep -- is play a card game called "Asshole." Finally, after four full days, I finally got up the nerve to play, and actually did alright. Well, "alright" meaning I wasn't the Asshole, but rather, um... Switzerland. Neutral. Maybe I'll be able to remember all the rules and I'll bring it back to the States. Or rather, Jessie and all her friends will, since so many of them go to UCSB.

I just adore everyone here.

Now on to the city itself. TOULOUSE. This city is unbelievably beautiful. The buildings all have this rustic quality -- reminds me of Avaryl's house in the Malibu hills: older, with character, and still stunning.

The first floor of every building on the smaller roads is full of cafés and little shops, while the floors above are all apartments -- some HUGE, others really small.

There are several larger boulevards, with stops lights and buses and tons of pedestrians, but mainly there are narrower, brick-laid alleyways -- technically, still streets -- that maze through the city. Above (left) is an example of une place, the central area of where buildings and streets meet. Jessie's place (not above) was one place we hung out a lot, eating sandwiches from Nat's (which I mentioned two posts ago had the best sandwiches ever), people watching and listening to people play music.

Here is one guy who was set up early in the morning on Thursday for a big event in France called La Fête de la Musique (Celebration of Music) -- he was pretty rockin' awesome with his saxophone. (This is in Jessie's place.) Just ignore the fact that Jessie is distracted by her Nat's sandwich and Kailey is enraptured with... the musician, I guess.

Speaking of la Fête, that was the first night that I had un kebab. This is not like the kebabs at home, like shish kebabs on a stick -- they're like sandwiches, kind of, between naan bread with sauces and tomatoes and lettuce. O. M. G. Probably the second greatest moment of putting food in my mouth ever! Don't we look like we're enjoying our kebabs?!?! It should, because they were so good that 15 minutes later, we both got another one to share. Jessie says they're the equivalent of Freebird's here in Toulouse -- it's the only think you can get at 2am and they're easy to take out On the Go.

Oh, and they're De. Lic. Ious.

Another event of la F
ête (Nick B. and Liz, this is for you), was that I was so close to my first hook-up abroad. Ok: my first hook-up ever. His name was Charles, and he was from Paris, and I met him at a bar called Café Populaire -- he was really cute, with blond curly hair. It was really really loud in the bar, since there was a band playing, but he was kind enough to speak slowly, in what English he knew, so I could hear him. He told me about how he studied in the States at Columbia in New York (after I told him I lived in California), and also that he'd heard people in San Francisco "was very nice." I assured him that, "Yes, San Francisco is one of the nicest, most open cities," and he seemed excited about going there one day.

I think he wanted to tell me I was beautiful, because he asked me if I'd ever heard of the word "dishy," which he assured me (with great confidence) that it was an English word. I told him that to call someone a "dish" was an old-fashioned way of saying that someone was very beautiful, but he told me that was wrong and that is was "dishy," used "when Shakespeare wrote." I let it go, and told him he was right, and it was very interesting to learn that and he seemed particularly excited when he said "You know English better than me, but I just taught you new English word." Yes. Whatever. You're hot.

Eventually Jessie came and said our friends were leaving, so I had to depart because I have no way of communicating with anyone, nor do I know how to get home. And he wanted to stay with his friends, despite Jessie's helpful pleas to get him to come with us.

Oh well. It was a confidence booster, and that's what's important. When I'm in Ireland, and people speak English, a legitimate hook-up seems possible. =)

Yeah. No picture of Charles (or, he says, "Charlie"... I know...), sorry.

(Here is a picture of the rooftops outside the Alsace Lorraine kitchen windows. Very very rustic.)

While nothing enormous happened while being in Toulouse, the simple fact that I didn't update every night means that it was continuously eventful and exciting and fun. Everyone has been very kind and patient and inclusive with me. It has been AMAZING to be here and get off of my jet-lag and prepare myself for traveling and taking care of myself. I'll need to do a little better with money while in the UK, but luckily I already have a fair share of pounds in my wallet, so it'll last me for a few days.

I've already eaten too much. As well as drank too much. And spent far too much money, considering I haven't bought anything for myself except for train tickets, plane tickets, hostel reservations and, oh yeah, food and alcohol. It's just a sacrifice, I guess, that I'm willing to work off during the school year next year.

Thank you all for reading. I may have left things out. If I did and there is another Toulouse-related story to tell, I'll add it to the bottom of this post in bold lettering.

Much love. Best wishes to everyone. Not sure when I can update again, but pictures will be plentiful while I'm in Paris. Jessie and I are heading up tomorrow morning, and Kailey is meeting us up there on Monday. I'll be there until Friday morning.



  1. Aw, it looks amazing! You can never eat or drink too much while in France. I'm so glad you're enjoying everything!

  2. Yay for you almost hooking up with Charles!!!! I'm so proud! =^)