Thursday, September 13, 2012

My ABC School Experience

After searching for jobs all day long, I just need to take a few moments and rant. I had quite an experience with a "special" school down here on the Cote d'Azur. The school I am referring to is called ABC School, and it has quite the level of professionalism, to say the least.

To start my story, I must provide some background information.

On August 26th, Olivier came across an online posting of a bilingual school looking for elementary and secondary teachers. I had been previously warned about ABC School from a friend that had worked there for a few days and left because it was so horrible. I was hesitant, but decided that if the position was something I was interested in, I could handle it for a year, at least for the experience. I sent an e-mail, explaining that I was an American secondary education teacher with degrees in mathematics and history and that if they were interested, to please e-mail me back, as I was not in France and had my French cell phone turned off until I returned on the 29th.

The next morning I received an e-mail asking if I could come in for an interview on the morning of the 30th. I responded in the affirmative, asking for the interview time and a contact number in case I had flight troubles and was unable to make it. I never received a response, but I did receive a call, despite telling them that I was not using my French phone. It happened to be on, as I was listening to my itunes, so I heard it ring. I called back in a few minutes via skype and set up the interview time, etc. At this time, I still didn't know the details, but I assumed my degrees had something to do with the type of job offered.

On the morning of August 30th, I drove to my interview. Right away, I found out that the only position available was an elementary position. I decided to stick it out and listen to what the job entailed before making a decision. The school needed a teacher to teach two levels of students, ages 9-10 and 10-11, including the following subjects: English, history, geography, science, sport and aid in theatre, all of which to be conducted in solely English. This is not exactly what I had in mind. Anyway, it went pretty well, even though I knew this was not at all for me. I decided right after leaving that to accept this type of job would be irresponsible and a total disaster. A few hours later, I received a call from the school, offering me the job. I turned them down, knowing I would not be a good fit, explaining that I was a secondary teacher, and elementary was not for me.

Yesterday, Olivier sent me a link to a job posting at ABC School. This time they were searching for a secondary math/science teacher. This was definitely more suited to my credentials. I figured I'd send them an e-mail with my resume. In the e-mail, I explained my credentials and that I had been previously offered a job, but did not accept it because I am a secondary teacher and the position was not right for me. I also asked for more information about what the job entailed, in order for me to know if it suited me or not. The worst they could say was no. Boy, was I mistaken.

I received quite an interesting response a few hours later. Apparently they don't like me and took my refusal of the original position very personally. I was just trying to do the right thing. I honestly find their e-mail to me quite humorous. It is something I would expect from immature teenagers rather than a "professional" school. Anyway, here is what they had to say, word for word.

"Mrs Brugger,

This Science teacher position is for a native French speaker, all our Mathematics, Physics and Science are taught in French and require a lot of experience in the preparation of the Brevet des collèges and the French Science Baccalauréat. You do not have the diplomas for this position and the experience required.

You also do not have the right diplomas to teach as an English teacher in a secondary school in an International school where the level is much higher then in a French school. You would have needed to teach Grammar, Oral and Written expression, English litterature, history and geography with different levels of english at a time in one classroom. We do not think you have the necessary skills to apply for this kind of position yet.

Regarding your poor teaching experience you might have been able to teach the primary school children. Even teaching the primary school children Maths, Science, History, Geography and English as a foreign language may have been hard for you.
Since you didn't accept this position please stop sending us your resumé, we won't propose you any other position.


Yikes! I was shocked and humored, being that it was such a personal attack, and quite unprofessional. I've never been turned down in such an insulting manner. I didn't mean them any insult. I decided that I should just write a quick response, letting them know that they would never have to deal with me again.

 "I appreciate your thorough critique. As I'm obviously not at all qualified to teach at such a high-caliber school, I'm surprised I was offered a position in the first place. It makes me wonder why you are always searching for teachers...hmm. I originally sent in my CV for a secondary position and did not take the position because it ended up being only for elementary. I am not one to quit during the school year, although I know others that have after only a few days at your school. Good luck in your continuous teacher search. Don't worry, I'll never send you my CV again. I do not wish to be a part of your school. 


Elizabeth Brugger"

So there you have it, my ABC School experience. Nice.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

On the job hunt after a great summer of fun

About a year ago, I pretty much abandoned my poor excuse for a blog, but due to some encouragement and inspiration from great bloggers (such as Katie), I've decided to get back into it, at least for one entry (I know myself too well to make blog promises).

Anyway, I'm back in France, and for the first time, I have the right to work. In the past, I was allowed to be an au pair and English assistant, but that's about it. Now, the sky's the limit...sort of. Since I got back to Nice, I've been interviewing, searching for jobs on the internet, and sending resumes and cover letters to anything I find the least bit suitable to me. So far, I haven't had much luck, and am looking for something temporary until I find something that I love. After all, a girl's gotta eat. For an interview on Thursday, I have to take a mathematics exam. Math is undeniably my strong suit, but it's been awhile. I've spent hours doing practice calculus problems and looking up tons of rules online. It's coming back, but slowly. I need a cheat sheet for all of the complicated integrals (it's been too long!). I had an interview for an English teaching position at a small business-English company, but I'm not sure if I have enough experience teaching English compared to other candidates. I also interviewed at a private, bilingual elementary school last week and was offered the job. I didn't take it because it was way out of my comfort and interest zones, and I've been warned about this school before. I didn't want to set myself up for a miserable school year. Anyway, my life can presently be describes as "on the job hunt." Yippee.

Now on to more pleasant things...
I had a wonderful summer in Michigan with some of my favorite people. I spent countless days at Lake Michigan, one of the best places on Earth, in my opinion. Clear water, sugary sand, blue skies...yes please.

 I spent almost every day with my mom and many nights were spent around a card table playing euchre (an awesome game loved by Michiganders and a few others). There is never a dull moment at the annual Brugger family reunion, which was in July this year. Lots of laughs, tubing, beaches, campfires, and even Kait's wedding occupied our week together. I had a great time getting to know Frannie, my family's new chocolate lab. She's hilarious and I love her. That's Frannie on the right, next to Ollie.

Then the summer came to an end with a wonderful visit from Olivier. We spent a week in Northern Michigan, spending time with family and friends and enjoying the beaches. Then we headed to Washington, D.C. We went with Julie and Dave, one of my favorite couples.  We even got a White House tour! We had a wonderful time in D.C. and on the road with our travel companions.

I'll leave you with a few of my favorite summer shots.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Back to School...and Vacation

It's so nice to be back in a school, working with students. My assistant position is definitely just part-time and very different from a normal teaching job, but I am enjoying being back in the classroom. I started about a week and a half ago and already feel like a part of the school. My students are excellent. Most of my classes are made up of the best students, making my job easy when it comes to classroom management. They are respectful, behaved, engaged, and fun. On Friday I had one of my classes do a group discussion and then they put on a skit for me. It was so cute and they were laughing the entire time. The staff is great. Everyone is very helpful and interested. Every time I sit down in the teachers' lounge I end up having a conversation with a different teacher. On Friday one of the teachers put on a lunch for the staff. I was invited and as soon as I arrived, I was pulled right into a conversation and served lots of good food, including Champagne. I must admit that it was a bit surprising having wine and Champagne served with lunch and then heading to class to teach a few more lessons. I guess this is just life in France. I'm not complaining.

I have a few tutoring sessions lined up so far, and receive continual e-mails from people interested in me as an English tutor or babysitter. Life is good. I like being busy. I like teaching. And I like vacation. Friday was the last day of school for a few weeks because of the All Saints holiday. One of my closest friends, Mackenzie, is coming for just under a week. I'm looking forward to showing her the Cote d'Azur and anything else around here. I hope the weather cooperates. So far it's been very nice, so I hope it stays that way.

I met Olivier two years ago exactly. Time flies. We saw a film today, The Artist, and took a nice walk along the coast and through the old town. I really enjoyed the film. It was definitely different, but that's why I enjoyed it so much. I recommend checking it out. That's about all that I have for this update. Until next time...

Sweet Jesse Dog

Today my sweet dog, Jesse, died. She was the kindest, most loving dog anyone could ask for (I know her name is spelled like a boy spells Jesse, but I insisted on it when we got her, 12.5 years ago). I'm really going to miss her, but it was her time to go. Whenever I left the states, I wondered if I'd see her again. I guess the last time I said goodbye to her really was the last time. I'm sad and I wish I could be home in Cadillac with my family, but I also realize that they're there together, I have Olivier here, and this is all a part of life. It's amazing how much love one can have for a dog. They truly do become our best friends.

(I meant to post this a week ago...)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Busy Work

It's Thursday and I have tomorrow and the weekend before I really get into this new teaching assistantship adventure. However, I guess I sort of already started it all this least the paperwork/running-around-getting-paperwork-done part of it. 

On Monday of this week, I took the train to Cannes (which reminds me...I need to buy a month pass tomorrow so I'm not stuck doing it last minute in a busy train station while running late next week) to meet my coordinating teacher and see the school for the first time. Normally this is reserved for next Tuesday, but the teacher does not work that day, so I went in a week early, hoping to be able to hand all of my paperwork in on that day. Nothing is ever that easy, especially in France (I don't know if I've mentioned this yet, but the French seem to love paperwork). While waiting to meet the teacher in the staff lounge, I met several other teachers, a few of which are English teachers at the school. They were all very nice and accommodating, which was reassuring. Since the teacher I was supposed to meet with was late because of a meeting or something, another teacher showed me to the secretary's office to deal with all of my paperwork. Of course, there were additional forms that needed to be filled out, etc, which is why I've been shopping for a doctor for the past two days (that's a different story). Once that was all over, I met with the coordinating teacher and we attempted to go over the types of things I will be doing with my classes this year, like different cultural subjects and ways of teaching. I left feeling a little more comfortable with everything. 

The only thing that I found a bit odd was that the teacher wanted me to set up my own observation schedule for next week by contacting the other English teachers. I would much prefer and I feel it would be more beneficial if I observe the classes I will be teaching to get a better idea of their specific levels and to get to know those teachers and students. They are the teachers/students I will be working with after all. In my opinion there is no schedule for me yet, which is why I am supposed to be "setting up my own observations" for next week. I am supposed to start teaching, or at least assisting, on October 10th, and I don't think it's a great idea to show up in a classroom never having seen the students or the teacher. Anyway, that's my only stressor at the moment. I wrote to my coordinating teacher and expressed that I felt it beneficial to observe the classes in which I will be placed, so hopefully this will be straightened out soon. 

The only real paperwork issue I had left to do (I think) was to find a doctor for the next year. I need this form filled out by one specific doctor so I don't go to five different doctors throughout the course of the next several months and confuse the system. I can always do paperwork to get a different general doctor if there are any issues with this doctor. This paperwork is for my healthcare, which I am very excited to have soon. I found several doctors near where I live and even a few on my street (so convenient). One thing that is not lacking in Nice is doctors. They're everywhere. So I got into the doctor's office on my street and have a signed form. I'm good to go. I was expecting it to cost me the normal price of a visit, 23 euro, but luckily, they didn't charge me anything. Sweet! Now I think I'm good to go. 

Other than that, I feel like I have been writing stuff in French non-stop...e-mails, ads for babysitting/tutoring, etc. Luckily I have had several parents interested in my tutoring/babysitting services. I just received a call from a lady on my street that wants me to help her son with English. She asked about doing a group session with a few of his friends. I really don't know what to charge. I think 20 euro an hour is about right for a private session around here (it's the going rate and people definitely pay it), but with the group session, I said maybe 25 euro??? I really have no idea. I guess I'll have to see how it goes. I told her I would meet her next week and we can see talk more about it then. 

That's about it right now...I'm just busy doing busy work. I'm looking forward to a calm weekend with Olivier. Then I have a week full of meetings, observations, and no Olivier (he'll be in the North of France all week for a work thing...bummer). Well, I hope you are all doing well. It's been beautiful here. Much love! xo

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How'd I end up here & The truth in the distance

I often find myself thinking about how in the world I ended up in France. I'm still young...maybe I don't actually end up in France, but for now, I am. Ever since my first visit to France, I knew I wanted to spend a semester or something in France, to really get the not-just-a-tourist feel of it all. After a while, as my life went in other directions, like history and math, thoughts of life in France became dimmer and dimmer. Then one summer afternoon, while shaving my legs in the shower, the dream came boldly racing back. Why not? I thought. You better go while you still can. So I went. I figured a summer would be just fine, that it would satisfy my "French hunger," and then I could get back to life. Hah. Guess again. 

That summer did nothing but expand my dreams. I needed more. I needed a year. So I became an au pair. When I left that summer, I thought it would be the only time that I would have to say goodbye for a whole year to everyone. It was truly difficult being so far away. I'd wander the streets listening to The Sound of Music to cheer me up. It actually works pretty well. 

I am a pretty emotional person. It's in my genes...thanks Porter sisters. I was always scared that I wouldn't be able to last a year, or anything more than that.  I remember getting terribly homesick living just two hours from home when I was at MSU. The truth is that living far away from loved ones is terribly hard. I keep their sad faces etched in my mind from each goodbye, remembering what it's like to drive away or watch as a train leaves them behind. I oftentimes want to just call my mom when I am missing her, but I know that calling when I am emotional will only unnecessarily worry her. Even though it is hard to be so far away, there is always another side. I cannot imagine my life any other way than it is right now. My visions of teaching in the US have long since been extinguished. I know that I am lucky because I will be able to come "home" at least every summer and spend a significant amount of time there, soaking up my family. And the only way that I could even begin to do this is with Olivier. He's the other side of the scale. I feel so guilty living so far away from my family, but then I have to remember that I have to follow my dreams. I have to be a little bit selfish. I don't even want to stay in Cadillac, MI, so me being this far just means less visits, but also longer visits (and more expensive visits...hey, at least the euro is worth more right now).  

Now back to the other topic: How I got here. I like to think of it as fate. Some people don't believe in it, but I like to. I think I would have left France by Christmas while I was an au pair if I wouldn't have met Olivier. He not only made it okay; being with him made me want to spend my life over here. Even though I have a few sad days here and there, something that helps me get through them is believing that I am not alone. When I can't see the moon, I picture it over the sea. One of the best gifts my grandmother gave me was the comfort in knowing that when I saw the moon, she was thinking of me. Now I believe she is still there, somewhere, keeping an eye on me. I reach down and swirl the ring on my finger; her mother's ring. Then I have this connection, not just to her, but to my mom too. I picture her embrace and I want to think that she knows me now, the person I have become, and not just the child I was then. 

To my family and friends on the other side of the pond: I hope that you all know how much I miss you and love you. Even though I miss you and wish I could just drive by for a visit, I am happy here. I can't wait to see what my future holds. So far, it's been quite a ride. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Post-Hiatus Post

Hello all. I'm back from my unintentional blogging hiatus. Hopefully that doesn't happen again, at least while I'm in France. So yes, I'm back in France, and happy to be here. I arrived last Thursday and have been somewhat busy ever since. However the last two days have been a nice reprieve, as I've been able to be lazy, clean, organize and stock up on groceries. Believe it or not, Olivier is actually a pretty organized guy. He de-clutters every now and then, and does household chores like the laundry and the dishes. However, two months of living like a bachelor while I'm stateside leave the apartment in need of a general all-around cleaning. I like getting all of my stuff cleaned and organized, so having the last few days free to do just that left me surprisingly content. 

I spent my first full day back in France in Beausoleil (just behind Monaco) taking care of Baby Charlotte. I've talked about her before. I took care of her for seven weeks back in February and March while her nanny recovered from an operation. I get to watch her on Thursday and Friday of this week too. She was so perfect, happy, and darn cute with her head-full of curls. I think she might even still remember me because she was smiling with me right away like she did. There was no crying when her parents left or anything. Anyway, we had fun going on walks, babbling to each other, and skyping with my mom. She really likes "the lady in the box," and kept looking for her after we finished the call. So adorable. 

We left for Antibes on Friday to spend the weekend with Olivier's family. All of his siblings were there and we had a great time just hanging out. We ate a lot of great food, drank plenty of delicious drinks, laid by the pool and sat around talking. It was really nice. I enjoyed watching Olivier and his siblings play in the pool like I'm sure they did as kids. Okay, "play" may not be the right word...maybe "dunk each other under water and throw each other in" describes it better. Haha. 

I have a few more weeks of down-time before I start teaching. I have days of orientation, observation and meetings during the first week of October and then I start my teaching assistantship. It's not full-time, but it's a start. I am hoping to tutor students and maybe babysit a little as well to make some extra money. I'm really looking forward to starting my job. My coordinating teacher seems very nice and accommodating, and I am looking forward to meeting him. 

As far as an excuse goes for why I haven't blogged all summer...well, take your pick: "A lot happened and I was too busy to blog" or "I could have blogged, but I didn't." The latter is more correct, but they both have some truth to them. Here's a very quick recap. 

We went to Olivier's brother's wedding in Italy. It was FANTASTIC! Everything was beautiful, elegant, classy, fun and delicious. It was like no wedding I've ever attended. The Italians know how to have a good time. They even do funny skits!

In mid-July I came home to the US. After a few days of unpacking and getting back into the swing of things, we went camping in Elk Rapids, MI for the annual Brugger Family Reunion. As always, we had a blast. Hopefully I'll be able to make it next year. I might just be able to. I was planning on coming home in August, but now I'm thinking July. I won't know for quite a while still. After that I worked for a week at Hermann's in Cadillac as a server (they let me work my old job for a few weeks here and there while I was home!) and had fun with all of the staff. I miss 'em! 

Then Olivier came to the US for the second time. Luckily his trip last summer didn't scare him off. We enjoyed Lake Michigan, went to Mackinaw Island, went camping in Interlochen and tubed down the Platte River, took a road trip to Toronto, Niagara Falls, and Cedar Point, and spend a few nights with family members. It flew by, of course. He saw all of the Great Lakes except for Lake Superior. I'm thinking a road trip to the U.P. next time he comes... 

After Olivier left I had another weekend of camping, this time with the Porter family in South Haven. It was wonderful. We celebrated my mom's aunt's 80th birthday and sung around the campfire. I worked a few more weeks at Hermann's and then ended my stay by spending a few days in New Buffalo, MI with Lauren, Karen and my mom in an awesome condo just a few blocks from Lake Michigan. It was a perfect end to a great Michigan stay, including sun, a pool, bloody marys, great food, wonderful people, cards, and laughs. 

That's all for now, folks! Until next time. A bientot!

Friday, June 24, 2011


Last weekend we headed to Toulouse to spend some time with several of Olivier's friends...well, more like "our" friends that were Olivier's friends before I met them and got to know them all. We had a wonderful time!

Honestly, living in France is wonderful, but sometimes it is hard to be the foreigner in the crowd. I don't talk a lot about it, not wanting people back home to worry. Life as a foreigner can get very lonely. Trying to keep up with conversations and understand jokes, etc., can be exhausting and often leads to my mind wandering into it's own little world. With every other foreigner that I have come into contact with over here, we have discussed similar feelings and it turns out that we all feel the same way. In group settings, we often feel lonely, not because people are intentionally leaving us out, but because we really just don't feel like ourselves, and that can be frustrating. When putting so much effort into simply comprehending what is going on, I am not my normal self, talking, being sarcastic, adding my tid-bits here and there...I'm just not my normal, fun (I think I'm fun, anyway) self. About a year ago I was frustrated after having been to a group gathering and I asked Olivier when I would stop feeling like such an outsider. How long does it take to just be myself and stop trying so hard just to understand everything? I felt as if I had a learning disability and was several steps behind everyone, and then simply getting lost because I couldn't catch up (education classes coming into play here, thanks Ferris State University). He lived in Denmark for a year so I thought he might know when this transition actually happens. Well, he didn't know, so I just kept waiting. Nowadays, things are much easier. I still have to put effort into paying attention and comprehending while in a group setting, but I am much more comfortable now than before. It was a lot more isolating a year ago, but since my knowledge of the French language has improved, so have my feelings when in a group setting. I'll just add that when it's just a few people, it is much easier to follow and be a part of conversations in French.

To me, the weekend in Toulouse was a small victory in this struggle. For the first time, I found myself having real fun in the group, talking, laughing, understanding. It felt so great. I think a lot of this had to do with the fact that I was with truly wonderful, fun, caring people. There are so many hurdles in becoming part of another culture, and this is a big one, at least for me. I still find myself confused from time to time, but at least I'm not in my own little world, lost from the conversation as I was before. Anyway, on with the story of our weekend.

We arrived late Friday night. Toulouse is about 5.5 hours from Nice by car. Everyone else came from Paris, so we all arrived around the same time. We talked, ate, and drank for a few hours and then everyone headed to bed. The next morning, we all got up and left for Carcassonne, a fortified city about an hour east of Toulouse. On the way, however, we stopped for apparently the best Cassoulet. Cassoulet is a delicious French dish from the region. It is essentially beans, sausage, chicken, other meats all in a crock pot. It is very good.

After the filling Cassoulet, we went the rest of the way to Carcassonne, where we were traditional tourists, checking out the historic city and its ruins. We had fun climbing on the walls and taking pictures. Here are a few pictures of our time in Carcassonne.

When we returned from Carcassonne, we all played a game of petanque, which is similar to bocce ball, and very popular in France. We played for hours, laughing and having a great time. It ended in a few of the losers being thrown in the pool, and then a card game to end the night. That night was the most fun I have had in a while.

Sunday was our last day in Toulouse, but it was awesome. That's the best way to describe it, really. Pierre and Laetitia are the couple from Toulouse, and Pierre's father is a pilot. He took us all up in a little four-seater plane to see Toulouse from above, making three separate trips to accommodate us all. It was thrilling and the city was beautiful. It is known as la ville rose, as it looks pink from above.

Luckily we didn't have to catch a train, so a few of us were able to walk around Toulouse for a few hours before departing. I found it quite charming. Our hosts could not have been more welcoming or accommodating to us. I am very thankful for having spent such a wonderful weekend with them and for gaining such great people as friends.

Monday, June 20, 2011

To London, To London...

Olivier and I visited London the weekend before last. He had a holiday from work on Monday, so we took advantage of the long weekend and ventured back to London where we always have fun, despite iffy weather. I almost wrote "unpredictable" to describe the weather, but that, in my opinion, would be inaccurate, as there always tends to be some rain when we are there, despite predictions from, my go-to source before all travels. And so the story-telling of our enjoyable weekend in London begins... (I must add that I am currently enjoying my coffee from my I Love London coffee mug, my souvenir from our previous visit)

It all started Friday evening right before 7. I was all packed up and ready to go to the train station to take the bus to the airport when Olivier arrived home from work. He informed me that we might as well drive and pay for parking as opposed to paying for the bus, as the difference was quite minimal. I was definitely okay with this since I really don't like taking the bus home and walking after flying. However, instead of finding the cheap lot, we ended up in the minimum 44 euro lot for 96 hours, which was longer than we needed, and definitely more expensive. Oh well, we bit the bullet and stayed there, since we were worried we couldn't leave the lot without paying the full price (no parking attendants). After our cramped EasyJet flight to London Luton, we ran to catch our scheduled bus at 11 pm. We made it just in time, but they had already overfilled the bus and taken our seats, so we waited for the next bus, with the promise of being first to board. We found our way to Olivier's brother's apartment and went to bed immediately, as we were all exhausted.

Luckily for us, Saturday was a nice day. We left to explore the city with Vincent, Olivier's brother, and his fiance, Laura. After a bit of walking near Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus, we found ourselves unable to get over to Westminster/Parliament area because of barricades. After asking a police officer what was going on, he informed us that it was the Queen's birthday celebration. Many people were out, hoping for a glimpse of the queen. We got away from the crowds in search of an alternate route, but once again, found ourselves unable to cross. We decided to give in and wait, and just maybe we'd get to see the queen. As it turns out, we never saw the queen. This is probably because we were not in the right area to see her. There were not very many people waiting...mostly just barricades, police officers here and there, and random tourists.

She never came down the street where we were waiting, but we did get a different surprise. All of a sudden we heard the sound of horses approaching...two carriages to be exact. And who was in that first carriage? None other than Kate Middleton, Prince Harry and Camilla!!! I waved and snapped a picture.

In case you're wondering, the second carriage also had some royalty, but I don't know who they were. Finally we made our way down the street where they were opening up the barricades. All of a sudden floods of well-dressed Brits exited a building, apparently having just attended the Queen's event. I got to see some pretty cool hats and men in tails. Once we approached Downing Street, we had to move aside as the gates opened and David Cameron, the PM, made his way out in his car. I don't have a picture of this because the car flew out rather quickly and he was hidden behind tinted windows. We knew it was him because the guards told us. Once we finally made it to Westminster (well across the street from it anyway), we saw Kate's mother, and I ran up and caught a quick snapshot from behind. I know, that was a stalker moment, but I had to go for it.

Finally crossing the River Thames, we got some great shots of Big Ben and Parliament, along with the London Eye, the huge Ferris Wheel.

After a quick lunch at Eat., we made our way further down the bank and watched street performers doing things I previously thought impossible with their bodies...circus-type stuff, like extreme flexibility, gymnastic stunts, etc. There was even a little air-show for the Queen's birthday celebration. Blue, white and red streamed across the sky, which actually looked like the French flag. Vive la France! Funny.

We continued down the river, taking in the cites, and eventually met up with friends Philippe and Elodie who were also in London for the weekend. Here we are in front of St. Paul's Cathedral, and then again with Vincent and Laura.

With Philippe and Elodie, we continued our walk and enjoyed the English Summer Cocktail, PIMM'S in a few different bars, and ended the evening at a Lebanese restaurant, where we were surprised with a dancer after dessert.


Exhausted after the day of touristing, we made our way back to Paddington, the area where Oliv's brother lives. We were asleep within minutes of our return.

Unfortunately Sunday was filled with rain. Of course, this did not stop us. Olivier and I made our way to Camden Town where there is a huge market...It reminded me of a huge craft show, actually, with people selling their diverse goods. We checked it out, but since it was raining and we didn't find anything that we wanted to buy, we found a pub and enjoyed the traditional fish and chips. We made our way back to central London for some more shopping and eventually went back to Paddington to relax and escape the rain at the apartment. We went to a pub for dinner with Elodie and Philippe and then wandered to another bar for PIMM'S before returning home.

Olivier and I packed up our things on Monday morning and spent the early afternoon on Oxford Street, perusing the stores. We didn't purchase anything, but we did meet up with Elodie and Philippe one more time before heading back to Paddington to get our stuff and head to the bus stop to get to the airport. Overall, we had a very enjoyable weekend in London. It was filled with exciting and unexpected happenings, great friends, and fun.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Spicing Things Up

When asked what type of food I like, Mexican seems to come to mind before anything else. Unfortunately Mexican food in France can be hard to come by, especially when it comes to quality. They have a little here and there, but nothing like the restaurants that can be easily found across the US. I did once eat at a Mexican restaurant in Paris that was not too bad. Anyway, I have been wanting some fajitas. With nowhere to go to get this food, I took it into my own hands...I decided to spice things up. Olivier and I had a Mexican-themed dinner the other night. I just wish we would have thought to buy some time.

To start I threw together some guacamole and chips.

Then it was time to throw all my pre-cut veggies and chicken into the pan. Thank goodness we found an Old El Paso fajita kit with some spice mix and tortillas.

And then it was time to indulge. So good!

Now that I have successfully made fajitas, I think we may have a fajita night get-together with friends.