Thursday, January 26, 2012

Paris (week 2)

Here I am in Paris, almost at the end of my second week.
I came here with a two week contract working as an English tutor from 9am-4:30pm, Monday to Friday at IPSA.

I've been given mixed reviews about finding jobs and apartments in Paris. I have also come up against bad-timing in wanting to live here before so I wasn't eager to make any official plans. I came here thinking 'okay, I'll look for a job, I'll look for an apartment. If Paris wants me it'll be easy and I'll stay'. If it didn't work out or if I felt more hate then love in my relationship with Paris I would move on to housesitting, run back to the mountains or figure out something else.
I do like Paris and it seems I'm more on the love side of our relationship at present. Even though I am a tourist myself I prefer where there aren't very many tourists in the city as it feels quite peaceful and beautiful right now.

On the apartment I lucked out. I made a friend at my job who was eager to have me as a roommate. No line-ups or Parisian apartment craze for me. I actually have more then ten square meters (a common size here), a full kitchen, a bath, in a nice safe area on the end of line one (the louvre line). I move in on Sunday. With one large and one small backpack it should be the easiest move I've ever had.

For the job I'll be tutoring a few days at a beautiful Parisian apartment in the 16th, the nicest area of Paris. I'm also waiting on a fun job at an English pub that I'm very eager to work for. Which could start as early as next week. If I don't like that I've also met with tutoring recruiting agencies and have some other leeds on jobs as well. Now that they've changed the standard of beginning English at age three opposed to eleven the demand for 'English Mother Tongue' teachers has exponentially increased.

Now for some fun details...
I ate awesome veg ravioli in a creamy mushroom sauce at a restaurant that's become so popular its expanded itself to another building across the street and another up the street. So when one is full you go next door. I dream about it sometimes so i'm going to try to make it in my own kitchen when I move.
I got taken to a wine bar called Wine by One. I didn't bring my camera so I was hoping there would be cool pics on their website. Here's the skinny, the walls are covered with display cases holding eight bottles each. You put your prepaid card in a display and 'flip' through a computer screen detailing each wine in the case. Standing in front of the wine you want push a button and it automatically disperses how much you've requested; a taste, half glass, full glass. It doubles as a wine store so you can taste a bunch and then leave with a bottle if you like. Starts at 1€ and goes up depending on the wine. Next time I go I want to try all their champagnes and I'll bring a camera.

So, I'm safe, all is well and it looks like I'll be in Paris for at least a bit... and I by a bit I mean possibly six months... you know, if Paris and I keep getting along.

Ps. My absolute favourite Paris Metro map can be found here

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hi from Paris

I'm getting ready for bed on my third night here in Paris. I flew in from Malaga for less then $150 on Sunday afternoon and was greeted by the two lovely friends I met here in September. (Who are both willing to host me during my two week contract!) I landed having a two week job confirmed that started Monday. I was so nervous my alarm might not go off that I hardly slept. Even though I left crazy early in order to get to work I got very lost and was the last to arrive. (I got lost again today but still arrived with ten minutes to spare) I'm teaching at Ipsa in a special English immersion "pool" they do bi-annually. I have 7 to 8 students and everything is so organized I just have to follow a schedule all day long. The kids and other teachers are all great and nice so far but someone walked off with my notes and popular science magazine at the end of todays class... Hope that mystery gets solved tomorrow.

I have job interviews and coffee dates set up for the week. I'm not wasting any time in Paris. I really love this city right now, even though I walk up a million stairs and get myself lost around each corner.

As of today I'm not sure if I'll just enjoy the two weeks and move onto something else or stay here and let this be my city for a few months.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hot Apple Cider Recipe

It's been cool (but not Toronto kinda cold) in these Europe parts so I've taken to making spiked hot apple cider for my hosts. It's been very well received and I'm learning that maybe it's more of a Canadian thing then 'of course everyone knows about this' kind of thing. (maybe?)

How To: make four cups of yummy apple cider 

In a double boiler or Baño Maria (Big pot has water, ingredients go in smaller pot that sits in the big pot)
4 mugs full of Box or can of Apple Juice (most natural possible)
About a Spoonful of Cinnamon (Use sticks over ground when you can)
About a Spoonful of Cloves or Allspice
Orange peel (approx. 3/4 of a regular sized orange, just skin it like you would a potato)
About a Spoonful of Maple Syrup (or honey)

Then you let the big pot boil to let the apple juice get hot and it will change colour. When the juice is almost boiling get out the mugs and add a little bit of rum at the bottom. Use a sieve (if you didn't use cloves then you probably don't need a sieve) and pour in the hot goodness. Serve, everyone enjoys.

I love learning how different parts of the world stay warm. In Spain they use a mesa-camia like a table-bed. There's a medium to small circular table with a table cloth over a blanket. Under is a little heater and everyone gathers around pulling the blanket over themselves to get toasty warm.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The coffee tastes better

Over the past couple years I've become a happy coffee drinker despite myself. In Toronto I buy and promote a 'disloyalty card' named The Indie Coffee Passport. While quietly enjoying a morning brew I would take that time to do a mini visualization, if only for a few seconds, thinking where else would I like to enjoy a cup of coffee?

Well this morning, I'm blessed to say that I'm enjoying my coffee somewhere in the Sierra Nevada. It's the tallest mountain in the Iberian Peninsula. I took the bus from Almuñecar on the most curvy, windy mountain road and was reminded of beautiful vistas I had seen on the camino. I love the mountains but I guess I never realized just how much. A feng shui practitioner once told me my life would benifit from seeing stones so I placed a few on my windowsill and by my stove. Somehow the way I talked about my favorite type of chair, high backed, told her I needed to be by mountains to be truly happy.
(Almuñecar is surrounded by mountains, it's name meaning such when ruled by the Moors, perhaps that is why I have such an affinity for it.)

Back to the mountain I'm on now though, I've never felt so close to the moon. I am in mountains and everywhere I can hear water running and usually see streams. I went on a moonlit walk the night I arrived and was awe struck the whole time that there was no need for streetlights, no need for flash lights, the moon is actually that luminescent. I was guided past a fountain that has natural spring water that tastes like bubbly water. It flows over iron and picks up the taste. All the taps here flow with mountain water. There are old wash basins in different parts where people used to wash their clothes with natural soaps.

On the moonlit walk there was an open space, a sort of terrace in the mountains, made of flat rocks and I was very moved upon stepping onto it. I'll get a bit airy-farie here but I believe energy can be felt and in this place there was an amazing energy that I walked into. It really took over me, not only was it incredibly beautiful but vibrationaly different. I later found out that the space was named 'Trance area'. When looking south, there are pointed mountains on the right and left that resemble pyramids and the centre fold makes you feel like your heart is meant to open. Then perfectly centred above at that moment was the moon. I didn't have to think about meditating, I just had to be and breath. There is much beauty to behold in the world and I am grateful for every glimpse of it I get.

I've since walked on other paths along this mountain (there are 300km worth of paths just in the Sierra) and I have acquired my own curvy crooked walking stick. My cousin and I are both very open to conceptualizing and philosophical possibilities so we really entertain a myriad of ideas. It's been a while since I've talked so openly about my spiritual beliefs so I've appreciated have someone who also believes that there's magic to be found in the world.

Well I just finished my coffee and my cousin just started juggling tennis balls so I have to go and show him that I've been traveling with real juggling balls the whole trip.

Spoiler alert, Next week Paris

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Book day in Madrid

My time in Madrid has been great. I got to practice my dancing skills the days leading up to New Years Eve with my cousins. They have the Wi game called 'Just Dance' and my Uncle who used to be an electrician set up the best party/playroom for them. Complete with disco ball, lights system synced to music, strobe and smoke machine. A few family members came over and it was awesome to see all generations dancing up a storm.

New Years eve day my aunt Christina made sure I was prepared to ring in the New Year in style. She also made sure I was equip with a bottle of champagne as she pushed me out the door making sure I wouldn't be home till well after the sun had risen and had eaten the customary New Years breakfast. Madrid does not sleep on new years! I ate grapes at Puerta del Sol, I played drums in some square, improved my Italian over a game of pool, and encountered English speaking foreigners simply by them overhearing me speaking English. Exploring Madrid on foot and having no plan ended up making for a great New Years adventure.

I went back into the city today planning on seeing some museums but ended up on a book appreciation walk. I found myself in two wonderful indie-cafe-bookstores. One where a group called meninascartoneraseditorial makes handmade books! And I walked away from the shop with a Mick Jagger Dress-Up Paper-Doll.

Next stop was the most high security and beautiful library I've ever had the pleasure of being in. They take your jacket and your bag before you enter and you are only allowed to bring what you can carry in your hands. This makes for an extremely quiet library because they're no rustling to find a pen or move things from one place to another. Not only is it a beautiful designed space but its all made with dark stained wood. The National Museum of Reina Sofia Library is filled with more art books then I have ever seen of every type of art in a multitude of languages. I spent over an hour perusing. When I needed some fresh air I followed my feet and stumbled on an outdoor book shop that stretches for a whole long street. Pictures are in Book day in Madrid, a set on my Flickr.

I now can no longer say:
"And I still don't have a cell phone, but this sea shell gets Reception, and the ocean won't stop calling" - Jeffery Lewis 
because I have a cell phone! Yes I am now connected once again AND I'll be headed away from the beach and into the mountains in the Sierra Nevada.