toddiceton.comFall 2003 in France
old stuff
22 November 2003
Mohamed is a guy who lives in our residence. He always says, "Il est où, Todd?" and "No Name tonight?" Sometimes he's OK, sometimes he's annoying, and one day Yassine came home one day with a bunch of different signs making fun of him. As you can see in the second picture, he didn't take it too hard.
14 November 2003
We went up to Chamrousse this past Tuesday as France came to a halt for yet another national holiday, and we found a closed ski station and a bunch of families sledding on it. It was nice to get out of the city and and into the snow. Of course, we had the obligatory snowball fights and got as much exercise as we could before starting to feel too silly. For Amine, the most impressive thing an American (even if it is just resident alien status) can do is have a beard. So I'm as good as Moroccan to him, and he and Yassine dressed me up in traditional garb and got Pier in on the act too. The first picture is an old one I got from Jaro. Now I have to come up with something good to do this weekend!
31 October 2003
I ended up arriving in Barcelona at about 22h00, just in time for the first string of prostitutes to come on duty. (You should see the third string coming in for the fourth quarter, it's ugly. Special teams isn't bad though.) Somehow, I managed to avoid and not notice them during the one hour I had to get down to the ferry. The primary train station is underground, so when I climbed out of the subway and above ground for the first time to meet a beautiful, clear night, I didn't want to leave the city (see first picture). I took the night boat to Mallorca and got off the boat in equally dark conditions at 6h00, and proceeded to a park where I could read, plan my day, and take it easy until everything opened up for the morning. I went to the museums that sounded interesting, saw the historical sites worth seeing, got some good food, checked my email (of course), and after doing everything in Palma that seemed worth doing, I felt a bit guilty about buying a ferry ticket just to see what felt a lot like just another cool European city.
So on a whim, I went to ask if there was any chance of renting a car at my ripe age, and I managed to convince an agency to rent me a brand new little hatchback. "But I've had my license for over four years!" Dan came with Andrew and I as far as Alcúdia, where we hung around on the beach for a little while and dropped him off. The clouds were dark at first, but they drifted away and the day turned out to be great for driving. We headed South, hitting beaches along the way and enjoying the scenery. I would have taken pictures of the drive, but they wouldn't have done it any justice. Every second was a picture; I needed a video camera, not a still. We saw a tall, thin hill in the middle of nowhere and took a detour to see if we could drive up and check it out. Everyone at the top was German, and it was the best view of the island, no doubt. I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of Andrew and I together up there. We got back on the road, hit one more beach on the tip of the island, and started for Palma as the sun set. It was perfect, and the weather looked like it would hold, so I stayed in Palma another night and spend the next around town and reading on the beach.
In Barcelona, I stayed in (apparently) the most famous hostel in the world. In Palma, it was easy to meet people in the 6-man shared room (and they all turned out to be kickass guys), but in this huge sleeps-200 place it was easy to get lost. All the same, I made friends with some guys in my room and had a good time going out with them, but I wouldn't stay there again. I felt like there was more than I could ever see and do in Barcelona, but I tried to get around as much as I could. I saw most of Gaudí's offerings, all of which were pretty inspiring, but unfortunately the Sagridia Familia was being renovated during my stay. It's so refreshing to see a church that looks playful and bright rather than somber and withdrawn.
All in all, I saw a ton of awesome stuff in both places, but I had a much better time in Mallorca on account of the company. I have faith that no matter where you are, it's the people that count. Speaking of, I'm going to go send Andrew an email.
24 October 2003
Jay-Z would love this place. I was talking to a friend about the price of computers the other day, and apparently processor speed is measured in "Jigga-Hertz" (or its French phonetic equivalent) over here.
So it's time for an installment. Well, I'm pumped up. In a couple days I'm going to head south to Spain and see Barcelona, Madrid, and hopefully the Balearic Islands, time and money permitting. Unfortunately, there's no one willing to make the trip with me, so if any of you are going to be in Spain next week, don't hesitate to drop me a line. I'm not really looking forward to wandering around strange cities by myself, but I was talking to a friend about the more expensive, higher altitude alternative to the six and a half hour ferry from Mallorca to Menorca, and I realized I’d love to spend half the day on the Mediterranean with a good book. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to finish the French translation of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, and I think I’ll have time for Dave Eggers’ You Shall Know Our Velocity and The Best of Roald Dahl as well. Everyone says Barcelona is awesome, so I’m really looking forward to it in a big, globular-mass kind of way, but Madrid has been billed to me as a “neat, old city,” so I think I’ll focus my hopes on a Real Madrid game. I realize that, by myself, this trip will either be a blinding success or a miserable disaster, so keep your fingers crossed for me.
I’m feeling more comfortable about my classes these days. I’d say I understand about 90% of what’s said, but the single test is still quite an intimidating thing. I’m tired of typing sentences with “I” in them. On to the pictures.
Pier and Yassine, in the first picture, are two of my best friends here. Pier is from the Netherlands, has an especially luminous forehead, likes ice cream and puppy dogs, and enjoys Scottish rap. Yassine is a 34-year-old used car dealer who lives in the dorm. Matt, who’s getting his hair cut by Amine (oh acid), is another one of my OGs and is currently the best-coiffed man in Grenoble. As you can see, he also enjoys frog legs. Here in France, no one thinks twice about putting partial frontal nudity on tram-stop advertisements. And pollution is bad.
22 September 2003
I just got back yesterday from the John Mayer show in Baden-Baden, Germany. It was well worth the trip, and not without its high points or setbacks. I got there just as they were starting the soundcheck, and I was able to circumvent security to get in and say hi. No one minded if I stayed in to listen, and so I enjoyed the soundcheck and ended up in a great spot up front for the show. It was an excellent performance, including some songs I hadn't heard live before. Unfortunately, the guys left quickly and I didn't get a chance to talk to them after the show. No worries, I don't usually bring any expectations with me. I met some very nice German girls who let me tag along to a Daniel Bedingfield concert and out to the city center afterward, and I really look forward to seeing them again when I go to the JM concerts in October. My only real problem was that I fell asleep about five minutes before I was supposed to change trains in Strasbourg on the way back, so I ended up en route to Paris when I woke up two hours later. It was quite a detour, but not a boring or expensive one, so no big deal. An awesome trip overall.
Here are some pictures from last weekend's climb up to the Bastille. At first, we had planned to race, but it's too far and too much of an incline for anyone except Laurent, who's a rock climber and just generally more active than the rest of us. So we got up to the Bastille, took a few pictures, and headed further up the mountain towards the Memorial. It took us quite a while from bottom to top, but it was good to get some exercise beyond playing soccer. This was a lot of fun. Andrea and Katie are two Californians, and Julien and Laurent work here in Grenoble at the same medical training equipment company.
11 September 2003
Grenoble: market on SundayGrenoble: Notre Dame squareGrenoble: up on the mountainGrenoble: on highSt Michel du Pont: climbing near the monasterySt Michel du Pont: hillsideSt Michel du Pont: overlooking the monasterySt Michel du Pont: discussing American fuel consumptionSt Michel du Pont: Michael, me, JaroSt Michel du Pont: Jane in her elementSt Michel du Pont: ping pong at Jane'sGrenoble: UJF campus on a rainy dayGrenoble: view from the mountains
I've enrolled in my classes and started three of them. For two out of three, the language is going to make them a bigger challenge than usual. I don't think the language barrier will hold me down or break my stride in Biochemistry, but the first Physics class went straight over my head. I got a little more out of Ecology and Evolution, but the guy puts up Powerpoint slides, and there's so much to write that I don't get a chance to concentrate on what he's saying. So it goes.
This past Sunday, one of my intensive course classmates invited us all out to her place in the mountains for brunch and an all-around good time. It was as close as I've come to a perfect day in a while. Ulrich, a few others, and I took the scenic hour-long bus ride out to St. Michel du Pont and arrived to porridge, tea, and an assortment of hors-d'œuvres. I took over the barbecue and cooked the sausages, and we spent most of the beautiful day hanging out on the porch and just generally having a most excellent time. We drove a few minutes to the local closed monastery (check the Yellow Pages for the one nearest you) and walked around a bit too. I was a little reluctant at first, but I'm so glad I went.
27 August 2003
We arrived in Zurich this morning and drove around a bit before deciding to head to Geneva. I caught a glimpse or two of the city before falling asleep. When I woke up, we were in Lucerne amid some beautiful scenery and fascinating buildings. We got some ice cream and headed on to Interlaken, where I'd been with the high school group, so it looked a bit more familiar than the rest of it. Unfortunately, last time I visited I was too busy goofing off with my friends in the bus to notice my surroundings. It's all about balance, right? I think so too. So we took it all in on the way, got to Grenoble and moved in. It didn't take Dad long to get restless, so we went to Lyon for the weekend and had a great time (pictures included). We continued to explore Grenoble upon returning, and then my parents left for Zurich and the US. So this is it for this installment. Pictures from around Grenoble next time.
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