a visit and a birthday
I had the pleasure of housing my cousin Steven last week. He is off on a three week long solo backpacking trip through Western Europe before he heads over to Istanbul, Turkey to complete a semester studying abroad. Very courageous of him if I do say so myself.
Being the proud mock French girl that I am, I really wanted to show him what France was all about. I wanted to show him how it is different than other European countries, while still doing the cliché europey things. Steven arrived in St. Etienne late Monday night and Dimitri and I greeted him at the train station. We then strolled back to my apartment and Dimitri made an amazing meal of carbonara (if you have never eaten this amazing pasta dish, you need to stop reading this blog immediately, get the recipe and make it. It’s well worth it.) and Steve filled us in on his adventures in Spain.
Unfortunately I have had a run of bad luck health wise this year, so Tuesday after we threw all of Steven’s close in the wash, I headed off to a Dr. Appointment. while Dimitri and Steven went off to see a nearby castle. We met up later and introduced Steven to a vital food one must eat while in France; a Nutella Crêpe with bananas. The king of the crêpes in my opinion, I think Steven agreed. He seemed pretty set on returning to get another one the next day. We also went to the grocery store to buy food and other little tidbits. Steven was floored by the cheese aisles. Our minuscule USA rack of cheese in Meijer doesn’t really compare to the huge aisle of packaged cheese. Which of course is right next to the aisle in which sits an enormous counter where you can get freshly cut cheese. France is no place for vegans.
Wednesday we failed at getting up early but still made it to Lyon to show Steven around this fantastic city. Steven had major bad luck and lost his Eurorail pass (the train pass that allowed him to take any train in Europe for his couple weeks of travel) so we spent some time going to the train stations inquiring if they had found it. No luck with that but at least he had insurance! Steven was really positive and didn’t let this huge financial loss get him down. He seemed really happy to walk around Lyon and see the Fourvière (really pretty big church), try his first pain au chocolate, walk around the park at night, wander around Old Lyon and act like a real European. That night we prepared Racelette for everyone which is a house hold favorite. It consists of melted cheese which you cook in a kind of little grill which you then pour on dried meat. That’s it. Simple, unhealthy but pretty amazing! Steven also was a major sport and tried French wine and French blue cheese (after both Dimitri, myself, the family and the kids all told him to try it.) Reaction: it was ok, but not as horrible as he’d thought! One point for smelly cheese!
Steven left the next day to explore Paris and continue on with the rest of his voyage. I hope you enjoyed your trip to France and good luck with your travels Steve!
Friday was my birthday! Dimitri and I went to visit some friends and I got to meet some more of Dimitri’s friends as well. We ate a HUGE home cooked meal which had four courses and was completed with homemade giant macaroons and birthday tiramisu! Everyone also pitched in and bought me this really lovely expensive perfume.
The next day, we went on a five hour hike in the mountains between France and Switzerland. It was stunning to see the silent forest landscape covered with snow! On the way up the mountain, we saw wild horses and walked along some steep cliffs. Kind of scary in the snow! But it was worth it once we got to the top! We went back into town afterward and warmed up with Gauffres (big waffles with nutella) and cinnamon hot chocolate. Yummm. We completed the weekend by seeing the international ski jump competition in a tinnnny little nearby village. After seeing that, I know I could NEVER hurl myself down a mountain, go flying through the air and attempt to land in a little marked out patch of snow, but it was very interesting to watch!
To continue my streak of sickness, I wound up returning to St. Etienne late Sunday night with the stomach flu. I spent Monday exhausted in bed, but I am feeling better now! I am so thankful that I broke down and paid the 26 euro a month for health insurance. This way all of my doctor appointments are partially reimbursed and almost all of my meds are covered. Example: instead of paying 16 euros for medicine, I only paid 84 cents! Hurrary for French Health care!
Profit from huge French Winter sales as much as possible
Convince myself (after the sales) to save money for future traveling (we just booked our flights to Poland in the spring! Ekk! So excited!!!)
Attempt to make one new French recipe every week
STOP GETTING SO SICK EVERY OTHER SECOND
Take a wine class
Week in the Pays de la Loire (castle region of France)