Monday, September 27, 2010

Moving On

I have been pondering what to name my new blog for a while… one of the reasons it took me so long to get around to setting it up actually. When I made the decision to go to Colombia, I wasn’t sure what it would be like, but I knew I wanted to go on an adventure. I knew I wanted to travel, live abroad, practice my Spanish, and I found a job that would allow me to do those things. Job uncertainty at home may have pushed me to look into it, but it was something that I had already thought about doing. It made sense to name my blog Adventures in Colombia because that was what I wanted, an adventure.

I don’t know that I want that much of an adventure this time around. Adventures that include interesting observations, meeting new people, and fun discoveries, of course! Adventures in bill-paying, trying to get internet, trying to teach within a crazy school environment day after day, not so much. And I definitely do not need a repeat of my final Colombian adventure where because I couldn’t wire my money, I ended up flying to Seattle with waaay too much money under my belt. Literally.

Maybe it would behoove me to be careful what I ask for…

So, what it is that I want from this next experience?

I think I wasn’t really sure what I wanted from my experience in Colombia. I mean I was, but mostly I just wanted a change. And then there were so many things that I wanted to do… learn to salsa, make friends, travel, learn Colombian plants, Colombian birds, get a tan, exercise more, blog, improve professionally, become fluent in Spanish. Turns out that’s a lot. Or it’s at least a lot to focus on. I might have done a little bit of all of those goals, but not necessarily well…

I still want to improve my Spanish.
I want to working on building relationships.
And I want to focus on growing in my faith.

Actually I’m pretty sure that last one is the key… And so, please join me on my next adventure, which will hopefully be filled with Esperanza (hope) and Enseñanza (teaching).

Friday, July 9, 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Portabella Road Market

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Hannah and her roommates live in Notting Hill. On Saturday morning John and Emma took us down to the Portabella Road Market.

Walking through the market- it's a good thing Emma and John are tall!

All sorts of random things to be found...

For all the Sherlock Holmes wannabes

Can't forget a pocket watch.

Lots of yummy fruit.

This might be the biggest pot of Paella ever!

I think these are hats... hat brims... ?

Definately hats.

So many good cheeses!

Cool vintage stuff.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Camera Magic and London Flat-life

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Amanda and I spent a week in London with Hannah’s flatmates, John and Emma. They were fabulous hosts and let us tag along with them various places throughout the week. After a week of being tourists in Paris, it was wonderful to relax and just enjoy life in London. We took one day to do a guided bus tour of London, so we got to see the major stuff. (The tour guides are hilarious- it’s totally worth it!)

Also, John gave us directions to camera street (alright, that might not be its real name…) where we tried to get both of our broken cameras fixed. My camera still wasn’t charging, and Amanda’s camera had fallen on its lens, which was now stuck open and crooked. We found a camera repair shop on the off-chance that it might be an easy fix. No such luck for Amanda’s camera, but maybe a new battery would solve my camera problem…. We found a store that carried Samsung and explained the situation. The guy put my battery on the charger for a while, only to confirm that the battery had been fully charged the whole time. It must be an internal software issue, the guy says, I could probably send it back to Samsung. Clearly, this will not solve the immediate problem of not having a working camera! We walk up the street a ways and try a different store. Although I am fairly certain that they won’t be able to do anything either, I explain the situation again.

Enter: magic-camera-man. He listens to my story, then takes my battery out, and puts a different one in. He charges the other battery, and then turns on the camera! And it works! He then takes out the other battery and puts mine back in. It still works!!! Fully convinced that this man is magic, we give him Amanda’s camera to fix as well. He does manage to straighten out the lens somewhat, although not completely. But, we have a working camera again!

Change of guard at Buckingham Palace.

Westminister Flying Buttesses

Peace protesters at Parliament Square
Apparently they had been protesting since the beginning of the Iraq War, but were evicted a few weeks after I took this picture.

River Thames, Parliament, Big Ben, and the Eye.

We rode the Eye.

It's the real thing! (although nothing fancy)

The Tower Bridge

The Milenium Bridge: otherwise known as..... the Harry Potter Bridge!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Back in the UK

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This time we made it to the train station in time, but the machine that took the tickets was broken which meant they wrote down everyone’s ticket number and we missed the train along with 35 other people. They put us all on the next train, but by the time we got into London, re-loaded Amanda’s oyster card, found our bus stop and got back to Hannah’s, everyone had left. When we left for Paris, we were in such a hurry, that we didn’t make the best plan for getting back. They were going to find us a spare key, but couldn’t find it…. One of Hannah’s roommates didn’t have to be to work until 10 or so… and a couple of David’s friends should still be there…

Except we got there at 10:08 to a locked door. Amanda looked around for a spare key, but we didn’t know if there even was one. Looking forward to a day to relax and do nothing, plus not wanting to carry all our stuff around, we decided to just hang out in case someone stopped in on their lunch break. No one came, and we did our best to keep ourselves entertained. We laid out a blanket and played a lot of crazy eights. Then Sudoku and solitaire. Then King’s corner. Then more crazy eights. We took turns walking up to Starbucks for food and bathroom breaks. We tried again to get Amanda’s blackberry to work with no luck. We looked for someone who was not wearing a suit or talking on their cell and asked to make a call. But Hannah didn’t answer. We began to recognize the people walking by and we were given the evil eye by quite a few of them. Eventually, we moved closer to the sidewalk and couldn’t help but look up one side of the street and down the other hoping to see John or Emma any minute. At one point Amanda set her camera on the ledge to take a picture of us… and the wind knocked it over, breaking her camera! :( After a couple more failed attempts to get a hold of someone, and the shops were beginning to close, it was certainly past time to get some more change for the phone booth and try again.

When I finally talked to Hannah, she told me the key was there, hidden for us. Literally hours and hours of waiting while the key was there the whole time!!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sidewalk Amenities

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Before coming to Europe, I had, of course, heard of the legendary sidewalk cafes of Paris. I love the openness of outdoor seating and the opportunity to at least pretend to be a Parisian for an afternoon. I was however, quite surprised by the plethora of other conveniences that can be found on Parisian sidewalks. There were places to park your bicycle as well as places to park your car. (As in rows of parking within the sidewalk- didn’t get a good picture though) Who knew how many of your needs could be met without ever leaving the sidewalk?!

Fully- automated bathrooms! Even the soap uses a sensor.

It's hard to miss this recyling bin.

Should you be driving around Paris in an electic car, no need to worry about finding a charging station.

Who needs gas stations, when there are pumps on the sidewalk?!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Out and About in Paris

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Most of our time in Paris we were full-on tourists. Hopefully not too obnoxious, but we definitely filled our days with sight seeing. We got up early to avoid the lines, but weren't allowed back into our room until 4:00 because they were cleaning. That did make for pretty long days of walking in the sun... and Amanda complaining about walking in the sun. But we did a lot- we climbed Notre Dame to see the gargoyles, climbed the Eiffel Tower, went to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo (we saw the antiquities and some other things too, but there were so many people it was hard to really enjoy it) walked the Champs-Eylsees , saw the Arc de Triomphe and the Chanel store, and also went to Montmartre and saw the views from Sacre-Coeur and Moulin Rouge. By the end of the week we had the metro system all figured out. (It's so convenient- every big city should have one)

Flying buttresses!

There are three front doorways, each incredibly ornate.

The center of Paris.

Our last day we took the Bat-o-Bus which was basically a ferry that made a loop on the Seine with hop-on hop-off stops at all the major tourist places. The genius part of this plan though was that we went back in time to catch the last run. It was light when we got on, but then we got an hour and a half boat ride at sunset. It was beautiful and we were amazed at the number of people sitting along the river. Couples young and old, groups of girls, groups of college students, they were all there with a picnic and bottle of wine. It's definitely a picture of Paris that will stay with me.

While there are some things (like the whole high fashion scene) that I would probably never really "get" about Paris, there are other things I love. Sitting at a sidewalk cafe watching all the people out and about whether they're on foot, on bicycles or a Vespa like some of the ladies we saw in suits and heals headed to work.... and of course ending the day watching the sunset along the Seine.

About 10:30 when it was finally dark enough, the lights turned on, and Paris was lit up. The bridges were all outlined by lights and the monuments were illuminated. Other more expensive boats had flood lights designed to light up everything as they went by, but I was quite content on the Bat-o-Bus. Our night cruise ended right at the Eiffel Tower.



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I can't speak in France. I don't know French. Not only do I not know French, but I cannot pronounce French words. It's quite frustrating to see a word, figure out what it means, but not be able to say it! Spanish pronunciation is so easy- you just pronounce everything! Not so in French, and while we were able to figure out some of the rules by the end of the week, most of the time I had no clue. Also, because I've spent so much time in Colombia, I still want to speak in Spanish! I'm so used to talking to waiters, cab drivers, grocery store clerks, etc. in Spanish- not English. And in Paris, it's like I know I shouldn't be speaking English, therefore Spanish!

Which leads me to saying something like this:

Un crepe con sucre por favor.
(long pause as I realize that I cannot say the French word for water, and I have accidently switched to Spanish)
And a water too, please.



Monday, June 28, 2010

Kären and Amanda explore Paris

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After our days of lots of traveling and not much sleep, we went to bed really early. As in 7:00. But it was good to wake up early and get a head start on the day. The plan was to see Notre Dame, but when we got there we discovered they were ordaining 9 priests, and we would need to come back another day. Instead, we spent the day walking around- a lot of walking around! We saw our first views of the Seine, the Eiffel tower and the Louvre. The Louvre was so impressive! I'd heard people talk about how big it was, and how impossible it is to see everything in one day... but it still didn't prepare me for seeing it in person. In general, there are just a lot of beautiful buildings. Even regular apartment buildings and stuff are beautiful!

The next day we went to Versailles. It was the place Amanda was the most excited to see. She assured me that both the palace and the grounds would be amazing. And they were. It's hard to imagine how they were even able to create it all back then. Besides the size, everything was so elaborate. How did they get so much marble? carve so many statues and intricate trimwork? and get so many paintings? I don't know.

So, this has not been a year for me and cameras. First, my camera was stolen in February at Carnaval. Then, I bought a replacement camera that I like a lot until the cable stopped working about a month ago. (You need the cable to charge the battery) I took it back to the store I bought it at in Colombia where they confirmed that the cable did not work, and told me I needed to go to a Samsung store downtown. About a week later I went, and they told me that yes, my camera was fine, but no, the cable was not. They told me they would order a cable for me and call when it came in. Of course, I didn't ever hear back from them, and I was so busy finishing up with schoool and packing that I didn't call them. When I did get home I figured I could just go to Best Buy and buy a wall charger or something. Which I did, but they told me that you cannot use a wall charger with Samsung camera- you have to have a cable. And you have to have it mailed to you. So, I had to wait around for the cable to arrive. When it finally got there, I charged my camera at Amanda's apartment in Seattle. I used it for an afternoon in London, but when I tried to use it in Paris, it wouldn't turn on. And now it won't charge either. I'm hoping that it will charge when I am back in London. I so wanted my own camera for this trip, and it doesn't work! I've been sharing Amanda's camera, but when we went to Versailles, her camera died! Luckily, her blackberry has a good camera... and her camera does charge!

A bridge we crossed covered with locks people had left.

The Louvre

It totally looks like this guy is sitting in the fountain, and we were excited to go in until we realized that there was actually a pathway there...

And the palace of Versailles...