Panda in Paris

in which this blog is an anomaly

Posted in Not France by parisianpanda on June 25, 2010
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Oh hey there, blog. It’s been a while.

This blog post comes to you in four parts.

Part One: Paris

I’m not there anymore. I left at the end of May. I miss it dearly and hope to be back in the fall for grad school. If not, Madison, Wisconsin, here I come!

Here are a couple of tidbits from the end of my time there:

The teachers from the lycée threw me a nice farewell party

Langhorne Slim concert

One of my last afternoons with Axel at the Square des Batignolles

Part Two: The United Kingdom

I am there currently and will be until about mid-August or so, living in London with Ben aka the lobsterback version of the kid from Almost Famous and listening to him say things like “Oh bother would you like a spot of tea? Lorries and porkie pies and football pitches and Dumbledore, oh bloody hell.”*

Do you see it? I see it.

It has come to my attention that I have been here almost a month and have taken no pictures of London. Hopefully that will be remedied soon, but I have taken pictures of some weekend expeditions to other parts of England. For example, my first weekend here we took a hiking trip to the South Downs, where I walked 12.5 miles across a bunch of hills which was more fun than it sounds and subsequently got a terrible purple sun burn which was even less fun than it sounds:

Not the White Cliffs of Dover but they are white cliffs and they are pretty close to Dover.

Southeast England looking twee and rural

Why hello there!

Last weekend I went to Bristol to visit my old French host siblings, Lise and Thibault, with whom I spent a week in high school in Marseille. Lise has been in Bristol all year on Erasmus, and Thibault happened to be visiting her.

Aren't they cute?

Suspension bridge

Property of the queen.

Bristol Cathedral, which looks suspiciously familiar...

Anyway, great trip, Lise and Thibault were gracious hosts as usual.

In conclusion, people here care about soccer and they aren’t even hipsters.

Part Three: Frankfurt and Amsterdam in May

I went to see David in Frankfurt:

The traditionally German-looking part of Frankfurt

David and the not-so-typically-German part of Frankfurt

Statue devoted to a currency that decided to become worthless right before I had to exchange it

Cons: Frankfurt is boring and moderately ugly, the city revolves around banking, and supposedly the population triples during the work week because of people coming in to work at the banks and is mostly dead on the weekend and devoid of young people. Pros: David and his Nintendo coworkers, apparently the only young people in the city, are awesome.

Ben and I also had a trip to Amsterdam:

Orange shutters!

Bikes and canals!

Same-sex wedding cake toppers!

They sure do have a sense of humor, the Dutch.

Things to definitely do in Amsterdam: The Anne Frank House (it’s overpriced but worth it) FOAM (Foto Museum of Amsterdam – great exhibits and super cheap,) paddleboating on the canals (don’t bother getting a boat tour, paddleboating is cheaper and so much fun) and frites with oorlog sauce (mayonaise and peanut sauce – it sounds terrible but it’s amazing and I still crave it.)

Things to definitely not do in Amsterdam: walk around at night on streets that have window girls at street level if you don’t like being terrified, see an improv show at the renowned English-language improv theater which will go unnamed but if you ever try to go you’ll know what I’m talking about because it’s in all the guides. I have seen some bad improv comedy but this wasn’t even funny after I did that thing everyone does in Amsterdam that’s supposed to make everything funny.**

Part Four: L’Arnacoeur Watch

The terrible Romain Duris/Vanessa Paradis film I lamented in my last blog is being released in England under the title “The Heartbreaker.” I’ve seen the posters in the tube here in London. They couldn’t even keep the clever pun in the title. I only hope this fate won’t befall my beloved United States. (However, if you see the French film titled “Farewell” is coming to a theater near you, do not hesitate to see it. It’s about French people and Russian francophiles and the Soviet Union and Americans and Willem Dafoe has a small part in it. Go.)

*English people talk like this. FACT.

**Activity to go unnamed because this blog is for the children.


paca pâques

I went south for Easter  weekend with David.

First we were in Toulon…

He is happy because he's not in Paris.

Place de la Liberté

Then we went, on the recommendation of one of the English teachers where I work, to Ile de Porquerolles. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, and the only reason I can think of that it wouldn’t be as touristic as some of the other places in Cote d’Azur is that it’s off the coast of some of the uglier cities in Cote d’Azur (Toulon? Hyeres? Eh…) If it was closer to Nice and Cannes, it would probably be packed all the time. It would be nice to go sometime when there’s actually beach weather and bike around the little paths…


Me being saucy (Before you get too jealous, it wasn't really warm enough for me to be barefoot with no jacket...)

Steps from the beach to the bike path

The island is mostly known for beaches, bike paths and parks. One of its only monuments is a little windmill called “Le Moulin de Bonheur,” or the Windmill of Happiness, which is supposedly how the owner sarcastically named it in 1971 when it was a ruin and he was placing an ad in the newspaper looking for a wife.

GET IT! HE IS DON QUIXOTE BECAUSE HE'S SPANISH! (This was his idea, not mine.)

The place in Hyeres where you have to catch the ferry to and from Ile de Porquerolles is called La Tour Fondue…

Does it look like a melted tower?

The next day we got up early and took the train to Nice…

Beasts of the fountain

Cote d'Azur, being azur

Bittersweet graffiti

He's thinking about Nutella.

We took a detour to Villefranche, which was beautiful before it started raining…

Cute little passageway...

Villefranche right before it started pouring...

…then back to Nice at night. There are seven statues of men in different sorts of meditation positions that glow and change colors at night. The “seven” are supposed to represent the seven continents, which sparked a long and heated debate on why in America we learn there are seven instead of five. David thinks we don’t consider “America” to be one continent because we don’t want to be associated with South Americans. He is just jealous because America is the center of the universe and all Spain has is ham and matadors.*

USA baby. U. S. A.

Our last day was the only day during which the weather was actually beach-appropriate. Cannes was somewhat overrated…it has a nice enough promenade but it’s not as pretty as Nice or Villefranche, and most of the beaches are private.

Private beaches in Cannes. Marylin Monroe is also arbitrarily on everything.

My parents told me to take this because there is a picture of me on this carousel as a baby.

We finished our trip in Antibes, which had nice beaches and a fantastic view of the Alpes.

I got more sunburned than I'm proud to admit considering how short of a time we were actually in the sun.

Other things:

1) My inability to find summer employment means I’m going back stateside at the end of May. I would have liked to stay the summer, but most of the people I care the most about here will be gone by then anyway, apart from my small handful of friends who are actually French and never seem to have any free time. This means I will probably get to go to Washington in June to see my friends before they all graduate and disperse, which I’m pretty happy about. I am a little bit worried about wasting away jobless at my parent’s house in July and August, but then I will start grad school either at Madison or here in Paris, and everything will be okay.** I’ve applied for a summer job in Portland, but I have learned not to expect much from such things.

2) Places I would like to go before June:
a) London
b) Marseille again
c) Frankfurt when David moves there? Maybe?
d) Somewhere Latin with a coast (Portugal? Italy?)

3) Now that it’s getting warmer my students have gotten in the habit of remarking how sexy I look. This job has been good to me but I’m still pretty happy it’s ending.

*In case this is the first time you’ve read this blog, that’s a joke and not actually how I feel.

**Or I will be rejected from all the grad schools I apply to and will starve in the street.

some german things

Posted in France by parisianpanda on March 3, 2010
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Photo dump:

Piece of the Berlin Wall

Matthew buys candy

Marx and Engels, hanging out in Berlin

Reichstag Palace/Parliament

David outside the zoo

Tiergarten park

Brandenburg Gate/Paris Place!

A feral German child. I gave him a 50 cent piece and told him to invest it wisely. It was the least my bourgeois heart could do.

Charlottenberg Palace


Perhaps an oversimplification?

Gate to Sachsenhausen concentration camp: Work makes freedom?

Electric fence and Sachsenhausen

Travel buddies in Hamburg!

Hamburg town hall

Church in Hamburg - the middle was bombed out in an air raid by the allies

March 1st: Hamburg decided Christmas is over

Jazz! On a boat!



1) German is a hideous language.

2) One of the English teachers at my school told me she didn’t like Berlin because she thought it had “no soul.” I don’t think this is entirely fair. It’s definitely not a beautiful city the way European capitals are generally advertised as being, but the cheap cost of living has created a community of young people that doesn’t exist in a lot of big cities.

3) Call me the PC police, but concentration camps = maybe not the best place for Facebook photo ops? “Oh, crematorium! SMILE! Check out that blood stain still on the ground from when the Nazis would pretend to take people’s heights, then shoot them in the back of the neck! OMG THIS IS TOTALLY MY PROFILE PIC!” Slightly tasteless.

4) German food was too beefy and greasy and mostly gave me stomachaches, however: Kebab in Germany = WAY better than kebab in France. We went to a kebab place for dinner one of the first nights in Berlin out of desperation and I was a little disappointed, because kebab in France is generally something I eat because I am hungry and nothing else is open, not because I enjoy the way it tastes. How wrong I was! In addition to being a few euros cheaper, kebab in Germany is grilled to perfection, not too fatty, full of vegetables and doesn’t end up half on your plate at the end of it. French kebabs have gone from being disappointing to basically inedible in my book.

5) Hamburg is pretty!

6) We spent all night Saturday at a club called Magnet in Berlin, which was especially fun because:

a) They played music I actually enjoy (The Pixies! The Postal Service!)
b) The alcohol was actually affordable and
c) The crowd was full of people who mostly look and dress like I do.

This is a sharp contrast to clubs in Paris, where:

a) They mostly play David Guetta and a lot of this nonsense
b) 5 euro beer! 10 euro cocktails!
c) The crowd is full of men in their 40s hitting on 17-year-old girls while all the girls who are not 17 stand around the perimeter of the room making judgey faces at anyone who looks like they’re having fun.

David (who is particularly vitriolic against the lack of sociability in Paris) said as we were leaving, “Look! You see how much fun we had! We almost never have that much fun in Paris. That’s every weekend in Madrid!” I thought about this, and told him that I like Paris because I like taking walks around pretty buildings and listening to people speak French, and that maybe I’m willing to sacrifice a more fulfilling and more affordable social life for that. He thinks I am ridiculous. I would probably be a happier person if I didn’t have such misplaced priorities. Oh well.

7) Here is a Takashi Murakami-produced music video that was featured in a Pop Art exhibition we saw in Hamburg. You will enjoy it if you enjoy cutesy Japanese things, vaguely racist double entendres and Kirsten Dunst.