#50 Vacuum cleaners are dreamers in France

If you’re new in France and practicing French and yoga at the same time, you’d no doubt have heard your instructor say ‘Inspirez…’ and ‘Expirer…’ When i first got here I found these curious just like other faux amis (lit. false friends: French words that are similar to English but mean different things ranging in difference in nuance to fundamental meaning). Then I got over the initial surprise and got used to my instructor telling me to inspire and to expire when holding my poses. But last night I learned that a vacuum cleaner is an ‘aspirateur’ in French. It tickles me to imagine vacuum cleaners aspiring to become something, I don’t know, maybe a Roomba? Or maybe they were previously brooms who had aspirations and ultimately evolved into vacuum cleaners.

On a related note, the word perspire doesn’t exist in French. This is a tip for those like myself to try to wing French by replacing normal sounding words like sweat to more scientific or sophisticated words like perspiration and hoping that the francophone listener would understand what we mean. But nope, perspiration doesn’t work in this case. The word you’re looking for is ‘transpiration.’ Every time you break a sweat, something transpires between your body and the world. Sounds weirdly philosophical, yeah?

Another similar story but this time it doesn’t involve translation. Just two words in English but how they are used in diff countries. In this case: the US/Malaysia to my knowledge and England. My English friend recently ‘hired’ a car to make a road trip from France to Italy. Well where I come from we say ‘rent’ a car. We hire a person, not a thing, right? But you know, in england, you hire one and it’s kinda cute because it conjures an image of these vehicles waiting in line clutching their resumes in order to be ‘hired’ for a gig. Maybe they can get career advice from their fellow machinery aka the vacuum dreamers I mean cleaners.

That’s all for my small anthromorphological (am I using this word right?) anecdote for today!

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#49 Reminiscing PB88: Barcelona (Port 14)

What is Peace Boat?

¡Hola! (Hello in Spanish)

  • Date: 2015/10/9
  • Port Name: Barcelona
  • Country: Spain
  • First time there?: Yes!
  • What did I do?: Free day again. We are the luckiest! So we hung out in the city for a day, visited the free part of Guell Park (I’m not sure if it was Guell Park actually, but there’s a little hill with a view of the city, and the colorful Gaudi benches where Romain Duris almost had an affair with the married woman in Spanish Apartment). Then we visited Sagrada Familia of course!

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“Unfinished, of all the words you can use to describe the Sagrada Familia — Brown, pointy, weird, the one that really seems to stick is unfinished. Why? Because on June 7th 1926, the architect, Antonio Gaudi, whose beard was also brown, pointy, weird and unfinished was run over by a bus. And so, his greatest masterpiece would remain forever, unfinished. Gaudi, to his credit, never gave up on his dream, but that’s not usually how it goes. Usually its not a speeding bus that keeps the brown, pointy, weird church from getting built. Most of the time it’s just too difficult, too expensive, too scary. It’s only once you’ve stopped that you realise how hard it is to start again. So you force yourself not to want it. But it’s always there and until finished it it’ll always be…”

Yes, I’m quoting Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother. You know, before you visit somewhere for real in person, you always have these few words that you associate with one place, or no words at all. “Sagrada Familia” was the word that stuck with me for Spain since my days living in Japan. I learnt it through Japanese TV and through Japanese friends or friends of friends who’ve visited Barcelona / Spain, who are always saying “Sagrada Familia”. In the back of my mind I’d always thought it was a normal building or a little house or something, swarmed with Japanese tourists, and I was so pleasantly surprised. Sorry #katak di bawah tempurung (Malay proverb meaning ignorant).

This was easily the most beautiful architecture I’ve ever seen. I’m glad I took the audio guide, because they explained the intentions of Gaudi and his successors in how they designed the building, an organic theme to reflect the work of God and nature, and the placement of the windows according to the position of the sun during the times of the day, etc. I uploaded a pic of the interior here, but I doubt it’ll be that much of a travel spot spoiler because it’s still being constructed, and each time you go there might be a new addition. According to Wikipedia, construction started in 1882 (!) and it will be ongoing for at least another 50 years. The exterior was also extremely impressive, with the religious carvings and sculptures decorating the entrances and walls.

Here’s a shaky picture of Sagrada Familia in LEGO! At the Lego UNESCO World Heritage Site exhibition in Singapore (taken 29th July, 2017)

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After that we had coffee in front of the building and some tapas with friends. Here’s an email I wrote to le bf:

“So Barcelona was a REALLY NICE and elegant city, I think it may have been one of the best ports so far. Marseille is the best of course for obvious reasons! But I really enjoyed seeing the people, the cleanliness of the city, just the right amount of color and noise and interesting architecture in Barcelona! I had tapas and got a bit tipsy after ONE single glass of sangria and climbed on one of those lion statues below the Christopher Columbus statue lol. See pic shared on fb”

I still got the pic with me, it’s definitely not public blog sharing material 😛

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Next Port: Gibraltar!

#48 Reminiscing PB88: Marseilles (Port 13)

What is Peace Boat?

Bonjour! (Hello in French)

  • Date: 2015/10/8
  • Port Name: Marseilles
  • Country: France
  • First time there?: Surprisingly, no! I was there with Jas back in 2012 to catch a bus to Cassis!
  • What did I do?: FINALLY GET TO SEE LE BF FOR 6 HOURS

The day I get to see someone I was really looking forward to see had to be the shortest port day out of all port days. But it was still super worth it! We just spent the day having lunch and walking around at the Old Port, followed by a visit of the boat! It was a timely and much-needed emotional battery charging session for the remaining half of the trip.

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Next port: Barcelona!

#47 Reminiscing PB88: Palermo (Port 12)

 

What is Peace Boat?

Buon giorno! (Hello in Italian)

  • Date: 2015/10/6
  • Port Name: Palermo
  • Country: Italy
  • First time there?: Yes!
  • What did I do?: One free day for the CCs hoorah!

Here we are in the mafia capital of Italy! It’s a port city on the Island of Sicily and home to many architectural landmarks like the Palermo Cathedral on my featured image. Unfortunately, when we’re not forced to work as interpreters during port days, we have less inclination to read up on the city. Therefore I have nothing super interesting to share with regards to its history and economy.

Here’s an excerpt from an email I sent, talking about my general first impressions of the city:

“Palermo is very different from Venice, it’s much noisier and a lot more cars. I really don’t like many cars… They are so noisy. The buildings here look really old too and it’s less touristy here. I havent seen a mafia yet. But my two guy friends decided to dress up in suits haha”

The buildings look really old, some even crumbling. The narrow alleys which is characteristic of Italian cities made it rather hard to fully capture the grandness of the facades in photos.

Here’s an excerpt from a postcard I sent about what I did:

“Bongiorno! I went to visit the Fountain of Shame, it’s a fountain surrounded by naked statues and it’s right outside a church!! I think they sculpted the women’s bodies based on male models because they are so muscular. Then I went to visit the catacombs and now I’m not sure if I have an appetite for lunch :(“

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I guess I did have an appetite to eat after all! Here they put a generous amount of chocolate spread in your croissants!

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Postcard for the family: Coming soon

Next port: Marseilles, France!

#46 Reminiscing PB88: Kotor (Port 11)

STILL POWERING THROUGH MY PB DOCUMENTATION AFTER ALMOST 2 YEARS!

What is Peace Boat?

Zdravo! (Hello in Montenegrin)

  • Date: 2015/10/4
  • Port Name: Kotor
  • Country: Montenegro
  • First time there?: Yes!
  • What did I do?: Had a half day tour at the and spent the remaining few hours with Akari-chan in the Old Town enjoying milk shakes and Wifi time!

If you were Malaysian like me, the first thing that comes to mind when looking at the name of this city would invariably be “KOTOR? HAHA”. Because Kotor in Malay actually means dirty. It’s always fun discovering funny names like these across cultures, e.g. like when I was discussing the name “Corps” for a legit city in France with my friends the other day. Corps may sound cool for a non-francophone, especially with the silent P and S (Why, French, Why?!) but if you take a step back, it actually literally means “BODY” in French. I mean can you imagine calling a city BADAN (Malay)? Or 体 (Japanese) or 身体 (Chinese?) Haha.

Ok returning from digression.

Anyway, I remember the tour that day brought us to a city about an hours’ drive away. It was a medieval town registered as a UNESCO site and I remember the buildings constructed using really really black rocks and really really closed shops, because unfortunately it was a frigging Sunday and everybody knows Sundays in Europe are boring. I don’t remember the name of the city but after some intense googling, I finally found it, it was BUDVA!! And a bit more random googling later, it’s apparently 2500 years old and one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic Coast.

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I’m a bit sad because all I remember is that it was a tiny medieval town with some churches and mass going on so we couldn’t go in, it had a beach at one of its exits, and that there was a little St Mary statue at the top of the entrance into the city.

Here’s a picture taken sneakily while waiting for the tour group to reassemble after free time. It’s so easy to identify older Japanese tourists, the light colored clothes, the fishermen hats, their reserved dispositions (which turn into totally diva attitudes when confronting Japanese service providers), etc. Haaa, memories

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This was an island we passed by on the way to Budva for a photostop. It’s an island called Sveti Stefan. The only thing I remember explaining about this island is that it’s super luxurious and served as the venue of a very famous tennis player whose name I don’t remember anymore… Lol soray it was 2 years ago.

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After the tour we had half a day left, so we explored the old Venetian-style town of Kotor for milkshakes and postcard writing with Akari-chan! I remember we tried to tapau cakes back to the ship but in the end we got so lost looking for the boulangerie we gave up haha, aka, medieval towns so mysterious and fun in their layouts, but stressful when two girls bad at orientation are just rushing to get some desserts to compensate for the limited choice of sweets available in the boat.

Btw I miss my outfit in this photo. I dropped the scarf at Machu Picchu (Port 22, the post WILL COME one day in the near future!!), pants & knit sweater have been thrown away because they have served their time, shoes are in the back of a shoe closet back in KL, and my sister stole my muji top. The only thing I have with me now is my bag!

Postcard for the family:

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Postcard for le bf:

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Finally, here’s a video of us CCs chilling as the boat leaves one of the most magnificently beautiful ports I’ve ever seen. Look at my hair lol.

Next port: Palermo, Italy!

#45 Meals in Germany over Easter weekend @ Europa Park

Saturday (15/4) breakfast at Weil am Rhine:  German brot and a German tasteless croissant at the train heading to Ringsheim

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Saturday (15/4) lunch in Fjord Restaurant, Scandinavia, Europa Park: Scandinavian style fish dish! Tuna and salmon sashimi, shrimp salad, bread, etc. Etienne had salmon and potatoes.

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Sunday (16/4) brunch: Bretzel and butter, cheese on a stick, and a cafe latte at Freiburg Station. It was freeeeeezing.

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Sunday (16/4) dinner at Suden, Vauban the world’s best ecoquartier: I thought I ordered sausages because the menu said “Wiener Art” but it turned out to be schnitzel, the German/Austrian dish that resembles the Japanese katsu (pork cutlet). Etienne had a vegetarian lasagne.

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Monday (17/4) breakfast in the train going back to Europa Park again: Salted and unsalted Bretzel with butter and a cuppucino from the same cafe at Freiburg station.

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Monday (17/4) lunch in See-Restaurant am Europa-Park: Spaghetti Bolognaise by the lake.

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Monday (17/4) dinner at Europa Park: Finally a hot dog with a German sausage !

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Europa Park was awesome. I miss it already 😦 It’s the perfect combination of Disney and FujiQ; there’s more to do than in Fuji-Q and maybe just a bit less romantic / magical than Disneyland. The queues weren’t that long either, maybe because the weather was rather gloomy and it was drizzling from time to time. Would recommend to anyone! Make sure to try the Silverstar!!

#44 Dogs in France are so doggy

One thing that I absolutely LOVE about living in France and something that is hands-down better in France compared to Tokyo and KL, is the dogginess of the dogs here. Never have I seen this many varieties of dogs, and these are real dogs in their element, just casually walking in the streets, barking in the farms, swimming in the ponds, etc. French people really have got it right in the doggy aspect.

(But on the flip side, you get lots of dog poo on the streets.)

Here are symmetrical good boyes at a kampung called La Motte d’Aveillans one sunny Sunday. Here they are barking at us but we couldn’t hear them.

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A black burly dog coming over to us because we were feeding bread to the swans at Lake Annecy. So curious and such a good boye. Also look at the swans so majestic. But in fact they were rather greedy birds desperate for my piece of bread.

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This good boye’s name is, omg I dont remember but hes a dog of a friend. And here he doesn’t look too happy being held like a trophy.

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I cheated, this good boye was actually in Madrid playing with a balloon. But no dogs deserve to be left out.

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Saw this shiba-inu at campus when I was still just studying French. Ahhh the good old stressless days.

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Another picture from last year. I was experiencing the French culture firsthand by hanging out at a demonstration (they were protesting against the Loi de Travaille or Labour Law at that time). As you can see, demonstrations are kinda fun in France, you even bring your dogs along for a day out not working.

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Another cheating picture (lol). This was a tired down-to-earth looking terrier (?) listening to a tour guide talking about the church in Freiburg, Germany just two days ago.

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They can even bring dogs into theme parks! Here’s one at Europa Park.

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A farm dog somewhere near Montbrison trying to see if we were threats to his sheep!

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Here’s a guy walking his gorilla bear dog. Having a dog that’s bigger than you and being able to control them and walk them in front of other people in public is not that uncommon here. So jealous. Actually I’m just jealous of everyone who has a dog.

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And finally, my Malaysian good boye is also pretty cute himself. Just look at him.

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: P

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