#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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#42 Via Ferrata in Grenoble or how I may have conquered my fear of heights

After living here for one year, there’re still plenty of sporty things to discover in this city. Yesterday, I went to do a Via Ferrata (“mountain road” in Italian) at the Bastille, the ancient fort in the middle of the city on top of the mountain and one of the symbols of Grenoble.

I was quite excited before going because I thought it was just climbing ladders on rocks with extra clipping gear for safety but what greeted me were 90-degree cliffs, tight wires suspended 30m in the air, flimsy-looking planks (that are apparently very secure because Etienne’s friend jumped on it to show how sturdy it was), and a couple of suspension bridges with not a lot of wires to hold on to for balance.

Now, I actually have a considerable fear of heights. It’s not so bad that I get dizzy standing on top of Petronas Twin Towers or Tokyo Tower because I know I’m in safe hands (or safe steel), but I still have vertigo when I’m on the roof of a building where I am exposed to being toppled over by the wind. The most extreme thing I did that challenged my fear of heights was a mini bungee-jump I did back in Yomiuri-land in Tokyo a few years ago, where I told the lady to push me because I was holding everyone up in line by not being brave enough to take the leap lol. Here’s a video of an experience I’m rather proud of:

But the Via Ferrata is a completely different thing. Unlike a roller-coaster or a drop tower where I don’t have any control but to just let go and scream, this was relying on no one else but MYSELF to walk on a 30m-high tight rope in mid-air with NOTHING below you and nothing to secure yourself except 2 very minimalistic looking clips attached with elastic and unconvincing looking strings that are supposed to support my weight if I ever fell off the cliff (<– super amateur description of via ferrata equipment). The guys in front of us had gloves and helmets and all, but basically, all I had were these clips attached to my harness. Looking back, I can’t believe they just leave the place open to everyone with no one ensuring the safety equipment of the climbers. In Malaysia, you would probably be forced to sign a waiver saying you won’t sue anyone if you were injured. But here, I guess public rocks aren’t afraid of being sued.

Here’s me before going on, oblivious to what was coming. Because #YOLO right.

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I didn’t take any pictures after we started climbing (ahahha how anticlimactic) because 1. Too scared, and 2. Don’t want to drop my camera. But here’s a picture I found on www.viaferrata-fr.net:

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During this tight rope part I was freaking out but here’s where I think I conquered my fear of heights. Because we were already halfway through and there was no turning back since there were a dozen of people behind me (extremely sporty looking people who were literally laughing while doing it) and so I just had to suck it in and not look down and keep looking into the eyes (lol) of the uncle stranger in front of me who was nicely encouraging me because he heard me swearing and freaking out in the middle of the rope. I was also screaming to Etienne who was behind me not to get on the rope until I was off it because I knew any unintended movement would’ve freaked me out and topple me over, and it was only after we finished that I found out I was creating a bottleneck behind me because I took a longer time than usual. But I think the laughing couple behind me understood because sporty people are just generally nicer and supportive as long as you’re not in a place of breaking their momentum. For example, I’ve seen plenty of times when someone (sometimes me) falls on a ski piste, there will always be someone who swoops in gracefully by the fallen person to ask “Ça va?”

And here’s me feeling proud of myself after the climb.

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That’s all! Just sharing an accidental empowering experience and an extra attraction to bring my friends to whenever they come visit Grenoble. Moreover, it’s free if you have someone to lend you equipment (which costs minimum 45€) but I guess even if you had to rent it, it would cost around 10-15€, not a bad price for a cool mountain experience in the middle of the city!