Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bruxelles: Deuxième partie

For Valentine's weekend, I went to Brussels again, not because it was Valentine's day or anything, I just happened to get a free ticket from a friend and decided to go. With the weather as it was/is in Paris (blah, cold, rainy, snowy) any excuse to get away is a good one. However, the weather in Brussels proved to be just as horrendous, if not more so (incredibly colder and constant wet unpleasant snow).

Some fun artwork adorning a construction site by the European Union headquarters

Unlike last time, this trip I went prepared with a list of things I wanted to see and places to visit. Brussels is a cool city and it has a lot of culture. I did some searching and found a few things that seemed interesting. One of which was a car museum (eh, I am a daughter of the South), but it ended up being too expensive for such a small space, so I opted out. Fortunately, the walk to the museum was beautiful and the park was lovely looking with all of the snow.

The basilica of the Sacred Heart in Brussels

A couple of the things I wanted to see most were the Basilica and the Atomium. I walked a million miles in the worst temperature to see the Basilica and ended up not going into the chapel because of a funeral. I must admit, I wasn't that impressed with it, even though it is one of the largest churches in Europe. It was rather too austere for my taste.

The Atomium: A very impressive structure just outside the city proper

The Atomium on the other hand, was definitely a cool sight. I didn't go in it because it seemed a bit too costly just to see such a small exhibit. I am sure it is worth the view of Brussels when the weather is nice.
Beautiful stain glass windows at the Falstaff restaurant

I did manage to get to some of the bars on my list where I was able to enjoy some fine Belgian beers. I do love beer. If it weren't so fattening, I'd drink one everyday. And the Belgians know how to make some yummy ones! I particularly like the Trappist beers, but this time I tried a cherry flavored one (Mort Subtile) and it was fantastic! I brought back 20 various brands in my little carry-on suitcase. It was heavy but worth it!
Hope everyone had a nice Valentine's day!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Superbowl Sunday/Monday Paris Style

Superbowl Sunday-American mini style

I've been in France for four Superbowls (and one in Ireland) and I must say, Paris is getting better at televising big American games. Normally I go to the Great Canadian to watch because it's a sports bar and one of the few places that will stay open until 4 or 5 a.m. in order to show the entire game, but this year I had a lot more places to choose from. After scouting out a few joints, I decided to go to Le Players off of Grands Boulevards and it was quite an experience!


French "Cheerleaders" doing a very random routine

Like all American/Irish/Indian things the French try to do here, they absolutely missed the authentic mark and instead came up with their own little, unique holiday. For example, there were no fattening finger foods but lots of goofy distractions, an annoying d.j. who talked over parts of the game, silly 'cheerleaders' who ran around the club at various intervals and a really cool fire dancer. The show was aired via ESPN America so we only saw a few commercials; it was rather disappointing because as everyone knows, the advertisements are half the fun.

Not really sure what they were supposed to be.

The game itself was disappointing; I was rooting for the Colts and to see them give away a game like that was a bit hard to take, especially as I was surrounded by about 400 Saints fans (for the obvious reasons, the French were cheering for the Saints, though I doubt many of them actually understand the rules of football.). I screamed so much I lost my voice. It was a good thing I decided not to work on Monday.

Awesome American fire dancer

video

Friday, February 05, 2010

Chinatown


Tang Freres on a Sunday-My favorite supermarket in Paris.

One of my favorite areas of Paris is Chinatown. It is located in the 13th arrondissement and while there is little there to make it a tourist destination, it is fantastic for finding strange cooking ingredients or if you happen to love the Asian flavor, whether it be the food, the atmosphere or the people. It is particularly fantastic if you go in the Spring when the horse chestnut trees along the main rues are blooming.

I particularly enjoy going on Sundays. Well, I love and hate going on Sunday. Most grocery stores are closed on Sunday, but not the ones in China town so toute la monde is there, dining, shopping and wandering around. I love it because it is one of the few areas of Paris that does not feel absolutely dead on Sunday. Often my laundry does not get done because I opt for a trip to the 13th instead.

I usually take my shopping caddy (I resisted buying one of these things for 4 years because I thought I would feel like a 90 year old lady with it but now I am ever so grateful to have it.), eat some delicious pho, stock up on lots of cheap fruits and veg and end up cursing like a sailor when I have to drag that damn caddy up the zillion steps of the metro. And no my metro does not have an escalator or elevator.

Anyway, I braved the awful weather last Sunday and went with a friend to Chinatown; we ate pho, did the normal rounds of shopping, indulged in lots of fantastic desserts and enjoyed the normal long walk to price check different items at different stores (miss Wal-Mart so much). Along the way, we noticed that the crowd was larger and more aggressive than usual. Finally we figured that it must be because the Chinese New Year is just around the corner. Neither of us had the courage to fight the crowds too much so we gave up sooner than we normally do and headed home.

Apparently if you are Italian and/or drive a Porsche, you get to park on the sidewalk.