le mois de mai


well okay if brier updated, i suppose i should update as well. it’s been a few weeks, after all….

as mentioned briefly in one of my recent travel updates, when i arrived back in aix after two weeks of gallivanting around more northern parts of europe, spring was in full swing here. all the flowers and leaves were out, the air smelled of lilac and honeysuckle, and it was hot. unfortunately, although the leaves continued to green up, the warmth didn’t stay. we just recently had about a week of kinda crummy, rainy weather, and although it is sunny now, it’s very windy and not quite warm enough to break out the summer clothes. soon though?

i’m in the middle of exam time once again (which, undoubtedly, is why i’ve only now found time to write a blog entry…), though this time around i’m less stressed given that i only have three exams to write whereas my friends have between 5 and 7 each… (!). i write two at the end of next week and my last one on the 25th. on the 27th, myself, claire, caitlin and her boyfriend naz (who’s flying in from australia) are going to the greek island of skiathos for six days!!! i’m TERRIBLY excited, we planned this ages and ages ago as a reward for getting through two semesters in a french university, and to relax before we have to start re-studying for the exams we (cough) didn’t quite pass sufficiently last semester. here’s a link for where we’re staying on the island, in case you feel like getting really jealous: http://www.skiathosgardencottages.gr/

after that, i’ve finally been able to make tentative plans to go out to bordeaux and visit john howard (owner and proprietor of megalomaniac wines, of john howard wines of distinction. not to be confused with the former prime minister of australia), at his recently acquired château there, called “château la confession”, in st. emilion near libourne. i really hope it works out, i would kick myself if i didn’t make it there considering he made the offer a number of times before i left for france. and you just don’t turn down stuff like that, y’know?

recently, my good friend erik came over here from niagara to visit, prior to taking off with his girlfriend to travel all around europe. although quarters in my room are already comically small, we managed for the six days he was here, even with all the rain keeping us inside. it was so much fun showing him around the place i’ve been living in the past nine months, like a “worlds collide” type situation. aside from initiating him into our pretty laid-back lifestyle of market going, café sitting, dinner making, etc., we made it down to marseille for a day, hiked up to the cathédral notre dame de la garde, with its amazing view of marseille and the mediterranean, and walked all along the port, stopping at the end to sit by the water at the end of the day and eat some raspberry tarts (my favourite). i took advantage of the fact that erik was now the newbie there with his camera, and didn’t even bring mine. my shoulders thanked me.

we also did a day trip to nice! i’d never been, so it was a great opportunity to see another stunning water-side city. nice is the second most visited tourist city in all of france, so i’m told. i’ll spare you the over-used nice is nice jokes (it’s pronounced ‘niece’, anyhow!) by telling you that it’s in fact very pretty, very quaint, easy, interesting, and full of things to do. we managed to grab lunch, sit on the beach, and hike up the château hill for a view of the city before it started to rain. after that we just wandered around… and i wondered why i didn’t decide to study in nice instead! still with the south of france feel, but more of a beach-side vibe, yet not as rich as monaco or pretentious as st. tropez, and a lot cleaner than marseille. what more could you want? after killing some time out of the rain at a café, we headed to another part of town, the cimiez area, stopped briefly (as it was closing) at the marc chagall museum of art (which immediately became my favourite museum of all, so far), and to the cimiez monastery with its gorgeous gardens near the matisse museum and some ancient gallo-roman ruins. by then it was time to head back to the train station. we tried to get a drink at a pub along the way, but were ignored so long we ended up just leaving. shocking? not really.

erik in nice
nice beach
from above
coloured tile roofs
me! (credit: erik)
les chutes
typical street view
fleurs at the monastery garden
one of my favourite chagall pieces (credit: erik)

erik was lucky enough to be privy to our last IEP party held at my university (always a raucous and interesting time), got to eat some pizza at the famous pizza capri, and get a pain au chocolat from the 24hr bakery. he of course was made to try the brioche glacé at my favourite bakery in town, and we definitely had a couple coffee beverages at l’unic. he was also around for the celebration of the lovely caitlin’s 22nd birthday! although we had intended to have a fabulous picnic in the park with pastries from the bakery, the rain forced us indoors, and so instead we had a fabulous hors d’oeuvres meal in cait’s room, replete with champagne (okay it was crémant, i feel morally obligated to specify the difference now), foie gras, prosciutto, wine, and of course pastries! so a great week, and looks like he and heather are having a fab time on their own travels as well.

erik, claire, benji at l’uniccait and me, l’unic (credit: erik)
the fabulous spread for cait’s birthday (credit: erik)

well i best get some photos on here and then get back to ‘work’. but before i go, can i just remind you that i will be home in 38 days???

cheers all!

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