Wednesday, March 21, 2012

ABC's of Travel Stories: E

First and foremost I’d like to apologize for my little hiatus. I think I may have just experienced the roughest week of my university career yet. It was assignment after assignment after assignment. It was a tough battle, but I’m alive and ready to start blogging again!

Now back to business and to continue with my ABC’s. Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”...

When I signed up for the Summer Abroad program, I didn’t quite realize that France was such a huge country. I seemed to forget that the city I was going to live in (Tours) was not going to be Paris. So at first I was nervous and to be honest I thought I would be living in a total country town.

When we arrived, Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) was the first building I saw when I woke up on the bus.

First we flew into the CDG Airport and from there, a bus drove us to Tours. The route was very scenic and we saw plenty of fields as we left Paris. My nerves grew. 4 hours later, we drove into this quaint little town. The architecture was beautiful and it definitely wasn’t in the countryside. Everyone got off the bus and brought our luggage to our residence. We dropped off our stuff, had our orientation and were free to roam around. My new friends and I ate nearby but didn’t do much walking around. The next day we had guided tours and I fell in love. I looked around at this new world and honestly said, “Wow, this is where I’m staying for the next month!” I couldn’t believe it for a bit.

The very first day!

Monday, March 12, 2012

ABC's of Travel Stories: D

Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why...

I think it’s pretty clear that I have an extreme emotional attachment to Tours, France. It is definitely high up there with all the places I’ve visited in the world. It is so hard to choose a favourite because I seriously fall in love with at least one thing different at each location.

During my travels, I rarely have a bad time. The only disappointment that I have ever encountered is in Paris. I must first put out there that this disapproval of the city was only temporary. Anyways, it all started when Catherine and I stepped off the TGV train in Paris from Tours. We were lost and had no idea where to go. Mind you, her and I hardly speak French and we were surrounded by signs en Français (“in French”) pointing right and left. So immediately we used the little French we did know and attempted to ask for help.

“Bonjour! Je ne parle pas français, où est…”

I heard from many people that the French like it when you at least try and make an effort to speak their language, rather than speaking English right away and looking snobby. So that is what we did and were initially given a rude reaction. We eventually found our way to the hotel. I was already having a bad first impression of the city, so the constant on and off rain did not make things any better.

That same weekend, I almost got pick pocketed. It happened going back to the hotel after a whole day of sight seeing. I made the mistake of putting my bag behind me. However, my purse is very long and you would need to put your entire arm inside to be able to reach the bottom. The subway arrived and someone was pushing me to board. I got a little angry so I turned my head to get a good look at this person. It turned out to be a small lady, who quickly went the other direction. She tried to get off the subway and instead got stuck in-between the glass protectors and the subway doors. A nice gentleman quickly told me to check my purse and to see if everything was still there. That’s when I noticed my wallet was halfway out. I was a little (actually a lot) traumatized because it would have been a complete disaster if my wallet was stolen. Everything was in it; money, identification cards, credit cards, health card and passport.

Darn pickpocketers! Be careful!

I returned to Paris the next weekend to give it a second try and I no longer hated it. It’s definitely not my absolute favourite right now. There's so many things I still want to do there, like spending the whole day at the Louvre, experiencing the night life, going up the Eiffel Tower, Sacré Cœur, etc. I want to love it and I know I will, so I'm not crossing it entirely off my list just yet!

La Seine river

Thursday, March 8, 2012

ABC's of Travel Stories: C

Cuisine, favourite... I adore atleast one dish from each cuisine; I can’t choose a favourite! Japanese, Italian, Greek, Chinese, etc.

So delicious!!

I do however have a favourite dish that I crave till this day. Crepes are quite international and dessert crepes are available in many places near my home, but they don’t quite compare to the ones I’ve had in France. Near Place du Monstre was a little creperie called La Dentelle. I ordered a lunch crepe (very different from a dessert crepe and I believe they were called des gallettes) with bacon, cheese and egg. The egg however was kind of just cracked over the crepe and was still whole. They also did this to a pasta dish I order somewhere else. I loved it. I crave it all the time.

I recently went to a breakfast restaurant here in Mississauga, the ingredients sounds similar hoping it would taste the same. Unfortunately, it was nowhere near the original.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

ABC's of Travel Stories: B

Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where...

Desperados! It may sound Mexican but it is actually produced in France and very popular all over Europe. I discovered this beer during my stay in Tours, France when my friends and I were buying our drinks for the night in a candy shop.

Photo Credit: Catherine GorospePhoto Credit: Catherine Gorospoe
Photo Credit: Catherine Gorospoe

Long story short: alcohol can only be sold till 10 pm. To work around this, a store in Place Plumereau, disguised itself as a candy store. The front window is a wall full of candy and as you proceed to enter and walk towards the back of the store, there are refrigerators full of beer, liquor, wine, etc. Upon purchasing your drink, you must hide the alcohol so as you walk out it is not visible. It may be against the rules but as students we don’t really have time during the day to go on our alcohol run. So to be able to purchase our drinks during the night is very convenient!

I miss this!

Anways while in this candy store my friends and I came across a tequila-flavoured beer! I have never seen such mix before and needed to try it. I was very impressed and it turned out to be my drink of the trip… second to wine of course! I brought two mini bottles of Desperados home with me and I have yet to drink them.

Honourable Mentions: one of the nights I spent at la Guingette, a friend recommended that I try this fruity beer. It tasted so good! I only had it once and unfortunately forgot the name of the drink. I believe it was mixed at the bar so it wasn't just one drink. It's also quite comparable to a beer that I occasionally drink here in Toronto. Früli, strawberry flavoured beer! Aside from all these fancy beers, my all time favourite is still Canadian!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

ABC's of Travel Stories: A

Age you went on your first international trip...

Since I was born in the Philippines, I guess you could say coming to Canada in 1993 was my first international trip. But I’ll ignore that because the sole purpose of the plane ride was more of a migration than an actual vacation/trip.

California, 1993

Anyways, for as long as I could remember I have been fortunate enough to travel to many places. However I was much too young to remember all of it. Growing up I have grown to appreciate my parents dragging me along and taking photos of me in front of things that made no sense. So I turned to my photo albums and found out that my first international trip was taken the same year I came to Canada. My parents and I went to California to visit my aunt and uncle. I don’t remember the trip at all but from pictures, we visited Disney Land, San Diego Zoo and Universal Studios... and at my age that must have been a blast! I must admit though, if I were to visit Disney Land now (at the age of 20) it would probably be just as fun, hah!

Those pictures with random things always make for a good laugh!

Monday, March 5, 2012

ABC's of Travel Stories

As a result of googling for travel blogs, I found Annie's Wayward Traveller and since discovering her blog, I would shuffle through her posts and read at least 2-3 entries everyday. Her posts are very interesting because she has taken on challenges that I could only dream of. Annie has lived in Australia and Italy. I look up to her for being able to move away from everything she's familiar with and move to a country as different as Italy and completely assimilate herself into the new culture and language. I would definitely recommend this blog to anyone who loves to read up on personal travel stories.

Anyways, after going further and further into her past posts, I came across her Wayward ABC’s: Travel Stories. I have so many little stories from my few travels that I'd love to talk about, but I never really know where to start. I also find it a little difficult on what to talk about in my blog sometimes, which is why there is quite a gap in between my posts. So to aid my writer's block and give me a reason to post often, I will answer each letter of the Travel Alphabet everyday. I would do it all in one post, but I have way too many photos to accompany with each letter that the entry would just go on forever!

Here is the entire alphabet and I encourage anyone that is interested to do this as well:

A - Age you went on your first international trip.
B - Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where.
C - Cuisine, favourite.
D - Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why.
E - Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”.
F - Favorite mode of transportation.
G - Greatest feeling while traveling.
H - Hottest place you’ve traveled to.
I - Incredible service you’ve experienced and where.
J - Journey that took the longest.
K - Keepsake from your travels.
L - Let-down sight, why and where.
M - Moment where you fell in love with travel.
N - Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in.
O - Obsession, what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?.
P - Passport stamps, how many and from where?
Q - Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where.
R - Recommended sight, event or experience.
S - Splurge, something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling.
T - Touristy thing you’ve done.
U - Unforgettable travel memory.
V - Visas, how many and for where?
W - Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?
X - eXcellent view and from where?
Y - Years spent traveling?
Z - Zealous sports fans and where?

Comment below and leave your blog address because I'd love to hear your stories too!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Smoking Kills!

I'm starting to think my favourite class this semester is my CCT357: Digital Media - The Still Image class. For my latest assignment, we had to successfully put together image and text. It took me a while to brainstorm for an idea, but I eventually came up with one about anti-smoking. I did a little research and read in an article that smoking 1 cigarette takes off 11 minutes of your life. The average years a long-term smoker can expect to have taken away from their lifespan is 6.5 years.

This had me thinking.. what can happen in 6.5 years? Someone you know can be getting married, graduating, starting a career, having a family and of course, having birthdays. In 6.5 years a smoker can miss all of those special events, especially their own. By picking up and lighting that cigarette, a smoker is slowly blowing out a year they could have been blowing out candles on a cake. And that's how I came up with this:

By: Patricia Feliciano

I'm really satisfied with the outcome. At first, I was a little disappointed when looking at the photos on my camera. But as I was working on editing the images, I remembered the magic of photoshop and I was disappointed no more! I corrected the colour, smoothened out the front of the cake and burned the cigarettes more. I also took some photos of the cake by itself and that was when I captured better smoke shots. I edited the smoke shots into the final image and TA-DA! Here are two of the rough pictures to show the huge difference photoshop had done:

Photoshop does wonders!

We presented our assignments during our critique on Tuesday evening and my professors were really impressed with mine. It gave me a small boost of confidence to know that my hard work caught their attention. We have one more assignment for this semester and I definitely want to kill it!

Article on smoking can be read on