Monday, March 29, 2010

Vacation Highlight: Switzerland

When I planned on going to Switzerland to see about a boy, I had no idea it would be the perfect ending to an already perfect trip.

Paris was loud. There was a constant buzz to the city, just like there should be. But Parisians are different than any other city-dweller I have encountered. I am not sure why, but the city didn't capture me the way New York did. I mean, NYC was love at first sight, where Paris was lovely, but did not inspire me to pack up and move there.

The train to Bern was stressful to say the least. My nerves were wracked and all day, all I could concentrate on was seeing the Swiss boy I met months ago. Not to mention my luggage had become very large and heavy. oye.

When I got to Bern, the first thing I noticed, other than the boy of course, was the smell - so fresh and so clean - and holy shit was it quiet. That was to be expected, traveling from a city of millions to a city of 200,000 but it still  acted as such a pleasant surprise.

My Swiss friend was an incredible host. Taking me for great food, showing me the sights, introducing me to his friends, drinks all day long, smoking at will, a day trip to Interlaken and not once did he annoy me - a miracle in and of itself.

He was all kinds of great and he didn't make me feel like too much of a burden at any point. Laughing at me wearing ridiculous outfits, recognizing that not only am I loud, but very silly - he was a great punctuation to my trip.

His awesomeness made leaving incredibly difficult though. I haven't been that sad to leave a boy in a very long time, but I did and allowed all of the TGV to read the sadness on my face - it was hard to hide between the tears and all.

For all of my cynicism, my Swiss friend provided me with something I thought I had lost - hope. Hope for something great, something special and more importantly, hope for someone special.

So thanks for the hope Switzerland - it is much appreciated and desperately needed.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Vacation Highlight: Train Travel

The first time I experienced train travel was on my way to Versailles. I don't really count it though because it was a short trip, and I was still in a foreign-land daze.

The next time I took a train was from Paris to Bern, Switzerland. It was a 4.5 hour ride from one country to another - can you imagine?! It would take longer to get from Vancouver to Edmonton.

When I was in Bern, we went on a day-trip to Interlaken, again via train.

This time it was awesome. We stood and had a sandwich and a beer for lunch, followed by a smoke - at the train station. Yes, you read that right, I was able to smoke, inside the train station. yesssss!

We couldn't finish our beer before our train, so we took the can onto the train.

Sidenote: This was very common - people walking around drinking alcoholic beverages. Usually just beer, but even in Paris, people were casually strolling and drinking and smoking and it was the best thing ever.

The train-ride to Interlaken was beautiful. Lakes snuggled into the foothills of the Swiss Alps, the snowcapped  mountains, well it was splendid.

Check it out:

Of course, not all train travel is happy travel - the ride from Bern to Paris was depressing as shit. And it was late, but the cops all of a sudden were on board, so I think we may have been smuggling a criminal or something.

Also, is it weird that I didn't have to fill out any paperwork going into France or Switzerland, and they didn't even look at my passport going or leaving Switzerland?! Does anyone else find that strange?

Anyways, trains are awesome and I wish we had more access to them here. That would be great.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Vacation Highlight: New Shoes

Before I left for Paris, I knew I wanted to buy one thing: a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes.

Can you imagine?! Louboutins from Paris! l'eek!

Well, thanks to a ridiculously busy January and February at work, I was able to afford a pair. These would officially be the most expensive pair of shoes in my closet. I wasn't going to take this decision lightly.

My first day of wandering, I stumbled upon the Louboutin store by Notre Dame. I wasn't quite ready to go in, but looked through the window, scoping my options. I thought the store was a little small, but whatever.

On my last day of wandering, I directed myself back to the store. I was ready.

I walked in, looked around. The pair I liked from the website were far too expensive, but right next to them were the prettiest shoes I had ever seen.

I asked to try them on, but that store didn't have my size - the flagship store did though.


I made my way through the complicated Paris streets and numbering systems, walked by it a couple of times and finally found it. I walked in, tried them on and fell in love.


Aren't they pretty?!

I may not wear them a lot, obviously, but these shoes are totally a vacation highlight!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Vacation Highlight: New Friends

The day I went to Montmarte and Sacre Couer, I got painfully lost looking for Moulin Rouge. Well, not like actually lost, but frustratingly confused. I then saw two boys walking with an English Frommer's guide and asked if I could follow them to Moulin Rouge.

Um, best decision ever!

Peter and Roberto were friends, from Denmark and Houston, respectively, who met up in Paris for a quick vacation. Fun!

Not only did they help me find Moulin Rouge, they let me tag along for drinks and dinner and dancing. And then we hung out the next day and toured the Luxembourg Gardens and did a boat cruise of the Seine.

We parted ways just before I went to the Avett Brothers, but not before dinner at a resto Jarod recommended. Side story: we took a taxi 300 meters because we couldn't find the place the night before, only to have it end up being closed. Too funny.

Anyways, it was nice to have people to talk to over dinner and take pictures of and with. I really like traveling alone, don't get me wrong, but it is nice to have someone else remind you that what you're seeing / doing is real and not just a figment of your imagination.

So, yeah a shout out to Peter and Roberto.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Vacation Highlight: The Avett Brothers

A couple of months before my vacation, I noticed The Avett Brothers were touring Europe. Well luck was on my side, they were going to be in Paris while I was in Paris!

My St. Patrick's Day was spent with a few boys from North Carolina and it was awesome.

I've seen them before, in Vancouver with Steve and it was great, but they are more accomplished on stage now and I know their albums better. The boys brought their banjo - thank goodness, and I'd like to make a request to them to include it on all future records, it was the one thing I and Love and You was missing.

The crowd was small - the club's capacity is 250 and it wasn't a sold out show. The guys were awesome. A foot-stomping good show, and the French crowd was surprisingly knowledgeable about the music. They played I Would Be Sad which, let me tell you, will break your heart with every listen.


They were an incredibly gracious bunch, thanking the small crowd every chance they got.

All-in-all, splendid!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Well ...

I cannot properly capture how incredible my trip was, so I won't even try.

But it was absolutely perfect.

Everything from wandering around Paris for days, to spending a magical weekend with a pretty special boy - well, it is fair to say my expectations were exceeded.

No, I didn't get everything done I wanted to. I missed seeing many museums, and landmarks in Paris, but I did that city the way I like to do urban adventures - getting lost in them.

Getting lost helped me make a couple of new friends that helped take my Paris trip up several notches.

I am home now and so very sad. I was right, saying goodbye to the a certain Swiss boy was so difficult. For the first time since P3, I cried about a boy. I cried, in fact, for a good portion of the day.

And yes, I was annoyed, and had to lose a day of work with no pay, but I'd like to give a big shout out to British Airlines for the strike. Their cabin crew strike provided me just one more day with said boy. Thanks Unite!

So there you have it. If you want specifics, let me know via comments - I will do my best to answer them.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Tomorrow, I leave Switzerland.

I think tomorrow, I will be very sad.

I meet enough boys and have been on enough dates to know when I meet a good guy and when I meet a schmuck.

Unfortunately, I think I have met a good guy.

Why unfortunately? Well, I will likely never see this boy again. He will continue with his life and I will return to mine, and our paths may never cross again. And this makes me very sad.

Funny, cute, kind, smoker, and I have mentioned before, yay for accents. I have come to realize that these qualities are too few and far between in men. Often uptight and judgemental, to meet a person that is ok with you being silly and dressing crazy is a good thing.

Only he lives here and I live there.

So tomorrow, when I board the train and leave Switzerland, I think I will be very sad.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Paris Night 1

Gah - it has been a long day to get here. First, I am an idiot and went to the airport six hours in advance because I got the time of my flight wrong. No, I am not an amateur traveler, I was just a wee excited. 

The flight to London was fine, although I have to say there is something about a British accent that makes me want to be nice to the person with the accent. 

When I departed in London, I ran for my connection and barely made it, though my bags did not. When I landed in Paris, I got a text message from the person I am renting the apartment from. Apparently the one I reserved wasn't available, so he gave me his nicer suite in a different location for the same price. WOO HOO!

Although I had done all of my research for the previous location. 

Oh well. 

I waited for a couple of hours at the airport to get my luggage - otherwise they wouldn't have delivered it until after 10AM tomorrow - um, no. 

So I finally get to the apartment and it's in such a great location! A 5 minute walk to Notre Dame, 10 minutes from Pompidou, and a few more blocks to the Bastille.



I showered, got ready and around 11pm, went to explore. I got totally lost, walked for a few hours and came home nice and early - 2:30AM. My first meal in France - pizza. Nothing was open! I also got hit on.

Boys, if a girl is quietly sitting by herself eating a pizza, don't approach her mid-bite. It is poor form. 

Tomorrow will be another adventure. I have to orient myself to this new neighborhood - metro stops etc.

Where to tomorrow? I'm thinking about hitting the Louvre and doing a couple of museums. Who knows though. 

PS - leggings as pants are totally still ok here! YESSSSS! 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A brief pause

I'll get back to the Olympic recap in a day or two, I promise. I just have to stop for a second and breathe.

Tomorrow I'm leaving for Paris.

It felt, for some time, like tomorrow would never be ... tomorrow.

And now it's here.

Oh, and I can't wait to land in Paris. I love that final descent into a new city - looking down, seeing a whole new, unexplored place. I will never forget the first time I landed at LaGuardia, I knew I was in love.

What will this descent be like? Will I like Paris as much as I love New York? Will I be laughed out of the city for not speaking even a hint of French?

The excitement, the wonder, the, well, the everything. I have heard so much about this city, from so many different people. Will the city live up to they hype?

We shall see.

My bags are packed. The outfits have all been carefully selected, with consideration given to form over function. Fuck function - I want fabulous.

I might not sleep tonight. I'm totally ok with it. I'll sleep on the plane. This feeling is too rare to be wasted sleeping.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The rest of Week 1 - Pooped

The rest of week one was exhausting. The thing I forgot to mention was that two days before the Opening Ceremony, the company I work for was involved with a very large, very important event. What this meant was I had already worked 60 hours by the time Friday rolled around.

But fuck it - the Games are only here once, so party I did.

That made the following days more mellow. I watched hockey games with Team Vancouver, saw a live taping of the Colbert Report, did a media tour with CNBC, and just played it cool. The houses were super busy, and difficult to get into.

But on that Thursday, Jarod came for a visit. After a brief presentation, he realized I was right (as always) and that the Games were something he had to see. So he did.

That Thursday I fetched him from the SkyTrain station and we wandered about like tourists. We sat, we smoked, we gawked at the cauldron and the rings, went home and got ready to go out again. I had received a guest pass to USA House and Jarod tagged along with me.

This was the same nigh Evan Lysacek won the gold medal.

We got off the elevators and were greeted by huge group of people with their camera ready. They were disappointed it was just Jarod and I. I was totally freaked out.

We saw Vera Wang, hid out in a corner and were ambushed by a little press event. The gold medal was maybe 5 feet away from us - and we were Canadian! I had no idea how affected I would be by the medal, or to be near someone that happy. Imagine working your whole life for something, and then, just hours earlier, you achieved your goal, your hardwork paid off and you are the best at what you do.


Jarod. the photog, got some great pics of the medal and such. We had a fun little time. We left, went for a pint or two (I can't remember) ate some pizza, then went for third dinner at 3AM. On a Thursday.

We gorged and went home to ready ourselves for the next two days. I may have slipped into a light diabetic coma.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Day 2 - Exclusive!

On Saturday, I woke with a spring in my step. Despite the copious amounts of wine consumed the night before, I was up quite early.

There was work to do! On this Saturday, I was doing something not a ton of other people get to do - I was accredited for the Main Press Center. What does that mean? Well, the MPC is where all the officially accredited media hang out. They write their stories, attend the press conferences, run editorial meetings - basically, the MPC becomes their offices in Vancouver. 

There amongst the New York Times and USA Today was me! I was able to sit in on the first daily press briefing, where the questions focused on the very sad death of the Georgian luger, the riot that had finished minutes earlier and the malfunctioning hydraulic at the Opening Ceremony. It was an actual real press conference - with several language options and a room full of journos with their notepads and hands up. 


After the MPC I ran home to get all Canada-ed up. The Queen and her husband had graciously hooked Team Vancouver up with box seats to Canada vs. Slovakia Women's Hockey. Yup, the game where we won 18-0. While the game itself was one-sided, the crowd was incredibly gracious. In the end, Slovakia got a standing ovation and opened up their private pavilion because we were such gracious hosts. 

yay us!

Afterwards, Miss Sarin and I failed at getting into any houses on Granville Island, but ended up on a magical walk the brought us to the best view of everything going on - right next to Science World Sochi World. 

That's where I grabbed this shot of Sochi World. You see, the firm I work for helped to arrange for Sochi World to be at Science World. I remember putting together pieces of the pitch that made this happen!

Again, taken from my Blackberry. My good camera didn't arrive for a couple more days. 

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Day 1 - Who expected THAT!?

Week 1 was intense. I knew the city was going to be crazy, but I had no idea how crazy. By the end of Day 1 I was exhausted.

On Day 1 I got to see the Olympic Torch Relay! I was incredibly excited when I was sent on assignment to work with a photographer to get some pictures of the flame as it was in front of one of my clients' buildings. So I got to go and actually see the torch!

I have no idea who was running with it at the time, all I care about is that I got to see it! WOO HOO!

I also got to do a little geeky photoshoot with all of my Canadian gear, just in case anyone didn't believe me.

I watched the Opening Ceremonies with one of my bosses at BC Canada Pavilion, just above Robson Square. Robson Square was one of the Live Sites and they broadcast the events and stuff on the side of a big white building, with the ice skating palace and zip-lining going on just above it.

At the start of the evening, the area below looked like this:
(As taken from my Blackberry)

By the middle of the Opening Ceremony, it looked like this:

Do you see the difference! And that wasn't at it's worst.

The crowds were insane. I thought the Opening Ceremony was nice - I mentioned who I wanted to light the cauldron, but that didn't happen. C'est la vie. I thought they did a good job at representing Canada, and I loved that they had an outdoor cauldron, because it was right by my work, and I got to see it all the freaking time!

The party was cool - free food and free booze and the venue was awesome. I got to see the da Vinci exhibit without all the crowds or waiting in line because the event was at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Those were amazing.

So, that was Day 1. Day 2 was super fun too!

Friday, March 05, 2010


The past two weeks have been a whirlwind. I will try my best to recollect all the best events, and let me tell you, there were a lot.

I can say, without hesitation, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics rocked my socks.

I drank for two weeks straight. I stayed up late for two weeks straight. I waited in lines for two weeks straight. And I got swept up in the Olympic movement in a big way.

It has been almost a full week since the Games ended and Vancouver may never feel the same to me again. For two weeks, this city was electric. The energy was palpable and everyone was kind and good-spirited. Now, back to normal. Ugh, I hate normal.

Some general impressions:

  • The Integrated Security Unit was amazing. I am generally not a big fan of cops, because they are big and intimidating, and I'm often drunk in public, but these guys were amazing. Not once were they menacing or intrusive, from what I saw. All I saw was them acting as crowd control - with my best interests in mind.
  • Holy bridge & tunnel. I feel so elitist, but Granville Street was easily the least amusing place to be in the world - each day was like a normal Friday night. It was full of stereotypicals from the nethers. I'm not going to be derogatory, so I will stop there.
  • I want to become an Olympic gypsy. I want to go to Sochi and work there for four years. I am in love with this feeling of community  and enthusiasm. It is intoxicating, and I am generally the most cynical person around. I received several comments on how my demeanor was so out of character. It kinda was.
  • I was surprised with how enthralled I got with the sports. Going in, I really didn't care about the 'sport' of it all, I was all about the parties, but after a couple of days, I was watching them quite a bit. The thing that amazes me are the storylines these athletes play out - I can't even read Joannie Rochette's name without welling up. Fuck - it's happening again.
  • I became an emotional mess. From Joannie to ever news montage with sappy music to every damn player profile. Ugh, I was constantly tearing up. Stupid emotions getting the best of me. 
I will go into greater detail, I promise, but I wanted to leave you with this:

Me and an actual gold medal around my neck. Not with plastic around it, or a show medal, but one that was handed to an Olympic champion. 

Neat right?