Monday, October 8, 2012

Luck of the Irish

Get your shamrocks ready- this past weekend we headed to Dubhlinn! While it was no Oktoberfest, we had a giant crew of 16 together this weekend and it was such a blast! Last week was Lyndsey's 21st birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY LYNDSEY!), so a lot of the Penn in Belgium crew came to Edinburgh for a few days before the weekend to celebrate. It was such a fun time and having everyone here made it a little bit easier to wake up at 6 am to book it to the airport for an 8 am flight...
*Public shoutout to Nad and Mae for wanting to hang out with me SO much that they appreciated my floor-turned-double-bed accomodations- loved the Belgian chocolates guys :)
River Liffey

We got to what is probably the largest airport I have EVER seen (aka to get from the terminal to passport control we had to go on NINE of those moving walkway thingys), made our way to our hostel, and hit the ground running. First things first was of course, food. We wandered over to Grafton Street, which is the main shopping area of the city (and super beautiful), and stopped at a restaurant to energzie for the day ahead- bagels of course. The end of Grafton Street runs into St. Stephen's Green, an amazingly pretty and- no surprise - green park that we frolicked through after brunch. So green that it's supposedly, like, illegal to step on the grass... Afterwards, we took a tour of the Dublin Castle and then St. Patrick's Cathedral. The city is small enough that everything is pretty much within walking distance, which was super nice. Walking around all day gave us a really good chance to see a lot of the city. We stumbled upon St. George Arcade, a canopied shopping market-type thing, and our luck (well, mostly March's...) discovered Froyo in Dublin. Winning in Dublin, day one. The dude at the counter let us guess how much ours each weighed and if we guessed it right, we could've gotten it for free. Sadly, none of us got it right. But the froyo was amazing so, still winning.

Exhausted, all of us headed back to the hostel to meet up with Becca, Lizzy, Ilana, and Jacob who arrived later in the day! We took a power rest/nap/chill session and then headed out to dinner at a tapas place back across the river in the most fun area of the city called Temple Bar. It felt like a BYO in downtown Philly, minus the BYO element, plus some Irish accents. Afterwards, we hit up a bunch of bars in Temple Bar (there is an ACTUAL Temple Bar too in Temple Bar)- SUCH a blast. The nightlife in Dublin is amazing. The city is so lively and everywhere you look there are tons of people and packed bars and everyone is just having so much fun- I loved it!

St. Stephen's Green
Cannes you guess the real statue?

St. Patrick's Cathedral

Day 2: I was struck with a cold and the unfortunate discovery that nasal spray in Ireland apparently depletes taste buds. After walking around the beautiful Trinity College campus, we sat down to a traditional Irish lunch at a local pub that supposedly had amazing stews and soda bread. I ordered it, only to find out I couldn't taste it- SUCH sad times. Apparently it was amazing though- wompppp. Later on, we took a tour of the Guinness Beer Factory which was awesome! With the ticket you get a free Guinness, which either fortunately or unfortunately (depending on who you ask) I also could not taste. Later in the night, we successfully found a restaurant that would fit us all for dinner - sans a Saturday night reservation - and turned it into a BYO Philly style. This time the actual BYOing occurred. The restaurant just was unaware of it. We finished off our final night in Temple Bar once again at a bar with live music, tons of people, and 5 euro mojitos/long island iced teas/strawberry daquiris(/potentially water- still not tasting a thing).

I woke up the next morning STILL unable to taste the mintiness of my toothpaste, but as luck of the Irish would have it, my taste buds returned at Sunday brunch with Tara to experience Irish steel cut oatmeal- nom nom nom. And then as luck would also have it, I broke a shotglass in a souvenier shop and it shattered all over the floor. A classiccccccc farewell to Ireland.

As much fun as we had, and as much stuff as we did there, I left Dublin without having had an Irish coffee or Irish car bomb, so I guess I can't reallllyyyyy say I conquered Dublin. Guess I'll have to go back someday- you with me Cat and Dan?

Until next time... Slainte! (and for those of you non-Gaelic speakers, Cheers!)

the crew takes Guinness

Table for 13= success

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

YOOO: You Only Oktoberfest Once

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. For a brief introduction to our time in Munich, see the photo slideshow below.

Clearly, that says it all, but if you'd like some ACTUAL words to sum up one of the best weekends of our lives, here it goes....YOOO was out mantra for the weekend: we only had one chance at Oktoberfest, and it HAD to be done right. Friday morning was our first full day, and thanks to the always reliable (well, sometimes) word of mouth and the handy dandy Oktoberfest iPhone app, we believed the beer tents opened at 9 am. So, obviously, we arrived at 7. There are lots of different tents, but the Hofbrau tent is where 99.9% of all American college students studying abroad take up residence for the weekend, so naturally, we flocked there first. The guards literally herded us like animals- they blew a whistle and all of a sudden hundreds of American college students eager for beer and a good time shuffled all around the tent to at least 3 different entrances until finally they let us settle at one. Since we were at the front, we were in the worst mosh pit EVER. Seriously, none of us could breathe and/or move. The doors to the tent opened towards the crowd and everyone got a little too up close and personal- hands were crushed, tears were shed, but then we were finally in- no damage was done that one nice, giant, liter beer (or two, or three....) couldn't fix.

Everyone settled at tables and Penn took over an entire section of the tent. Seriously, ALL of Penn abroad in Europe was here (in addition all camp friends, home friends, Hebrew school friends, home friends' best camp friends, etc.). It was like a frat party on steroids. In order to be served, everyone at your table had to be sitting, so for the first half hour all of us were sitting patiently at our tables waiting for the beer to come out. Soon, giant German beer ladies wearing wrist guards started plowing through the crowds delivering beer to all of the tables (they literally carried 10 beers at once, and the glasses were HEAVY *plus they were filled with the liquid equivalent of 4 beers each*) and shortly thereafter, the chaos ensued. Happy, fun, crazy, beer-infused chaos. And this is where the pictures need to do the talking... Here's a few more.

Day 2 was no different- wake up early, wait on line, settle at tables, drink, chaos. And obviously of importance to mention in all of this, is the food. If I never see another pretzel again for the rest of my semester, I think I'll be fine. All day, other waitresses come around carrying baskets of GIANT soft pretzels, donuts, pickles, shnitzel sandwiches, and cheesy bread and then others with plates of mac & cheese, rotisserie chicken, sauerkraut, and sausage. There is nothing better than drunk eating mac & cheese at 10 am.... Seriously, YOOO.

Note to parents: This was truly a cultural experience. 75% of Oktoberfest attendees are German. This is their culture. And oh, what a culture it is....

On our last day, we also got the chance to explore Munich, which some may consider a more "cultural" experience (debateable...) than Oktoberfest. We walked around Marienplatz--the central square of München, as it is known in Germany--exploring the streets, visiting the Munich Jewish Museum, seeing the New Town Hall, St. Peter's Church, and the city's oldest park, the Hofgarten, and window shopping in all the stores (that are also all closed on Sundays- womp). Now, for some pictures of tamer times. 

All in all, this weekend was one for the record books. It has taught me never to take advantage of the time you spend with your friends all in one place, because we won't all be reunited again for months. Laughs were had, tears were shed, too many beers were consumed, glasses were broken, glasses were stolen, ten kids were successfully shoved into 2 hotel rooms intended for six, and memories were made. It was an unforgettable weekend, to say the least, even if we don't remember it all. You Only Oktoberfest Once, and if you do it right, once is definitely enough.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Passport to Paris

Bonjour mes amis!!! I could not be happier that my first European excursion to the mainland was back to where the blog all started, France. We arrived in Edinburgh a full week before classes started, so after getting settled in, we had a perfect opportunity to take a long trip somewhere exciting! Seizing the chance, Tara and I spontaneously booked a round trip ticket to the City of Lights, the one and only, Paris. I had been there with my family once before when I was younger, but Tara had never been. It was so amazing to go back with fresh eyes, and I am beyond thankful I had the opportunity to see this magnificent city once again. We were there from Wednesday night to Sunday afternoon, and after those four days, I can honestly say (my broken black boots--RIP--will back me up on this one) that we walked through EVERY single area of the entire city. Since data is très expensivo in Europe, we had NO iPhones/Wikipedia/Google Maps/Google Places/Google to rely on, and let me tell you, as daunting as it was at first, it ended up being extremely gratifying and liberating. We left the trip feeling so proud of ourselves because we learned to rely on pamplets, word of mouth, and our own two feet to get by.

We were super tourists in every sense of the word, and though we tried to hide it (Tara spoke enough French to get by... Thanks T$) our maps definitely gave us away. We would NEVER travel anywhere without them, and had at least two on us at all times. One with the streets, one with the subways, and occasionally another with all the major tourist attractions on it. We tried to be creative with it, so we broke the map into quadrants along the folds, and everyday, we would tackle a new quadrant. With so much we wanted to see and do, our itinéraire was PACKED to the fullest.

The Seine

Wednesday: We arrived in Paris, hopped on the metro from Charles de Galle Airport (largest airport I've ever seen) to the Left Bank to get to our hotel on the Boulevard St. Jacques, dropped our stuff off at the hotel, changed, and went to our first dinner at Chez Francis overlooking the amazing Eiffel Tower. The food in Scotland is meh, so we devoured French bread, fresh pasta, and of course, rose vino. We walked over to the Eiffel Tower and excursioned upwards, greeted by breathtaking views of the city. We never made it to the actual top though, because we brought with us the fickle Scottish weather and it of course started to pour with gusting winds right when we reached the second tier. We didn't let it put a damper on our night in the least though, and we went back to rest up for the next day.

Thursday: Probably, without a doubt, the busiest day of my entire life. We woke up early and headed to the Louvre, in which we spent 3 hours exploring. Days could be spent in that museum, but we managed to walk through each exhibit and hit the highlights- Napoleon's apartment, Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, El Greco's the Crucifiction, Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People, and so many others. Afterwards, we needed to recharge so we picked up sandwiches and chocolate croissants (oh, how I missed those) and ate in the Tuileries Gardens. It was so beautiful despite it being a cloudy day. Then, our walking tour of the Right Bank began. We cruised through the Palais Royal, saw the Sainte Chapelle, walked through Les Halles, took the famous outside escalators up to the top of the Centre Pompediou, and then ventured over to Notre Dame. The inside of the church is absolutely breathtaking, and even though we were exhausted from walking all day, we still wanted to climb to the top of the bell tower. Sadly, we missed the closing time by half an hour and weren't allowed to go-- we were bummed, but our legs thanked us in the end. Sorry, Quasimodo, we'll catch ya next time...We continued on and walked through St. Michel and saw the Sorbonne. Finally, we conlcuded our tour of the map quadrant we dominated that day by walking through the trendy Saint Germain-de-Prés area and having dinner at Le Deux Magots, one of the most famous cafes in the city. It once was an intellectual hotspot that attracted and inspired writers, artists, and thinkers, like Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso. We walked down Rue Raspail and stopped at the dorm where Tara's mom (Hi Joyce!) used to live when she was a study abroad student here, and it just so happened that it was the one apartment building in the entire city under construction- classic. We also ran into our SDT friend Cordelia walking on a RANDOM street corner on the way home, when she lives on the other side of town-the three of us were freaking out (tourist giveaway #2)-- life really works in mysterious ways.

Friday: We didn't slow down one bit. We woke up in the morning and hit the ground running. We went over and explored the Champs Elysee, the main shopping street in Paris. We climbed the Arc de Triomphe for more amazing views of the city and learned some nuggets of history in the process. (Shoutout Rachel, Emily, and Danielle: we had PAUL donuts. UNREAL. And stopped at Laduree for macaroons- so much food, but way too good to resist.) We walked from there over to Rue St. Honore and window shopped at all of the high end stores, and then stopped in a random brasserie on a side street to have some traditional French Onion Soup. It was amazing and then we hopped on the metro (at the Madeleine station! hey madz) and booked it over to Sacre Couer, a church on top of a hill deep in the right bank of the city located in the cute, artsy area known as Montmarte. The church was beautiful, and we walked through all of the windy cobblestone streets until we finally found the Moulin Rouge (which actually was a struggle, since every single person we asked told us a different direction to go in....) We metroed back to our hood and took a much needed nap at the hotel, before going for a late dinner at an outdoor bistro around the corner (two words: cheese. plate.) It is literally impossible to have a bad meal in Paris.

Saturday: Yet another packed day. We headed by train to the Chateau de Versailles, the royal court of France from Louis XIV's reign through the French Revolution. It was undeniably the largest and most ornately decorated palace either of us had ever seen. There was so much history behind it, and we toured the interior, before arriving at the famous gardens in the back. They stretch for MILES and are so perfectly maintained it is hard to believe they are hundreds of years old. We wandered through and had lunch outside at a cute bistro on the grounds before watching a water show in the gardens that occur simultaneously in all of the hundreds of fountains. We got back on the train to the city and took a boat tour down the Seine. It was such a beautiful day and the sights were breathtaking. Afterwards, we ventured over to the Champ du Mars, expecting to lay in the grass and stare at the Eiffel Tower like Mary Kate and Ashley did in Passport to Paris (maybe even have a little baguette fight?) Alas, the greens are now roped off. Our dreams were crushed. Major fail. Instead, we sat on a bench, wandered around looking for the right metro stop (tourist giveaway #3), and went back to the hotel to change before meeting up with our favorite Parisian, Cordelia, for dinner in St. Germain. We sat at a cafe drinking wine for hours and finally got the steak frites Tara and I had been craving all trip. And gelato....Food bucket list completed.

Sunday: Le finale. After hitting all of the historical sights we wanted to see, eating all the food on our bucket list, and walking through all of the map quadrants we set out to, there was one thing we had left to do: SHOPPING! Well, as great as Sharon and Tara are at shopping, we clearly are not as great at looking up times said stores are open. If we were to have done so, we would have realized that ALL--repeat, ALL-- the stores in Paris are closed on Sunday. Fermé. Cerrado. Chiuso. CLOSED. Though our moms and our credit card bills were extremely happy with this major fail, we were not so elated, and the sealed doors of the Gallery Lafayette mocked our stupidity and were begging for us to enter them. We quickly hatched a Plan B for the day, and decided on the next closest thing to shopping: going to a museum exhibit at the Les Arts Decoratifs Museum about designers whose products we wish we could buy: Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs. The exhibit was cool and semi-cultural (Vuitton=French. Winning.) In our last hour we had to spare, we walked down Rue Rivoli to Angelina, one of the best dessert restaurants in all of Paris. The hot chocolate was epic, and we shoved our faces with bread, caesar salad, and their famous Mont Blanc pastry at what bystanders probably thought was the legitimate Last Supper. We left for the airport, and three hours, some broken train tracks, a trip to the wrong terminal, some tears, and a nice (right, Tara?) jog through the EasyJet gates, we finally made it onto the plane back to Scotland.

Between the stunning views, rich history, French culture, company, and of course the food, my four days in Paris will be impossible to forget (sorry Billy Crystal).

Au Revoir France...for real this time.

"We'll always have Paris."

Eiffel Tower
Notre Dame

The Louvre

Arc de Triomphe
Sacre Couer

Our favorite Parisian tour guide! Nous t'aimons!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cannes You Still Keep Up?

After a few month hiatus, I’m back blogging from Europe! So for all you loyal followers, who got me over 2,000 hits last time I did this, I hope you enjoy reading about my European adventures round 2.

To get an idea of how absolutely awesome it is to be abroad, I am typing this blog while sitting at a table at the Elephant House, the very café J.K. Rowling FIRST WROTE Harry Potter (yep- that’s right, on the famous napkin)—if that’s not creative inspiration, I honestly don’t know what is. With that in mind, I hope that the blog posts coming your way this semester are even 1/1,000,000 as cool as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

In case you’re wondering where in the world the Elephant House is (which I would be), it’s in EDINBURGH!!! The beautiful, historical, and rainy capital of Scotland, and my home for this semester. If you’re now wondering why in the world I chose to come to Scotland, just thank Penn for their absurdly impossible rules for travelling abroad when you don’t proficiently speak a foreign language. Lo siento no lo siento for dropping Spanish….But, truth me told, I’m so thankful for their crazy rules, because otherwise I never would’ve ended up here, and after only a week, I’m SO glad I did. I was fortunate enough to cross the pond with a great Penn crew—shout out to Tara, Lizzy, Ilana, Sam, Lyndsey, Jacob, Flint, and Todres (all of you better be reading this blog, since I’m sure you’ll be starring in it frequently.)

All it took was a little strolling down the Royal Mile, exploring of New Town, a hike up Arthur’s Seat, a taste of some whiskey, and embracing the fact that I can never travel without an umbrella and that my hair will be in a permanent state of frizz to feel right at home.

Plenty of more posts coming your way—Hope you cannes all still keep up with me!

Keep calm and always remember to LOOK RIGHT when crossing the street.

Penn takes Edinburgh
Arthur's Seat Hike

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Final Farewell to Cannes (aka the Day of Arthur Cohen)

           I woke up Saturday morning feeling bittersweet: I knew an exciting day was ahead of us, but it was also my last. Turns out, my last day was better than I ever could have expected. Rawson was leaving Saturday morning, so Adam, Hayley, and I met him for breakfast before he departed at an amazing little restaurant by the beach we just discovered. The pastries there looked amazing and we had homemade muffins and coffees for breakfast. Such a wonderful start to the morning. They also had what appeared to be homemade ice cream bars in the freezer there- Hayls, I hope you get those today while you're still there, because not having one of those babies seems to be my only regret about the entire week…. 
            Rawson sadly departed after that and the three of us ventured into town to buy souvenir posters from the Boutique Officiale to bring home and frame. However, they were all sold out so we were majorly stressing. The lady in the store said they would have a shipment that afternoon so it was a top priority that we went back to get them later on. While we were down there, we got a phone call from Arthur that one of his family friends was taking his boat out for a little spin in the Mediterranean (casual) and asked us to join along. We dropped everything and practically ran home (and by that I mean walked at a snail’s pace because we were so exhausted) so that I could pack and we could make it on the boat. We could not have been more excited- boating was the one thing on our Cannes bucket list we had yet to do. We stopped at what we presumed to be another small sandwich stand on the side of the road near the beach to pick up lunch for the boat, but it turned out to be a gourmet one, where instead of just premade sandwiches they had made-to-order sandwiches and salads. Hayley and I got the best salads of our entire trip there, so I would like to retract my previous statement that all of France has bad salads. See this Cannes equivalent of a food truck for proof.
            Then, the boat. It was supposed to rain according to the trusty iPhone weather app, but in typical fashion for us, it held off- our luck once again. We sailed for over 2 hours, had wine, and went swimming in the freezing and salty, but absolutely breathtaking, Mediterranean Sea. Arthur became our hero in that moment- and the four of us had the best day ever. We passed an island that is largely undeveloped and has belonged to monks since the 5th century, and another island where Louis XIV’s twin brother was supposedly held captive behind an Iron Mask during his reign. It is a pretty interesting tale (that can be read here). En route back to the Cannes harbor, we passed tons of huge yachts and a famous sailboat that was made in the early 1900s and still is on the water today. We napped in the sun (finally got some more color I think!) and were so relaxed.

            Then the marathon that was my last night began. The final competition premiere was at 7, and our boat docked at 4:30. In between that time, we had to get posters from the store, make it back to the dorms, shower/change, make it back to the Palais area, beg for tickets, and enter the Grand Lumiere with tickets in hand before the access closed at 6:30. Could we do it? Read on my friends…
            We literally jumped off the boat, thanked Arthur and his family friend profusely for the amazing afternoon we just had, and ran to the store. I can't stress enough how luck ALWAYS managed to be on our side this trip. It was absolutely incredible. The store had just gotten in their poster shipment an hour before, and there was an abundance to go around. We each picked up our coveted prize and then power-walked home as fast as our feet would take us. Hayley and I beat Adam and Arthur back, arriving at 5:03 and were showered, changed, and ready to go by 5:28. It was a miracle. We sprinted to the bus stop decked out for the red carpet and magically (but somehow not surprising) the bus arrived 10 seconds after we did. We got on and made our way into town, sprinting to our successful ticket-begging spot. It was brutally hot and Cannes was emptying out already, but Adam and Hayley managed to score 3 tickets for us. We scarfed down soft-serve ice cream cones (“Italian style” as they call it in France) and were entering by 6:30. I was SO impressed with us!!! We made everything happen and had so much fun doing it.
            Finally catching my breath, I made my way down the red carpet slowly, as number 12 would be my final and last journey down it. I looked around, soaking up everything, and made my way inside of the Grand Lumiere for the last time. It was such a bittersweet experience. The movie, Mud, was another American film, written and directed by Jeff Nichols, and starred Reese Witherspoon and Matthew McConaughey. The film was FABULOUS. Definitely made my top 5 list out of the 25 films I’ve seen. It was such a nice closure to my time at the festival, my time in the Grand Lumiere, and my time in Cannes. The film is a beautiful coming of age story of two young boys who encounter a fugitive and form a pact with him to help him evade the bounty hunters who are after him in order to reunite him with his one true love. I sat in my seat for as long as I could, saying my internal goodbyes and reflecting on how amazing my time here was.
            I wasn’t sitting with Adam and Hayley so I left to go meet up with them and Arthur, who, as you can tell by the name of this blog post, made our day yet again by getting us invited to a private party on the beach sponsored by Schweppes. YAY ARTHUR- YOU ARE THE BOMB!!! We had a quick final dinner for me at an amazing restaurant called Petit Paris and made our way to the villa. The four of us were some of the first people there and it was AWESOME. It is so weird to think how all of these hundreds of tents are set up for a mere two weeks and afterwards they’ll be taken down, the beach reduced to its natural and mundane sandiness once again. Everything about the festival is so real, but at the same time so, so fake. Such an interesting thing to contemplate…

            The party had live entertainment and an open bar and they must have had some type of pact with Grey Goose because that was the vodka of the night- served with delicious new Schweppes juices/fizzy mixers. Loved it! And the champagne of course. The four of us toasted our trip and our new friendship. I could not have asked for a better last night!!!!!!! We brought our drinks out to the beach and sat together by the water, talking and laughing and having the best time of our lives. Biggest joke of it all was that we were getting an academic credit for it- that one sure had a lotta laughs. The views were incredible and will forever be etched into my memory. Hayley and I were the first ones to retire back to the dorms (surprise, surprise) and left the boys there until closing (mandatory 2 am beach evacuation in Cannes). Hayley and I passed out and then I woke up this morning to finish packing so upset, realizing my trip of a lifetime (if that’s even an appropriate term for what my time here was) was coming to a close. Yesterday was perfect (thanks 99.9% to Arthur) in every sense of the word, As I sit in the Nice airport typing this second to last post (I think I still have one more in me…), I am happy to be going home, but at the same time so upset to be leaving Cannes behind.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Penultimate

   I cannot believe that yesterday was my second to last full day in Cannes. It seems unbelievable that it's been 15 days since I got to the lovely French Riviera and started what has turned out to be one of the best/most unforgettable trips of my entire life. Though we are all (well, me and Hayley at least) completely exhausted and wiped out, we obviously managed to have another amazing day yesterday. Every minute counts now. We had a meeting with our Penn professors (oh right- this is actually an academic credit?) at noon so we slept in and skipped out on morning movies. We discussed our essays that we have to write (LOL) for about two hours and then went on our merry way. Hayley and I tanned on the picnic benches and ate chicken nuggets outside the college waiting for the boys to get ready. We walked into town to hit up a shoe store we noticed the other day and Hayley bought a super cool pair of Oxfords. Tres bien.
   Then, we went to Amorino, an au natural gelato place that has caught our eye since Day 1 which we had yet to try. Well, not only did we try it, we literally conquered that place. Rather than make ice creams in scoops, they make cones into flowers, with one flavor at the center and as many others as you want in petals around it. With fresh whipped cream on top as an option - which I obviously took advantage of. It was AMAZING. Hayley and I walked back in and were on the verge of ordering a second one when Adam stopped us. Thanks Adam. Instead, we ended up at McDonald's...Supposedly they're better in Europe and so it was on our bucket list. Turns out, the chicken nuggets and fries taste exactly the same. SHOCKER. Adam did get a fried goat cheese wrap though, and they do have McBaguettes- kinda cool I guess.
   It started to rain, but we toughed it out sans umbrellas and walked back to the dorms. I stopped to get a coffee because I was literally about to fall asleep on the sidewalk, but the coffee did nothing and I took a nice nap in my bed anyways. We woke up at 5:30 to make it down to the Palais by 6:15 to beg for tickets to the premiere of Robert Pattinson's new movie Cosmopolis. For the first time, I had an orchestra ticket and was sitting with Rawson. Despite the pouring rain, Adam and Hayley both got tickets and red carpet number 10 proved to be the best one yet- this time inside, not outside of the Grand Lumiere Theater. The row Rawson and I were assigned to had a bunch of signs on seats that said "RESERVE JURY" on them, which was so exciting because Diane Kruger, Ewan McGregor, and Alexander Payne, among tons of other extremelyyyyy talented folks are among the judges. Instead of sitting next to those seats though, we moved all the way to the aisle next to the row all the cast members walk down as they enter/exit the theater. Turned out to be the BEST DECISION WE EVER MADE. Casually, Alexander Payne, judge and director/writer of Academy Award winning screenplay, The Descendants, sat down RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. Kristen Stewart (looking fabulous) was at the premiere to support Robert Pattinson and paused in the aisle RIGHT NEXT TO ME. Rawson can attest to how much I died. Then, as if it was fate, Ewan McGregor sits down right in front of Rawson, next to Alexander Payne, and they start chit chatting. Rawson and I are in awe of our luck. Diane Kruger and Joshua Jackson also file into the row in front of us, and I could not believe it. Seriously such unbelievable luck. The cast filed in, and R. Pattz was inches from my face. Honestly- no words. Just so so so amazing.
   Sadly, Cosmopolis was ehh. It is about one of the wealthiest men on Earth trying to make his way across town in his limo, determined to get a haircut, despite multiple threats to his life. It was way too wordy and hard to understand, but the cinematography was some of the best I've seen yet. And I thought Pattinson did a great job in the role, and Paul Giamatti in his role as the person threatening his life. But overall, meh. Experience was WAY BETTER than the movie itself.

                                    Special shoutout to Ab & Arthur for this fab ensemble!

   The cast filed out, Robert Pattinson mere inches from me again. Swoon. Afterwards, I left on cloud nine and Adam, Hayley, and I grabbed quick sandwiches before hitting up red carpet 11- the second Nicole Kidman premiere (she looked outstanding both nights) we had in two days. This time, it was for an out of competition movie made for HBO (YAY!!!) starring her and Clive Owen called Hemingway and Gellhorn about the life of the esteemed author Ernest Hemingway and his lover/future wife/fellow writer, Martha Gelhorn. I loved it, thought it was so fabulously well done--- to anyone with HBO (which you should all have ;)), watch it if it's on!!!! That movie was done after 1 am, and so we came back (Hayley and I did the walk in heels- so impressed with us still Hayls) and all passed out. Such an incredible night. We were chatting on the walk home about how normalized being on the red carpet has become and what a weird feeling it is to be leaving this life we have made for ourselves here. The transition back to my purple, cream, and ligth blue checkered carpet tomorrow will definitely be weird....

Friday, May 25, 2012

No. 9

Yesterday lived up to every single expectation we had. Let me start off by describing Wednesday night…. Last time I checked in, we were getting ready to go for dinner and a movie. Well, movie never happened- dinner was too good/fun/amazing to even consider sitting in a dark theater for two hours after that. We walked down the cobblestone street with the bazillions of restaurants and by chance, settled on one in particular called Di Fredo. We chose it because on the appetizer menu for the price fixe, it had a pan-fried foie gras on top of a homemade apple tart (Adam Pearlson’s heaven on a plate slash one of the best things all of us have eaten this entire trip). I don’t think I’ve ever seen Adam eat anything that slowly, well, ever…. The waitress too, enticed us with a giant “magnum” bottle of rose wine and stopped us on the street to tell us she thought we looked like a fun bunch. How could Hayley, Rawson, Adam, Arthur, and I ever turn that type of invitation down? The food (especially the chocolate mousse which we all had for dessert), company, and conversation made it the best meal we’ve had all trip! Afterwards we wandered over to the beach and played fooseball at the outdoor arcade. Adam and I dominated. Naturally. We came back to the dorms after that to play ping-pong and also naturally, Hayley and I passed out within half an hour.
We woke up earlyish the next morning and reconvened to see a re-screening of On the Road, the premiere we ditched out on the night before. We were all so glad we waited, since the movie was 2 hours and 40 minutes- WAY TOO LONG! We had heard mixed reviews going into it, but the movie actually turned out to be very enjoyable and interesting. Literally starving after, Hayley, Rawson, Adam, and I returned in the daylight to the restaurant where we got pizza and fries at 1 am many days ago. We got pasta and salads for lunch, and sadly came to the conclusion that salads just are not good in France. Like at all… Oh well, more pastries/bread/meat for us then I guess.
Wednesday was the first day that we were able to reserve invitations to the movies inside the Grand Lumiere rather than have to beg for them, so although all the premieres were of course sold out, there was an afternoon film, Post Tenebras Lux, that had tickets available. We were excited we got to actually be legit enough to do this ourselves and eagerly reserved them. We hurried home after lunch to quickly change into our premiere attire so that we could see this film and then immediately go start begging outside for tickets to The Paperboy. Well, I won't even go into the details of this film because, to be honest, Hayley and I only stayed for 40 minutes, 35 of which I slept through. It was literally the weirdest/worst movie ever. Not that it will ever make it to American shores, but if you see this on the theater roster, RUN THE OTHER WAY. The exhaustion of the trip hit me and Hayley allll at once and we bailed on the movie to instead go to one of our personal fav restaurants in Cannes, Cookies and Coffee. It literally has exactly what it promises/exactly what we needed: cookies and coffee. We had our first actual-American sized lattes and chocolate chip and kinder bar cookies. Heavenly. (However, after we were halfway through our coffees, we discovered that they actually had iced coffee there- almost on the brink of tears.) We came to the mutual decision that the caffeine/sugar rush put us at 65% working capacity, so we got up to start begging. Luckily (but at this point really not surprising to us), we all got tickets to the movie. I was SO EXCITED. As I mentioned yesterday, the film stars Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, and Matthew McCoughnahey.

Our crew was particularly excited to see them on the red carpet, because they're all so fabulous and amazing. Since this was our ninth (yes, 9 ;) ) red carpet experience, we knew how to time it so that we could see the cast on the red carpet just as they were closing it off to the public. Last night, though, we were about 3 minutes too late and they closed the balcony access to the red carpet so we were al huddled behind a gate watching the carpet from afar as the cast descended down it. At first, I was furious, because I wanted to go inside, but it actually ended up being a blessing in disguise. Rather than see the cast on the screen inside the theater, we saw them with our own eyes taking pictures on the stairs/on the carpet. We also saw Heidi Klum and Antonio Banderas. It was pretty cool. Then, though, we were scared it meant we weren’t going to get seats since they let the people huddled outside in at 7:27. K….
We RAN, literally, RAN, the red carpet. Forget about walking it, we’re so past that- all about the casual jog in heels up those famous stairs. Turns out, they had closed the Grand Lumiere (LITERALLY THE PITS, as Hayley Brooks would say) and so we had to see the movie in a smaller theater called the Buzin inside the Palais. At first it was sad, but then the movie was so fabulous it didn’t even matter. AS SOON AS IT COMES TO AMERICA, SEE IT PEOPLE. SO WORTH IT!!!!! Set in the 1960s, it tells the story of a journalist trying to get a man off death row, and the friendship and affair that forms between the convict’s lover and the journalist’s younger brother. Fabulous, absolutely fabulous. Definitely one of my top 3 favorite movies.
Since I wasn’t in the main theater, Adam took a video of the cast leaving the theater for me, and I should point out on this blog that Nicole Kidman PERSONALLY thanked him after he told her she did an outstanding job in the film as she left the theater. Way to go Adam! Cloud 9 after red carpet number 9 must be a great place to be!
Afterwards, we broke our number one rule never to return to the same restaurant twice—“why should we because there are thousands to choose from and we need to experience as much as we can?” has been our mentality—which turned out for the best. Our second meal there was equally as incredible and we had another bottle of “magnum”-sized rose wine. A special thanks to Sophia, the hostess/waitress who’s name we finally learned last night. And to the chefs, who continue to make the best chocolate mousse on earth. We were all so tired though, so we came back and PASSED OUT. More to come tomorrow… Hayley and I discovered that there has been over 2,000 hits on the blog since I started it up. Thanks so much to everyone who has read and keep on reading!!!