Finnish partying !

I didn’t go to a lot of clubs but I did go to a really nice one in Helsinki. The name is Kaivohuone. I couldn’t find many websites from the club because most of them are in Finnish, but their Facebook page is pretty good.

Kaivohuone is a really cool club and a great choice for the summer. It is packed with beautiful young people, good music, and the building is big. I went there with my cousin two times in a week haha and it was really fun.
They drink a lot of cider in Finland, and not the American kind, that are usually non alcoholic or pretty damn weak.
Their cider tastes delicious. You can apple or pear (maybe some other flavors, but those are the ones I had) cider and it’s good because it isn’t super strong so you can drink it and get a buzz after a few.
They drink a lot, I think hahaha. Vodka, also. Great Vodka. Duuh!
I also went to one of my cousin’s friend’s house and we played some card games, had some beer, etc. Young people in Finland are fun but they might be a little more reserved, very different from us, Brazilians. And i think that that was a great thing.

This is the club, Kaivohuone:

 

Best part was: we walked there. Haha, you cannot walk to a club in the middle of the night in brazil. Not if you don’t own a gun or a bodyguard. lol

 

 

NEXT POST, LAST POST about Finland!

 

 

 

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Later today, I’m going to talk about how me and my cousin Lucas bought an air mattress to go down a river with thousands of people.

 

:) haha

Let’s talk about Finland some more.

I’m going to start this post by talking about a comment I received on my last one :)

I briefly talked about the Finnish Sauna, and Sartenada (blog) told me that he had made a post about it, and it is very complete, with photos and everything. So, check it out: http://sartenada.wordpress.com/category/sauna/
It’s hard to explain WHY the Finnish Sauna is so amazing, but maybe by looking at these pics, you’ll be able to get an idea. Also, Sartenada is a blog worth checking out, I was just taking a look myself and wow, incredible photography.

Well, now more about my trip :)

First day, as you all know, I went to the beach. It still sounds very odd to be to say that, and yes, it might be silly and i might sound like an ignorant who only knows the cliché things about places, but I really did not know how things worked in Finland when it wasn’t snowing and dark…That was just the idea I had…I could’ve never imagined going to the beach there.
But it was a wonderful experience, after all. Then, later, me and my cousin went to the Mall and a few other places in the downtown are of Helsinki. For those of you who do not know what or where Helsinki is, it’s the capital city of Finland.
Here are a few things I have been reading about it:

Helsinki is among the world’s northernmost capitals and the lengthy winter, from October all the way up to April, is dark and freezing. Winter temperatures average -5°C, but the wind chill makes it feel even colder and the mercury can plunge below -20°C on a particularly cold day. Snow falls only intermittently and often melts into gray slush.

The summer is often pleasant. Temperatures sometimes climb above 25°C. Parks burst into green and sunbathers dot the city’s beaches.

So yeah, there you go…. But it is such a beautiful city, very organized, nice places to go, cool things to do, there are parks, shops, museums etc.

Helsinki Cathedral!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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But where I stayed at was not Helsinki. My cousin was living at this little apartment in a city called…are you ready? KauniainenIt’s a cute little town in the Metropolitan area of Helsinki. Me and Lucas took the bus to Helsinki a lot, and the train to other places. The train leaves every 15 minutes…and it’s like I said about Paris, it’s better if you don’t try to be a smart-ass and ride without paying because someone might come check if you bought the ticket. I need to be honest, as Brazilians, me and my cousin skipped this rules a few times and just hoped for the best. hahaha

The apartment lived at was a place his host family had because where they lived was a bit out of hand from where they worked, so it was too big of a commute. It was a small but very pleasant place to live, close to a nice market, pizza place, a park, the train station was a few blocks away…

Kauniainen apartment.

 

 

One day after I got in Finland, my cousin informed me that we were going to his host family’s lake house. Apparently it’s very common to have a Lake House.

Getting there, after 5+ hours, was a good surprise. It was very peaceful and extremely beautiful. There was the main cabin, where the kitchen was, the porch, the living room and a small bedroom were…Another cabin with two separate rooms. The outhouse. Yes. Outhouse. And the Sauna.
It was at their lake house where I discovered one of the most amazing snacks I have ever had in my life.
It’s this rice pastry thing filled with mashed potatoes, or a rice-pudding-like sort of thing and you’d eat it with butter or butter and tomatoes on top…Just divine! I found a few recipes but I doubt I can find all the right ingredients and prepare it correctly in order to be just as perfect as the real Finnish ones. Here is the recipe of Karelian.

 

THIS IS AMAZING, PLEASE TRY IT.

Another thing about Finnish food is, obviously, SALMON. And if you don’t like fish…well, too bad for you :( but salmon in Finland is even better than the salmon dishes i have tried before.
Lucas’ host dad made this spaghetti with a creamy salmon sauce that was….can I use the word divine just one more time???? Because it was!
A lot of their dishes use salmon. I tried googling ”why is finnish salmon better” but found nothing. I think it might where they fish it from, but I will not say anything dumb, so let’s just stop here with this last comment: EXQUISITE!

There was just ONE thing I did not enjoy eating in Finland and oddly enough, EVERYONE there seemed to love.
Salmiakki. It’s SALTY LIQUORICE. Horrible, huh? But since they all love it so much, I’m going to talk about it…
Liquorice is very common in the US and that’s where I tried it for the first time. I didn’t love it, either. But when my cousin’s host sister offered me this black candy, liquorice did not come to my mind. I just thought ”oh, candy, sure”. Then when I bit the candy, well…it was salty!!!! So weird! But they have a bunch of variations of the Salmiakki thing. I think I remember seeing Salmiakki ice cream at Mc Donalds. Or it was somewhere else, you know…I didn’t buy it so, whatever. But it IS worth trying, since it’s such a normal thing around there. Even if people tell you it’s bad, try it. Just do it!!!!!!

WELL, BACK TO THE LAKE CABIN…
Besides trying the delicious finnish dishes, that was where I had my first Sauna experience. The Fins take pride in their sauna. A lot like Argentinians and Brazilians, the people from Finland constantly make comments that imply they are a bit better than the Swedish people. So when we talk about Sauna, they make sure you understand it is a FINNISH thing.
But, anyways. When you first enter the sauna, the sensation you get is hard to describe. It’s way hotter than anything i had ever witnessed. As soon as you sit down, you start sweating. Not in a yucky, disgusting way, but in a purifying way. You feel like you’re cleansing. It’s great for your skin, your hair…I think it’s even great for your soul, and I am not even joking!!!!! haha

When I thought it was already pretty hot, the girls kept pouring more water into the steam thing…. And it got hotter and hotter and they didn’t seem to mind or be satisfied.
Then you start getting used to it…and it feels really good.
After the sauna, you jump in the lake!!! The cold lake. And remember, I was there during summer time…they do that in the WINTER, with snow and frozen lakes.
After taking the courage to jump …I finally got in and I think for that moment, I went to a place like Heaven or something like that. It’s so worth it.

For you, girls, a great tip my friends gave me was to leave some conditioner in your head while you’re in the sauna. It makes it soft and shiny! Very good.

So we spent 3 to 4 days at the cabin and it was very good to relax. During the day we’d eat and sunbathe, read some books and play crosswords, talk, take naps….swim…And during the night we basically just talked and ate and it was great.

Relaxing time!

The Lake

 

 

some pics for you to see how great of a time we had at the lake :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the weather was amazing, too.
Close to the cabin (well, an hour away) there was this castle. First real castle I’ve been too, and it was very pretty.
The name is Olavinlinna.

Currently, the castle hosts several small exhibitions, including the Castle Museum which displays artifacts found in the castle or related to it, and the Orthodox Museum which displays icons and other religious artifacts both from Finland and Russia. The castle forms a spectacular stage for the Savonlinna Opera Festival, held annually in the summer since 1912. 

 

Me and Lucas in front of the Olavinlinna castle.

 

 

Me loving the castle!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going to finish this tomorrow, because I want to chat with my cousin to see if he remembers a few other things that I don’t and to add more cool info about Finland.

 

Good night ! :)

Let’s talk about Finland.

The time has come. It’s time to talk about that Scandinavian country I barely knew before my cousin was an exchange student there.
Yes, Finland. Where the days last forever in the summer and the Sun barely comes out in the winter.
A few things I did know about the country before going there was simply that it was absurdly cold and I think I had heard some people say it was Santa Claus’s land. That’s about it, I’m very ashamed to admit. OH, AND VODKA, yeah, the Vodka, how could I forget about that?? ANYWAYS….

But then in the middle of 2009, my cousin Lucas went to Finland, through Rotary. I was living in Cali at the time, but we’d eventually Skype and he’d tell me this crazy things about the Finnish people, the language, their traditions, how cold it was… He was always going to the Sauna, and parties IN a sauna and people were naked and I was just ”wow, that’s pretty wild and weird….sounds awesome, cous.”
It did sound awesome.

What sounded NOT so awesome, and more…well, hard as f*** was FINNISH. I was so impressed by my cousin’s determination to learn the language. Sometimes when we were on Skype, I’d hear him talk to his host family or a friend and I was just amazed. The Finnish language is not like any other language. I mean, that’s what Lucas had told me. He had learned basic French, our family is German and he went to a Swiss school, so he knew German, he knows English, and the basic Spanish….and he said Finnish had nothing to do with ANY of those. Nor Russian, Swedish, etc etc etc.
But the cool thing is: Almost ALL Fins I met, or even just saw on the street, stores, restaurants etc, SPEAK ENGLISH. And not just average, basic, ”kinda good” English. Very well spoken English. And that includes kids, teens, adults, elderly…. It really is a first world country. I’m saying this as a girl who was born and raised in a developing country. Most people in Brazil don’t speak English, even though its taught in schools. This is changing, yes, but we’re far from being like Finland.

So when I went there I wasn’t all that worried about the language. But I had no idea I wouldn’t have ANY problems with it at all. Everyone understood me perfectly, and it was all 100% fine. Pheww :)

I decided to go to Finland because of all the stories Lucas was constantly telling me.
What amazed me the most, though, was definitely some pictures I saw of him and his friends on someone’s rooftop, watching the Sun. At 11. PM. YES. 11 PM. And it was a beautiful, bright shiny Sun. I wanted that. i wanted to have a long-ass day with Sun almost 24 hours in.
And when I turned 20, my grandma gave me some money…first thing I thought was ”I’m gonna go travel”. Then I talked to my cousin and the idea came up. That was it, I was going to Finland (and Paris…).

 

This is what I packed for my Finnish trip:

  • Jackets
  • Sweaters
  • Sweatpants
  • Uggs

Then I got to the Helsinki airport, went outside and SURPRISE, the sun was shining, the weather was deliciously WARM, and my cousin was there, waiting for me…with shorts and sunglasses. His plans were: ”Hey Luah, let’s go to the beach.”

”THE BEACH?? OH DAMN…” Worse part (not that the beach is bad, at all…)? My luggage had not arrived from Paris, where my lay over was. So I was wearing Victoria’s Secrets sweatpants, warm uggs, a sweater…and had no change of clothes.
We had to go to a cheap store to buy shorts and flip flops and a t-shirt. Except, we found shorts and a t-shirt (a Jimi Hendrix one, may I just add…) but NO flip flops my size. So yes, there I was, in a first world fancy country, at the richest city, with the most beautiful people….wearing cheap clothes and no shoes, like a bum. Hahaha.

And you know what? I didn’t care. I was tired, yes, but I knew my cousin wouldn’t wanna waste all day, especially when it was hot and beautiful like that, for me to rest…We went to the beach, no ”buts”…

A Finnish BEACH! :)

 

Me, my uggs, my Jimi Hendrix shirt...and no shoes. Perfect.

 

YES, this is going to HAVE to be a part 1, part 2, maybe even part 3 kinda post because Finland and I had some great moments together.

For now, I’m going to let you with this two pics and the beginning of my story :)

 

Talk to you later, my fellow travelers! :)

 

On the Way (APP)

This is a cool app for those who like to go on road trips.

On the way is an app that will show you cool things to do on your road trip.
Ok, so, for example, you type in where you’re starting from.

SAN FRANCISCO

and your destination.

LOS ANGELES

Then it will show you all the nice spots to stop at. :)

It’s pretty cool, if you’re into road tripping, try it!

Paris, je ne regrette rien PART III

A few other things I wanted to tell you if you’re going to Paris.

You don’t need to Couch Surf if you don’t want to, but hang out with some locals. They will take you places you wouldn’t go if you were there by yourself or with a friend who doesn’t know the place either. Besides, the touristic places are awesome, INDEED, but the unknown part of Paris (unknown to tourists, that is…) is also amazing. Go on an adventure! :)

OKAY, SO, ready to read about my last day?

So, I was alone, wandering around town, finding cool things to do, being a tourist, taking a thousand pics, etc etc etc.

I went to the Louvre on the day before but I still had time to go to another museum and I really really wanted to go to the d’Orsay. The d’Orsay has mainly french art…well, there is a little of everything. I went there because I love Monet and Van Gogh and they have their paintings etc there. They also have Renoir, Manet, Gauguin, RODIN!…all those extremely amazing guys, you know! And it is breath taking. It really is. It’s kind of like you’re entering the art, you feel it so close to you, it’s so beautiful, so…perfect. Everything. The sculptures, the furniture…. It made me want to live in those times.

This is the outside of the Musée d'Orsay. :)

Unfortunately, you can’t take pictures of anything inside of the museum and I chose to respect that. I also bought a book with all the art that was exhibited in the museum. I read it sometimes just to have a little ”taste” of Paris haha.

The best part of my trip though, was my last moments in the city. I had left my luggage at the Gare du Nord locker room and I had to take a metro there, get my stuff, then take a train to the airport. But I still had a few hours left to enjoy France.
On my way out of the museum, I heard this beautiful music and followed it. It was a street performer. The music fit the moment just perfectly. The sky was grey and it looked like it was about to rain. But no one cared. I joined the crowd and sat down to watch the guy play. Then I saw that there was another street performer. Well, actually, two more, if you count the crazy old dude who made everyone laugh when he scared people walking by.
The other artist was a guy in his 30’s with roller skates, doing all kinds of crazy acrobatic things. And the funny thing is, even though the roller dude and the musician had nothing to do with each other, they were in perfect syntony. It was beautiful watching both of them (and the crazy old dude in the back goofing around).

So I sat there and watched. I gave them a few coins. I clapped. I filmed. And then the music hit me.
That was the perfect moment. One of those moments where you think:

This is exactly where I want to be. 

 And it was. I looked around me and I thought to myself ”oh my, this is perfection. There is nowhere else I’d rather be.” Tears came down my face, but you know, tears of joy. I was so happy… The people there were so peaceful, watching those talented, honest street performers…the kids running around…the sky was not blue, but it was perfect. Everything was perfect.
Then it started raining a little and no one got up. We just stayed there appreciating such an astonishing, dazzling moment.

When they were done with their presentations, people got up with the biggest smiles on their faces, like something there had happened and only who were there, could understand. We felt light, relaxed, blissful, satisfied.

Then it started pouring. And I had almost no time left to walk around so I took a cab to the Notre-Dame de Paris. Yes, the Hunchback’s church. haha
I went inside with a bunch of other people who were running and hiding from the rain and took a few pictures, then had to run to the metro station, then the airport. That was also a cool moment. Everyone together hiding from the rain when we all realized we were inside of one of the most beautiful churches ever. Then we relaxed and forgot about the rain.

When I went outside, ready to run to the airport…the Sun was shining again. It was gorgeous. :)
I walked around trying to find the right metro then there I went….to a long long trip back home.

To sum this up and finish this story already….here is what happened on my last minutes in France:

  1. I go in the wrong train.
  2. An awesome African lady yelled at me (in a nice way) and told me I was in the wrong train, then she helped me get out and get on the right one….
  3. I met this boy who started laughing at me because we were actually in the same situation…he was in the wrong train too…
  4. We talked all the way to the airport. He was from Toulouse. Next place I wanna visit!
  5. I got stuck at the entry of the airport with my suitcase, broke the machine….Ran away.
  6. Talked some more with my new friend.
  7. Said good-bye, then realized we never introduced ourselves so we’ll never hear from each other ever ever.
  8. Checked-in.
  9. Bought macaroons and food. Called my mom on Skype.
  10. Got in the plane.
  11. Got some wine, watched a bunch of movies…
  12. And got home. (kk, after 10 hours….)

And that was my trip to Paris.
Unforgettable.

Paris, non, je ne regrette rien. Part DEUX.

Sam, my couch surfer host, told me he wouldn’t go to any touristic places with me. I didn’t find that rude at all, I totally understood.
But we did go to the Eiffel tower. Except, we biked there, and brought books. We didn’t stay in the huge line to go up to the top. And no, I don’t regret it. First because I will go back to Paris and I will have the opportunity to go to the top of the tower. And second, because Sam and I did something i seem to enjoy a lot more. We sat down on the grass in front of the tower and …we read. I was reading Franny & Zooey  by J.D. Salinger, and Sam…well, I have no idea. But it was the best feeling ever. Then we observed the people who were hanging out at the park. We talked. It was amazing.
In July/August (or, summertime…) there is this thing called Paris Plages.  Since there is no beach in Paris, they MADE one. It’s the cutest little thing, by the Seine River. It’s basically a artificial beach. There are beach chairs and beach umbrellas, and people hang out there, as if they really were at the beach. It’s actually quite fun.
Me and Sam spent some time there, too.

Paris Plages, at night.

On my last two days, I was on my own. Sam had to work and I wanted to go sightseeing and I definitely wanted to go to the museums because I love that kind of thing. I really do.
First, I went out to lunch with a friend I met ONLINE. Seriously, I did that. We had been talking for months and that was our opportunity to meet each other. François and I had lunch at this delicious little restaurant. Again, French food is …wow, I have no words to describe it, actually.

THEN, after fearing I’d get lost in the subway, I decided I knew how to get around, at least enough to get to the Louvre.

So I went to the Louvre and spent 4 and a half hours there. Did not see HALF of what’s in there. One more thing to put on my ”things to do when I go back to Paris” list.
But it was great. I took the little map of the Louvre and tried organizing myself to go in the right order of the little numbers, so I could keep track of the things I had seen and what I hadn’t. I did see a lot. And I was in awe, the whole entire time.
I have this….passion for art and ”old” things. All the paintings, the sculptures…the history behind it. It all fascinates me. I could spend a whole day at a museum like the Louvre anytime. I love it love it love it.

If you’re going to Paris, take some time to go to the Louvre. I mean, if that kind of thing interests you. Because if it does, it’s obviously a must-do.
But it’s important to remember that they aren’t open on Tuesdays. I have friends who made that mistake: they went to Paris and when they went to the Louvre, it was closed. And they didn’t have a lot of time in the city, so that was a bummer…
It’s open every day EXCEPT for Tuesdays, from 9 AM to 6PM.
You should also check the website because they have special exhibitions. And on the way out, check the shop. I bought a great book with a lot of the paintings.

When I was ”done” at the Louvre,  I wanted to walk a little. There’s a beautiful garden right on the way out, in the back of the museum, and little restaurants out in the open. I had the most amazing orange flavored Crème brûlée, took a few minutes to admire the scene around me….the whole time thinking ”am I really here???”.
THEN…It was shopping time. Walking a few minutes straight from the Louvre, it’s the famous Champs-Élysées.
I went crazy. I went in almost every store, tried a bunch of shoes, clothes, bought a lot of cute little dresses and makeup and books and CD’s (yes, they still exist) and a French book so i could practice a little everyday, etc etc etc.
It was really just too much, I know i exaggerated but…again…Je ne regrette rien (I don’t regret anything.)
I had to take a cab back to Sam’s house. He was quite impressed with all my shopping. The hard part was making it all fit in my suitcase. But I did it. haha

Tomorrow I will post about my last day in Paris and post a few pics, too. Here are a few tips if you’re planning on going there.

  • Try researching about the city, the city history, weather etc.
  • It won’t hurt you to try to learn at least a few words and expressions in French. It’s not that they won’t treat you well if you speak English, but put yourself in their place: a lot of them DON’T know English. And, they’ll probably appreciate the effort and treat you really well if you say a few words. Even if you try some mime with it. ”Bonjour – ”hello”, merci – ”thank you”, – ”S’il vous plait – thank you” etc etc etc

  • Shop. Really, do. Doesn’t need to be at Champs-Élysées, but do. There are a lot of nice shops around town. And don’t forget to be nice to the people who work in the shops. Say ”bonjour madame, monsieur, mademoiselle”, ”merci”, ”au revoir”….
  • Go to the cafés. There are a LOT of them around Paris. Bring a book, have some coffee, some macaroons, crepes…No hurry. Remember, you’re there to enjoy yourself, the city, the people, the food. Sit down. Relax, drink your cup of coffee in PEACE. Enjoy the moment. Don’t just grab a cup and leave.
  • Take the metro. There are a lot of weird people there haha, but it’s a good way to get around easily, besides de bikes. And don’t forget to KEEP your purple ticket. You might need it, in case the police wants to see it, etc.
  • Go to MUSEUMS. Not just the Louvre. Here is a LIST of all the Museums in the city. http://www.parisnotes.com/museums/parismuseums.html Unfortunately, I only went to two. But there are many options.
  • Ride the bikes.
  • Drink wine.
  • Wake up early to go to a boulangerie, to buy fresh out of the oven Baguettes. It’s like a party in your mouth and tummy.
  • Don’t be picky. Try new things.

And here is the most important tip:
Do not go to Paris with that cliché pre-formed opinion that they’re all going to be rude and treat you badly. I think that the way you should look at it is: Smile at people, they’ll smile back at you. Smile at the WORLD and it will smile back at you. It’s simple. And, yeah, of course, sometimes you’ll run into someone who’s not in a good day and they might not be the nicest to you, but overlook that and be nice to them ANYWAYS. Your politeness and education should NOT depend on theirs.

 

Très bien, I think that’s all for today!    

Paris, non, je ne regrette rien.

What best way to start a post about Paris than with a song by lovely Piaf?

My stay in Paris was extremely short, but memorable.
I went to Finland in July, to visit my cousin, and I had bought tickets to Paris before hand. I only stayed there for 5 days, and before getting there, I was upset it wasn’t a lot of time and maybe I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the trip.
Oh, man, was I wrong. Paris is worth visiting, even if you have just a couple of days.
Everything they say about it is true. It’s a damn romantic city, it has amazing food, beautiful places, great music.
I will have to disagree with ONE thing though. And I will explain why.
People kept telling me that French people were rude. I’m not sure if I didn’t took that advice into consideration because people tend to say that about my city (Curitiba) or because I just don’t like pre-judgements. I like checking it out myself.
So I did.
I went to Paris with the most gigantic smile on my face. I was happy to be there, I was enjoying being with myself. In the airport, I bought some food because I hadn’t had any breakfast and I was taking a bit too long to choose what I wanted to eat. This FRENCH lady in line, smiled at me, with absolutely no hurry or any signs of impatience, and told me that the fruit juice was really tasty and the pan au chocolat was delightful. She realized I wasn’t from there and chose to help.
There. My first ever impression about French people. Not bad, huh?
Actually, I’m not being fair. I take french classes and my teacher is from France and he is the nicest person, really sweet and patient. Not at all rude. And then, the lady at the airport.  I thanked her, took my food,sat down, called my mom on Skype and said: Mom, I’m in Paris.

This was the first time I tried Couch Surfing. When I was in Finland I sent messages to a bunch of people and asked if I could crash on their couch for a few days. I got a few replies, but there was this one guy with a lot of references. So I messaged him back, we talked a lot, for a few days, to get to know each other a bit better before I went to his house.
Sam was his name. Sam gave me directions from the airport to Gare du Nord, to his house. I thought I was going to get lost, actually, I had no doubt about it. But I followed his instructions, asked people if I was going the right way, and I got to Gare du Nord pretty easily. Then, from there, I had to carry my…quite big….suitcase to Sam’s house.
Then I got off the train and realized that there was no elevator or escalator.  ”Ok, ready to carry this huge thing up the stairs?” I thought. That’s when two guys gently offered themselves to help me carry it upstairs. I was so relieved!
On the way to my host’s house, I took time to look around. The area I would stay at, was mostly a immigrants area. A lot of indians, middle-eastern people whistling and asking if they could carry my luggage for me. It was funny.
Following the directions from my iPod, I got to his house, but could not type in the numbers to open the gate. I think Sam saw me from upstairs and ran to help me.
His apartment…also no elevators. But he carried my bag. :)

His apartment was a very pleasant little place, with two rooms and a nice living room, with a tiny balcony. So french.
I noticed that no matter what time you went to the balcony, you could always see people in the other buildings smoking on their balconies.
The weather was really warm when I was there, which I love, by the way.
After leaving my suitcase in the room I was staying at, Sam asked if I wanted to go sit by the Siene river and drink some beers. ”If I want to??? I’ve been dreaming about it.”
There we went, got some beers, sat down and talked for an hour about our travels, favorite places, stories, etc. Then we decided to go ride the Paris bikes.
They have a pretty good bike sharing system.

Paris

A resurgence in bike sharing programs is attributed by many to the launching in 2007 of Paris’s Vélib’, a network of 20,000 specially designed bicycles distributed among 1450 stations throughout Paris. Vélib’, inspired by Lyon’s seminal Vélo’v project, is now considered the second largest bike sharing system of its kind in the world. 

That was absolutely the best idea ever. We rode our bikes all over Paris. For hours. Such a great feeling.
We stopped at a bistro to have some…burgers! Yes. And then Sam ate them with a fork and a knife and I found that hysterical for some reason. Then we continued our ride. It was summer, so through out the city, there were these water spraying ballon things to refresh everyone.

Refreshingg

Fork and knife + burger = Sam

In the days that followed, Sam took me to a few other nice places around town. We talked a lot. I was too shy to practice my french with him, but when I was alone and had to order something, I did pretty well.
My cousin, Ana, who is basically my sister, was living in Europe at that time and she was going to be in Paris when I was there. So we decided to meet. It was so great that we were there, together. We are very close, always have been. I live a couple blocks away from her house, in Curitiba. We were always together when kids, we even looked a lot like each other. But meeting in Paris was so special.
We stopped by little shops, had amazing ice cream, walked around, went into gorgeous churches, talked, talked, talked. She then met my couch surfer for a few minutes, only, though. Then she took her train back to Germany, where she was living.

Me and my cousin, Ana,@some train station.

The next day, Sam introduced me to his friend Tytti (I know….) from Finland! So we had something to talk about since I had just spent 10 days in Finland.
The three of us went out for some drinks, little shops etc. And on the next day, Tytti brought a friend who worked with her at Disney Paris, so we all went out for a walk in the city, had some drinks… and that’s when we went to La Famille  (one of my first posts). We had a great time, laughed a lot, tried all sorts of drinks…
Sam decided he wanted to make a Moroccan dinner for me and Tytti. He is from Morocco but has been living in France for years, with his brother. He no longer follow traditions like the Ramadan (Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, involves abstaining from food, drink, sexual relations, smoking and other vices between sunrise and sunset.). His mom, who was still back in Morocco, thought he did, so she sent him a few Ramadan sweets, that he could eat after sunset. We ate them fro breakfast, and they are DELICIOUS.
Anyways, about the dinner. We invited Tytti to go to ”our” place the next day. Sam and I went to buy the ingredients and wine. There is ALWAYS wine, all the time, everywhere, for everything, in France. No need to say that I loved it.

Tytti came over and we set the table in the living room, by the balcony, because, like me, Tytti also had a passion about the french balconies and she had noticed the smokers, too. We decided we could stay in the balcony looking at Paris, for hours.
Sam made this Moroccan chicken, and it was divine. I wish I had learned how to make it, but it took quite a while ot cook it, then all the spices etc….besides, I do like cooking, but he was the chef that night, so me my new finnish friend stayed out of the kitchen. Drinking wine and talking.

Our french/moroccan dinner :)


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will finish this post TOMORROW :)


STOP KONY

Please take a few minutes to watch this.
We need to stop Kony. We CAN stop him.
But first, we need to make everyone know who Kony is.
Care. Act. Share.
This is the time to show we can actually make a difference.

You can just share, it’ll help, but if you want to do MORE, then go to http://www.kony2012.com and buy the kit, sign the pledge, make the video famous!

And negative part is…

I was so excited last time I wrote about Brazil, I only wrote the good things about it.
I mean, I love it here, I really do. But maybe it is important to talk about the negative part of Brazil.

This weekend I hosted 2 guys from Chile, on Couch Surfing. It was really great, we had fun, talked a lot, became really good friends…. they have been traveling for about a month and a half and they passed through several cities in Brazil.

Two nights ago, when they were on the computer, Nicolas noticed some strange activity going on with his credit card account. He thought it could be an error on the back’s website but last night he saw that there were a few more transactions that he hadn’t performed. We then realized that his credit card had been cloned. The son of a b***h who cloned it managed to spend a total of 1200 dollars. Then Carlos, the other Chilean guy, decided to check his account and yup yup, his credit card had been cloned as well.

It was such a big hassle to fix it all, they had to cancel their cards, call home, ask for money. After Curitiba, they were planning on going to Florianópolis, but unfortunately, they had to cancel their trip :(.

They talked and realized that the fraud happened while they were in Angra dos Reis – RJ.
It is so frustrating to see something like that happen. Can you image what a big chaos it’ll be during the World Cup we’re going to host???
Brazil IS an amazing place, beautiful beaches and all. But it saddens me to see how many bad people are walking around, free, people who do not give a damn about other people, people who help take this country DOWN.

I am not trying to say that you should not come to Brazil. You should. But be aware, be careful, be 100% alert at ALL times. Don’t go to just any ATM, don’t walk around with too much money. Have a COPY of your documents. Choose having a local take you around if possible. Brazil is great, but it’s still…Brazil.

And NOPE, this is NOT ALL.
Remember my German couch surfer, Lena?

Well, she went through some even WORSE things.
She went from my city to Ilha do Mel. (Really nice Island, I might post about it later, on a more happy post……) Then after Ilha do Mel, she was going to Asunción, Paraguay. She had to come back to Curitiba to take the bus to Paraguay, from here.
I received a messaged from her a couple nights ago, telling me what happened to her.

So, she was in the bus and a guy stands up, takes a MACHINE GUN and tells everyone that he is from the Police. Which, he obviously was not.
I’m going to sum this up because I do not know all the details.
Another guy wearing a mask gets in the bus. They hit the bus driver, and drove to the middle of no where.
Suddenly, both guys are telling everyone to cooperate because all they wanted was their money and bla bla, made everyone give all they had in their purses and bags. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, they tell everyone to strip, leaving them in their underwear. RIDICULOUS. Then the two robbers, make people get out of the bus and get inside of the place the luggage were, ‘under’ the bus. Everyone was crying and nervous about it all….
The two guys took them all back to the bus station, and threatened them, so they had to act natural and take another bus to Paraguay.

It gets worse. She had most of her things stolen….then had to take another bus. Then this new bus had an accident. There was a truck transporting wood and a big block wood fell from the truck, hitting the BUS, and breaking the glass, that went inside the new bus driver’s eye. Seriously.

So she had to take a THIRD bus. But I think you got what I am trying to say.

It’s such a shame. I actually feel embarrassed about all this, for my country. It’s sad.

So this is basically a apology. I am so sorry if you have been here and had any kind of trouble. One day we will be a good country, I am sure…. (not SURE, I’m just trying to be positive…)

But for now, this is our reality and I am SO SO SO SO SORRY!!!!!!

Don’t give up on us.

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