Perfect Closure in Paris

How do you leave a place you've fallen in love with - even more so, a place you've accepted as home? Even further, how do you walk away from the most beautiful city in the world, a dazzling array of buildings, people, monuments - each prettier than the last? How can you keep from turning back when memories of joy and discovery have added another layer of beauty to the surface of such a magical playground of art, food, character, passion, exploration and intellect? The city in question is Paris, and the answer to the question is no simple one. The only easy way, which in itself is not easy is to throw out the bad. Its egotistical, stubborn and even arrogant, but to get over the heartbreak and loss, just ignore the pains of saying goodbye and think about the good times that were had there, and the good times to come in the next place.

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Zurich my gateway

Many months ago, in a time that feels many like another life due to the frequency of big events in my life over the last year, I passed through Zurich on the way to Istanbul. In writing, I entertained the idea of Zurich as my gateway. When I took my week bike tour of Europe, we flew through Zurich. Going to Turkey, a world apart from that of western Europe utilised as well this place of passage. Thus it became a symbolic jumping off point, ground zero for new adventures.

The other day, I passed again through Zurich, the third occasion eliminating any prospect of coincidence. The circumstances slightly altered, Zurich functioned one again my gateway. This time however, she led me through to the journey home.

This trip to Zurich marked the end of unfamiliarity, of wholly foreign countries, of living out of a backpack my just my little brother as travel companion. On the other side was my mother, comfortable apartments during one last trip in France, and finally, in a week, home.

Now is not the time to be overly introspective and wrap things up. I merely say this: whereas Zurich has led me to bountiful adventures in the past, it will continue to do so on this third pass. Even though I pass through Zurich to return home to Paris and then to California, I jump off at least slightly changed. New adventures await a "new me," however familiar home may be.

Where in the world

Profiter is one of the first words I learned upon arriving in France. Its almost a fake friend, in that it doesn't carry a monetary connotation, rather it implies the necessity to take advantage of things. Its become nearly a mantra. Always must profiter. Profiter profiter profiter. Finals ended today and I find myself with four months until school starts back up in good old Tacoma. What to do? With plane tickets from California to Europe costing in the thousands of dollars, the thing to do is take advantage of the fact that I'm already in Europe and profiter from the things I haven't seen. Here's a peek at what's coming next:

From May 4th to 11th I'll be by myself couchsurfing in Nice. On the Cote d'Azur in the South of France, i'll be riding my bike, seeing a lot of art, relaxing on the beach and maybe taking a day trip into Italy.

From there its a quick hop on the ferry to Corsica. I'll be meeting my aunt and uncle in Bastia, from where we're doing a two week bike tour in Corsica and Sardinia. 

That leaves me at May 26th, when I'll be ditching the beloved bicycle, hopping on a ferry to Rome for a daylong stopover before grabbing a flight to Athens. Get this, a flight from Bastia to Athens costs 1000 euros, it costs 100 from Rome, which is a quick ferry ride away. Savings.

In Athens I'm meeting my buddy Daniel and we're spending 12 days or so in the city, island hopping, climbing Mt. Olympus, and chilling in Thessaloniki. 

To celebrate his graduation, little brother gets to come out and meet me in Tessaloniki, where Daniel and I will part ways. 

The next couple of weeks are less planned out thus far, but we're going through Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia. We will definitely hit Kotor, Herceg Novi, Sutjeska National Park, Split, Hvar and Plitvice National Park.

That part of the trip will probably finish in Rijeka, where we can catch a long bus into Zurich where we'll meet our mom (we're at the end of June now). With mom we'll make our way up to Paris, probably stopping in Lyon and Dijon. 

After getting to be back in my home city once more and sharing it with my family its on back to California for the first time in 11 months to do who knows what.

I'm feeling nostalgic about going, but its tempered by the good times I've been having, the great times to come and the knowledge that the friendships I've made won't be left behind when I leave.

I'll try to update as frequently as possible, in the meantime keep on adventuring!

Paris is hot like the sun

The resounding image of winter in Paris is a frowning girl in a cafe, adorned by a cigarette and the fluffiest down coat ever. Yet with one glorious day, all memories of the frozen wasteland were eradicated as we skipped straight from winter to spring. Saturday evening was cold and rainy, Sunday morning I left the house in shorts and t-shirt. It was if a fire alarm woke a sleeping beast, the sun brought every resident and visitor of the city out of their houses, out of their coats, and coaxed smiles from the icy visages.

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A Journey Through Hell

I have an affection for coffee table books. They're emblematic of passion, and at the same time of success.

Why success? I don't own too many coffee table books despite my adoration because I have no place for them. A place for them means you've earned enough for a home with a coffee table that has room for casual books with inordinate costs.

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What's Cooking

Life is going well. I'm learning about a lot of cool modern art, and seeing even more awesome stuff. I'm loving Paris, I've been biking frequently and school is going well. Essentially, its a happy Parisian life that I'm living out. To highlight the awesomeness it all, here's dinner tonight that we made at work. It was a stressful night, with seven native French speakers, so I was working hard and straining myself to get in the conversation and understand well. But it went well, and the good food helped.

Nems au crabe

Risotto au lait de coco, langoustines rôties et mousse de vanille au jus de raisin


Crème brûlée aux framboises

The "Home" Stretch

Starting today, I have but six weeks left in Paris,  plus of course whatever time the future brings. The duration and passing of time have a strange effect, and our ability to sense them is abstract and undefined. For example, days can seem to never end, but looking back time flys. As the French say le temps passe très vite. So what is six weeks? It feels like a lot of time, but it is so much less than what I've already spent here. I can't imagine the feeling of finishing six weeks from now, but I know looking back it will be but flap of a butterfly's wings, a beautiful chord held out as long as it could be, to remain only in memory, words, photos.

For this reason, I've added a sense of purpose to my time that remains, structuring my life with a slight structure that while won't be confining will ensure I miss nothing.

Last semester, I remarked upon the fervor with which those who were leaving tried to pack everything Paris in. To escape that rush, I've made a list of all I want to do, with seemingly enough time to do it.

Since Paris is my classroom, and I'm here to both live and explore as a tourist in my own city, I need to take advantage of everything I've yet missed out on.

The list of full of springtime exhibitions at my favorite museums, churches I've yet to see, parks to be explored and food and drink to be consumed.

The list is not a checklist of things to do, its an ensemble of things to marvel and enjoy for my own sake. Everything is united by the thread of being opportunistic, not saying no, seizing the day. As us kids say yolo. Time to adventure, absorb, enjoy.

Indulgent Paris

Having adults visit has broadened by vision of Paris, as well as improved it. As a relatively poor student, I'm willing to search for the cheap places, and to go wherever. Settle is a good word for what we do, things may not be perfect, but we'll take them. A mentor used to teach "my compromise is your sellout." Settling is a compromise, in that sense, its a sellout. I understand it, but being cheap means giving up a degree of taste and quality.

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Pompidou magic

I've been spending a fair amount of time recently at the Centre Pompidou. Simply put, its a thoughtful and informative museum full of great works. I'm still ruminating on modern art in its entirety - but here's a thought. Life as it stands is the existence we lead, and it can be very simple. There are a few things that are utterly necessary for its continuance on a merely physical level - food, water and sleep. Then there are the things that enrich life, which tend to be forms of artistic expression. Painting, music, cuisine, literature are some major proponents. I've said it before here, but when we add creativity and beauty to our lives they take on another dimension that tends to add meaning, interest and appeal.

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In cycling we like to say "There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear." Regardless of the schematics of the point, the important thing is that a little weather should never keep you inside, never keep you from having a good time.

When I came to Paris, I said that I wanted it to snow once. I could see its beauty in the snow, take a few pictures, then have it melt immediately so I didn't have to deal with it.

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