Sunday, January 24, 2010

Skiing in sweatpants, Sneaking on yachts and Stalking the stars

Last weekend was the ski trip to the Alps. I was semi nervous that skiing would be traumatic because 1. it's the Alps and 2. I had no ski jacket or snow pants. At least I was able to find these very fashionable army green man gloves and a man's hat for cheap at the local grocery store, or else I probably would have frozen.

The Bus Ride

We were supposed to leave Thursday morning at 7:30am. Wednesday night we had a fabulous wine and cheese night but seeing as I live about a mile from the bus stop, we had to leave our apartments at 6:30am to get to the school and make the bus. Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep that night.

Kaycie and I arrived at school to catch the bus at about 7:20am to catch the alleged "7:30am departure" bus. When we arrived, there were about 5 of the 50 kids there and no bus in sight. After sitting for about 2 hours waiting for all the French students to arrive and the buses to come, we realized that in France, time doesn't mean all that much. It's funny because if you showed up at 8am for a bus that was scheduled to leave at 7:30am in DC, you'd be walking. Lesson learned: everyone and everything in France is fashionably at least an hour.

Considering neither Kaycie nor I had really slept the night before, we were all looking forward to sleeping on the bus. However, in France, a 5 hour long bus ride to the Alps = a 5 hour long party (no matter how early it is). We got on the bus to techno music blasting and kids already drinking was 9:30am. Also in France, they love to take breaks. After every hour in the bus we would need to take a break, most likely because everyone need a cigarette. So what was only a 4 hour bus ride home, was a 6.5 hour bus ride there.

After 6 and a half hours of blaring French techno and drunk French kids writing on each other with Sharpies, we finally arrived in the Alps. They were seriously the most beautiful I have ever seen in my life.

The Living Situation

So on the way to the Alps, we were trying to imagine what our food and living situations would be because it was "all-inclusive". There were 7 of us exchange students to be living in an apartment style condo, which wasn't luxurious by any mean but it was fine. It however lacked certain necessary amenities such as towels, toilet paper, dish soap. We improvised and used the extra pillowcases as towels and stole toilet paper from the local bars, but we eventually caved and had to purchase our own dish soap.

The food was also an interesting situation. We were given a bag of groceries to last us for the weekend filled with pasta, sauce, bread, ham, cheese (all respectable choices) and then two huge packets of Twinkies and chips. We were concerned that this food was supposed to last 7 girls 3 days, and wondered where all the money we spent for this "all inclusive" trip went. Then another grocery bag was delivered to us, filled with 16 bottles of juices, 7 bottles of vodka, and about 24 beers. We quickly realized the French priorities in life.

Skiing in the Alps

So we woke up to two beautiful days of over 35 degree sunny skiing weather. Thank god for that too because like I said, I was skiing in sweats and a North Face. Anyways, it was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life, being completely surrounded by huge snow-covered mountains. After stopping at the top to take wayyy too many pictures, we attempted our first ski down.

Here's what we learned: Just because I am a decent skier in Buffalo at Kissing Bridge, doesn't mean anything to the Alps. The hills aren't groomed so you are skiing in up to a foot of fresh powder snow, which was amazing, but really difficult. A black diamond slope in Buffalo would be an intermediate slope in the Alps...if you went down a black diamond in the Alps, you'd be doomed. Unless of course you were one of the boys who came on the ski trip with us, who were doing back flips, and considered their day a failure because they couldn't do a double backflip. On skis. On the Alps. Seriously?

The weather was beautiful, the skiing was amazing and the mountains were the prettiest things I've ever seen...but I have never been so sore in my life.

Crazy American Girls

We successfully skied the Alps for two days, and for that, we thought we deserved some of the infamous Tartiflette everyone speaks of. It a French speciality of the mountains with cheese, potatoes, meat, and more cheese. Thankfully it lived up to its name, and was so so delicious. The fun began when they gave us their "English version" of the menu. The translations from French to English were quite interesting. We learned such words as whortleberry, the beer selections translated into a delish "Fetus" beer or the other appetizing option was the "Baby" beer, and a crepe item was translated as "thin pancake carmel wipe run" . So the combination of reading this "English" menu and my obnoxiously loud and high pitched voice, got us in trouble. The bartender came over and actually asked us to be quiet and then proceeded to squawk at us like a chicken. Everyone in the restaurant look relieved that someone told us to be quiet and then our waiter came out and called us "Crazy American girls!". Another lesson we learned: when French people go out to dinner, they do so in silence.

Culture Shock

People have asked me what the biggest culture shock is and this is it: French people don't really adhere to a schedule; they do what they want, when they want. For example, if a club says they will be open to 4am, don't be surprised if they close at 1:30am because they just don't feel like being open anymore. Also, if we had to check out of our apartment at 8:30am Sunday morning, you would think that's when the buses would arrive. Wrong. Standing outside in the cold just chatting or hanging out at the bar (at 8:30am) was what actually happened beause the bus wasn't coming until 11am. You could tell we were Americans because only we were concerned with aimlessly wasting this time. They do what they, when they want, and its rarely on time.

Welcome to the Yacht Club

After a fabulous weekend in the Alps, it was time to get back to business. Wednesday night rolled around and we were all missing our Moe's, Chipotles, and Mighty Tacos so we decided Fiesta Night was in order. We cooked some delish chicken fajitas and nachos because FYI they don't do Mexican food here. Then we decided to go out to Old Antibes.

We met some nice people at a bar who claimed to staff one of the huge yachts in the harbor (remember the one with the helicopter on it, they said they worked on its neighbor). So we had some fun chatting with this girl and her guy friends about their yachting life. They literally just live and party in Nice until the owner of the yacht (a wealthy Russian probs in the mafia) comes back and then its back to work. But they have been off duty, getting paid and just living on the yacht for about 3 months...sweet life huh? So they were all very nice and then they invited a bunch of us to their yacht after.

The further we walked in the harbor the bigger the yachts got. We finally arrived at a yacht that was worth $33 million and was about the size of the Alps. It was insane. We got the grand tour of this beautiful yacht and the yacht's kitchen was about the size of my entire apartment. It was absolutely ridiculous.

Stalking the Stars

After the yacht experience, I pretty much thought I was celeb status. The NRJ Music Awards were in Cannes this Saturday, so being the celeb that I am, I clearly thought I was invited. We went to Cannes for the day, popped in some stores like Dolce, Louis Vuitton and Chanel and cried at the prices. We saw a cellphone that was 7000 euros...thats like $10,000, for a cellphone. I don't even get it. But the most populated place in this wealthy upscale town was McDonalds. And it was quite a rowdy McDonalds at that. I had never seen a Mickey D's so crowded in my life, let alone people making out and smoking McDonald's. It was an R-rated fast food joint in Cannes.

But back to the the celebs. The NRJ Music Awards is like the French MTV Music Awards so we stalked out our place early on the red carpet to get glimpses of the stars. We saw Rihanna, the Black Eyed Peas, David Guetta, and some others. Beyonce and Jay-Z were supposed to show but apparently they were too cool. But the most devastating news of the night was that Tokyo Hotel didn't show up. I have no idea who that even is but these girls behind us were balling their eyes out in the beginning of the night because they couldn't wait to see Tokyo Hotel. At the end of the night, they were still balling because Tokyo Hotel didn't show. It was the funniest thing I have ever seen.

Elise is flying in this week to Paris so I am meeting her there and we are going to spend the weekend in Paris!! I can't wait!

A tout a l'heure!

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