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Diary Entries

Monday, 24 September 2007

Location: Saskatoon, Canada

Hey all,

Sorry I don't have my pics up from the last bit of my trip. My computer crashed and I have them backed up at work, but I won't be able to put them up for a while. I will do my best to get them up though!

Friday, 10 August 2007

Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Just a quick note to let you know I am in Prague right now. I am heading to Vienna on Sunday. Then back to Paris on the 15th. I leave right away for the south of France on a camping trip, then home on the 21st. See you all soon!

Tuesday, 07 August 2007

Location: Normandy, France

Salut encore!

Cette fois, J'ecrit en francais encore. Dans the week-end, j'ai visite a Rouen, Dieppe, et Mont Saint Michel. Il etait un bon week-end. Vendredi, mes amis Ryan, Adam, Morgane, et moi, avons pris le train a Rouen et chez les parents de Morgane. Ils ont une tres belle maison, et elle semble une maison d'America du Nord. Cette nuit et le matin suivant nous avons marché autour de Rouen. La Cathedrale Notre Dame de Rouen est une tres grande cathedrale, mais il y a beacoup des autre cathedrale en Rouen. Elle s'appelle le ville des cloches parsque il y a tant d'églises.
Samedi apres-midi, nous avons visite la plage de Dieppe. C'etait une experience tres emouvante. Je me suis tenu dans l'endroit où les milliers des hommes ont donné leurs vies pour la liberté. Maintant, il est un endroit normal, ou les gens viennent pour les prendre un bain du soleil.
Il y a un monument canadien dans le souvenir des soldats tombés. Regardez les photos. Nous avons visite le cimetiere du garre aussi. Il y a beaucoup de visiteurs Canadiens qui viennent chaque jour.
Le jour suivant, nous avons visite le Mont Saint Michel. Il est un monastiere Bennedictine sur une ile. Il etait une bonne experience aussi. Regardez les photos.
Demain, Ryan, Adam, et moi voyagerons a Prague pour 3 nuits et Vienna pour 3 nuits.

Hello again,

On the weekend, I visited Rouen, Dieppe, and Mont Saint Michel. It was a good weekend. Friday, my friends Ryan, Adam, Morgane and I took the train to Rouen and stayed at Morgane's parent's house. It is a very beautiful house, and reminds me of North American houses. That night and the next morning we walked around Rouen. The Rouen Catherdral is huge, but there are also a lot of other catherdrals in Rouen. It is called the city of bells because there are so many churches.
Saturday afternoon, we went to the beaches of Dieppe. It was a very moving experience. I stood on the very spot that thousands of men gave their lives for freedom. Now it is just a normal place where people go to sunbathe.
There is a monument dedicated to the memory of the fallen Canadian soldiers. Check out the pictures of it. I also have pictures of the plaques that I can email to anyone that wants to read what they say. We also visited the war cemetary. There are a lot of Canadians who visit the cemetary every day.
The next day we went to Mont Saint Michel. It is a Bennedictine monastery on an island. It was a good experience as well. Check out the pictures.
Tomorrow, Ryan, Adam and I travel to Prague for 3 nights and Vienna for 3 nights.



Friday, 03 August 2007

Location: Paris, France

Hey everyone,

Sorry it has been over two weeks since I last wrote anything. They have been a very busy and fun two weeks, well up until the last couple days anyway, but I will get to that later.

I will try to begin where I left off. Cesar stayed with me for one more day and we went to the top of the Eiffel tower with his friends from Mexico who were also surfing in Paris. It is a very beautiful view.
I went to a huge Salsa dancing on the Quai (the sidewalk/street beside the river). It was a lot of fun.
Shortly after that, the 10 day Paris Rendez-vous began with a picnic and barbecue. It was great. For 10 days, couchsurfers from Paris and around the world gathered to plan ways to make the site better, and of course to party! I attended many of the soirees and events, and met a lot of people from around the world. I hosted a couple of girls from Istanbul, Turkey, who were really nice. They were stopping by Paris on their way to a work volunteer work camp near the French-German border. It sounded like it was something similar to Katimavik.
During this time, I met another CSer, Alicia, who was studying in Paris. I hung out with her and her friends Lauren and Lindsay quite often, and even went to Disneyland Paris with Alicia. It rained most of the day, but it was still pretty cool. Check out some of the pictures.
On Thursday of the Rendez-vous week, there was a CS benefit party. CS is run by volunteers except one paid position. This is a site that organizes over a quater million travellers seeking shelter and friends in foriegn cities. So it is pretty amazing that there is only one position that is paid for. Needless to say, they also contract out the IT work. So the site can't be run for free. It relies on donations from its members and from benefit parties like the one we had on Thursday. It was was fun. It was in a place called the caves, and the name suited the place. There was just a big guy standing in front of an inconspicuous door on a side street, no sign, no nothing. When you walked in, you went down about 10 stone steps, and came to a little platform where they sold tickets and had bathrooms to the left. Then you went down another 10 steps or so to a little room to hang coats. Then you went down even further and came out in a room that looked like it came out the Ninja Turtles movie. It had a high arched ceiling and made of old stone. There were chairs and tables, and a bar. There was a little door way into another room where a DJ played music. I will post pictures, but they don't do it justice.
The next day was a Karaoke party. It was hilarious. Everyone expected me to know all the words because English is my first language. I think it is amazing how many people knew the words to English songs even though they spoke only some English. But a lot of people tell me that is why they wanted to learn English. They liked the music and wanted to understand what the words said. They also wanted to watch the movies. It was cool. I even sang a song...I won't tell you which one though, I want to be able to face all of you when I get home! lol
Then came the "P" picnic, where you had to come dressed as something starting with a P. Double Ps were even better. So I came as a Pint of Pelforth with a Pink Parapluie (umbrella). It got a good laugh!
After the picnic I had one of the most memorable experiences of Paris. I don't want to say too much, cuz it wasn't exactly....permitted. Lets just say I saw the city UNDER the city. ;)
With only 3 hours of sleep I headed to the George Pompidou center, a huge arts center in Paris where thousands of people walk by all day long. It was a free hugs campaign. If you have never heard of it, I suggest you go to this website and have a look before continuing to read my blog. Otherwise you will think I have fallen off my rocker!
I must have hugged a couple hundred people that day. I had a constant smile. It gave me a really good feeling to put a smile on someone's face like that. It also gave me a cold/flu that kept me in bed for two days, but hey, it was worth it! lol After spending a couple hours at George Pompidou, we went to Champs Elysees and caught the final couple laps of the Tour de France. It was cool. We also hugged a lot of people there too. I have no idea who won, cuz there were too many people there to see the finish line and I don't understand French well enough to catch what the guy is saying over the echoing PA system, but I did manage to get a couple pics of the cyclists going by.
During this time I also had some new surfers staying with me, a couple from Istanbul (friends of Huma and Sima, my prior surfers). Ece and Alp were a really nice couple, and we took in some of the sights together. We went to the Louvre (it is way to big to see in one day, so I will have to go back before I leave) and to the top of the Eiffel tower. Shelley, a really nice American girl passing through Paris on her own, joined us at the Tower as well. I met her while walking through the Louvre after losing Ece. lol I looked away for a couple seconds to take a picture and she was gone. With thousands of people in a HUGE place like that, there was no way I was going to find her back. It was a good thing that we had decided on a meeting place and time.
Was was sick the last couple of days and decided to stay in bed and get better. I am leaving tonight to go to Rouen with some other Canadian travellers and see some of the rest of France. Then on August 8th we are going to Prague for a few days then to Vienna. We return to Paris on August 15th. I will have 5 more days in Paris and then home on the 21st. It seems to be going by so fast! But it has been a great vacation so far. Again, I appologize for taking so long in writing. I hope that you are still checking back and will read this. I will post again when I get back from Rouen.


Monday, 16 July 2007

Location: Paris, France

Mes amis!

Ils etaient magnificent, les derniere 4 jours! Je vous ai dit que j'allais pour une boisson avec Sonia vendredi. Nous avons rencontre a une barre avec un autre couchsurfer. Apres de un biere, nous avons marche a Bastille ou il y avait un concert par Johnny Clegg, musicien celebre en France. It etait cool. Alors nous sommes alles a une bouche d'incendie (en Anglais, Firehall, Je pense c'est la traduction correcte) ou ils ils ont eu une danse! Il etait tres etrange! Une danse dans un bouche d'incendie??? La musique n'etait pas mauvaise. Une musicienne a chante la chanson "Who's Bed Have Your Boots Been Under" par Shania Twain. Sonia et moi ont dance, elle n'avait avant jamais dansé un 2-step, mais elle est une danseuse tres bonne. Alors elle m'a conduit a chez moi. Les rues sont tres embrouillantes a Paris! Elle ne l'admittra pas, mais nous etions perdu! Par la suite nous sommes arrives chez moi.
Le jour suivant etait le 14 Juillet (Fete Du Canada, en France). Les Couchsurfers etient un picnic a Invalides, un parc. Il y avait beacoup de gens la. C'etait une journee tres bonne! J'ai rencontre beaucoup d'amis! Cesar, un Couchsurfer de Mexico, a reste chez moi ce jour, et les 2 jour suivant.
Le 15 Juillet (Dimanche) Cesar et moi sommes alles a Chateau de Versailles. Il est enorme! Nous etions la pendant longtemps, de 10:00 a 17:00. Mais, il etait une journee bonne aussi. Regardez les photos!
Aujourd'hui, Je reste chez moi! Il pleut, alors je suis contente. Cesar a visite Le Louvre aujourd'hui, mais j'allai quand je ne suis pas fatigue. C'est tout pour maintenant!

Hey all,

The last 4 days have been amazing. I told you that I was going for drinks on Friday with Sonia. We met at a bar with another couchsurfer. After a beer, we walked to the Bastille where they had a concert by Johnny Clegg, a famous French singer. It was cool. Then we went to a firehall where they had a dance. It was very strange. A dance in a firehall. The music was not bad. One musician sang "Who's Bed Have Your Boots Been Under" by Shania Twain. Sonia and I danced, she had never danced a 2-step before, but she is a good dancer. Then she drove me home. The streets are very confusing in Paris. She will never admit it, but we were lost! Eventually we got to my house.
The next day was Bastille Day (Canada Day in France). The Couchsurfers had a picnic at a park called Invalides. There were a lot of people there. It was a really good day. I met a lot of new friends. Cesar, a couchsurfer from mexico stayed with me that night, and the next 2 nights.
On the July 15th (Sunday) Cesar and I went to the Palace of Versailles. It is HUGE! We were there for a long time, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. But it was a good day as well. Check out the pictures.
Today, I just stayed home. It was raining, so I was happy to be inside. Cesar went to the Louvre today. I am going to go when I am not so tired. Thats all for now!



Just a couple of footnotes to add:

Sonia read what I wrote and pointed out a few mistakes. Apparently, "une bouche d'incendie" translates as "a fire plug." lol We went to "une caserne de pompier." And you can't describe a street as "embrouillantes." She didn't have a direct translation for "confusing" but she said I could use "on se perd facilement dans les rues a Paris." I am leaving the mistakes in because I am sure once I get this language figured out, I will look back at this and laugh!
Oh, and she says she wasn't lost, we just took the "scenic" route there! lol :P

Friday, 13 July 2007

Location: Paris, France

Hey all,

I sure haven't done a very good job keeping up on here! And I am too tired now to try to write in French, so for today, the post will only be in English. On Wednesday, I went for a long walk around Montmartre, the area where I live. I walked to the Sacre Coeur, and spent some time in the church. There is a great view of the city from there, check out the pictures.
In the evening, I went back to the Sacre Coeur, and there were people playing live music, some French music, some poplular English songs. People were just strolling around and enjoying the nice night. Just in behind the Sacre Coeur is a cool little place where there are tons of little restaurants and bars, with artists drawing peoples portraits. Kinda touristy, but not too bad.
Yesterday I walked around the Bercy area. It is full of beautiful gardens and parks. At 8:00 I attended a Polyglot meeting. A polyglot is someone who speaks several languages. Basically, we met in the middle of a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Seine and had a picnic. The purpose of the meeting is to practice various languages. There were 5 or 6 languages that I heard last night. It was really cool. Everyone spoke some English, but I think I may have been the only one who's first language was English. It was very interesting.
Today I met with Emmanuelle, a friend from Couchsurfing. She is a wonderful person. We spent the day together running errands. She was very kind to lend me a cell phone that she is not using right now. I bought a SIM card (a tiny card that goes under the battery of the phone and makes it work on their networks) and a phone card. So now I can send sms messages and have a phone for emergencies. I don't know if I can txt people back home though. From what I understand, it is possible, but more expensive then txting someone in France (15 cents a txt in France).
Tonight I am going for a drink with Sonia, another couchsurfing friend that I met on Tuesday. In fact, I should go get ready now. So...



Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Location: Paris, France

Aujourd'hui etait un jour parresseux. Mais, ce soir je suis sorti avec quelques amis a Couchsurfing. Il etait une bonne soiree. Samedi, il y a une pic nic. Le 14 de juillet est the jour de Bastille. Il est l'equivilent de le Fetes du Canada. Je crois qu'il sera un bon jour.

Today was a lazy day. But tonight I went out with some friends from couchsurfing. it was a good evening. On Saturday there is a picnic. The 14th of July is Bastille Day. It is the equivilent of Canada Day. I think it will be a good day.



Monday, 09 July 2007

Location: Paris, France

Salut mes amis!

Je suis desole que Je n'ai pas ecrit dans tellement longtemps. J'essayerai de faire mieux. Lundi, j'ai marche dans le secteur de la Champs Elysees. Le pont etait stupefier! A travers le pont etait le Musee de l'Armee. Oncle Rod et Oncle Len aurait, l'a aime! Il y avait canons le long du fosse. Mais, j'ai arrive trop tard! Il etait ferme. Je retournerai une autre jour.


I am sorry I haven't written in so long. I will try to do better. Monday I went walking in the area of the Champs Elysees. The bridge was amazing. Across the bridge was the Musee de l'Armee. Uncle Rod and Uncle Len would have loved it! There were cannons all along the moat. But I got there too late. They were just closing. I will have to go back another day.



Saturday, 07 July 2007

Location: Paris, France


Aujourd'hui etait un bon jour. Je suis reste en mon appartment a l'apres midi, puis je suis alle faire des emplettes. Je n'ai pas achete rien. Le premiere chose que j'ai regardee etait un costume, et le prix etait de 1200,00 Euros! 1200,00 Euros est approximativement $1715.00 CND. Tout les prix etait tres cher, mais, puis j'ai regardee le nom de le couturier...Dolce & Gabanna, Giorgio Armani, etc. Il n'est pas etonnant que les prix etait tres cher!
J'ai faire cuire des pates et des boulettes de viande pour mon diner. Il etait tres bon! Apres diner, j'ai marche autour de centre de ville. Elle est tres belle le nuit!
Demain, j'irai probablement au Musee Rodin. Je placerai plus d'images sur le blog aussi.



Today was a good day. I stayed in my appartment until the afternoon, and then I went shopping. I didn't buy anything, though. The first thing I looked at was a suit, and the price tag said 1200,00 Euros! That is about 1715.00 Canadian dollars! All the prices were incredibly high. Then I looked at the designers names. Dolce & Gabanna, Giogio Armani, etc. It's no wonder the prices were so high!
I cooked pasta and meatballs for supper. It was a great meal. After supper I walked around downtown. It is beautiful at night. There are still lots of people out, but at least it isn't as crowded as it was during the day today.
Tomorrow I will probably go to see the Rodin Museum. I checked the other day when I walked by, it only costs 7 Euros to get in and see all the exhibits and everything. Only 1 Euro if you want to sit in the garden! I will post some pictures tomorrow as well.

Until then!


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Recent Messages

From Rhae-Ann
Hi Russell,
I was catching up on your holiday - loved the pictures. You have certainly been busy. Sounds like a great time, too. I bet it will be tough to get on the plane in the not to distance future... See ya soon
Response: Hey Rhae-Ann,

I leave in the morning. It will be tough to say goodbye to all the friends I have made here. But at the same time, I am looking forward to seeing everyone at home and getting back into the swing of things at work.
From mom
Hey what are you up to? it has been a long time since you posted. I noticed a call from you on Sunday when we were at Colin's. I left a message on your e-mail. please check it and reply. Love mom
Response: Hey Mom! Sorry about that. I know it has been a really long time. I have been really busy though, which is good. I hope you enjoy this post!
From Céline/Prunette
Your french is better than my english !! I'm disappointed, if I had known, we would have been able to discuss a little...
Free Hugs ans Bisous !!!
Response: Hey Celine,

Thanks for the compliment, but your English is just as good if not better then my french!
From mom
hi - we just got back from Colin & Lisa's. We there yesterday and stayed overnight. Took the boat out today on Long Lake. We didn't ski but did some driving and went for a couple of dips. When we left here yesterday at 3:00 pm it was about 95 and when we got there at 5:00 it was 101!! It wasn't much cooler today so the di[s were welcome. It looked like you had called but it may not have been this weekend as dad was looking at the phone and didn't check the date. Hop you are still having fun and BEHAVING!! Love you Mom
Response: HAHAHAHA,

Don't worry mom, I haven't been deported...yet. lol I can't believe the heat I am missing back home. It is crazy! I hope to catch a little of it when I get home.
From mom
Hey - really neat. Just looked at your Veraailles stuf. It's hard to believe stuff can be that old hey! Kepp posting
We're at Carol & Len's this weelemd - dad is helping build. They are building forms for the kitchen addition.
Love mmom
Response: Hey Mom. Thanks. Versailles was really cool. It was SOOO huge. I couldn't get over how big the grounds were. I will post again soon...I promise!
From Allison
Heya Russ, Your trip out to Versaille looked awesome. There is so much to take in and not really enough time to do it in one day. When I was there we never saw the hamlet. We were only there for half aday and crammed to whole palace in. Looks like it did all those years ago when I saw it. Is it hot over there? Take care, Ali
Response: Hey Ali,

Ya, it was a long day to see all of it. But it was worth it. I think the hamlet was my favourite part. It is not to bad over here. It has been warm, but not crazy hot like it is back home!
From Sharmon
Hi Russell,
I finally found a few spare moment to check out your blog. WOW!!!! What wonderful pictures - Probaby as close as I'll ever get to Paris - I can't wait to hear about the Louvre. Keep enjoying your holiday and take care.
Response: Thanks Sharmon,

I am not sure when I am going to the Louvre. Some day when I have ALL day to spend there. Soon I hope.
From jean-marc
Hi Russell !
Very sorry I finally couldn't come to the Polyglot meeting last night as I promised you on Tuesday. I'm leaving on holydays next week until 20 August so we hardly could meet us again during your journey in Paris.
I hope you're enjoying your time visiting our city and why not see you in Canada next time ;-)
P.S. Your blog is very fun it could give me ideas for my travel to Ireland
Response: Hey Jean-marc,

Have fun on your holidays!
From Janet Mueller
Hi Russell
Nice to see you're having such a great time. It is so interesting reading and looking at the pictures.
Take care and keep having fun!
Response: Hi Janet! I am Gald that you are enjoying the blog and pictures too. I enjoy posting them. I have been checking my FirstClass faithfully, but there is never anything to read! Are you sure you guys are actually working??? lol Just kidding! I am sure you are keeping very busy.
From ariane
I am glad you've enjoyed Versailles, I've told you it always makes a big impression.
Nice blog, very great pictures,
Not so many mistakes !

Ariane from polyglot.
Response: Hey Ariane! Thanks for reading it and leaving me a message! I hope you are going to the meeting tomorrow night. I will be there again. I had a really great time last time.
From Val
Finally took time to look at your site again and you're right - you're slacking off! I liked the pub and the cannons! The sights you are seeing make me envious. Jacki and Ashby should be off now although I haven't phoned this am. It was great to hear your voice yesterday - I almost hung up on the nut not speaking English! - but finally woke up to the fact that it was you. I'm glad you are finding lots to do and some people to do it with. Do any of the couch surfing people you meet speak english? Have fun @! love mom
Response: Hey Mom! Well you will be happy to see you have lots to read and lots of pictures to look at now! But Man, that took me almost 4 hours to write all that. The French part was the longest! Haha. A lot of dictionary searching. But I am getting better. It was nice to talk to the four of you too. I find that most travellers speak at least some English, even if it isn't their first language. So for me it is easy to communicate with them, just not all that great for my practice! haha
From Heather Gerstmar
HI Russ! BEautiful pictures!!!!
Response: Thanks Heather. Hope you like the rest I added tonight! Post some more of yours on Facebook when you get chance, I would love to see the 101 again!
From Becky
Hey Russ! Glad you are having a great time in Paris! The pictures and video give us a good idea of what you are up to while you are there. Work is going well but it is very quiet at the office most days. Enjoy the summer!
Response: Thanks for the message Becky. I bet it is quiet there these days, but enjoy it. I am sure it will be crazy busy again in late August!
From Larrie A
So how's the apartment and the neighborhood?
Response: Oh it is great Larrie! 3 blocks from the metro, a fantastic bakery across the street, a supermarket on the ground floor of the building, and more. It is a great place!
From Justin Bergermann
hmmm i don't see pictures of hot french women!
Response: ohhh, those pictures will come....I hope! :P
From Jen Atamanchuk
hey Russ... looks like your having have a good time! i'm so jelous!... your missing nothing at all here, same old boring saskatoon... it's cool that you have this blog thing!
take care,
Response: Thanks for writing Jen! I hear it was a scorcher there! I miss that! It has rained almost every day so far... :(
From Denise Gerstmar
Bonjour Russell,

Tes photos son tres belles. Ton francais ecrit est tres bon. Le mien est come si some ca.

J'espere que tu t'amuse en France. C'est un pays tres beau. Il fraudra que Ryan and moi aient en France un jour.

A bientot,
Response: Merci beaucoup Denise. Le Google Translate....c'est magnifique! J'essaye d'ecrire sans lui, mais je verifie avec lui souvent. abientot!
From Allison
Heya Russ,
I'm glad you are having an awesome time. Do you plan on travelling around paris and going to the other little countries around France? I don't know if you have this planned yet, but you should make a trip out to the palace of Versaille. It's maybe an hour at most from Paris and very cool. Take care, and talk to you soon... Ali
Response: Thanks Ali,

I am sure I will get there. I am just not sure when yet. I do plan on doing a little travelling, I just haven't planned anything yet.
From Lissa
Russ, I hope you have a wonderful time in Paris. It truly is an amazing city, especially at night. I love the area in around the petit champs - some super delicious patisseries on that road. if you keep following it, you get to this area of shopping with many local french designers. much cheaper than dolce and gabanna..... if you're looking for an expensive place to eat - go where the opera singer pavorotti eats. it's a hotel intercontinental near the old paris opera house. the restaurant there is extrodinary. i stayed at that hotel twice too, its very nice.

eat a baguette for me, and some crepes. i like the hazelnut ones you can buy at the toulieres garden.....

how long do you stay in paris? where is your apartment?
Response: Hey Lissa,

I am in Paris for 7 weeks. My apartment is in the 18th Ar., near Montmarte. I will have to try and find this cheaper shopping Thanks!
From Lisa
Nice video of ur apt lol.
Ur such a dork : )
Anyway, hope/glad your having a good time way over/up/down there lol...
Catch ya later!
Response: Thanks Lisa! TTYL
From Mom
yes you did send me the address. Thanks for the pics - somehow the Eiffel Tower seemd more real with your son standing in front of it! Have fun and keep posting!
Response: Hi Mom,

I will keep posting! You keep checking! And keep sending messages. It was good to talk to you on the phone today!
From Aubrey
hey buddy, looks beautiful! it is fun to live vicariously through you! take care!
Response: Hey dude! It is a great place! You don't have to live just gotta make plans and stick to them! :D
From Ian Kelln
Glad to hear you made it to Paris save and sound. We are relaxing at our cottage. golf, water sports etc. Have a great summer Russell.
Response: Hi Ian,

Glad to hear that your summer is going so well. Nice to know that the relaxation lasts the rest of your life now?
From Becky
Hi Russell,

Have a wonderful time in Paris! I am looking forward to seeing the pictures and hearing about your trip. See you in August!

Response: Thanks Becky, I am having a great time! Check back often!
From Auntie Connie
The apartment looks nice - what an opportunity! Makes me want to retire and travel!!
Response: Thanks Auntie Connie! Now that I am here and settled, check out the video I created. There should be a link to it in one of my posts.