Coffee in Paris, Sacré-Cœur, Père Lachaise, the Catacombs, and more!

In late August, a friend of a friend visited Paris.  This wonderful person (goes by the name of Albert) was transporting a bag of Kéan Coffee’s delicious beans to us.  We were so grateful – Andrew and I really miss … Continue reading

Paris!

I was finally on my way to Paris!  The flight went pretty well, I didn’t sleep much on the plane…I guess I was too excited.  I had a short layover in Dublin and then arrived in Paris later that morning on May 15th.  Andrew and our friend, Ian, picked me up from the airport and we took a taxi to the hotel (Andrew and I were allowed to stay in the hotel until the end of June).  That afternoon, I mostly slept since I didn’t sleep any on the plane.

Since I have already been in Paris now for the last 2 ½ months, I am going to summarize all that we have done over that time (so I can get caught up to the present) – be patient with me on this because not everything I’m going to post will be in chronological order.

That first Friday that I was there, after Andrew got off work we walked down to the Eiffel Tower after midnight.  We waited until 1am for the lights to blink on the tower.  It was a really pretty sight.  This picture is actually from a few weeks later, but isn’t it stunning?

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We also ate at a Lebanese restaurant with Ian one night.  The food was a little expensive, but good.  We had five different appetizers which included sheep brain and chicken livers.

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One day we took the metro to visit She’s Cake (she supplies the cheesecake served at FRAME).

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Afterwards we walked back to the hotel along the Seine.  We’ve spent most of our time walking around the city.  As of right now, the Seine is one of my favorite places to walk.  There always seems to be something going on down there and it’s an interesting place to people watch.  Here are a few pics from my/our walks along the Seine.

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Cool graffiti.

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I love this chalkboard!

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Live music and other shows occur sometimes.

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On Sunday, May 25th, we met up with France (a friend of Maureen whom we met in Orange County – Maureen gave us a few French lessons before we left).   Maureen had sent me with a gift to give France.  France met us that day outside of our hotel.  We saw her coming down the hill from the metro station and we started to wave at her.  She waved, but then looked confused.  When she got closer, I asked her if her name was France.  She shook her head and said no and then started to walk away.  But then she popped back over and asked us if we were Andrew and Jessica and laughed a bit.  I liked her ornery personality :).  The three of us took the metro down to Rue Mouffetard and walked down to where they were had live music and dancing.  France introduced us to Tiffany.  Tiffany is from Sacramento and loves dancing.  Her and her husband split their time between Paris and Sacramento.  She got me out on the dance floor – I was reluctant at first, but it was a lot of fun.  I hadn’t danced for a while.  Then after watching for a bit, Andrew decided that we should both join in on the fun and he pulled me out for a dance.

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After the music and dancing was over, France headed away for a bit and returned with wine, a baguette, and cheese.  We headed to a nearby park to enjoy the treats she brought back.  I have to admit, this was a pretty cool day – we danced and had wine, cheese, and baguette in a park.  What is more like Paris than that?

We walked through the streets toward Notre Dame Cathedral.

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They had live music outside and bunch of people showing their artwork.

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The three of us listened to the music for a while and after having a quick coffee at one of the cafes, said our goodbyes.  Andrew and I walked down the Seine back towards the hotel.  As we were walking, Andrew says, “That looks a lot like Woody Harrelson.”  We walked over there and it was him for sure.  He was with Owen Wilson and some other guy.  They were biking along the river and had stopped to watch the skateboarding.  We were too shy to ask for a picture (so we snapped this creepy one from a distance).  Andrew did go up and say hello to them though.  That was pretty cool.  We are pretty big fans of both actors.

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My birthday was on May 28th.  It was a pretty relaxed day, just the way I wanted it.  Andrew surprised me with breakfast in the room – which I loved.  We viewed an apartment that day and then he had to work for a few hours.  That night we walked around for a bit and then had wine up on the 10th floor of the hotel and watched the lights on the Eiffel Tower.

Click this link to see my video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gy6UV4TMc6I&feature=youtu.be

We have gone to a few museums/exhibitions since we have been here.  We went to Musée du Quai Branly the first Sunday in June.  You can get in for free to a lot of the museums on the first Sunday of the month.  We thought these masks were interesting.

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We also saw that they were having an exhibition of Alex Ross’ art work (he drew a lot of superhero characters) at the Mona Bismarck American Center of Art and Culture.  We had to check it out since Andrew is a big fan, plus it was his birthday week.  It was pretty cool.

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The open air markets are pretty cool – here are a few pictures.

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More pictures of the Eiffel Tower – which one is your favorite?

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One of the funniest things I have seen so far during my walks was a dog leading another dog.  I wish I would have gotten a picture of this because it was hysterical!  It all happened so fast though.  By the time I realized what was going on, they were too far past me.

There are a few really big parks in Paris.  We decided to visit Bois de Boulogne.  We walked around for a few hours.  We wanted a snack so we tried some of the ice cream at one of the shops.  That was a bad idea, the ice cream tasted terrible and the cone was like cardboard!  I believe there is good ice cream in Paris, just maybe not at the parks…at least that park ha ha.  We didn’t get through most of the park so we will have to go back one day, but we liked what we saw.

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We do love crêpes 🙂

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Random statues, doors, and other things around Paris.

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We took the metro up to the 19th arrondissement one day to walk along the canals.

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We stumbled upon the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie – we didn’t go inside the main building, but did snap a few photos of the area.

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However, we did tour the Argonaute submarine.  It was pretty neat!

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Our adventure that day took us to Parc des Buttes Chaumont.  It was a neat park, but packed with several people sunbathing and/or having a picnic on the grasses.

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I had been craving Mexican food, so we set out to try to find a good place.  We ended up at El Guacamole because I had heard good things about it on a blog.  The food was just okay, we will have to continue our search!

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We also have been craving good coffee – we were so spoiled by Kéan Coffee and Stumptown.  So far we have tried La Caféothèque

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and Coutume.

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Both coffees had a good flavor and environment, but are really expensive for what you get…I guess we are in Paris though.

A major holiday in France is Bastille Day.  This day commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution with the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, as well as the Fête de la Fédération which celebrated the unity of the French people on 14 July 1790 (info taken from Wikipedia).  I was invited by Tiffany (whom we met dancing at Mouffetard) to join her and some friends at FRAME for dinner and to view the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower.  The fireworks were amazing and I got to see Andrew!

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I met a girl through one of my meetups and she is a performer in Paris.  She invited us to see one of her shows so we decided to go.  It was called Jazz Club and was showing at Theatre Ranelagh.  I’m really glad we went!

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During our time in the hotel, I met a girl that works there from Pennsylvania.  She mentioned that I should give conversationexhange.com a try, so I did.  I have met up with a couple people so far and am still meeting up with one of them regularly.  She is originally from Moscow and her name is Katia.  We meet up and do different things throughout the city.  One day we had coffee and walked through a park (Bois de Vincennes) and another day we had tea at her place and then watched Jersey Boys.  After the movie we played on the kid’s playground equipment in one of the small parks.

Katia and I also visited Musée Rodin.

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One of the rooms at Musée Rodin with photography mostly had a lot of nude, sexual photographs.  And then there was this kitten…I thought it was really funny that this photograph was thrown in with all of the others.  But then I realized how it might fit in…I will let you draw your own conclusion.

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We then walked through the city stopping for ice cream at Berthillon (this was better than the park’s ice cream we had awhile back).

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Another day we visited Le Jardin du Luxembourg (aka Luxembourg Garden) and played badminton.

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I accidentally hit the birdie up in the tree; don’t worry though because I figured out a way to get it down 🙂

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During our most recent rendezvous, we went and saw “How to become Parisian in one hour?” – it was a pretty funny show.  The guy was definitely ripping on all the stereotypes.

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I mentioned apartments earlier in my post; I had started my apartment hunting pretty much as soon as I had arrived.  I looked at several apartments.  It was fun seeing all of the different types in each district.  I always walked to each apartment viewing as well, that way I could see more of the city and familiarize myself with the area (Karen would be proud of how many steps I have logged!).  We eventually settled on an apartment in the 15th arrondissement and locked in our request early June.  It would only be a 22 minute walk for Andrew to work and the neighborhood seemed pretty good.  It is a very small apartment, but we know we can make it home.  We moved into our place on July 1st!  That was a fun and exhausting day.  Andrew had to work, so I ended up lugging all of the suitcases and bags over the 2.1 mile trek to our apartment (I think I had to make 3 trips).  I was definitely worn out at the end of the day.  Here are a few pictures of our apartment.

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On one trip to the grocery store we discovered horse milk.  Yes, you heard right.  I said horse milk.  Yes, we bought it and tried it.  It was sweet with hints of watermelon and also crazy expensive to buy.  I am glad that we tried it, but I don’t think we will buy it again.  I prefer cow milk.

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We finally found time to go out and celebrate Andrew’s birthday with dinner at Spring in Paris.  This is Daniel Rose’s restaurant – he is another American chef in Paris.  The dinner and service was very good.  It was an excellent experience and we didn’t leave hungry.

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We had our first picnic at Parc de Sceaux with friends (Lili and Geoff).  I failed and didn’t take any pictures though.  It was a lot of fun though.  Here is a picture of Andrew preparing some of the picnic items 🙂

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I think that’s a pretty good summary of the events that took place from the middle of May to the end of July.  I am positive that I left a few things out, but I think we will all survive.  Here’s to posting the new adventures in real time!

My last month in California before the road trip and the big move

There I was, Andrew had taken off for Paris and I still had one more month left.  We had already gotten rid of most of our furniture and only had smaller things left to wrap up.  I still had one more month of work and then I would be departing on my road trip back to Missouri!  But I’m getting a little ahead of myself…

All of our friends that we had made over the past 5 years wanted to hang out before I left and even though I mentioned before that we only had smaller things to wrap up, it still amounted to a lot of time sifting through the piles (plus I was still working at my job and passing on my responsibilities at Newport Bay Conservancy).  I remember telling Andrew how stressed I was trying to see everyone before I left.  His response was “Oh I’m so sorry that everyone wants to hang out with you.” – that really put it in perspective.  I decided that I should be happy and not stress out so much over it.  Plus he had a lot more on his plate than I did on mine.

My first big meet up before I left was with Erica and Gem.  Erica and I had been hiking Crystal Cove for the past year or so (it had kind of became our ritual hike every 3 months).  The hike is 4 miles down to the beach and then 4 miles back up.  That day I decided that I would complete my Landon Plunge in the ocean!  And believe me, it was cold!  So much fun with these girls, going to miss hiking there!

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I had also promised my friend, Mary, that I would join her on one more NBC kayak tour (Andrew and I loved kayaking the Back Bay).  If you’ve never been on a kayak tour, I highly suggest you go.  It is a perfect way to spend a Saturday or Sunday morning and it’s not too expensive (check out details here:  http://newportbay.org/education/weekend-kayak-tours/).  Or better yet, look into becoming a volunteer for Newport Bay Conservancy 🙂  It was a perfect day on the water.

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After kayaking, we went to Taco Mesa for lunch.  Very good food!  I’m sad that I was just discovering Taco Mesa for the first time that day, because I would have definitely made it a regular occurrence if we were staying in the area.

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The following day, my friend Kristin was in town.  So we headed down to the beach for her to complete the Landon Plunge!

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It was so nice on the beach that day, too bad she had to head back up north and I had things to do.  And by things to do, I mean meet Gem, Peter, and Erica at Kéan Coffee for Cards Against Humanity!  We were there for over 2 hours and it was so much fun.  One of the mangers for Kéan actually came out and told us how nice it was to see people sitting in a coffee shop playing a game together and not just on their phones or other electronic devices.  We kept asking ourselves why we hadn’t been doing this regularly.  Oh hindsight…

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Later that night, Gem and I headed to a hockey game!  Go Ducks!  It was my first game ever, and I don’t really have a team that I root for, so I just went with the home team and they WON!  Gem had gotten tickets from her work and they were box seats, so I’m pretty sure that all other games (as far as seating goes) are ruined for me, but I hope to go again someday.  I really enjoyed it!

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That following Wednesday, my fellow NBC volunteers held a going away party for me at Yard House.  Such wonderful people, I enjoyed spending time with them and have learned so much!  Although I must say that I was upset with the waiter because I was the only one who got carded for an alcoholic drink 😉

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Then on Friday (4/18) was the going away party from Toa.  Before we headed out to happy hour, my boss Andrea had a surprise presentation/sing-a-long to Aladdin’s “A Whole New World.”  If you know my boss and you know me then this makes perfect sense.  I was really touched by the presentation and will miss working with the team.  I really learned a lot about myself from working there.  For happy hour we headed to Yard House again, because apparently that’s the place to be 🙂  At the restaurant we proceeded to sing “A Whole New World” again, so maybe we had a few too many drinks 😉

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My last big adventure would be with Erica and Alex.  They were going to WonderCon and had asked if I wanted to tag along.  I still had so much to do, but I definitely wasn’t going to miss out on this!  They both dressed up as Mandalorians – their costumes looked great!  Everyone wanted a picture with them!  It was fun seeing kids so excited to get their picture taken with them.  It was great walking around seeing all of the different costumes, displays, and merchandise they had at the event.  Sadly, we didn’t listen to any panels that day, but I don’t really feel like I missed out.  Maybe I will partake in that the next time I go.

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I did meet up with many others, but if I were to talk about them all I would just begin to bore you 🙂  Now the only thing left to talk about is the ROAD TRIP!  But I will save that for another time 🙂

We’re moving to France???

Who knew that everything could change drastically in just one month?!  We had just signed the lease on our apartment in December 2013 for one more year.  After one year, we had planned to play it by ear on whether we would stay or go.  But in January, a little monkey wrench was thrown into our plans.  Long story short, Andrew accepted a Head Chef position in Paris, France!  We would be moving a little earlier and farther away than expected.

Moving halfway across the country is challenging (which we had done 5 years ago), but across the world was a whole different ballpark.  We had initially decided to put most of our possessions in storage, but after a bit of thinking I thought it would be best to just get rid of most of our things and start fresh.  Luckily my husband reluctantly agreed and thus we began the process of sifting through what we would keep and purge from our lives (our family back in Missouri agreed to let us store the few possessions I could fit in my little Toyota Corolla – thank you!).  Lots of our friends and family bought or took things off of our hands (Janh even came by and filled up a duffel bag full).  It felt good to see everything go to a good home.  Our friends Toby and Jenny even let me come over and try to sell a few things at their garage sale.  That was a lot of fun!

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A few days before Andrew left for Paris we decided to have one last bonfire with all of our friends. We had met so many great people over the past 5 years and were happy to see most of them make it out (for those that didn’t make it we did manage to see each other elsewhere before we left).  Andrew made delicious tacos over the fire.  This was by far our biggest turnout yet.  All we had to do was tell everyone that we were moving, who knew those were the magic words 🙂  At the end of the night there was a hit and run accident in the parking lot near the beach where we were having the bonfire (some people having a fight over something).  Then the cops came in their helicopter to say goodbye, how sweet of them (we got the spotlight and everything).  I think the guy that was hit by the car was okay though, so that’s good.  We also are pretty sure that we saw a mermaid that night…yep definitely a mermaid.

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Andrew’s day to leave was on March 24th.  We made the rounds that day.  Stopped at our favorite place to get a cup of coffee (if you haven’t been to Kéan Coffee then you’re doing it wrong) and also had lunch at In-N-Out.

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We arrived at the airport and went to check in the bags for his flight.  I learned that there is a maximum weight for bags (you don’t just pay more if it is over).  Andrew scrambled to move things around and remove a few items from his bags so they would meet the requirements. What a mess, but in the end it all worked out!  Andrew was off for Paris!  I would not meet him for almost two more months.  I still had a lot of work to do, people to visit,  and had an epic road trip planned!  But that’s for another blog post 🙂

A Night at Kéan Coffee – August 29, 2013

A couple weeks ago, we were very fortunate to be able to attend a tour of the Kéan Coffee roastery.  Upon our arrival we were greeted by Denia.  She asked us a few questions and one of them was how did you hear about the event?  I initially saw the event on the website, but my history with Kéan goes back a couple years now.  I was first introduced to the delicious coffee by my friend Nick Burton (we slaved together at Barnes and Noble).  My next encounter with Kéan was with Newport Bay Conservancy and their Earth Day celebration.  I learned that Kéan was and is a strong supporter of Upper Newport Bay.  I really liked seeing how they were involved in the community.  Anyways, I jumped at the opportunity to get to tour the roastery!

Okay, back to the tour.  Once more of the guests showed up, Martin came in and started to talk about his family and how he got involved in the coffee business.  It is a fascinating history and you can read more about that here:  http://keancoffee.com/AboutDiedrichFamily.aspx.  After everyone arrived, we made our way into the roastery.  The first thing Martin showed us was the coffee fruit (I don’t remember what kind).  He had us hold it in our hands and squish it to push out the coffee seeds.

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Below is a picture of Martin showing us the Coffee Family Tree.

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The roaster below on the left is the roaster built by Martin’s father.  He said that they used to keep it in the living room until his mom suggested that it find a new place in their home (guess it was too loud).  That is the roaster that Martin learned to roast on.  The roaster on the right is the one that his brother built.

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We continued our tour into the back room where (if my memory serves me correctly) all of the “green” coffee seeds/beans are stored until they are roasted.

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Here are the open bags of “green” coffee seeds that are waiting to be roasted. We were allowed to smell the different seeds – the Sauta Julia with honey smelled amazing!

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Kéan’s coffee roaster, Shawn, then began his roasting demonstration.

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This paper shows the different stages of the roasting process.

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Looking good…

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I love this picture of Shawn.

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That man roasts a mighty fine bean.

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After the roasting demo, the next part of our tour included a blind taste test of 3 different coffees.  It was fun trying to pull out the different flavor notes.

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The final stop on our tour was the barista demonstration put on by Denia and Garrett.  They went over the different methods of brewing coffee and also walked us through what goes on during a barista competition.  We sampled espresso, cappuccino, and Garrett’s specialty the Amaro “Pie-o” which uses the Ethiopia Amaro Gayo coffee (tastes include passion fruit, honey, blueberry, semi-sweet chocolate, and almond butter).  This is by far my favorite coffee at the moment!  Below are a few pictures from the barista demonstration.

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This was such a fun evening (can’t you tell how much fun I had by my reflection in the roaster?)!  I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for something different to do or at the bare minimum get highly caffeinated for the evening!  Oh and before I forget we got to take home a bag of the coffee that Shawn roasted – what a great treat.

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Seriously though, check out Kéan Coffee!  They have two locations – one in Newport Beach and the other is in Tustin.  It’s definitely worth the trip! Here is a link to the information about the tour:  http://keancoffee.com/EventCalendar.aspx