Monday, 13 February 2012

Cheap Restaurants I love in Paris

Continuing on from the theme of places to recommend friends I'm going to do one on food, these are more varied in their location, but I still recommend every one is worth a visit.

While not all of them are classic French Bistros it's Paris and there is one of these on every corner; I'm sure you will have no problem finding them. This however is a list of my favourite places to bring friends when they visit. Good places at good prices, and not all French.

Also worth a special mention are all the people who first brought me to these places. You are far too numerous and awesome to list. Sophie, Katie, Emma, Tom, my Dad and..... Hmm I guess not that numerous actually. Maybe just your awesomeness is too awesome to list. But hey, you have good taste and like eating out.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Cheap Bars and Clubs in Paris

So recently a few friends of mine have been passing through Paris, and as I am now hibernating in Zurich I have decided to provide a few helpful tips for people who want to go there on the cheap.

Since I don't feel like writing a long email every time some ones looking for tips I would far prefer to just send them a link and be done with it. No offence, just this allows me to build and improve the list rather than trying to remember in each email (as well as shameless self promotion of my blog of course).

These tips are based on my experience of Paris and as I'm sure you will notice there is an underlying preference for the Chatlet area as well as an anglophone trend. Why you ask, well apart from central location, good atmosphere and cheap beers, I used work in the area and still know people working at the majority of these bars. Hi folks if you're reading.

This is my no nonsense guide:

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Frozen Fountains of Zurich

In case you are unaware, things have have been very cold here; not just better put on a pair of gloves cold, but toes falling off ears stinging cold and that is with every possible bodily surface covered at least twice (well bar my eyes as I still need to see). Things are starting to thaw out though.
But just to prove this point I've decided to do a little photo post of some frozen fountains.
Fountain 1 at the Hauptbahnhof- frozen solid

Fountain 1, the water seemed to have literally stopped mid flow

Fountain 2, still running but the frozen splash had made a bell shape

Fountain 2 "bell" close up
Fountain 3, like a macaron of solid ice

Fountain 3; I tried smashing it with my elbow. No luck
Fountain 4, frozen solid and smashed before I could do it

Fountain 4, smashed close up
Fountain 5, solid with no water flowing
Fountain 6, interesting sculpture with interesting ice

You may have been thinking that many of my recent posts are weather related, well you are right. Well you know what I don't really care because when the temperatures drop into the minus double digits I currently sympathise with Badgers and hedgehogs and have gone into hibernation!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Languages and Emigration

Pouletbrustgeschnetzeltes = Diced chicken breast

It's not often I post about very personal topics, but I have been giving this a lot more thought recently.

As a not so recent immigrant in Paris I had the benefit of speaking the language, and not just speaking but being able to make jokes and just feel within my comfort zone. However now the situation is reversed and the very comfortable French shoe is now on the other German foot.
These language skills however did not the result of diligent hard work in school, but rather a diverse family background.

Struggling with languages is something most people will go through in their life, the brave will stick it out and struggle though different tenses, vocab and genders in an attempt to integrate, the weak however will only give a basic holiday attempt at other languages for ordering beer, before reverting back to the traditional Anglophone approach of just repeating the English version of the word louder  until something happens.

However as the mass exodus of Ireland continues it becomes more and more clear that having a second European language is possibly the greatest asset that you could hope for. The appeal of a second language is however completely over looked by the school system and more importantly the students them selves who often don't make a genuine effort to learn. Well let me assure you; paying a minimum of 500€ a month for the classes you got for free in school is indeed a shocking learning incentive.

As the job situation in London hits saturation point what will become of the immigrant who refuse to leave their comfort zone of the English language? Already horror stories are coming to the fore of former school mates working in America on long expired holiday visas who are trapped; unable to return for Christmas, birthdays or funerals.

Long gone are the days where Irish people could simply think that "I'm sure someone will speak English", as we now live in a society where minimum of 3 international languages is the norm, and these people are also applying for the same jobs as you.

Recently I have started using the Rosetta Stone language learning programme which is supplementing 1 months intensive German classes at a school. To what avail? Well the hope is that by seriously investing in the language I will make myself a more appealing candidate to potential employers.

The main downside of learning German in Switzerland though is that no one here really speaks "high" German, opting instead for the local dialect of Swiss German. This  frustratingly means that you never hear any of the words or phrases you learn and even when you speak German you will be speaking a "foreign" language.

For those of you who arrive to a Country and can't speak the local language I would encourage taking classes as soon as you arrive. Not only does it help improve your confidence but it also gives you a new group of new people, who are usually also new to the country and eager to make friends.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Woeful Winter Weather

Ahh yes the complete 180, I certainly am feeling like God must  have read my previous post and sent freezing cold temperatures to spite me.

So after just reporting the lovely weather I had been enjoying, now it is very much different.
The freezing snow has arrived, and en force.

While I do still suffer slightly from the "aww cool snow" aspect of coming from a country with only rain, these pictures clearly demonstrate the difference between perceived winter cycling and the actual experience
a snowy winter wonderland (photo without flash)
snow being whipped into your face while you try and find the route with the least dangerous snow coating

 White hell (with flash)


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