Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Crazy Georgian Adventure Part One

Of Castles, Helicopters and the KGB in Georgia

Introduction

No job. No money. Time in Europe winding down. Traveling prospects for the summer quickly turning into dreams and less reality. Things were not looking so bright for my travel junkie soul. So I was near off my rocker when my lova, completely immersed in his media company came to me and said, “How about we forget the roadtrip to Montenegro and all the crazy trips you wanted to plan. I have too much work to do.” A nail in the coffin to my bloggin/traveling dreams, I thought. But then he continued with words sent by the gods. “And instead we leave in two days for our birthdays (they're 3 days apart) to Georgia." He had already gotten the tickets and hey guess what, “on our lay over flight back, we’re stopping by Egypt for four days.” My mouth once hanging open ready to argue now gaped in shock. I’m not a religious Cylon, but hell it felt like the Red Sea had been parted for me (okay maybe not), but the answers to my hopes and wishes had come true. Best b-day present ever?


Friday, June 25, 2010

Indie Guide to Paris: Clubbing and Bars

Where to Party in Paris: Nightclubs and Bars

Paris is probably the worst city you can go to if you don't have friends and only a guide book for nightlife (and don't speak French), but ultimately the raddest city in the world. All the best guides to nightlife tend to be in le Francais (bless their souls for not being available to a billion tourists), so here is an easy to use English one to give you some direction when planning your baller night out. If you're an exchange student, as I was at the Po, you'll learn the ropes eventually, but until you find yourself that French lover to show you around, hold this guide close. (Read more on Erasmus)

 The list is doubtlessly incomplete but a more than solid start for underground and trendy partying. If you're new to the blog, you can check out A Night In Paris to see if my scene is yours. With this list of clubs expect to find, Electro, Indie Rock, Minimal, Urban..that kind of thing. They are not categorized  because you need to check out the event on the night you want to go. Depends. What NOT to expect from my guide is anywhere you'd find people like The Situation and Snookie lockin' lips. If top 40 is your thing then you don't need any guide to find that, just head to the Champs Elysée.


(Photo Credit: Ro)

 Contents:

1. Introduction
2. Tips for a Night Out
3. Indie and Electro Clubs
4. Cheap and/or Hip Bars
5. Useful Merde




2. Tips for a Night Out
Style counts. The best clubs in Paris are usually the hardest to get into. You gotta dress well. When I say well I don't mean your shortest skirt and your highst heels. More skin is not looked well upon in Paris. And it doesn't necessarily mean expensive clothes either but you have to be stylish. If you don't know what that means, get dressed with your hip friends or risk getting rejected. (Photo credit Right: So-me)

 Demographics. Girl to guy ratios are extremely important for succeeding the entry test of a club. Always break your big group of friends into groups of 3-4 and try to have at least 1 female, if not more per group. If you're a pack of dudes trying to prowl these clubs in your ugly sneakers or comfortable Moses sandals, they will send you elsewhere.

Where NOT to Go Avoid the Champs Elysee at all costs. Overpriced drinks and cover charges. It's where all the tourists flock to be because they do not know where else to go and consequently the local crowd tends to be sketchy and on the prowl for vulnerable English girls.  The list below will help you avoid that.  



Drink before. No matter which way you look at Paris, it's expensive for poor students and newly grads sans emploi like me. A cocktail or beer can be up to 10 euros and if you're extremely lucky around 5 euros. The wisest thing and most fun is to do a pre-game or "before" (with a exaggerated French accent) as they say in France with a 3 euro bottle of wine at the epicerie (the convenience stores) with your friends. If you really want to be like the French, in the summer drink along the Quai or on Pont des Arts and enjoy the Parisian nights, lights and ambiance before the clubs. Otherwise, party hard in a friend's apartment or anywhere you can with alcohol, even in the street or metro. Sounds horrible, but honestly the drinking in public standards are not the same in North America. Chill out. My best memories have been made that way, trust me.




Keep it classy too, night of the embassy fashion show. Lots of free Georgian wine led to an amazing soiree of culture, art and debauchy while partying.



French wine overload...from Pont des Arts to Bateau Concorde for Institubes show

 
3. Indie and Electro Clubs

Nouveau Casino (11th): Electro and minimal music with regular appearances from my former schoolmate DJ combo Les Radis Sangglants. Although I've left Paris a lot of the party invitations I get from friends indicates that I am missing a lot here!

Metro: Oberkampf
109 Rue Oberkampf  75011 Paris, France


Truskel (2nd): Described as an "Indie Pop Bar," this is currently one of my favourite places to party in Paris. Great crowd without the pretension. Fun music and lots of dancing rock n' roll. This place is as authentic and Parisian as it gets and there is for whatever reason many cuties (for ladies). No cover charge nor dress code. Full Review, here.  12, rue Feydeau 75002 Paris Metro: Bourse


Le Regine(8th): Classy and trendy it spot. "The new Paris Paris". Thursdays are the nights to be there. Girls are free and dudes are 15 euros. Steep, I know, but worth it. Métro : Saint-Philippe-du-Roule, 49 Rue de Ponthieu, 75008

La Maroquinerie (20th): Highly recommended by Sciences-Po Parisian cool kidz.  Kitsuné Maison Party was there and it always has great electro acts. If you go here and you're an exchange student or foreigner, the Parisians will be mega impressed.  Metro: Gambetta. 23 Rue Boyer, 75020

Chez Moune (Pigalle): This is an old lesbian cabaret turned into a hipster night club and run by the people who do Le Baron (below). The crowd is student aged and the club is small and cozy which I always prefer to larger clubs (and I've missed since Paris Paris closed). Believe you me, this place is the cool of tomorrow. 54 rue pigalle 75009. Metro: Pigalle.

Social Club (2nd):  One of the best in Paris to see the hypest names of electro music such as Busy P, Toxic Avenger, Sebastian. Went there for the opening night two years ago and it hasn't disappointed yet. Given the big names, the crowd can be a bit young sometimes and try-hard. They've just re-done the place too.  Good times. You can see the original Social Club in the Lil'Fel Rocks the World Trailer video. Metro Bourse ou Gd Boulevards 142 rue Montmartre 75002 



Social Club Opening 2008: Busy P, So-Me, SebastiAn

La Fleche D'or (20th): Completely different than it was two years ago. Electro and Indie stuff. Depends on the night. Saw DSL there. Metro: Gambetta. 102 Bis rue de Bagnolet 75020

Rex Club(2nd): Specialized in minimal electro. If you're down with that scene, here is the place to go. Metro: Bonne Nouvelle 5 Boulevard Poissonnière 75002







Showcase (7th): The club under the bridge. It's beautiful inside, great crowd, HUGE high ceilings. Dress well. Cover is about 10-15 euros but there is sometimes a guestlist you can get on for free cover. Usually electro music, but they have shows there as well. Depends on the night. Saw Kavinsky there and had the most mental experience, check it, here.
Metro: Invalides:  Under bridge Alexandre III, rive droite


The night I tried (unsuccessfully) to get an interview with Kavinsky at Showcase

Le Tigre (1st): This place is frickin' cool and one of the only clubs of its kind in Paris. Think Dance Cave (toronto) if it was in a beautiful and cozy establishment and mega hard to get into. Rock n Roll to Glam Rock. Expect to hear Arctic Monkeys, Beatles, The Smiths etc. Only thing is that it's not the easiest place to get into. "No effort, no entry." Metro:  Pyramides. 5 rue Molière, 75001 Palais Royal


Taking a dancing break outside le Tigre

Scopitone (1st): Used to be called the Paris Paris and my old fav' club. It has been shut down and opened as this concert joint/ club. Apparently it's not as selective as it used to be. Saw the Kooks there and it was neat, albeit overcrowded. Metro: Pyramides 5 Avenue de l'Opéra 75001

Chacha (1st): Really exclusive, older crowd, classy ambiance. Just re-opened. Metro: Louvre-Rivoli. 47 Rue Berger 75001

1979 (1st): Release of Breakbot was there a couple months ago. Supposed to be a cool spot but yet to visit. Next to Chacha. Metro: Louvre-Rivoli. 49 rue Berger 75001


(Photo Cred: Ro) Jean Nippon at Le Baron

Le Baron (8th): Very hard to get into, you better not dare show up in dirty pumas and your wife beater. "It was cooler before all the americains coming to Paris heard it was the hype spot, but still worth the effort," according to one Parisian. Metro: Alma-Marceau. 6 Avenue Marceau 75008 



La Bellevilloise : Recommended by my good DJ friend, Zadig et Pomme D'apy (great djs that throw crazy parties) and it's one of his fav clubs, but don't know too much about it yet. Need to go soon!



 Sorry backpackers. Don't show up to the club like this..



4. Cheap and/or Hip Bars
Be there (Ile Saint Louis): Hard to believe on this touristy island there is a super rad bar. The place is packed with long haired, skinny jeans Frenchies all the time and the drinks aren't that expensive (5 euros for a pint of house beer). The bar is small and cozy and there is often live music or electro dj's with a small dance floor to break it down. If you want that intimate atmosphere with a mix of club and bar then this is really a hype place to be. 19 Rue des deux ponts 75004. Metro Pont Marie

Just be (Montmartre): Best part about this place is the great list of cocktails for FIVE EUROS. As I said before most cocktails go for more than that. The place is not sketchy and super cool and laid back with decor from India and other parts of Asia. I spent my last night in Paris here. I got started with a 5 euro Bloody Mary (my favourite) and  I was not disappointed with the alcohol quantity and how yummy it was. My friends had cosmos, sex on the beach, mojitos (less good) and many others were available. But what killed me was what came next when I asked them to give me something crazy. At the bar you can order this dose of insanity called a Flaming Lamborghini (also 5 euros!). I don't know what was in it exactly, but I do know that things were on fire and blue liquor and Baileys got poured in it while I was sucking this flaming inferno of alcohol with a straw. You have to chug it and it is hella tasty but it will frack you up good. For some stupid reason I decided to do two. Lastly the servers are friendly and patient. 46 Rue Caulaincourt 75018. Metro: Lamark-caulaincourt

In Paris they don't do pitchers of beer (wtf right?) but they do GIRAFFES. Which, believe it or not are pretty damn ultimate.

10 Bar (6th): This is the best place to go for cheap sangria and was a staple for my exchange friends and I a couple years ago. A glass of sangria goes for 3 euros during happy hour and 3.50 euros starting from 8 pm. You can get pitchers too of sangria for around 10 euros. It's insane how affordable it is and such a cool place to be. 10 Rue de l'Odeon 75006. Metro: Odeon.

Bistrot des Artistes (5th):  Cheap drinks and bohemian ambiance hidden away from the touristic streets of Saint Michel. You can get 5 shooters for 10 euros and the beers are a good price too. 6 Rue des anglais 75005. Metro: Maubert-Mutalite

Cafe Bonnie (Canal Saint Martin): This bar is what Seth Cohen's wet dreams are made of (Geeky dreamboat from the O.C). With X-Men pop-up books, couches shaped like lips, lava lamps, cotton candy pink walls and giant menus,  this is a geek's paradise for losing one's sobriety. Don't come here for desserts or hot drinks like I did. In The Perfect Date Idea, I recommend this place after you eat at the fabulous resto, Les Enfants Perdus, next door. Attention though, the drinks are not that cheap (10 euros for a cocktail), so I would suggest taking a drink after Les Enfants Perdus then sitting along Canal Saint Martin with your own bottle of 3 euro wine to spend the rest of the night. I'm not a huge bar person, but the dork in me begs me back. Metro: Gare de L'est. 9 Rue des Récollets 75010


 

5. Useful Merde
For info on cool events and dates check out Parisbouge.com or Die Nacht (easy to use agenda). Also, try checkin' the fanpage of the clubs here that sound interesting on Facebook, they regularly update their events ans send you invites. Subscribe to My Little Paris for secret, exclusive events in the city.

Update: Just found this MEGA USEFUL site for upcoming events and what's going on in all these clubs I've just listed. Life has become much easier to rock out in Paris with this guide, Ten Days in Paris


Conclusion
Everyone has their own tastes when looking where to party it up. This list isn't for everyone but whatever your tastes are just know there are places and ways not to spend all your money in Paris while getting schammered. Hopefully the tips help and as always I am looking to learn more too. If this is your scene I'd love to hear about your hype spots and what you thought about the descriptions of mine!

One Love


Music in Paris: The Heart of New Awesome

DJ Knuckles and Blake
This song and video is insane. New wave of French dub/electro, seriously this is huge. Massive relay race in the middle of the Parisian metro. zomg.



Gentlemen Drivers
An oldie but goodie. They are one of my fav electro groups out of Paris






More on Paris: Find out where you can cure that hangover:


Indie Guide to Paris: Eating


My adventures in France

Stupid Things French Say or 7 Ways Hanging With French Will Ruin Your English 


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How to Survive and Thrive in a Long Distance Relationship

3 Ways to Survive a Long Distance Relationship


I am a survivor- of a long distance relationship (LDR). Being young and in love is already hard, add a couple thousand miles and you have yourself a situation. Here are three tips that may help you out.

My amour and I spent from December 2008 until now with either the Pacific or Atlantic between us. I was trapped in Toronto and he was working in Tokyo or studying in France. Sure, we saw each other more than most LDR's but it was still hella hard not being able to curl up and watch The Office when school stress threatened to overwhelm or cooking glorious meals while listening to the Beatles together. But finally I have just moved to Paris and for the first time since I was on exchange at Sciences Po, we are being a normal couple! It is wonderful but that is not the point of this post. The promise land would have been impossible without managing a successful LDR.


Almost every single one of my close friends have had to manage a LDR. I have seen them end horribly with one party needing more freedom than the 1000s of kilometres already between them, and I have seen them finish well and they are still together but that time in between was filled with misery and insecurity. I cannot say that my own relationship didn't experience valleys of gloom, (who doesn't?) but here are some useful tricks I've picked up from watching friends or trying our own original recipes. They are not for everyone of course, it depends on the couple, but they have certainly helped me and hopefully at the minimum they will inspire you and your partner to try your own creative solutions!



1. Have Exotic Dates

 (Photo top and left: Greenland)
Yo, use your distance to become the most cultured person alive. The best part of long distance lovin' was the fact that it gave us a hella good reason to travel. Instead of meeting in just your city or their city, why not pick somewhere in the middle and explore it. For example, when I was living in Toronto, and my amour was living in Tokyo, we decided that we meet somewhere we had never been before, and so we ended up in Thailand for a three week trip of amazing and crazy backpacking in Thailand. If you use this tip, LDR's can actually improve your relationship. It adds adventure, discovery and newness and is perfect for relighting that cheesy puppy love spark that tends to fade with advanced relationships.  Be careful though. The undivided attention you have for each other on these magical trips can be addicting and can lead to problems of dissatisfaction once you and your partner return to the real world of stress, work and boringness. But hey, at least you'll be together permanently..



Hidden Paradise in Spain. Find secluded beach and rock to have a picnic!


Sunset in the mountains of Northern Thailand. This is beautiful but in fact we are screwed. We are on a motorbiking road trip through  mountainous roads on a mission to get to May Han Song, but we took too long to get there and now we are about to embark on these winding tiny and remote roads in the pitch darkness. It was mega scary and dangerous but such great memories.

Chillin' on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. Lake Bailkal is right next to us..


Ninja training in Greenland. Apparently this was very dangerous because if one of the gigantic icesheets you see in the background fall into the water, it causes Tsunami like waves..

2. Play WoW

In the time between your exotic, worldly dates (they're expensive) do this. If you're not geeky enough to recognize the acronym, it stands for World of Warcraft. I know you probably think you're too cool to be wowed by the great powers of WoW, but hear me out before you dismiss it. By taking on a mutually engaging activity that ISN'T Skype (think Ted and Muffin lady's LDR conversations in HIMYM and how quickly that ended ) you are finally doing more than just yapping about boring shizzle. Hell, you are having the most ultimate date of all time! If you're one of those couples who love to spend ALL YOUR TIME SKYPING and find you are running out of interesting things to say, this is perfect for you. Screw backpacking, you are able to explore universes, solve mysteries and puzzles, and save each others lives, all while doing it together and talking to each other. You have a mission together and you're able to complete it together. Besides, isn't that part of dating anyway ? Yes, it is a video game and yes it is virtual reality, so it's not as good as exotic dating, but when you realize that when the only string that holds you two together is conversation, you will look for ways to add layers of depth. LDR's don't work so often because it gets boring spending most of your time just looking at your computer screen and you wish you could go off and have fun in your separate realities. Of course it doesn't have to be just WoW, you can find any online game. If you like adventure, this adds a fun way to stay connected, save money, diversify your conversations from the weather and your daily ingestion patterns.

 Ménage à WoW

This was how my good friend, Dean and his longtime girlfriend made it work while she studied in Scotland and he was in the T.dot. Of course it wasn't easy to spend a year a part, but they made it work and I think this played a major part of it. However, given the addicting nature of WoW, it may be detrimental to other aspects of your life as discussed below.



3. Open your Relationship



This is the most controversial and can make certain conservative types poop stones at the thought of it. Anyways, it allows you to live in the moment and feel like you're not going to have regrets in your life while keeping your heart reserved for the person you love the most. This can't work for everyone of course, jealousy and possessiveness often get the best of us, but if you can manage it you will see that you can get the best of all the worlds that mean the most to you. Long-term LDR's have the power to suck the youth out of you- you know what I'm talking about. While all your friends are drinking and flirting at a club, you take it easy on the drinks and go home early before you do something you regret while your friends have the most epic night of their lives. Or you are on exchange ready for the best year of your life but you are constantly, constantly refraining yourself from doing whatever debauchery comes with living with exchange students and sexy locals. By the time you know it your undergraduate has passed before you and you are re-united with your love but you have no idea what happened to the fun you were supposed to have as a Freshmen or international student. You say it's worth it because you do it for love, and of course it is worth it if you make love a zero sum between fun and your relationship. But why does love have to cost so much?

 THE MOST CRAZIEST PLACE YOU'LL EVER GO. VANG VIENG, LAOS.

Laos. Each stop along the river is a different theme. This one is a rave in a mud pit, along with mud volleyball...


So many relationships fail after one person begins to realize they want more than their skype conversations have to offer. They feel too young to be tied down to something that is not even there. In the end people feel they need to choose between one or the other: youth or love. I say eff that noise, you can have both. You should feel free and happy by life and love not stifled by it. Sure we sacrifice things for love, but if you are truly meant to be the sacrifices will manifest itself in other ways, it does not mean your youth. If the person is truly worth the trouble then you will probably have your whole life ahead to dedicate solely to them.  I know of one couple that lets anything fly in their LDR because they know they will be married and there will be plenty of time for monogamy then. For now, they are consultants in different cities and they are livin' the baller life, whatever that means to them in the moment. I think that's cool but of course much easier to preach than to practice. I mean, everyone gets jealous but 20 minutes of jealousy are totally worth the amounts of freedom and peace of mind that accompanies it. The first step however is an open mind and then anything is possible in an LDR.


Once you've established that you are open to the idea of openness, you need to experiment with what works for you and your partner. There are varying degrees of openness and it is imperative that you lay down the ground rules in order to avoid hurtful conversations later. Some people are down with complete openness because they are that secure with their emotions and compatibility for each other like the consultant couple I mentioned above. Some have a tiny degree of it, enough to feel they can still roll and strive amongst their friends but not too much where they might contract herpes. Amongst a whole plethora of rules that I will not get completely into, my amour and I's number one golden rule is honesty.

You might think it's crazy to tell each other everything but for us it was the only way our precarious and odd relationship could function. For us the betrayal is emphasized not in the act of engaging in physical acts with another person but the lying about it. Even though we are closed now, we would never break up over a kiss because we understand that we're human and when we're apart these things can happen. It doesn't mean our feelings are diminished for each other and thus there is not a feeling of betrayal (although hell, I would be mega pissed!). It is only when we cannot trust the other person to take responsibility for their mistakes does the deepest infraction ensue. Some people have a 'don't ask, don't tell rule' but if they ask you are honest. I think that's cool too. The one thing I've learned from this phase of my LDR was that when you are deeply in love and you know you are near perfect with someone, there isn't much that can take away what you feel. Personal insecurities might drive us to think otherwise, but you know on a certain level it's true. Like when you're heart broken over someone and you do every sleezy thing with your body in order to forget but no matter what they won't get out of your mind and it won't stop you from loving them. The heart and body are capable of being separated (to a certain point), so why not use that ability to maximize your LDR? As I said, it's hella hard and it can't work for everyone but if it comes down to breaking up from being suffocated, then why not give it a shot?

"I mean, everyone gets jealous but 20 minutes of jealousy are totally worth the amounts of freedom and peace of mind that accompanies an open relationship."




Conclusion
Anyways, these are just some things that have worked for me and others in the past couple of years. In a month my amour and I will be embarking on maybe one of the most difficult phases of our relationship, where I will be in Indonesia for 6 months and in that time we may only see each other once. I am actually quite nervous, but I try not to think about it. That being said, your feedback and tips for what has worked for you and your loves is welcome here!! Good luck, everyone..

Are you a survivor? Tell us about it! 

Venice, Italy with crazy cheap Ryanair tickets!





Music

Reminds me a bit of Ohbijou from Canada. Cute and romantic song to dream about your heart far away. Produced by Kitsune, the whole album is worth it.
Feldberg-Dreamin.mp3

A dedication to everyone who is living away from the people they love. You should know this song already (I've posted it before), but it is the ultimate LDR song, and naturally one of "our" songs. 


Home-Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros.mp3


See also..
Find out how to have those exotic dates for cheap in:
How to Fly without Money


Maybe your LDR didn't work out. Don't screw up dating around the globe.
The Real International Relations: Hooking up with the World

Friday, June 4, 2010

Cheese Moments and Reflections on the Real Paris

 My Mega French Journée

I am having one of those fromage moments that you can only have when utter beauty surrounds you and your senses are deeply satisfied. I had my moment, and I saw about 3 other young touristy hopefuls having it at the exact time. I know it's cheesy, but please allow me this one. This city is too damn beautiful for your brain not want to explode in cheese sauce once in a while! (To get the whole reading experience, I recommend playing La Bohème, posted below, while reading.)



 Started off at the English book store. Trinity students, I saw Maggie in Shakespeare and Co! Way proud, she was at the very front of the store! Weird to see your old Provost from Trinity so far from Toronto..


Dear World,

Sometimes I forget I am in Paris. I feel like I live in an ivory tower completely detached from a place so utterly rich in culture and history. All I know of this city, what I have proudly called the real Paris, is that of the trendy nightlife and the beautiful fluent in English, French people. But as I write this, two handsome men in worn blazers and London schoolboy like shoes are standing on a bridge playing Charles Aznavour while the setting sun creates peach kissed lighting behind them. A looming Notre Dame casts long shadows on the ground and the gentle spring breeze blows my skirt against my legs and La Boheme gently into my ears. Can you picture it? Like putting the last puzzle piece in place, something clicks in me and I feel that I get it, the Paris that everyone writes about. The Paris of hopeful ex-patriots searching for inspiration along the Seine.  Then, I feel a stab of sadness for not living in this particular dream.

My new read I picked up at Shakespeare and Company today! It'll be my warm up for Second Sex. Sitting along the Seine at Saint Michel in the evening sun reading Beauvoir was a new French experience for me.

But before I submit to a lifestyle reform and start writing in cafes, I wonder. Is this the real Paris or that put on display for me and the other yearning dreamers who visit Paris? Is this what we want to see so badly because we have been fed this image since we learned how to say Je m'appelle Felicia? Maybe. The music that brought me back to my dreams is over 50 years old. Notre Dame is one of the largest tourist attractions. What is the real Paris? Seems like a basic question, but I don't think my English speaking boyfriend and friends even know. I thought I had a solid idea, but like the clowns jumping out of the tiny car, I am surprised again, and it has left me lost between what is a dream and what is reality.