The Awesome Things: October 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

Brand New Eyes

Allow me to give a short introduction of Rouen. The place in Europe where I'll be staying for 1 whole month.  Rouen, is the capital of Haute Normandie (Upper Normandy). According to Wiki, it is one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe. It is known for its cows, cider and soft cheese (I'll show you pictures of their fromage in my future posts, so keep updated!) Rouen is 70 mins away from Paris Gare St.Lazare and it would cost you 22 Euro for the train fare. This beautiful and lively city is also known for its Gothic architecture, sheer cliffs along the Cote d'Albatre and fishing boats jostled with designer yachts in the harbours of Honfleur. It is truly a lovey metropolis and one of Normandy's highlights. 

Rouen has had a turbulent history - it was devastated several times during the Middle Ages (Moyen Age) by fire and plague. The young french heroine Joan of Arc was also burned at the stake in the Central Square in 1431. The heart of the City is the rue de Gros Horloge with is beautifully cobble-stoned pavements surrounded by boutiques with middle aged designed houses (It simply reminds me of Hansel and Gretel). Their train station is the Gare Rouen Rive-Droite in the northern end of rue Jeanne d'Arc.

 Its main tourist attractions are the Cathedral de Rouen (It was the subject of a series of paintings by the renowned Claude Monet), Eglise Jeanne d'Arc, Eglise St.Maclou, Musee de Beaux Arts, Palais de Justice, and the Musee de le Ceramique just to name a few.

Madame Chantal Coiffe (My host family in Rouen) et moi. My first day in Rouen was freakingly cold! My hands felt numb and it was always rainy. But, I'm blessed enough to be with Madame, you could not ask for a better host family. She is so warm, nice and endearing. 

We spent the whole Sunday afternoon touring around the lovely and cold city with a taste of its middle aged influence. The whole boutique were closed in the weekends though but nothing can stop us from window shopping. Prices range from 30 Euro up. Wow! 

Rouen has truly sustained the romance of the medieval period, completing the picture of tranquil sophistication giving visitors and the locals an unrivaled taste of the past and present in the Normandie Capital.

France is definitely a place for people with a strong sense of adventure, a passion of history and authenticity and a thirst for new experiences. 

The Apartment where we lived.

Madame's maison is really lovely, full of decorations, collections of crystals and paintings. The walls were covered with beautifully colored wallpapers. It's superb! Here was a place where I can delightfully and soothingly stand still and just let the senses take over. I can still smell the hint of Rose essential oil freshly burned as I stepped into the house and it's warmer here than outside. Everytime you open the window it's as though you're opening the chiller. It's that cold but I'm loving it! I'll update more posts soon! A tout a l'heur! 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sabbatical in Europe (side trip Hong Kong)

On the plane for Hongkong..

The Cathay Pacific food was not terrible.. in fact they have very good looking flight attendants on both sexes. Not the typical chinky-eyed chinese. In fact, they look like movie actors and actresses. There was one specific flight steward that I can't take my eyes off because he was just so handsome. Man!

Hong Kong International airport has very high standards of cleanliness it was even named as one of the best airports in Asia. In fact, I don't mind sleeping here if I'd have a layover of over 12 hours in Hong Kong since they have shopping stalls, restaurants and sleeping lounges. How convenient!

I decided to take a little tour in Hong Kong since I had a lay over of 8 hours, why not explore the city instead of waiting and moping around in the airport. Time to see some Chinese culture and have a taste of their food.

Hongkong's Airport is HUGE, you need a train to transport you from one station to another..

Just my luck, I left my jacket here.. beuf! and there were some bus drivers who were rude but there was also one who was so kind. He didn't let me pay on my ride back to the airport after he learned that I left my jacket in other bus. Xie xie!!

In the AirFrance, the flight was 12 hours long! Non-stop! ugh..

We've arrived, finally and I'm still in one piece. 

First day in Paris:
  • My baggage handle got destroyed
  • I lost my AirFrance ticket which was already included by the scholarship and had to pay 22 Euro for the AirFrance bus to Porte Maillot.
  • The Taxi driver who was going to fetch me at Porte Maillot took 45 minutes to find me.
  • I was supposed to meet someone at the Paris Train Station (Gare St. Lazare) but was unable to do so for I arrived 10 minutes before the departure of my train to Rouen.
  • I almost got left by the train to Rouen, but luckily I was able to catch it at the last 5 minutes.
Wooh! I just wanted to cry! Traveling for the first time in a foreign country that speaks little English is super hard! It's so hard to communicate with the people. It was even harder since I was traveling alone. I'd like to believe God surrounded me with His guardian angels and I made it to Rouen to meet my host family.

Porte Maillot, it was beautiful and very very cold! My hands felt numb. Victorian design architecture was everywhere. It was absolutely lovely. C'est Magnifique!

The streets of Paris in the light of the early morning. This was the time when the streets are at its cleanest, its most pure and full of hope.

Imagine the hurricane of emotions rising inside a wide-eyed 20 year old on her first adventure outside the country! Mixed feeling of anxiety and excitement starts to rise and it's just amazing that I can finally see my dream in motion. After such a long time of waiting and working hard for this, It's a dream come true with all credits to the Lord because it's only made possible by Him after all. Come to think of it, it's a miracle. I've always wanted to live and study in a foreign county back when I was a kid but it deemed impossible at that time. So I eventually forgot about it but in my heart, I've always yearned for it to come true. And I can finally experience it at first hand. With my exposure not limited in the movies, internet and books alone. The adventure is much different in reality than in pictures. In reality, you can feel how the coldness seeps into your skin with smoke coming out every time your speak, you can see the wonderful architecture and the people passing by ready for what the day brings and you can smell the scent of the fresh pastries and breads from the Boulangerie and Cafes.

Mango Float Recipe

1. Crush Graham crackers using rolling pin until it's fine. Set aside.

2. In small saucepan, put together 1 cup water and 3 tbslp. unflavored gelatin. Set aside.

3. Slice 6 pcs. ripe, sweet mangoes to cubes. Set aside.

4. In large bowl, beat 2 briks very cold Magnolia all-purpose cream for 2-3 minutes. Add 1 big can condensed milk.

5. Heat gelatin in low fire until it is melted. Add this to cream and condensed milk. Stir well.

6. Using rubber scraper, stir in cubed mangoes.

7. Pour mixture into mold. Sprinkle top with crushed graha crackers.

8. Keep in freezer until firm and very cold.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Amici at Venice Piazza, Taguig

Manila has 2 sides: the good side and the not so good side. Taguig City is definitely one of the good sides of Manila. Best part about my jaunt in Manila was having a good friend like Ashley Ranises to tour me around Taguig. I immediately fell in love with Serendra and we dined at one of the high-end restaurants at the Venice Piazza, Taguig. 

From the printing press canteen started by Salesian Italian missionary Fr. Gianluigi Colombo, Amici di Don Bosco was established in 2001. Today, Amici brings you the authentic Italian dining experience that your friend and family will alwyas enjoy! You don't have to travel to Italy anymore to experience fine Italian Cuisine! Fascinating, ayt?

photo credit: Stephanie Tan Suter

Foccacia Rosmarino Spinaci 

The aroma of the fresh herbs can truly wake up your taste buds and leave a smile on your face. The crust is crispy and the cheese melts perfectly as you indulge in this delicious dish and you can really taste the fresh Rosemary herbs on it. Though it's quite pricey but if you're looking for something that will excite your palate at every bite, then this iz really iz it! (rating 10/10)

photo credit: Stephanie Tan Suter

Parmigiano Pizza al Pesto

The Pizza is quite bland and it's just your typical pizza crust, plain and boring. But wait till you pair it with the Pesto, you'll have that zing of anticipation as you smell the scent of it gracing in front of you. The Pesto has this strong smell to it but it has that perfect salty taste that would complement the Pizza. My compliments to the chef! (Rating:10/10)

photo credit: Amici Philippines

Earlier that day before we were dining, the American Idols were there. Imagine how the people kept staring starry-eyed at the idols.


American Idol Season 11 Winner Philip Philips

Dinner date with the girls: Cindy Lumbres, Ashley Ranises and Stephanie Suter and Puri Mabano (me). Miss you Lovies! Can't wait for more food trips with you guys, it's always a memorable experience wit ya'll.

Amici Philippines
The Venice Piazza, McKinley Hill Rd.
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig 

Student Visa Requirement for France

Ever thinking of studying in France, here's a list of requirements that you need to prepare for your application:

Student Visa Requirement
Short Stay (Less than or Equal to 90 Consecutive Days)

1. Signed Schengen Visa Application form with photo (35mm x 45mm, white background) + 1 extra photo
2. Valid Passport + photocopy of personal data page(s) of your passport and of your previous Schengen Visa
3. Certificate of pre-enrollment in a French school or university
4. Scholarship certificate (if applicable)
5. Proof of lodging in France
6. If going on an exchange program, proof of enrollment in a Philippine University 
(enrollment certificate, valid school ID or tuition receipt)
7. Diplomas (including High School diploma
8 Proof of financial resources (self or sponsor's)
           - Official business registration of current and previous years or Certificate of employment
           - Income tax return from previous year (if applicable)
           - Bank Account statement (last three months)
           - Affidavit of support from sponsor (if applicable)

9. Birth Certificate
10. Cash payment for the visa in Pesos only (non refundable)
           - 60,00 Euro / Php 3,300 (approx.)


-Set an appointment for the consular interview by contacting the Consulate call center:
        - For PLDT/Smart/Touchcard Subscribers  1 (909) 101-3333
        - For Globe/Innove/Touchmobile Subscribers  1 (900) 101-3333
        - For Bayantel Subscribers  1 (903) 101-3333
-Processing time: 5 working days
-Warning: Incomplete files may result to the refusal of the application

Here's a Sample, I got this a week after my Interview at the French Embassy in Manila.

Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

1. In a saucepan, mix together the following ingredients and bring to a boil:

1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 knorr beef cube
2 cups water
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2. When mixture is boiling, add in 1 pack (225 grams) macaroni.
Cook Macaroni with constant stirring using a wooden spoon for 15 minutes or until cooked.

3. When macaroni is cooked, stir in 1 cup grated quick melt cheese. Mix well. Serve hot.
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