BWAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

So you think it's going to be a super happy post about you, Sheila? Maybe, but not 100%.

Sheila and her friend visited me and Vincent in Strasbourg the second weekend I was there. We promised to meet at downtown Strasbourg, near Petite France. But of course, due to Sheila's super petite body and lack of parking space on Friday night, it was rather a challenge at first to find her.

By the way, for those who don't know about this infamous wicked little woman, she is a university friend of mine (2 years below me? or 3?) at Widya Mandala Catholic University Surabaya. She is bright, just like any other friends I have, and as soon as she finished her teaching degree, she moved on studying and living in Germany to pursue her then "future prospect." However, she could not manage to get what she initially wanted. But she did finish the things she started - her study - and seems to be leading a happy, lovely life at the moment.

So since our last meeting in Bali last year was pretty much time restricted, both of us were excited to meet each other again after she heard that I was going to France. She immediately arranged (wait a minute... I think it was her friend who arranged it) a car, booked a hotel and reserved weekend 15-17 August for us.

It was a rather chilly afternoon in Strasbourg when we were supposed to meet up. Vincent and I were waiting on the street near his car while checking out if Sheila passed us by. But I did not spend a long time standing outside the car. As soon as I felt that my lungs were freezing up, I nagged Vincent to get back to the car and watched the street carefully in case there was a small tiny little girl walking down the paved alley with a tall guy.

Now that was an easy way to detect Sheila even without my glasses standing on my nose. Hihihi...

Anyway, it was lovely to see her. We yelled at each other for the lengthened delay of the meeting time and we did it like for about full 5 minutes before we finally said hello and hugged each other.

Then because these road travelers were already too hungry (and me too, Vincent was of course the only one who wasn't hungry - have I told you that he hardly eats???), we walked together to find a restaurant. We didn't walk too far and we picked a nice restaurant called... hmm what's that called again? Marco Polo?

Dinner was good. And we were happy to have been able to catch up with one another's news. They were excited (and curious) to see this Vincent guy I had been talking about in my blog the last couple of months before I met them. And I was glad that they liked Vincent.

"He seems to be a very nice guy, despite his prejudices. But I suppose they were all jokes," Sheila's friend said.

He then continued, "I'm so happy you are with him, Carla. You both are a cute couple."

YAY!
YAY YAY YAY!

By the way, after dinner, Sheila was actually dying to get loads of her pictures taken (as usual). I actually wouldn't have minded if only the air was not too cold and my hands were not shaking when trying to set up my camera.

I only took a nightshot photo of this former women jail below and I really had to give it up after knowing I wouldn't win against the weather. And yes, it was summer!!!



Saturday, 16 August 2008.

We were meeting late morning (or early afternoon?) the next day in respect of Vincent's wish (he's just not a morning person) and Sheila's (she just can't let go her hairdryer before 60 minutes past). Sheila and her friend came to Vincent's flat and we entertained them with some coffee before we went out for around-the-town tour and photo session!

We went to Petite France again. This time, daytime view for Sheila and her friend. We went to the lovely cathedral downtown called Cath├ędrale Notre-Dame-de-Strasbourg. And with a so much correct anticipation, we didn't waste our time doing any other useless things but taking pictures of ourselves. Hihi...



There is a strange thing about this cathedral though. It is only windy around the cathedral, but never in the other parts of the area. 100 metre away from the cathedral, you can hardly feel the wind anymore. I was wondering why that was like that. Maybe because the form of the building?



Here are some other pictures of our touristy rendezvouz:

By the canal


Petite France.


Town Centre

Food/Snack

Okay... after walking around for a while, we decided to get an ice cream in one of the mushrooming restaurants and cafes. I initially wanted an ice cream so much. But then I changed my mind and would like to try the crepes instead. That was after Vincent said that the French crepes are different from the crepes I might have in mind.



It was indeed different. They cooked the crepes really, really thin and then they folded it into halves. I ordered the classic/plain one. At the time I didn't want any other flavour like chocolate or ice cream scoop distracted the real taste of the crepes. So I only had this refine sugar (is that the English term for gula halus???) sprinkled on top of the crepes. And the taste? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.... the best crepes I've ever tasted! It was slightly different. And the major highlight was in the texture of the crepes and slightly on the taste. It tasted like... crepes! I mean after eating that, I referred the Indonesian crepes - I don't even think Indonesians have always had crepes as our national specialty- to more of a pancake-like crepes. Does anyone share the same opinion?


This is another picture at that same ice-cream/crepes place. I must admit I hated Sheila's look on Vincent. STOP STARING AT HIM!!!

Anyway... we walked further more and I found this sort of gate on our way. I asked Sheila to pose there and she was like.... "Why? why why??? There's nothing special about this gate!" But I got what I wanted eventually and she posed as below.



I thought I could add a line for the picture, and I was satisfied with what I came up with. People in Sheila's and my circle will understand what I mean with it. Say, am I right or am I right? :)

PS: Don't take my cynicism as something negative, La. You know I always support you. And by the look at it, it seems that you are going to the better direction.

All in all, that was one of the best weekends I've ever had in Europe. I was happy being surrounded by nice friends and a GREAT boyfriend.

Life can't be better than this. :)
Listening to: Hey Sexy Lady - Shaggy
---
Vincent and I enjoyed our Holland trip and we wished we could stay longer. But Tuesday evening we would have to attend a BBQ invitation from Vincent's friend, Pascal. So we went back to Strasbourg after a two-night stay in Velserbroek.

The weather was crappy when we had the barbecue, so Pascal covered his backyard with the roof. He was sort of cute when he changed his top with a Bintang tees and said, "It reminds me of Bali when I wear this. I want to go to Bali again!"







Flammenkuchen

Wednesday the 13th, we stayed the whole day in the apartment lazying around. We went to this very traditional (according to me) restaurant with Vincent's mum and ate flows of flammenkuchen (not sure if that's the right spelling). It's like a very, very thin square pizza with different kinds of topping. I like the cheese and bacon topping the best. You don't cut it in triangle shape, though. You will need to cut it in rectangles and roll the piece. It's soooooo good!


Europa Park, Germany

14 August 2008. It was Vincent's birthday!!!

But we had to leave early in the morning for Europa Park. We were going with Vincent's friend Pierre and his girlfriend. Vincent had been very ecstatic about it. He had not gone there for years. He already imagined himself going on super fast rides and all. Being supportive, I showed a positive spirit. Of course, I preferred to egotistically spend the day alone with him. But he was too cute when he was excited so... I thought it would be cool. I mean Europa Park, come on! I'd like to see it.

I'm afraid I did not particularly mention beforehand to Vincent and his friends that I hated rollercoasters. So they were rather disappointed when I told them I wasn't joining for the rides. I felt bad because it was Vincent's birthday and I was supposed to have fun with them. I did try to get into this small rollercoasters for children called Pegasus, but I was so scared as hell. Then I refused to take any other rollercoasters.

We did go on separate ways when they were taking Mercedez Benz ride. I'd rather take pictures around! So I took this skytrain and went around the amusement park. It was pretty cool to see the miniature-sized theme countries there. I liked the Greece theme. The buildings and textures are so beautiful (to me) so that it attracted me to visit it one day. But anyway... that meant I broke my promise to stay not too far from the Mercedez Benz Hall. When Vincent and friends got off the ride, they couldn't find me and I was in the other part of the huge park. Vincent became worried and that resulted to his refusal to leave me alone.

I thought it was unnecessary. I'm a big girl and I think I can take care of myself. And if we had to be together all the time in that park, it was either I gave in and took those scary rides to make Vincent happy, or I made him take "safer" rides like the train around the park (it's not even a ride!). The latter was the one that happened. It didn't make me proud, really. I hated myself for being so selfish. But rollercoasters do make me sick. And I broke half of my tooth when riding one of them before. Because the fact is: the more scared I am, the more silent I'd be. When I'm silent while everybody else is screaming out loud, it'll cost me something. Like gritting my own teeth too hard...

Anyway, Pierre and Gaelle were taking the Silver Star (favourite stuff there I think) and I saw Vincent watching them sadly when they were queuing. And he did look so bored when we took Euro Tower because I wanted to take panoramic photos.

I know. I sucked. Big time.

The fact that I couldn't make my boyfriend as happy as he should have been on his birthday pissed me off. Plus the fact that it was already past midday and I hadn't had any single breakfast, brunch or lunch made me in such a bad mood that I did not behave very nicely.

I sucked again and I am full of excuses, yes. Sigh.

Anyway, I did like Europa Park. I just didn't enjoy the rollercoasters, that's all. I especially liked Cassandra's Curse in Spain section. We were brought into an illusion room and it felt like the room was going upside down. Pierre got dizzy in that room.



The funny thing, though, Vincent was trying to win me a doll at this ball-throwing stall. He bought some coins and with them tried to hit the targets. The only thing you could win that was by having 3 successful hits in a row. But fact #1, Vincent sucks at it. Fact #2, Pierre, too. I was curious so I asked if I could try it.

And YES, ladies and gentlemen, I threw the ball three times and didn't miss any single shot. I KICKED THE GUYS' ARSES! Gaelle was laughing out loud and teased Pierre and Vincent. In French, but I could guess it. So I won Bibou, that's the name of the big bird below. And because there is no way I could bring that back to Indonesia, I gave it to Vincent as a birthday present. Hihihi...


Vincent's defeated face and his birthday present


The winner


007 Carla and Bibou.


Bibou at Europa Park

So Vincent and I went home smiling anyway. With some partial guilt still lingering in my head and heart.
Eating: Microwaved chicken wings

---

Last weekend Vincent and I went to Holland. I did not quite plan the trip before, as my aunt and some other friends said that they would visit me in Strasbourg instead. But Aunt Joyce sent me an email in somewhat like last minute saying that she wouldn't make it to visit us in Strasbourg. I felt it was important to meet her this time, so I requested to Vincent if we could indeed go to Amsterdam. He said it was fine. "Whatever you want, baby."

It takes 6 hours drive from Strasbourg to Amsterdam. With the reason that I didn't want Vincent to be overly tired from driving, I proposed a stop either in Luxembourg or Maastricht. We decided to stop in Maastricht instead.

Maastricht



Maastricht is a nice city. That is not very objective by the way, since I was only there for less than an hour. It was just enough to get Vincent to stop driving and to buy some weed before proceeding to Velserbroek.

I couldn't help it when I saw bitterballen in the menu of a restaurant, though. I HAD TO HAVE IT!

So we ordered a portion of bitterballen, which we shared. They of course tasted so good. I forgot the fact that Vincent had never eaten it before, though. So when he started eating it, although it was in room temperature on the surface, it was burning hot in the inside. He took one whole bitterball and munched it in one go. And the result was.... he burnt his tongue!!! I think he almost cried. Hihihi...

Velserbroek

I've never been in Velserbroek before. Not a lot of Dutch people know about this village either. But that's where my aunt lives with her son, Clarence. It is only 10 minutes from Haarlem and 20 from Amsterdam.

We arrived at around 7-ish and for the first time in my life, I met Aunt Joyce and Clarence. Aunt Joyce was just like how I imagined she had been all this time through our communication via email and phone. But Clarence gave a different impression. Of course I knew from Aunt Joyce that Clarence was a good boy, very talented and that she was very proud of him. But then again, whose parents would say bad things about their son or daughter? What I found out was that she was being true about it. He looked like he was good at a lot of things. He writes scripts for plays, he is knowledgable, he travels a lot thanks to the fact that his mother and uncle work for KLM, and he cooks like a real chef - according to Vincent. In fact, he cooked dinner for us that evening and guess what the menu was. Foie gras and its luxurious companions.

Vincent was impressed. He said that Clarence cooked like a real pro French cook. Applause!!!

But yeah... being so kampung-ly Indonesian, I couldn't finish my food. No offense to Clarence or any other French people, but foei gras is only good to taste. That means one bite or two. But not more than that. It was.... - how do I say it? - too thick for me. I had to give Vincent "that look" when he claimed jokingly, "You have to like foie gras or we break up." Bah.


From left to right: the amazing ME, Aunt Joyce, Uncle Ernst, Vincent and Great Aunt in the front sitting. I must admit that they did share the Halatoe's facial features. They reminded me of my mum and aunts and uncles. Hihi...



Around Amsterdam

The next day I called Mia and we promised to meet up at Amsterdam Centraal Station at around 3.

It was SOOO good to meet her again. She looked rather different from the Mia I remembered. She was more beautiful. More vibrant. More... I don't know.

Anyway... we spent almost the rest of the day with her. We had coffee, we walked around the Leidseplein and shopped a bit [Vincent bought me a LOT of stroopwafel, yay!], and we sort of sunbathed by the canal in front of the Vondel Park.

And only, ONLY, just before we byed each other, we were met with Mia's boyfriend, Michael. I had always been curious about this guy since Mia mentioned him several times in her blog, but not quite transparently and openly. Aaaand, he turned out to be a really nice guy. He only had maybe less than 15 minutes to hang with us, but he seemed to get along pretty well with Vincent... due to their shared interest in rap music.

But if you are curious, too, about this mysterious Michael guy, here is the pic. ;)

Aren't they lovely?
That's the French sentence I remember the most. I trained myself to say that over and over again before I was even off for France. It means: I can't speak French.

The other day when I was taking pictures on my own in the Petite France, downtown Strasbourg, I was standing in front of a building and drinking my Fanta orange. A middle aged lady came to me and started to speak in German.

"Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah... Blah blah blah blah blah blah?"
It sounded like she was asking for a direction.

I let her speak some more.

"Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah?"

I said, "Do you speak English?"

She said, "Ooh, only English?"
And then she left.

The next day I was walking around the Capucins neighbourhood near Vincent's apartment. I felt a little tired after a while but I couldn't see any benches around for me to sit on. There was no park in sight either. So I went to this bus stop and sat there while examining the bus routes.

An old lady suddenly turned to me when a bus stopped in front of us and asked in French, "Blah blah blah blah blah?"

"Je ne parle pas Francais," I gave her a little smile.

She just waved her hand and left.

And last week, Vincent and I attended a barbeque party held by his friends, most of whom I happened to know because they were in Bali when I met Vincent. And still, a lot of them had trouble communicating with me.



But one of them, named Nicole, I guess, came to me, laughed and kissed me and spoke in French delightedly, "Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, Carla!!!!"

My magic sentence: "Je ne parle pas Francais."

This time the reaction was more pleasant than the other previous experience, maybe because they knew me already.

As soon as they heard me saying that, everybody cheered. And one of them who could speak a little English remarked, "Carla, you can speak French now!!!"

I thought Je ne parle pas Francais means I can't speak French. Hihi...

Watching: Family Guy 1st Season

---

I'm still having a hard time believing that I'm in France. The first days I had mixed feelings of happy, excited, loved and in love. That seemed to suffuse my physical state where I was super tired from the long journey, stresses I had before leaving and my body sort of rejected the fact that I was 6 hours behind Bali now. Obviously Vincent loves me too much that he hardly sounded any objection of my waking up at 3 or 4 or 5 in the morning!

Anyway, Sunday we went to Vincent's mum's. She was going to cook dinner for us. I was ready with my bribes: 5 pieces of necklaces and kecap Bango.

I was anxious. Not really that nervous, but it was supposed to be sort of important dinner. To be honest, that was the first time I met the mother of a boyfriend. I never had it in the past... and when I came to think about it, I realised that I never really had a REAL relationship before! That is if you link real with seriousness. And seriousness with meeting the parents of your partner. Not that it bothered me. But it was quite "new" to me. I didn't dare to imagine the worst, but I wouldn't expect for the best, either. I mean... I don't speak any single French and she doesn't speak any English word. What a perfect first dinner!

We left 3 hours earlier before the dinner date because I wanted to take some photos of me and Vincent. What was so cute was that he did whatever I wanted. He didn't mind me choosing the clothes he was supposed to be wearing for the photoshoot, and he was quite a patient first-time model.

Of course, the great photographer me also counts. That made the whole session fun and enjoyable.


[Me and Vincent at the photoshoot. Aren't we freaking cute???]

At 6 o'clock we arrived at Vincent's mum's place.
His mum seemed to be a cheerful, friendly woman. That was nice. I needed as much positivity as possible since the communication wouldn't go that smoothly. Of course I had Vincent to translate what we said to each other. But still....

She liked my gifts and so she took me to her bedroom and asked me to pick one sweater among 5 (or 6?) that she knitted herself. She never expected Vincent to date a petite girl, I suppose, for the sweaters are either too long on the waist or too long on the arms, or both. I chose the green one. NICE!

So I suppose the dinner could be categorized as a SUCCESS! Not with flying colours, but at least I passed it.

Yay!