Friday, July 27, 2007

First Impressions...

Finally I am posting something from a little Internet-café just a few doors besides our first hotel. I hope I get used to this keyboard before going crazy. Since I don't want to go over my time limit I will just tell you that we arrived safe and sound in Paris last Wednesday morning. I still can't believe that immigration didn't care to even check our passports, just stamp them and in we go; very much different than in other places... like the US.

We are having a wonderful time, already having done all the touristy things and taken tons of pictures, but mostly just trying to get all the new sensations in. I can nozw say that I love Paris... I think it is in a way closer to the city that I grew up than any North American city I've known. Among the milllion things I want to share here I'll chose two: 1. How incredible the Musée d'Orsay is, with all its beautiful paintings and sculptures and the old train station that became a wonderful museum. I will eventually dedicate a post to this jewell, probably overshadowed by the Louvre, just on the other side of the river Seine. And 2. How little the world is... walking in Champs Elysées today I came across two people I knew in Guatemala... that I haven't seen or heard of in seven years. Toni and Cari Peyré are part of the board of directors of the school I used to work for between 98 and 2000. And they were just sitting there, taking a coffee when I come to them and say hi. They were excited to see me here of all places. And no, I didn't take a picture of them, which just goes to see how amateur I am in all this blogging thing, as CMS is continually reminding me.

Tomorrow he head to Grenoble, hope to be able to talk to you fro, there! Wishing you the best from Paris.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Itenerary and links

As mentioned before here is our itinerary: We leave next Tuesday in the afternoon, 6:40pm local time. It is quite convenient that we'll be flying "overnight" and therefore arriving around 9:30 am in Paris. CMS tells me that should minimize jetlag if one is able to sleep through the flight. The first leg of our trip is four days in Paris, our specific schedule of activities is still to be determined.

On the 28th we take a train to Grenoble where we'll be staying with an old friend of CMS who has been kind enough to take us in an offered to show us around. He also helped us get the train tickets to his current city of residence at an incredible prize. Grenoble is in the South-East of France, close to the borders with Switzerland and Italy. It is a region I am looking forward to visit. Hopefully we'll be doing some hiking.

On the 2nd of August we take a plane from Lyon (France) to Brussels (Belgium). It is the cheapest way to travel, unlike the $19 "seat sales" for flights within Canada that end up being a hundred dollars or more we really got a deal. For both of us it will be cheaper than one person going from Toronto to Montreal.

In Brussels we take a regional train to a university city called Leuven, about 30 min. east of the Belgian (and EU) capital. Leuven is the home of the oldest Catholic university in the world, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL). There we will be hosted by a friend of mine and his wife (thanks Jorge!) whom I met in Montreal last Summer at the International Meeting of the Psychometric Society. After a couple of days and a couple of nights we return to Brussels for an overnight visit previous to taking a train back to Paris (another bargain thanks to a 48hr sale). I would've loved to have more time to visit both Leuven and Brussels, but it would have to be for a future trip. In Paris we stay a few days more before taking our plane back to Toronto on 08/08/07.

I have added some links on the right-hand sidebar, which I think will be useful for our trip. I discovered a neat feature of Google Maps called My Maps where I was able to enter several important addresses for our trip; I'll report if and how was useful. I added some other potential useful links. Under "Keeping connected" the links e-mail portals (ah, and of course Facebook). I hope having them on one page will save us time entering full urls when using Internet cafés and what-not. If you can think of any link or site that might be useful while abroad, just post it as a comment.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Counting the days...

Well... CMS is coming back today from SK and that will officially start the last part of preparations for this Summer's main attraction for me: My first trip to Europe. I couldn't have asked for a better compañera de viaje than CMS. The funny thing is that even though she has been to Europe before all the places we'll be visiting will be new for her as well.

I am starting to get freaked out by the proximity in time of the trip, but I am certain it will be a fun adventure. We have quite a hectic schedule that I'll describe in my next posting, but in a nutshell we'll be visiting four cities in 15 days and using trains, planes and probably automobiles. It is going to be fun and I hope to at least have a couple of instances in which I can enter something in this journal I am starting.