Thursday, June 14, 2012

I think I Cannes

Oh mon dieu, c'est Zac Efron: Oh my god, it's Zac Efron.

Toward the end of my stint in Europe, I was reminded how insignificant I am. Why Cannes't I get all gussied up and hair-sprayed and trot about as if the very skin under my feet were made of diamond-encrusted velveteen rabbit fur? Why Cannes't I hire someone to buy my clothes and then immediately sell them on ebay when I tire of them? Why Cannes't I be verbally harassed by manic hordes of screaming would-be photogs weeping my name through fistfuls of their own hair?

Some people have all the luck.

As you may have guessed, I am referring to the ever-celebrated annual Cannes Film Festival and the famous red carpet crawlers that emerge from their lives of bug-eyed sunglasses, oversized hats, and an unrelenting air of aggravated recognition to grace the common people with their presence.

We wound up actually going to the festival twice: once with very little success, and once with torrential rain and gale force winds that nearly Mary Poppins-ed me straight out of the crowd and high above the riviera boardwalk.

Our first team expedition to Cannes yielded the latter. And it was only sort of really miserable.

We went to find celebrities out in the open, in their natural habitat (unless you argue that the red carpet is their natural habitat which would be a very valid argument), because there were no premieres to attend. Unfortunately, due to the weather, no one in their right mind should have been outside, let alone anyone famous.

So very wet.

So we wandered around, carried by our whims and the winds, ultimately landing in a moderately expensive resto, drifting to the festival souvenir shop, and returning to the train almost as soon as we had arrived.

"I'm going to meet Johnny Depp, and he'll see
my Helena Botham Carter bangs and my
Sweeney Todd tights, and he'll fall madly
in love with me." --Elizabeth

One of the benefits of an empty festival: prime pictures.

So that was attempt number one. "Unsuccessful" only begins to describe it.

But we had fun. I am the master of turning crappy situations
into wonderful adventures. Not sure what title that allots me.

Our second attempt at fame and fortune and everlasting life yielded a somewhat more positive result. I say "somewhat" because it was very different than I was expecting. (I suppose my expectations were slightly too high, and I take the blame for that. But this, this was sheer mania.)

The day started out already in better shape than the previous trip as the weather was sunny and we were headed to an actual movie premiere (for The Paper Boy I think?). So we were guaranteed some celebrity sightings, red carpet or not. Or so I thought.

Once we arrived at the red carpet, we found some standing room behind the marked barrier for fans and onlookers. Sure it was kind of far from the carpet itself, but I found the curb of the road and stood so I could see over the heads of the herd of people in front of me. Perfect. Now I can see everything all the time. I am sooo smart.

False. Not smart. Horribly unsmart. You see, what I didn't know was that crazy-manic-psycho-fan logic is very very opposite of all other logic. So instead of letting regular-sized people stand in the front of the giant step-ladder people, the step-ladder people monopolized all sight to be had. They climbed on these towers of obnoxious self-importance and essentially formed a blockade between myself and the beautiful people.

Some of the beautiful people present were Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, John Cusack, Matthew McConaughey, Macy Gray, Heidi Klum, Antonio Banderas, and I may or may not have seen the northwest corner of John Legend's head. May or may not.

From where I was standing, the only way I knew someone famous was arriving was that I could see even less of nothing. You'd think it would be impossible to see less than nothing, but I have seen it.

Left: no famous people, Right: OMIGOD FAMOUS SCREAM SCREEEAM

Elizabeth sneakily found herself atop one of the step ladders (you SNEAKY Elizabeth), so she was able to actually get photos, good or otherwise. So most of these photos are hers. I was content to photograph some could-be celebrity look-alikes. Like this security guard.

Isaac C. Singleton Jr. (or the "TOO LONG!" pirate from Pirates of the Caribbean)

I have circled the beautiful people in Elizabeth's photos, if you may have missed them, which really shouldn't happen, as their beauty conspicu-izes them.

Nicole Kidman

Macy Gray

Zac Efron

Heidi Klum

John Cusack, Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman, ?,
Zac Efron, ?, Macy Gray

While we were trotting around town, we tried to trick people into thinking we were important. So Elizabeth, the fanciest of us all, put on her sunglasses, paired with her fancy dress and too high heels, and tried to walk . . . importantly. My wardrobe will always look not so much like a celebrity but rather more like a somewhat fashionable personal assistant, so I matched accordingly.

Tip #485 for being famous:
Never hold your own umbrella.

All in all, the experience was very fun, regardless of whether or not I had the opportunity to find Hugh Jackman and woo him. And we would live happily ever after.
Please note the yachts.
Dear beautiful people, you are not very good at hide and seek.
Amitiés :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Definition: "la" (n.): a note to follow "so"

le paradis: heaven

While studying in a place like the south of France, there are 2 things I learned to be true. 1) Everything was beautiful all the time. 2) I felt nothing.

I knew I was surrounded by beauty, and I knew I should be appreciating just how freaking gorgeous everything really was. But for some reason, I could look at the oceanside view of Monaco from the vantage point of Princess Grace's palace towering overhead right before sunset, and I just couldn't see it.

For the longest time I was pretty convinced something was wrong with me. Surely I must have some mental defect or maybe an earwig infestation if I felt no sense of wonder and awe when the veins of evening sunlight tickled the water as it danced around my feet beneath the majestic shadow of the Negresco.

I realize now these were all meaningless mind nuggets.

Why the change of heart?

One word.


About a week ago I returned from my 3-day Austrian expedition, and, friends, I felt something.

If I had my way I would flee my life of remote controls and fish-shaped crackers and head for the Alpy hills of Austria, forever to live a life of hermitude with German-speaking mountain goats as my only source of companionship and my imagination as my only window to the outside world. In a heartbeat, I would.

The grassy Sound of Music fields juxtaposed with the towering grandeur of the Untersberg mountain provided the perfect setting for my final European excursion and let me know that the beauty confusion I'd been experiencing in the riviera wasn't my fault.

Ich belong in the mountains.

Day 1

I flew into Salzburg atop a majestic eagle early in the morning and quickly realized I would experience slight language difficulties. As I don't speak German. Like not even a little bit.

At the hostel I met an Australian girl named Hannah who led me to the Festung Hohensalzburg, the fortress overlooking the city. There wasn't really anything super interesting within the fortress. A pretty standard fortress. But the surrounding views took my breath and sold it on ebay.

That evening I attended the nightly 7 o'clock showing of The Sound of Music in my hostel. It was fantastic. And prepared me for the days ahead . . .

Day 2

Rain rain go away.
Come again another day.
Little Molly wants to play.
Rain rain go away.

No? No, you're . . . you're gonna stay? Really? Even after I sang to you?

Dear rain,
You are an inconvenience to me.
Sincerely, I'm invisible and I'm wet.

Well despite the rain and severe overcast, I still managed to make it to my guided bus tour through Salzburg and the surrounding area. And yes. It was a Sound of Music tour. Did I forget to mention that?

Liesl's WEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!

It's a testament to Salzburg's beauty when the horrific weather
conditions don't completely ruin the vistas.

This was the church where Maria and Captain
Von Trapp married in the movie. (In real life
they married at the nunnery.)

I am Kurt. God bless Kurt.

So the bus tour was kind of a flop. (I was made aware of this fact before attending but was unsuccessful in my attempts to cancel the reservation.) It was cool to see the sights and go out as far as the church, but the views weren't great, due in part to the weather, but also because bus tours in general don't really lend themselves to being good sources of pictures and stopping and Molly fun. (Hence the rarity of pictures.)

We did sing though. So that was extra enjoyable for me. Except the woman behind me was incredibly distracting. Either she was unbelievably tone-deaf or she's one of those people that thinks she can harmonize when she can't. Those people are the worst.

After the tour, umbrella in tow, I headed for the Mirabell gardens to do some more Sound of Music sight-seeing. While I was there I happened to meet 2 girls from Canada (the same university as several of my Canadians) who were on the bus tour, and we ultimately joined forces to recreate scenes from the musical on location. This was probably the highest point of my life. Nothing will ever compete. (Sorry future husband and future wedding and future babies. Not gonna happen.)

Mood. Feel free to sing along. Others will join in.


GAME TIME, ROUND 1: Can you spot the 5 differences between the photos grouped below?






Ultimately we decided photos were not a sufficient log of the reenactments. I pushed for a bit of videography. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

From "Do Re Mi"

Right: to appease my freak obsession with VeggieTales.

This is the cemetery that the Hollywood set was based off of. Respect the graves, shmespect the graves.

There are 49 churches in the main Salzburg area. This was the "main" one. The Dom I think? Look! It looks like the angels from the building behind are crowning the lady statue! Art!

"I Have Confidence" (with extra confidence)

The Mozart bridge--aka. "Do Re Mi"

Then we "hiked" up a hill the the nunnery.

Left: Sister Berthe, Right: Liesl

Later that night, after dinner and dodging the rain, I returned to the hostel, very satisfied with my ever-growing Canadian excursion repertoire.

Day 3

Hannah from Australia had told me about the bike tour she went on and how magical it was. So I decided to try it out, especially since the rain had stopped and the clouds were somewhat lifting.

Pros of the bike tour:
-I lurv biking.
-Cost efficient!
-Nicer weather
-Stopping for pictures

Cons of the bike tour:
-Too awesome

Another pro of this tour was the fact that the group consisted only of myself, my adorable very Austrian tour guide, and a flight attendant from Fort Lauderdale who brought her pet dachshund Nefertiny. Nefertiny the clothing model. Whose closet is bigger and more lavish than my own.

A delicate balance of precious and creepy. Nefertiny, you pull it off well.

I should also tell you how adorable my tour guide was. At one point when she was relaying history stuff to us she translated 1069 AD as "One souzand sixty nine ahfta Jeesus." And it was adorable.


GAME TIME, ROUND 2: Can you spot the 5 differences between the photos grouped below?







That evening, following the guidance of crazy dog-lady Erica, I attended one of Salzburg's renown marionette shows, The Magic Flute or Die Zauberhausenschlosseryagermanjenson in German (or something like that).

Day 4

The weather decided to give me a break. The sky opened up, the air was crisp, and the mountains more glorious than I could ever describe. Friends, if I had been studying abroad in Salzburg, you can bet you'd never see me again. Unless of course you came and visited me in Salzburg. Because the implication is that I would be living their permanently. In case you didn't catch on.

So since the weather was so amazing, I decided to climb back up to the nunnery and get a proper photo of the mountainy views.

Then I realized you could actually go inside the nunnery grounds themselves. So I did.

I then moseyed around town for a bit.

I found a Papageno statue from The Magic Flute!

Dear Detroit, We appreciate the thought, but
you really didn't have to give us anything.
So please, take it back.
Sincerely, errbody

There's this store in Salzburg that sells these little ornately decorated eggshells. They are so pretty, and there are literally millions of them in this one shop.

Traveler's tip: if you look like you know where you're going,
you can get in pretty much anywhere.
Fancy bathroom plank? Check.

In the early afternoon I still had quite a bit of time to kill before my evening flight, so I decided to use the map my hostel gave me showing a pre-marked "easy" hike up one of the smaller mountainy hills and go exploring. After some confusion trying to find the entrance, I managed to get to the trail. But I will say I was never ever sure where I was because (and I will swear up and down) the map in my hands and the terrain under my feet were not the same thing. It was a map of lies.
First stop, monastery.

But, I mean, the views were impeccable when you could find them.


Because I had nothing else to do, because I am a Kessler, and because I am secretly neurotic, I got to the airport 3 hours early, arriving at the check-in counter about 30 minutes before the people that work at the airport. Eh, whatever.

Right next to the airport. One last ditch effort at keeping me here.
Salzburg, you temptress you.

Amitiés :)
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