Posts Tagged ‘Sydney’

And? How Did it Go?

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Sorry! I have been very slow with my updates recently… and I know you’re ALL hanging out to hear how my adventures in the world of The French Embassy went. Well, wait no longer! The moment has arrived.

I have never been the biggest fan of Sydney – I find it a bit commercial and there are far too many people wearing suits. I’ve always preferred Melbourne as a “If I had to live anywhere else in Australia” option as it is far more artsy and relaxed. But French bureaucracy and the fact that my best friend lives there, have resulted in me visiting Sydney numerous times over the past few years. I spent a weekend hanging out with my friends and we spent most of that time near Glebe – one of the more down to earth and small-community areas of the city. It was fun and nice to catch up with Gill again. But then Monday arrived and after a somewhat restless sleep the night before, I triple checked that I had all of the required pieces of paper for my visa and set off for Market Street.

The French Embassy is located in an awful tower block in the middle of the city and I really don’t understand why they force people to come and visit because surely the French would be ashamed at the lack of pizzazz their embassy holds. It is hardly palatial or impressive and really could be the offices of any old business. Anyway, I arrived ahead of schedule and was called up before my official appointment time of 10am. Things were progressing similar to when I first applied for a visa a year ago.

I had a woman interview me from behind a thick piece of glass. This made it particularly difficult to hear her although most of the time she was gossiping with her colleague in French. This had happened last time and so I was prepared for the lack of attention. I used all of my ear strength to follow the conversation and joked along with them when I realised they were talking about me. Oh yes, French Embassy People, I speak your language.

I have to say that I think the fact that I could speak French helped me win a few votes of approval and I responded to all of her questions in French to show just how much I like France and French culture. She went through my papers occasionally asking me questions and half listening to the answers. There were moments of panic when I thought maybe she wouldn’t be happy with my answers or that I was missing pieces of paper but in the end she took my finger prints and photograph, shoved pieces of paper into my passport and walked off saying “C’est bon.”

I took this “C’est bon” to mean “I will take your application and it is likely that you will receive a visa within the next few weeks.” When I asked about the time frame, I received a shrug of the shoulders, a roll of the eyes, and a very French, “Booofffffff…. About two weeks.” SUCCESS!

I walked out of the Embassy and searched for a paper bag to stop my hyperventilation (not really… but almost) and jumped around a little and smiled a lot and there may have been one or two tears. Nothing is certain yet and I am still waiting anxiously for the postman to arrive in his white van to deliver my passport but I am feeling significantly more confident. The fact that they accepted my papers is a huge relief and I am a step closer to being able to return to Paris for another year. I have heard stories from Tom and I have managed to miss so much over the past two weeks that I am keen to get back. I’m enjoying the beach and life at home with my folks here but there are so many more adventures to be had in France. Come ooonnnn Postman!

This Time Has Come

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

I have spent the afternoon reading, highlighting, re-reading and then crossing off every word in the “Things You Must Bring to the Interview” information for my visa application. Tomorrow morning I get on a plane (hooray… gosh I love planes/airports) and fly to Sydney. Monday morning I will put on my nicest smile and eyelash extensions and then flutter away as I ask oh-so-nicely for a visa. I will then either cry or jump for joy, depending on the outcome. This result will, of course, be duly noted on here for everyone to either cry or jump for joy with me. I’m hoping to hear a lot of feet slamming back to earth early next week.

As with all bureaucratic adventures, there is a large list of things that I need to do and pieces of paper I need to find when applying and I am feeling particularly anxious about forgetting or overlooking something. I am fearing the worst in the hope that that will mean it’ll all go ridiculously smoothly. The old reverse psychology. In addition, I ask that everyone crosses all of their fingers, toes, arms, legs, and any other crossable body part in order to increase my luck. When our powers combine, we will conquer the French embassy. I appreciate the help.

Food, Food, Glorious (Sydney) Food!

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

What would be the point of going to Sydney and not eating delicious things? Sure, I might come away  with a visa for France, but where’s the fun in that? My friend Gill took me to the GPO Cheese and Wine Room, aka the cheese temple, on Friday night. It is located in the fancy grey-pants zone of Martin’s Place where all of the money people work. Located downstairs in the GPO, the cheese room is quite amazing. SO MUCH CHEESE! You can choose from one of their suggested combinations or pick 50 gram serves from their range of cheeses. We chose to do the latter.

Cheese

Someone invent a time machine – I need to get back to the cheese!

What a night. We choose three cheeses – an italian washed rind, an amazing blue, and an ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT French soft cheese with truffle. You can tell which one was my favourite. So so so good. We drank a bottle of New Zealand Pinot Noir and chatted for a few hours, stopping every now and then to remind each other how good the cheese was. Since living in France I have become quite picky about cheeses and always search for strong flavoured cheeses that leave you with bad breath. The stuff in Coles just isn’t cheese. I wish to live in the GPO Cheese Temple and become Jess – Queen of Cheese.

While I’m living in Sydney, I may as well also become Jess – Queen of Cakes. I ate some cake on the weekend as well. Nothing particularly breathtaking but the winner was definitely a pistachio and chocolate tart from the cafe at Alliance Francaise. We were served by an adorably French waiter who was overly polite and had the NICEST accent in the world. I fell in love with him briefly (sorry, Tom!) and turned into a giggling 13 year old every time he brought us food. Anyway, back to the cake. Gill and I shared the chocolate cake and a tarte tatin, a classic french dessert that is always a winner. Both were scrumptious and clearly made by French people who actually know how to make French cakes. I get sick of eating ‘french food’ that was cooked by someone who has never even been to France. I’d just like to say – there should never, EVER, be custard in an almond croissant. It is disgusting, wrong and should be illegal.

French cakes

Les gateaux

A Bit Backwards, Really

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Happy eleven, eleven, ten to you all. Remembrance Day now has some genuine meaning for me now, having read my great-grandfather’s diary and discovering he was in France being shot at by Germans on this day 93 years ago. Remarkable. So go and buy poppies everyone! They’re so pretty.

Right well tomorrow I am heading to Sydney for the extended weekend (ie. the weekend plus Friday and Monday) in order to apply for my Visa for France. It’s all quite backwards when you think about it. So far in our journey towards France, Tom and I been through 2 milestones with the third quickly approaching.

  1. We bought plane tickets.
  2. We booked our accommodation for the year.
  3. I’m NOW going to see if I’m actually allowed to live and work in France.

It’s annoying that I have to have gone through all of this, paid a LOT of money and only now get to find out whether or not France wants me in the country. Plus I have to go all the way to Sydney to do it. Luckily my best friend lives there so I’m not exactly sad to go. In fact, tomorrow night we will be visiting a Temple of Cheese – the Sydney GPO Cheese and Wine room. I’m a tad excited. You can expect a full report when I return.

So everyone cross your fingers, toes, arms, legs, eyes and any other body parts that you can manage to tangle in the hope that all of that twisted good-luck will mean a successful visa application for me. It’s Nervous Jessie Time.

Oh and

81 days to go.

The Guylian Experience

Friday, August 13th, 2010

I’m not a huge fan of Guylian – their seashell chocolates are the consistency of soap and contain too much white ‘chocolate’ for my liking. I don’t even like calling white chocolate chocolate because in my opinion in order for chocolate to be chocolate it needs to contain cocoa beans and white chocolate doesn’t. Sure, it has cocoa butter but that doesn’t count. Anyway, on my recent adventure to Sydney I was in desperate need of something sweet and found myself at the Guylian cafe in the Rocks. Much like the Lindt cafes that you can also find in Sydney, it is a pompous affair with over priced products and an air of false prestige. I don’t know why chocolate cafes do that – there’s no need for chocolate to be portrayed as a high-flying product. Sure, it used to be considered on a similar par as gold, but now it is a humble and friendly treat that everyone can enjoy.

Anyway, I decided to try their basic hot chocolate, not expecting the earth but hoping for the best. I was pleasantly surprised.

Hot chocolate

The Guylian hot chocolate experience

I was served a jug of hot chocolate, a cup with a ‘dark’ chocolate shell and then a BONUS! white chocolate and pistachio chocolate to enjoy. At this point I was glad I had decided not to try any of the cakes because while I am a chocaholic that wold have been a bit much.

Chocolate shell

It looks a bit odd...

The shell in the cup, while resembling something a little less delicious, was a nice idea. I was torn between eating it or pouring the hot chocolate over it to let it melt. Seeing as Guylian’s dark chocolate is rather pathetic, I decided to go for the pour and was pleased with the results.

Melted chocolate

Mmmm...

I discovered the best way to eat Guylian chocolates is to melt them in hot chocolate first. Very yum.

Hot chocolate

Not quite a Paul hot chocolate

The hot chocolate wasn’t bad – a tad sweet and not the thickest and darkest hot chocolate I’ve ever tried by any  means. The fact that the jug gave you two cups worth certainly put a smile on my face because I’m all for good value and the opportunity for seconds. I would put it on a similar scale as a San Churro hot chocolate in that they’re trying to be chocolatey but really they have a lot further to go.

White chocolate

It was free!

A free chocolate isn’t necessarily a good chocolate and I give this one 6/10. For a start it was white and it had that soapy feel but it was better than a homebrand easter egg given out by the Easter Bunny in a supermarket. I do love pistachios.

Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe on Urbanspoon

Back… with a Vengeance

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Well not so much of a vengeance… I’m just back. My trip to Sydney and Melbourne was great – lots of food, lots of fun, lots of funds spent. I managed to add 5 kilograms to my original bag weight and I had to unzip the expandable section which is a good sign. I had purposefully avoided buying winter clothes as I knew I was going to Melbourne, the land of amazing clothes and great designers. I have so much to write about but the problem is that it will just go on and on and on forever. So I recommend you visit my Flickr Site to see photos of my trip because you totally know you want to. Here are some tasters of what you have to look forward to:

Beer

There was beer (and gluhwein in a coffee cup)

Bulldog

Adorable animals

Lego man

Amazing art works

Goose

A sleeping goose.

Don’t miss out! Click here for more!

And stay tuned for more blog updates with specific details, travel highlights, hilarious quips and remarkable stories. You won’t believe it until you read it!