A Surprise Trip to Canada
When I say I like adventures, I was not thinking of the journey to Canada to visit family.
It’s been exactly 20 days since you last heard from me, and a lot has happened in those 20 days! I actually made an emergency trip back to Canada for five days (not including the mess of the strikes in France that extended my trip by 2 days on either end) and started the process of renewing my visa to stay in France.
A family emergency caused me to have a quick trip back to Canada for a few days. What was supposed to be a quick 7-day trip quickly turned into a 10-day trip with delays due to the strikes in France. I had originally booked a train from Brest to Paris the night before my flight and a hostel stay right beside the train station. Word quickly came around of a general strike that day, so I changed my booking for the day before and ended up spending a day in Paris with my friends. Luckily my friend offered me to stay at her place, and that was fun. Aside from the protests and cancellation of certain metro lines, especially the metro line is right in front of my friend’s place 😖.
My short 38 hours in Paris were literally non-stop. As soon as I got to my friend’s place, I dropped off my stuff, caught up with my friend and then headed out for dinner. I was so happy to have been able to see my friend for dinner. She had moved to Paris about 3 years ago and is in the process of moving back to Ottawa. While sad, it was nice to see her in Paris, maybe the last time for a long time we get to see each other in Paris. We met at this amazing restaurant for dinner, Chez Ann. They serve amazing dim sum, gyoza and other traditional Japanese and Chinese dishes. They also offer gluten-free and vegan options - an amazing intimate restaurant with a view of the kitchen, allowing you to see the intricate work of making the dumplings and gyoza.
The next day I had almost the whole day to experience with my other friends in Paris - there were so many! I met my friend Joyce for breakfast at this cool Lebanese brunch joint, Kafkaf. Kafkaf is a really cool place with amazing decor and nice service. The food was alright but still comparable to my favourite brunch in France, Diploid in Lyon. After brunch, we enjoyed a small market not far away and a trip to the renowned bakery Du Pain et Des Idées to get their signature pistachio-chocolate roll, which was underwhelming. Their rum-raisin roll sounded and looked so much better. The deep green pistachio paste just didn’t taste like pistachios…
After enjoying some time with Joyce, I had the chance to meet with a few friends from school! Paul and Juliette were enjoying a coffee at a cafe on Saint Germaine Boulevard and invited me to join them. Paul is from the Champagne region and is about my age and has always been in the hospitality and restaurant sector, like myself, and decided he wanted to get a formal pastry education. Juliette, a Portuguese-Brazilian-French interior designer, decided she wanted to do a complete career change not long after attaining her Master’s in Interior Design. It was amazing meeting up with both of them and hearing about their internships. Juliette brought a loaf of pistachio sourdough, which I must say was delicious!
Afterwards, when Juliette had to leave for another commitment, Paul and I got to meet with Louis, another friend from pastry school (who introduced me to the others), and we got some time to hear about his internship and talk more about our future travels, professional goals, and hopes for what the next few years will bring us. Louis is wildly ambitious and hopes to open a bakery in Lyon within 5 years. Louis is such a cool guy - always baking something new and asking for your opinion. Check out his Instagram!
After catching up with Louis, I headed back to my friend’s place for dinner. Carla is just learning to cook, so she decided to cook me dinner for the first time. I had the pleasure of eating her salmon ceviche with bulgur, and it was great! She asked for a dessert, so I made her favourite dessert, the Fraisier. A fraisier is a strawberry dessert made with a gelatine-set cream and a soft and spongy génoise cake layered in just the right way to make a creamy and fresh dessert for any day. After eating dinner, sharing a bottle of wine with Carla and her cousin, watching Top Chef France, and cleaning, off to bed we went.
The next morning I woke up early and prepared to leave, not knowing what events would unfold later that morning. I knew to avoid the metro, so I took a bus to the Opera to catch the direct bus to the Charles de Gaulle airport north of Paris. As I walked to the bus and was across the street, the bus pulled away 15 minutes early! Great start to the day. The next bus arrived 30 minutes later and got me to the airport a mere 2 hours before boarding and 3 hours before departure. Then the lines and the lack of staff due to the general strike hit. First, I had to get to the restricted zone, taking about 30 minutes. Next was the line for passport control, which took about 45 minutes. Then after that was security, which also took 45 minutes, and a secondary check to ensure my water bottle was empty 🙄. By the time I reached my gate, I had three minutes to spare, so I got some food because I had yet to eat that day. Back to Canada, I went.
If you haven’t heard, the strikes in France over the retirement age increase have reached new heights. The government led by the Prime Minister at the discretion of the President decided to invoke a clause in the constitution (clause number 49.3, is referred to as le quarante-neuf-trois) allowing the passing of the legislation without a vote in the national assembly. This move was announced only 2 hours after my flight left. Not long after this happened, a very angry group of strikers and protestors grew at the Place de la Concorde, only a couple klicks away from where I caught the bus to the airport. Take a look at the link below to get a better idea of what’s going on in France in regard to the pension reforms.
Not long after, I made it back to Canada, landed in Montreal and got my first box of Timbits in hand for 6 months - boy, did I miss them. After a quick bathroom break, I got ready to board my next flight going back home to Ottawa. All as planned this time, right? Nope. Right after take off, the landing gear went into the plane as normal, and its doors shut, then the doors opened. This caused us to turn around and make an emergency landing in Montreal. After a 3-hour delay, we got on a new plane and headed to Ottawa. Finally home, I got right to it, baking everything I had planned, chocolate chip cookies, earl grey cookies, and the famous scones. After dinner with my parents and some catch-up time with Phoebe, our dog, I got busy in the kitchen, baking till the late night hours.
I really enjoyed my time back in Ottawa for a limited time, seeing friends and family and spending time with those who may not be around for much longer. I got to see a few of my longtime friends, my best friend from high school, my best friend from college, a really close ex-coworker from my prior employment, and my senior kindergarten teacher, who I’m still in contact with all these years later. Of course, a trip to Ottawa is not complete without a Bridgehead, which was accomplished with my coworker. I met my teacher at a cafe in Barrhaven, Carmelito, and got my very well-missed London Fog. For dinner, I met my high school best friend at a family favourite, Khao Yum Thai, an authentic Thai restaurant in Manotick.
The next day, I got to see my best friend from college, the person with who I spent hours and hours on FaceTime getting projects done, talking about how much we hate our classmates, reading over and over and making edits to papers that started at 100 pages in length. It was great catching up with her over another London Fog at the Ministry of Coffee followed by a London Fog doughnut (you guessed it) at SuzyQ Doughnuts, my favourite doughnut shop in Ottawa.
That was all the major fun events I did while in Ottawa. I spent a lot of time with my family and friends. I spent a lot of time with my aunt and grandmother, the two biggest cooks in the family. After that, I decided to work on putting together a cookbook of all our family recipes. So far, I’ve only inputted my grandma’s recipes - all 85 of them. Next are my 200 recipes, my mom’s 100 recipes, then my aunt’s 500 recipes! There are a lot of sleepless nights coming up to put all of these recipes in and complete the book!
Anyways, that’s it for now. We’ll talk more next time when I’ll tell you a little about my internship! Happy adventuring,