Holiday Plans & Matadors

Here are a couple of fun¬†pictures from previous events ūüôā

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As I’m writing this, it’s currently 39¬į F at home and 92¬į F in Buenos Aires. With that being said…

Cody and I booked our tickets for our Christmas/New Years Adventure! I am so beyond excited! Not only will we be spending the “winter (our summer) break” on the beach, we’re going to Iguazu Falls, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world and spending New Years on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! ūüôā WHHHAT?!

So excited!!!!

If anyone has any suggestions of things so do I’m all ears!

We will fly into Iguazu Falls and go to both the Argentinian side and the Brazilian side. The Argentinian side is more adventurous whereas the Brazilian side has the better view, so we will do both!

We’ll fly out¬†from the Brazilian side and head to Rio de Janeiro! The Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf mountain are obviously on the list of things to do while we’re there as well as the AMAZING fireworks show that will happen on New Years Eve! It’s suppose to be one of the best firework shows IN THE WORLD! We’re stay a few blocks from Copacabana beach where all the action happens. 2 million people go to this beach to celebrate…it’s going to be a hell-of-a party!

Other things on the list of things to do, suggestions are welcome:

  1. Have a caipirinha, in a coconut, on the beach (this has been a life long dream. I kid you not)
  2. Feria Hippie de Ipanema – a hippie market that only happens on Sundays
  3. The Copacabana Fortress and Palace (two different places)
  4. Pedra do Arpoador for a sunset
  5. Possibly the Carioca Aqueduct & Escadaria Selaron which are a little farther away from the beach
  6. and maybe a tour of a favela

As well as spend as much time on the beach as we can! I know there are a lot of safety concerns when it comes to Rio. I’ve talked with a few people who have told me be street smart. If you feel like you’re in the wrong area, you probably are.

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The Christmas situation here is definitely different from what I’m used to! The other night a few of us¬†went walking through La Boca (where the famous soccer stadium is), San Telmo and Puerta Madero to finally sit down and share a drink by the water. In San Telmo there was a massive parade supporting many of the South American countries. There were lots of drums, lots of noise, lots of feathers, in as little clothing as possible with lots of booty shaking! The streets were packed with people watching and cheering their favorite country. We continued walking to Puerta Madero which is where I saw my first glimpse of Christmas this year! There were lights strung on lamp posts in the shape of candy canes, lights wrapped around ships in the water, and a large lighted Christmas tree. It was a little odd walking by in shorts and a tank top with Christmas music playing at a concert near by…but again, I’m not complaining ūüėȬ†The lights were absolutely beautiful.

Sunday morning I woke up and thought I was going to go walk around San Telmo market again just because I could. But another idea popped into my head, I wanted to go to the Feria de Mataderos¬†which is pretty far¬†out of the center of the city. It’s a market celebrating the traditional gaucho (Argentinian cowboy) ways and traditions.

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I walked 45 mins to the train station and took a 30 min train ride and a 20 min uber to get to the Feria. Once I was there it was really cool! Like most markets, there were hundreds of stands set up but this one had a stage in the middle. As soon as I got there I heard the music and singing. Come to find out, on December 6th (in two days) they were celebrating 30 years of the Matadors. There were lots of traditional instruments playing, singing and tango dancing. It was quite the show!

I walked around munching on an empanada¬†looking at all of the trinkets and food available and finally decided to get a tamale¬†and oh boy was it good! I remember having tamales growing up when my mom would make them and I thought they were the coolest thing. You had to unwrap¬†the corn husk and the texture and taste of the corn meal was always so tasty¬†to me, needless to say, these were very delicious. I also had some type of sweet puff pastry with jam or jelly on the inside. I don’t know what it was but it was sugary and I liked it!

I spent a few hours walking and enjoying everything before¬†heading back home. Another successful Sunday spent at a market ūüôā

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Since I can’t show many training photos, here are a few photos of us attempting to get stronger….maybe, you decide.

xo,

B

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Thanksgiving & El Tigre

On Tuesday night we had the chance to meet the two remaining members of Soda Stereo, Zeta and Charlie!! They wanted to have a look around and meet all of us! There’s a professional picture of it somewhere but it hasn’t come out yet, stay tuned.

THANKSGIVING! 

What a difference it is celebrating in a country that doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving with people who don’t know what Thanksgiving celebrates or what we even do for the holiday! Crazy! Thanksgiving is just one of those things that’s been engrained in our heads since we were younger, in elementary school we would make pilgrim hats or make Native American themed things out of paper. It’s such a part of American culture that you don’t realize, when you go to other countries, they have no idea what it is!

At the beginning of the week I had asked the manager if the catering could possibly do a Thanksgiving themed lunch or dinner on Thursday and he said he couldn’t guarantee anything but he would ask. The next day he said one of the chefs lived in New Orleans for 3 years and was going to give the ‘Thanksgiving lunch’ his best try! I was excited to have some comfort food ūüôā

And sure enough, on Thursday he had a turkey with stuffing, a potato salad, chicken and beef for people who didn’t know it was even Thanksgiving, and an apple pecan crumble to top off dessert! It was incredibly cute and thoughtful of him to do all of that! Here he is with his turkey:

Later I was able to FaceTime with my family and play a few hands of Cards Against Humanity which has tradition in our house after Thanksgiving dinner.

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Friday night, PopArt set us up with tickets to see Fuerza Bruta which is an acrobatic show that also tours around the world. They wanted us to experience a show in Argentina before our show premieres. During the show the audience was standing the whole time so there were ushers moving people constantly, water was being sprayed, a pool hovered above us and boxes of confetti burst over people’s heads! Definitely worth going to the show! I wouldn’t do it justice trying to describe everything. After the show a DJ played for a few hours so we stayed and danced! The show didn’t start until 11:30pm so by the time we were finished dancing it was around 1:30am-2am. A group of us decided to go to a shots bar call Chupitos down the street which was similar to the one we went to in Spain. It had a list of crazy shots you could order ranging in strength or sweetness. We stayed for about an hour and decided to go home around 3am feet swollen, still a little damp from the show and covered in confetti. Fun night!

Saturday was rainy and thunderstorms all day. Since I’m on the 34th floor I had a perfect view of the storm. Lighting filled the sky and the thunder was so loud and close it felt like it shook the building. With all the beautiful sunsets we’ve been having, the storm was a reminder that the prettiest sunsets come after the strongest storms. Cheesy I know but I had to say it. So I was snuggled in my room all day…all 4 episodes of the new Gilmore Girls and some napping might have also been involved.

Sunday I actually left my room and was out and about the entire day. I left at 9am to catch the metro to a stop a little outside the center of the city to meet up with Silvia and her husband Daniel! I was introduced to Silvia through a friend’s friend and she is a true porte√Īo. Her and her husband have owned a house in El Tigre for 15 years and invited me to spend the day with them. El Tigre is a delta about an hour train ride (different from the metro) of the city of Buenos Aires. A delta is a place where 2 or more rivers join (there’s your geology lesson for the day) and there’s only 7 around the world. In this case, the rivers from Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet and over time have formed many islands that people have inhabited as either vacation homes or actual homes.

They picked me up from the metro station close and we drove to the boat yard, you can’t access the islands without a boat. This boatel was enormous! 10+ hangers of rows and columns of boats, it was so impressive watching the get boats down and back up into storage. We got the boat, loaded in and we were off.

It was about a 20 min ride through the canals to their house and it was such a breath of fresh air. You don’t realize how much pure oxygen is out there until you get out of the city. There was so much nature everywhere, it was hard not to embrace it all. We pulled up to their house and their neighbors were having a birthday party for their two kids so it wasn’t quite the ‘quiet day’ Silvia thought we were going to have but it was filled with laughter and splashes.

Silvia and I took a long walk down the canal to a neighbor who sells honey and jam. We continued past the house to “Lover’s Bridge” as Silvia calls it; her son would come here with girls when he was younger so she nicknamed it Lover’s Bridge. The view was really beautiful but it made me wonder if anyone ever maintained the bridges or if my foot was going to fall through…luckily it didn’t. Walking back, we saw so many different styles of houses that were painted bright blue, red or yellow. The houses were corky and fun, each with their own style.

Not long after we got back Silvia handed me a glass of wine and told me to go relax for a bit. I didn’t refuse, it was wonderful.

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Meanwhile, Silvia and Daniel had started on lunch and guess what we were having?? Argentinian meat! My first asado! An asado is an Argentinian bbq with meat, meat and more meat. Silvia speaks very good English because she was a translator but her husband Daniel only knows a few words in English so it was a chance for me to practice Spanish! You’d be surprised how much you can communicate with animal sounds and gestures. When he was grilling I told him I was taking a picture to show my dad ūüôā

These types of grills are found literally everywhere around Argentina because meat is so essential to their lifestyle and when it tastes that delicious, I don’t blame them! Daniel cooked lomo, chorizo, and blood sausage and let me tell you, my plate was clean! The lomo was the thick cut, juicy, tender, traditional steak-looking cut that melted in my mouth. The chorizo was a spicy sausage and the blood sausage was almost all black but I enjoyed it! Frist time trying it and they were surprised I liked it! The typical salad to have with your meal is called ‘ensalada mixta’ which is just lettuce, tomato and onion and we had some carrot shaving on top. I knew I wasn’t going to be hungry for the rest of the day, everything was beyond delicious!

After lunch, there was a boat that came down the canal, essentially a floating grocery store. You don’t even have to leave your own pier, it comes right to you! It had all the essentials, beer and wine included, and you just wave your hand to flag them down! It comes everyday once a day at the same time so people know when to expect it.

After relaxing a little more in the sun, letting all of that meat digest, I was off back to the main land to check out the El Tigre market before heading back into BA. It was a holiday on Monday so Silvia and Daniel were going to stay at the house. Silvia walked me to the “bus stop” where a boat bus usually picks people up to bring them “to continent”. She was sending me off on my next adventure…making it home.

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Water shuttle

Silvia had given me directions to the Puerta de Frutas market because at one point, fruit is all they sold. Now you can only find maybe one fruit stand, the rest is a big market with everything imaginable. It was about a 10 min walk from where we docked and I got to spend an hour there before things started closing. I didn’t even make it to a quarter of the market, it was massive! I definitely have plans to go back!

You can buy matte cups everywhere! It’s really more of a lifestyle then an activity, I’ll have to dedicate a whole post to ‘The Matte Life’.

I walked back to the train station to ride back into the city. What a successful day!

I could not be more thankful to Silvia and Daniel for inviting me to their home. Not many travelers get to have an experience like that! They’ve already claimed me as a daughter, I feel like I have another home away from home ūüôā

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So fun & so thankful!

It’s NOT starting to feel a lot like Christmas here considering it’s 80 degrees and sunny but I’m not complaining ūüôā

xo,

B

Apple. Bubble. Saddle. Elbow. Carpet.

Well last week fell short of expectations on the training end of things but sometimes you need a reality check to keep you on the straight and narrow.

On Monday I seemed to hit my head a little harder than expected. I finished practice and felt fine the rest of the day. I even went up to the roof to look at the b-e-a-utiful view of the super moon! But sleeping that night was a little difficult due to the fact that my head was pounding. It felt ok-ish in the morning so I went into practice, started warming up on the stationary bike and the headache got worse…I knew what it was. I’ve had a concussion before which was part of the reason exercise was stopped immediately. So Tuesday I was sent home to get some rest. I went back to my apartment, closed all the shades and rested for the rest of the day. I ended up going to the hospital to see a doctor (part of protocol) and get a CT scan to make sure everything was alright…the doc said I’ll live. There’s nothing like a good little hit on the head to knock some sense into you. Be more careful. Note taken.

The rest of the week I was on the ‘coming-back-from-a-concussion protocol’ which involves memorizing 5 words a day until I can recite them back to the athletic trainer without missing any which isn’t easy when your given the words but immediately asked to answer¬†30 more questions about reciting numbers and months backwards and then asked to give the¬†completely random 5 words back. Guess what the first day’s 5 words were…apple. bubble. saddle. elbow. carpet…I won’t forget them now! Thanks Mariana ūüôā I will be back to train next week!

Anyways, here was my view of the super moon from South America! (because you haven’t seen enough pictures).

Thursday was an eventful day! At practice we had the pleasure of meeting the President of Argentina and the Prime Minister of Canada! A few of us ended up on the President’s snapchat account!

That night, a group of us went to a Traveler’s Dinner which is a closed-door dinner event unless you have an invitation/reservation.¬†The owner of the place brings in a chef from different countries to cook a fantastic meal for travelers in the area. The idea is to bring travelers together, share stories, and learn about the world. Thursday night’s theme was a Russian dinner, yes I am in Argentina having a Russian dinner with a few Russian, French, Danish, Canadian and Argentinian cast members! I’d like to think I’m becoming more “worldly”. The dinner was definitely something different and fun to try. We started with wine/beer, pirozhki (rolls stuffed with saut√©ed cabbage slaw), river fish (tasted like herring) with onions on toast, and a shot of vodka. Moved onto borsch (a type of¬†veggie soup that was very good), potato peirogis and neoplian tart with another shot of vodka for dessert, Zdorov’ya! People are starting to realize I take pictures of everything…

Here’s a little fun fact that got us excited: at the table we were naming of all of the touring shows in Cirque so I went on the Cirque webpage and look what I found ūüôā

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Saturday was a relatively¬†sunny¬†day so I decided to walk to the Japanese Gardens (Jard√≠n Japon√©s) which is about an hour walk from the apartment building. Since I couldn’t work out all week, I decide it was going to be a much-needed walk. But not before being surprised by some friends outside of my window…

It’s spring time here so all of the trees and flowers are just starting to pop up. The city is turning beautiful shades of green and purple! The purple trees/flowers are called Jacaranda and they line the major avenues, plazas and city streets. It’s an unexpected pop of color and life when you’re walking around the bustling city.

I made it the Jard√≠ns¬†in just under an hour being the speed walker that I am (it’s not ‘arrival time’ it’s ‘time to beat’) and learned they are¬†biggest Japanese gardens outside of Japan. It was $70 ARG to enter which is about $5 USD.

An hour is plenty of time to spend walking around¬†enjoying the view. There’s a very nice restaurant inside the jard√≠ns if you are in the mood for a classier lunch/dinner.

Sunday was a recharge day, getting ready for the week to come because it’s going to be a long one. In the afternoon, a group of us walked to El Ateneo¬†Grand Splendid which is a famous book store in BA. There are a few of them in the city but this one in particular is well-known, it was a theater turned bookstore and it’s beautiful! There’s a cafe where the stage initially was¬†where you can sit and enjoy your new purchases. I would have bought a book but my Spanish isn’t quite good enough to be able to read and enjoy Spanish literature but was a perfect Sunday stroll destination. We ended up sitting in the cafe talking for a few hours.

Heading home,¬†there was no getting around it, we stopped for ice cream. It was on our way back, it would’ve been a crime to just pass by. Since Buenos Aires has a huge italian influence (I’m talking pizza and pasta that will transport you to Italy or so I’ve been told, I haven’t tried it yet), the ice cream, or gelato I should say, is just a little too tasty.

xo,

B

 

VIPs for the Night

Thankful. Grateful. Blessed. Honored. Happy. Appreciative.

These are the words that come to mind when I get to look out my balcony at this view¬†ūüôā

This past weekend we were invited to a PopArtMusic concert, the same company that will be touring our show! It’s one of the biggest concerts in BA with some of the most popular South American bands. We were picked up from our hotel in shuttles and taken to the back entrance of the concert. They gave us wrist bands and guided us into the VIP lounge where they had a wall of¬†Soda Stereo album covers that people could look at and take pictures in front of and there were¬†drinks, apps, and our own personal entrance into the concert!

 

It was a little intimidating walking into the concert area. We walked down this big open pathway with people crammed against the fences on both sides. They had been there all day waiting for the good bands to come on and trying to get as¬†close to the front as they could while we had all the space we wanted…we were those people ūüôā¬†Once we were in the area we had an amazing view of the stage, lights, and monitors. The music was not just loud, it was that type of loud where you could feel it in your whole body but it was also the type of music you wanted to dance to even though we knew none of the words! And we got to see the bass player, Zeta, from Soda Stereo play!

After the concert we went to a food truck festival happening in the same place as the meat festival, at the horse race stadium. There were so many food trucks it was hard to choose what to eat! I ended up getting wine (obviously), an onion sausage frittata, and nitrogen ice cream! The ice cream was made right in front of us in a kitchen aid mixer that made tons of fog when everything was mixed, and then all the sudden, your cone of ice cream would appear. It was magic. Cool¬†process and the ice cream was phenomenal! Dulce de leche flavored of course ūüôā

Fun night with fun people!

xo,

B

Walking Experiences

Wow!

What an amazing cast and crew we have working here and we’ve only just finished the second¬†week! Apart from being¬†probably the most sore I’ve ever been in my life for the first week, it was an awesome couple of weeks! It’s a lot to adjust to for everyone so it’s not only a physical change but mental¬†too. But it’s hard to do anything but smile¬†when this is the view from my apartment ūüôā

Just like in Montreal, training and anything having to do with the show/acts/characters ect. is TOP SECRET so there’s not much I can tell you from that aspect of things other than it’s going to be “historic”!

As far as Buenos Aires goes, I’m trying to see as much as I can. The first weekend was a walking adventure! Noon on Saturday I headed to the Floralis Gen√©rica which is¬†a massive metal flower that opens and closes with the sun everyday. Each petal ways around a ton and the whole structure glows with different colors at night, it’s an icon for BA.

I ended up meeting 2 of the other girls from the cast and walked over to¬†Plaza Francia¬†which is fun¬†open air market with little trinkets, clothes, jewelery, etc. As we walked through the market, we were also on our way to the¬†Recoleta cemetery. It seems odd a cemetery is a “must-see” place in BA but it really is an interesting spot. It looked like a small city that no one occupys…odd but beautiful at the same time. This wasn’t your typical cemetery, the tomb stones weren’t just headstones in the Earth, they are beautiful structures with¬†massive sculptures of angels and figures, the craftsmanship is amazing. Definitely an interesting part of the BA experience.

Earlier in the week I had seen a sign for a “Festival of Meat” on the weekend so we decided¬†that was our lunch spot.¬†We took a cab to the horserace stadium in¬†Palermo. Similar to¬†Preakness in the sense that the infield was full of food trucks, music and lots of people. I got a meat-filled empanada¬†(yum), some papas bravas¬†(different from Spain’s), and of course ice cream :). The ice cream was vanilla with a dulce de leche¬†swirl and it was so hot outside, it started melting down my hand immediately. No ice cream wasted here, it was delicious to the last drop!

We left the festival full and ready to walk some of those calories off. We walked for about 25 mins into Palermo which is the young and trendy neighborhood where most of the bars, restaurants¬†and clubs are. The girls wanted to do some shopping. I had already brought 2 suitcases too many so I restrained myself on the ‘buying part’ of the shopping experience but it was nice to look around and see the fashion differences in South America. Platform sandals and shoes are ALL the rage here.

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We met up with a couple¬†from BA who are also part of the cast! They were driving back into the city and they stopped to meet us¬†in a square in Palermo. We walked for a bit and then had “tea time”. Since there is a lot of European influence in BA, their days are structured a little differently than I’m used to. Everything starts later, it’s almost like a delay in the day. I’m not sure when most people eat breakfast but I’ve seen people eating what looks like lunch at around 3-4pm, tea time (essentially snack time) around 7-8pm, and dinner at 11-12pm at night! Grandparents and children are eating then as well! Just something to get used to I guess. We shared a pitcher of lemonade with a snack on the terrace of a funky place and enjoyed the company.

Since I had been walking all day, it was hot out, and my legs were feeling pretty exhausted, I got home and spent the night in my room falling asleep to Netflix, crazy Saturday night, I know.

Sunday was a little less eventful but relaxing and just what I needed. I spent the whole day at the apartment’s pool¬†with some of the cast and crew¬†who¬†had the same idea, it was much-needed. I went on a little adventure to find a nicer grocery store farther away than usual later in the day but other than that, I was preparing for the second week of training!! It’s hard not to be excited when you start seeing billboards for the show ūüôā

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xo,

B

Welcome to Buenos Aires

It’s official! I have left the US of A on an adventure with the circus! First stop, Buenos Aires, Argentina! I’ve been fortunate enough throughout my life to have been able to go to a lot major cities around the States and some of Europe but none compare to the massiveness of Buenos Aires, 15.3 million people work and live in the city. I look out the window of my apartment and see an endless horizon of skyscrapers, buildings, and houses, it’s a beautiful city. It reminds me a little of Baltimore with the “port style” city but then a little of Ocean City, MD because of the way most of the taller buildings have balconies, it has its own vibe.

The first few days have been a whirlwind! So many new people, so much information, new country, new language, new currency, new apartment, new everything! Which is very exciting but some what nerve-racking at times. The first day I went to the ATM to try to get cash out and didn’t know what the machine was telling me because it’s all in Spanish…I will learn Spanish very quickly whether I like it or not.¬†I have started my Rosetta Stone again and Duolingo to try to learn as quickly as I can. Just from being here for a week now, a lot of my high school Spanish has come back to me which is helpful. You never know what information your brain stores until you need it.

We are so fortunate to have a very nice apartment building¬†in the city. I have my own room with a bathroom, small kitchenette¬†and a bed, all the essentials! Although, I have come to the conclusion I have brought WAYYY too much stuff. 4 suitcases is too many but I’m the type of person that would rather have more than less to start so I will be sending definitely one full suitcase home, hopefully two.

After a few days of settling in, we had our first group meeting so we could meet everyone and get to know the people who we will be on tour with for the next year and a half! So far there are 2 other people from the States but other than that we are a very international cast which is really cool! Everyone has their own story of how they came to be in this crazy circus of ours.

I don’t know if anyone else uses the “save” option on Google Maps but I use it all the time, I love it. You put in a place you want to go and you save it so you can go back to it without searching. Well my google maps looks like Buenos Aires is a galaxy. I have so many places stared to visit and I’ve even¬†checked a ¬†few of them off! Here are a few of my wanderings so far (If you run your mouse over the photo or click on it, it should have a caption):

That’s all for now!

xo,

B

Cirque du Soleil Worshop: Week Three

Week 2 Recap:

 WEEK 3 Monday:

I actually got up on the equipment and pushed! The coaches could tell I was getting bored standing on the floor…I was to told to stop conditioning.

The schedule was normal for the day: Morning session, Lunch and Afternoon session, went to the grocery store and then had a chance to catch up with my mom ūüôā It was the first time we had talked since she got back from her trip and I left on mine.

Tuesday:

Before morning session I had a measurements appointment for my costume for the show in South America!! They measured EVERYTHING. Took my shoe size, hand size, skin tone all while wearing a lovely light blue spandex body suit…I looked fantastic…

After, I had a meeting with CSST which is the workers compensation unit because I was technically “injured” on the job. Even though I didn’t really miss¬†any days, you have the option of opening a file just in case something else were to happen later down the road.

After that, regular schedule for the day! I pushed both sessions and I could feel it, my shoulders were feeling those lactic acids building.

Wednesday:

Regular schedule. Pushing the bar was just as much of a workout as actually doing the skills! I was using my full body and would sweat by the end of the session. Obviously the dance moves and laughing we were doing on the platforms 25 feet in the air would keep my occupied too ūüôā

Made a trip to the grocery store and then a few of us headed to get Pho for dinner! There were a lot of pho places around but some of them had bad reviews, so we picked a good one, rented bikes and rode the bikes there for dinner. It was delicious!

Thursday:

I finally got the chance to swing! But I was pretty much starting from Day 1 again. The group had progressed so much¬†that I didn’t know if I would be able to catch up in the short time we had left but I was damn sure going to try!

Swinging¬†felt a little weird just because the stitches were still in so the skin was pretty tight but there was no way I was going to¬†complain¬†about it because I was only allowed 3-4 times on the bar per session so I was going to make each one count! I’m not stubborn.

For the last half and hour of lunch, I went back to HQ into the costume department again to get my head scanned to make head pieces! The¬†custom¬†will be fitted to my head ūüôā I essentially had a swimming cap on with a bunch of magnet dots all over my face and there was a guy with a scanner who went around and took a 3D scan of my head which popped up on the computer, it was pretty awesome!

The afternoon session went well¬†and I got to swing 3-4 more times. Because we get done at 4pm I have to occupy myself until at least 5 so I don’t just go back to my room and eat dinner because then I would be starving later. That’s why I’ve gone to the grocery store so many times, not because I need anything which usually backfires on me because then I end up buying things I don’t need….double edged sword.

Later I had my second massage with our masseuse ūüôā Again, you tell her what’s sore or what you want worked on and she finds muscles you didn’t know you have. Since I started pushing, my shoulders were getting pretty sore so she made sure she dug into those¬†bad boys.

Friday:

Stitches removal today!!

Had to make it through the morning and afternoon sessions first…then the AT said he would remove them.

I have a video of them being removed but I’ll spare you from watching it, it’s pretty weird-looking and that was the first time I had gotten to see it since the doc put them in. Here’s a before and after (the first one pic my leg is so white from the numbing meds they injected into the muscle, it looked¬†like a zombie limb):

 

For dinner, a group of us met up with Roxane, who lives in Montreal, to take the metro downtown to the Gay Village for Vietnamese, she knew of a good place. A lot of restaurants here allow you to bring in your own wine or liquor and drink in the restaurant, so we stopped by a liquor store on the way and made our purchases, much cheaper than buying single drinks at the restaurant. Then spent a night out on the town! We met up with a couple of artists who were also at HQ rehabbing before going back to their tours. One was from Toruk (the avitar show) and one was the main character in Varekai. So cool to be able to meet these people who I have seen on stage!

All in all, another awesome week!

Weekend #3 Adventures…CODY COMES TO VISIT!

Xx, Betsy

Weekend #2 Adventures

Saturday 

Started off Saturday with some rain showers so I wasn’t sure how the day was going to go. Kevin, a Canadian gymnast who came to visit Olivia and Kristina (they competed together in national comps.), drove his car down so Olivia, Steph and I decided to take Kevin around town and check off some boxes on my bucket list. We started by driving up Mt. Royal to the overlook spot and got to see a beautiful view of the whole city:

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After seeing the view, there was that famous bagel spot I wanted to try again but this time we were going to go to the original location. The other spot¬†Anna and I went to was not the original location and apparently this one is always less busy. We went, we ate, we conquered. Best homemade bagels I’ve had! They were phenomenal!

The pictures don’t do it justice. I bought half a dozen, all different kinds and every single one of them were¬†light and fluffy and warm and just homemade-amazing-ness.

Still munching on our bagels, we dropped Olivia off to get her eyelashes done and Kevin, Steph and I went downtown to check out the Basilica of Notre Dame and Old Port. The Basilica was impressive even from the outside. We didn’t go inside because there was a very long line out front due to the fact that the next coming weeks were dedicated to an Organ Festival, which apparently inside, they have a very impressive organ.

Since Kevin and Steph hadn’t been downtown yet, I was their tour guide ūüôā I kind of knew my way around. We went to the maple place Anna and I went to before and made our way down the rest of the French street and back to the car. It was still raining off and on so we were trying to avoid the downpours as they came and went.

We hoped back in the car and made our way up Rue St. Laurent¬†(where we had dropped Olivia off), but not being able to communicate with her was difficult. Kevin was hungry so we made our way to Schwartz, the famous smoked meat place and a box to check off on my bucket list. The line was incredibly¬†long for the lunch rush but right next to the restaurant¬†they had the take-away section. By that time we had actually found Olivia and got inline for take-away. Steph, Olivia and I weren’t that hungry, and I knew I would be back at some point, so we let Kevin get some lunch and we walked down the street and went into a store Olivia had seen earlier. But not before stopping to take some cool picture in front of¬†graffiti ūüôā

At 3:30pm there was a show at ToHu, the performance center next to HQ, we wanted to get back for. Weekend traffic was a mess so we got there just in time! There were 5 acts that performed and after each act, the artist would come back our on stage and take advice from the audience about what they thought could make it better or what they thought was great.

After the show, I had another doctors appointment at another hospital to see the “Cirque Doctor” to get the A-OK to start coming back gradually from the stitches as long as they didn’t come out before 10 days. I took a cab to the hospital, checked in, saw the doc, he gave me a sheet, and sent me on my way! It was nice and easy. He even said his wife was working at a hospital in Baltimore! It’s a small world.

Sunday 

Even though it had cleared up about half way through Saturday, it decided to rain again on Sunday morning. I woke up to the rain coming down pretty hard but by 10am it seemed to have stopped. A few of us wanted to go to the Jean-Talon Market which is a pretty well-known market in Montreal. We met in the bottom of the residence and decided how we wanted to get there. Kristina and I decided to walk because I didn’t think it was going to be that bad of a walk and I needed to get my legs moving from not being able to do anything during the week. The walk only took 35-40 mins and we made our way around the market losing each other eventually. I hadn’t planned on doing much else for the rest of the day because it wasn’t fantastic weather and I didn’t want to get caught in the rain if it decided to start again.

The market was amazing! You could try samples of all kinds of fruits, veggies and maple syrup. The peaches were mouth-watering and the sweet corn sample was phenomenal, I wanted to come back to and get a¬†whole ear, I do love a good¬†corn-on-the-cob. I ended up buying a sampler pack of maple goodies, some bananas,¬†cucumbers (obviously all fresh), and ice wine….I had no idea what ice wine was so I went up and asked and had about a 10 min conversation with the guy and he gave me a few samples. Apparently, instead of using regular fruit to make wine, ice wine is when they go into the fruit orchards and pick the frozen fruit to make wine. That gives the wine a sweeter taste, so more moscato tasting. And the colder into the winter months you get, the more expensive the wine/cider is. So if they go pick the fruit in December (which is still cold!!), the wine made is less expensive as opposed to fruit picked in Jan/Feb and then made into the wine or cider, pretty unique concept. There was also a crepe place I was determined to come back to, they looked and smelled fantastic!

At the market, I ran into Kevin and Olivia! They asked if I wanted to join them in going back to the bagel place and exploring some more of town….in a car! So I was on board.

We were heading to Bulk Barn which is a store where you can buy anything (food wise) in bulk, Kevin really wanted to go there and I wanted some specific Canadian candy that you can’t get in the states….because let’s face it, I have a sweet tooth that needs to be fed.

On our way there, we look out the car window and to our right there is Gibeau Orange Julep! That was on my list but it was on the outskirts of the city so I didn’t think I would get a chance to go there! Olivia and I tell Kevin to pull over because first of all, it looks awesome, and second of all it was on the list!

It’s probably “just a fast food place” to Montreal residence but it had the best orange juice I’ve ever had in my life, and I’m not a fan of orange juice! It was almost whipped, it was so delicious! Another check off the bucket list!

The Bulk Barn was really close to Gibeau so we went right over and got some normal candy. They didn’t have very Canada-specific candy so we actually went to the Wal-Mart next door and got Canadian candy bars. Here was the loot:

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I think Cadbury may have started in Canada because they have a lot here that they don’t have in the states. All 4 of these were good! Some combination of chocolate and caramel, you can never go wrong! The Wunderbar was my favorite.

We made our way back to St. Viateur’s Bagels because Olivia wanted more and headed down to the Gay Village because 1. Kevin hadn’t been and 2. Pride Parade was happening and it seemed like it would be fun to experience. We got down there, starving, and found a pizza place to eat quick. Behind us, there was some sort of painting-of-the-bodies thing going on.¬†It was definitely a great day to people watch!

After our lunch, I had one more thing downtown that was on my bucket list we could check off. It was called the Underground City, not knowing it was just going to be a regular mall, we went to check it out. Since Montreal gets so cold in the winter they have an a tunnel system which connects different areas of the mall. We went for about an hour before all of the shops closed and made our way back to the residence.

It turned out to be quite a busy and fun day! Checked a lot of things off the bucket list but I still have a few more to go!

Xx, Betsy

 

Weekend #1 Adventures

First weekend in Montreal was a success! Did a lot, saw a lot, walked a lot…but still have a lot more to do!

Saturday 

Olivia, Anna and I started Saturday by going to visit the Lululemon located on the Plateau which is part of the ‘fun part’ of town. Olivia is an athlete embassador for Lulu and Anna works at a store in Albany NY as the community outreach manager. So both girls are very connected with Lulu and get a pretty good deal when going to shop.

Olivia was scheduled to meet up with the¬†community outreach manager of the Montreal area. She was¬†so nice, welcomed us, asked all about the workshop and gave us suggestions on great places to go and visit while we’re here. Olivia had plans to go get her nails and eyelashes done so Anna and I set off to walk around the Plateau to see the sights. Anna has been to Montreal many times so she was my own personal tour guide of sorts which worked out fantastically because now I have a good grasp of how the city is laid out for my adventures next weekend.

We were able to see Mt. Royal (I still plan on hiking up next weekend to see the view of the city), beautiful street art that seemed to be on every available wall, and some fun shops and coffee cafés.

The one place I have been dying to go is a very famous bagel place called St-Viateur Bagel & Caf√©. Montreal is known for the bagels, most people’s opinions I’ve read have even said they’re better than the famous New York bagels…I love bagels. We had a few minutes left on the parking meter and it was only a couple blocks down so we hustled. When we got there, of course there was a line. We didn’t have enough time to stand in the line so we had to abandon my hope for bagels and return to the car. Bagels are definitely in the plan for next weekend!

After getting in the car, Anna had to pick up her swinging trapeze (for those of you who don’t know circus [which I didn’t know this until she told me either] there are swinging trapeze artists, flying trapeze artists and dance trapeze artists, all with very different performances) because she was leaving on Sunday. So we drove to the gym where she practices and I was able to see a girl who trains there as well, Elli¬†(link to her FB performance page), perform her act before she left for Mexico on her next contract. It was stunning, she was dressed in a red-flare mesh costume with sparkles everywhere and her hair and make up all done up. It was quite a show and that was just practice.

I met Elli and another girl training, Brigdet, who performs straps. And let me tell you ladies and gents, if you’ve never seen a straps act, you should; pure strength. She will be performing at the ToHu Center right next to HQ this coming Saturday¬†which I plan to go to! At this training center, on the ‘Wall of Fame’ we found one of¬†our coaches we are currently working with at Cirque!

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Dimitri (our coach) is 10 years old bottom center. His father is standing on the right platform, his mother is on the top upside down, and his brother is flying underneath of her. He is from a true circus family! Note: there is no net to catch them if they fall…just two catchers.

After he picked up her trapeze, we drove to Old Port which is the most French feeling part of¬†Montreal. People compare this section of town to walking down the streets of Paris which stood true in my opinion. At that point, Anna and I were starving and I knew I wanted poutine. Poutine is a must have when in Montreal, or so I was told. It’s french fries with cheese curds covered in gravy, that’s the most traditional form. Of course now you can get pretty much any topping your heart desires; beef, sausage, bacon, more cheese, etc. etc. So we walked until we found a place that serves it (most places do) and sat down for lunch. My take on poutine: definitely worth having! It’s a dish you probably shouldn’t have all the time but I plan to try it with some toppings next time I have it ūüôā

Our bellies were satisfied so we took a walk down by the river, watched the triathlon athletes practicing for their race tomorrow, saw the apartment complex that looks like cardboard boxes stacked on top of it (also a well-known structure), and saw the Bota Bota spa which is a spa floating on the river.

We decided we’d had enough walking and went back to the car before going home to get ready for¬†dinner with some of Anna and Roxane’s friends from the training center. But before we went home, Anna had to drop money off at a woman’s house for letting her stay for a few months to train. The woman’s name was Becky and according to Anna, is probably one of the best female juggler’s in the world! This town is filled with circus people!

For dinner we went to a Russian restaurant which had a limited food menu but an extensive drink menu. So of course, at a Russian restaurant, I ordered a Moscow Mule and loved it. We also had a traditional Russian meal of meat dumplings which was yummy as well.

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Not only did¬†I meet a swinging trapeze artist, straps artist, and a juggler today, I then had dinner with a male straps artist, a hand balancer, and two more twin swinging trapeze artists who were flying off to Germany¬†in the morning to start their new year-long contract performing! Crazy! After dinner, we decided,¬†what meal is complete without dessert?! I’m a sucker for my desserts.¬†We went to Juliette & Chocolat and ordered some pretty fancy desserts ūüėČ

The desert in the glass was vanilla ice cream with hazelnut chocolate and whipped cream topped with toffee hazelnut crunchies and the one in the bowl (mine) was a fluffy meringue with a hazelnut chocolate inside floating in vanilla custard covered with caramel sauce and toffee hazelnuts. Needless to say, the sugar high was pretty fantastic!

Sunday 

Sunday was relaxing, I didn’t feel like I had to do a lot so I putzed¬†around watching gymnastics on the Olympics until around 1pm when Olivia, Anna and I went to brunch with Elli at 1,000 Grammes which is a sandwich/lunch spot in Gay Town (I promise that’s the name listed on the map) which is by the Plateau. It was really cool walking¬†down the main street because there were thousands of pink balls hanging from building to building.

I had a croquet for lunch which is just an open-faced sandwich on a french roll covered with melted cheese and it was pretty tasty. After lunch, Anna was leaving for Toronto and Olivia was going down to Old Port to watch her friend start off the triathlon so I walked down main street and decided to buy Ketchup chips…apparently Lays makes them but just for Canada. I’m not a huge fan of potato chips in general so take my review however you want but I liked them! You’re reading this from a girl who once submitted 100 different (mostly weird) flavor combinations into the Lays potato chip challenge….sooo there’s that. But I actually think the ketchup flavor is good!

I decided I wasn’t in the mood for shopping or walking anymore so I found a Starbucks, hopped on their wi-fi, ordered an √ľber and headed back to the residence. The rest of the day was spent cooking the illegal squash I finagled from the gardens and watching the Olympics.

I’d say the first weekend in Montreal was a success but still lots to look forward to for next weekend!

Xx, Betsy

Cirque du Soleil Workshop: Week One

What a CRAZY week! We just finished week one of the Cirque du Soleil workshop up in Canada! It was an amazing week!

Again, I can’t tell you a ton about what we’re doing in our training sessions but I can break it down:

Sunday (the day I arrived):

I had a flight out at 6:05am to Philly and connection from Philly to Montreal so I should have arrived at 9am-ish in Montreal. We had a little bit of a delay on the tarmac due to weather in Philly so I didn’t get to Montreal until 10:30am but nothing was¬†pressing when I got here so I wasn’t too concerned. I went through customs, got my work visa, picked up my luggage, got in a cab and headed to the Artist Residence which is right across the street from the Cirque du Soleil Headquarters!

I knew Quebec¬†was French-Canadian but I don’t think I really prepared my mind in that sense. All of the street signs and store fronts we’re in French…I quickly decided I was going to learn some French words this month! It was all going to smoothly. After arriving at the residence, my instructions were to ring to doorbell and someone will greet you, give you your room key and check you in…but no one was in the building to let me in. I tried walking around to see if there was¬†anyone inside to let me in instead of standing out on the sidewalk…no one. I ended up turning my cell phone data on (I was planning to just¬†use¬†wi-fi while up here but I couldn’t get signed¬†onto the residence wi-fi¬†because I didn’t have any of my check in information) and called my point person to ask what to do. She told me to¬†walk across the street to HQ and get a temporary pass. So I did, the guard set me up and told me what room I was in. I went back over to the residence building and unpacked. About an hour later, I was called down to the front desk to checked in, officially getting my residence packet…wifi username and password included ūüôā

The rest of the day was spent unpacking with a run to the¬†grocery store about 4-5 blocks away to grab some essectials…peanut butter obviously being top on my list (my obsession). I get into the supermarket, and again everything was in French. But if I looked close enough, right below, in tiny letters, WAS ENGLISH! So I wasn’t completely lost! I did a pretty good job navigating around and collecting essentials, I even signed up for their value card so now I get points/discounts ūüôā Such a savvy shopper, thanks mom!

Successful first day!

Day 1 of the Workshop: 

First day of school, First day of school, First day of school!! I was so very excited to get in there, find out what we were doing, see the apparatus, and meet everyone! The first thing on the¬†agenda was the physical¬†evaluation. In order to start working, an athletic trainer goes through range of motion, previous injuries, medical eval etc. to clear you to train. If you do not pass the eval, which does happen sometimes, you unfortunately cannot participate in the workshop…but no need to worry, I PASSED WITH FLYING COLORS! The AT was actually surprised how well my body has been maintained considering I’ve been a gymnast my entire life. The only thing I need to work on are my hips. Apparently the hip joints¬†are a little farther forward in the socket than normal but easily fixable with strength, conditioning, and maintenance protocols. We all need to schedule at least one training session a week with one of the AT’s so that wasn’t going to be a problem.

We had corralled the group participating in the workshop and met everyone as we were in and out of our evaluations. Next steps were¬†finding out what we were actually doing there! We walked into the studio where we would be practicing…and there it was…

{use your imagination}

We met the coaches, learned safely protocols, and finally got to play! Essentially, I will be ‘playing’ for the next four weeks! How cool is that!

We were provided lunch the first day in order to collect all the members of the workshop including coaches, riggers, and safety instructors to tell us a little more about the vision of what we were going to be doing.

Everyone had passed their eval so after lunch we went into the afternoon training session to get used to the equipment and play some more! At the end of the session, we were dismissed and that was the end of the first day!

Tuesday:

Onto day 2! Because they¬†had to¬†adjust the equipment, we actually had the morning session off! So Anna, Olivia and I rented bikes from the front desk at HQ and rode¬†around our neighborhood. HQ isn’t necessarily in the best part of Montreal (we were advised to not walk around at night by ourselves and the guys should be careful wearing red or blue because those colors are associated with gangs…) so we headed¬†a little south, towards downtown and found a coffee shop where we sat and talked.

As the time got closer to afternoon session, we headed back to HQ to return our bikes. After parking the¬†bikes out front, we noticed the abundance of¬†fresh veggies growing in the gardens, my favorite! I remember our point person saying we were welcome to the garden vegetables so we went to town picking! Olivia picked a squash the size of her head and I got two summer zucchini and a fist sized tomato, we thought we won the jackpot! …Come to find out the next day, we aren’t allowed to do that anymore. The veggies are reserved for the cafeteria kitchen so no more veggies for us :'(.

The afternoon session went smoother because we had a better idea of what we should be creating/doing with the equipment, so we loosened up and had some fun! Everyday is structured the same unless we have an additional meeting:

Warm Up

Morning Session

Lunch

Warm Up

Afternoon Session

So day 2 was just getting more comfortable and communicating with each other about what works or what doesn’t work. At this point, my hands were loving it…{sarcasm}…I ended day 2 with some pretty raw feeling hands

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As a group, we decided after two successful days of training, we deserved tacos! So we all went out to a good Mexican restaurant Anna had been to in our neighborhood and enjoyed the night.

Wednesday:

We started off day 3 with a taxation meeting, making sure we knew the taxes being¬†taken out of our pay and what we need to do come filing season, fun stuff…then we had to officially sign our contracts. We had e-signed them but Cirque likes to have a hard copy. Onto morning session, lunch and afternoon session.

Hand update: actually not too bad

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Thursday:

Day 4 was the first uninterrupted full day of working morning and afternoon sessions. The great thing about our lunch is it’s an hour and a half break from 12-1:30. That gives us enough time to go to the cafe and eat or go back to our residence across the street and lay down for a bit. It’s a nice break in the middle of the working day because the work is pretty physically demanding.

At the end of the afternoon session, I tweaked my shoulder a little and went to go see physio for some ice and rehab, all part of the job! To stay healthy and strong the plan is to continue with good maintenance and not be afraid to speak up because they are more than willing to help!

Friday:

Our first Friday session of the workshop! The equipment went through some more changes so we were essentially starting new again. Part of the process for the coaches is actually to not coaching us at all. They watch how different types of athletes adapt to the equipment with their own technique, that will tell them who they can recruit and train for this act.

During the week, one of the guy’s girlfriend had popped in a few times to watch the training session. She was actually asked if she would like to sign a release form and join training for the morning, pretty cool! She ended up doing the morning and afternoon sessions and by the end ¬†of the day she was giving the coaches a different technique to consider. She was then offered a position as part of the workshop! That’s the way Cirque works, no one knows why they do what they do and schedules can change very quickly so a key quality to have and remember is to always stay adaptable.

An unexpected announcement occurred before the end of Friday’s training session. One of the girls, who has very specific skills and is excellent as what she does, was actually let go from the workshop. Not because of anything she did but because the coaches believed they had gained all of the knowledge they needed from her skill set and technique. It serves as a reminder for me to always stay relevant because this is the nature of the business!

What a crazy week to start!! Some very fun and exciting things happening and I cannot wait to continue next week! The weekend adventures will be next on the posting list ūüôā

Xx, Betsy