Jessi Turnure

Multimedia Journalist

Europe’s Hidden Secrets: The France Edition

This week’s secret: Montpellier, France.

Montpellier, located in France’s south coast on the Mediterranean Sea and with a population of 265, 000, is the eighth largest city in the country.

Here’s five reasons to put Montpellier on your vacation wish list:

1. The weather.

Montpellier is a tropical paradise almost year round. During the winter months, the lowest temperature is about 40 F and during the summer, the high is about 85 F. How perfect is that?

2. The French cuisine.

French Crepe

Duck Pate

Steak Tartare

If you plan on visiting Montpellier, and really any where in France, you need to come with an open mind. Some of the best food I’ve ever had was food I never thought I would try. In Montpellier, the most unique dishes I tried were duck pate (a French delicacy, also known as foie gras: a duck liver with a rich, buttery flavor), steak tartare (a raw meat dish made from finely chopped or minced raw beef with seasonings) and caviar.

3. The shopping.

Place de la Comedie

The city center, Place de la Comedie, contains a plethora of intriguing stores and restaurants. Visitors can find anything from designer clothing to knickknacks to specialty foods and wines.

4. The sights.

Exercise equipment in local parks

In the heart of Montpellier, almost everything is in walking distance and there’s so much to see. The city has several unique parks like the one above that contains exotic plants from all over the world. It also has many awesome sculptures like the one above and even has its own Arc de Triomphe (just like every city in Europe it seems). And maybe the last picture is why Europeans are typically thinner than Americans?

5. The proximity

Palavas Beach

Palavas Beach Pier

Pic Saint Loup

Palavas Beach and Pic Saint Loup (Peak San Lou) are two of the main attractions in Montpellier and both are less than 40 minutes away by car. Palavas Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on the Mediterranean Sea with plenty of activities for people of all ages, such as camping, surfing and snorkeling. Pic Saint Loup offers visitors a bird’s eye view of the entire city and houses some of the most beautiful wineries in the world.

Stay tuned! Next week’s secret comes from Belgium!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Ok, besides Christmas, the Summer Olympics is a pretty exciting time for my family and me. With less than a month until the XXX Games in London, I’ve basically been stalking all the events and athletes with a little help from NBC.

As the official broadcaster of the 2012 Summer Olympics, NBC has been rocking Olympic coverage around the clock.

One of the events that blew my mind was the 100 m women’s qualifier. Jeneba Tarmoh and Allyson Felix were both timed in 11.068 seconds and a review of both angles of the photo finish, taken a 3000 frames-per-second, was unable to distinguish a clear winner. According to many who have seen the image blown up to maximum there is not a pixel of difference between the athletes’ torsos and the finish line. Watch this (starting at 4:22):

A runoff was scheduled for July 2, but Tarmoh dropped out at the last minute, sending Felix to London. ESPN tells us why here:

Swimming and diving events are also some of my favorites. Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps will be tough competitors again this year. Will Lochte win more golds than Phelps this year? It’ll be interesting.

2012 Swim Trials: Lochte Beats Phelps in 400M IM

The synchronized diving is one of my favorite parts of the diving competition. Here’s another example of how close the line is between who goes to London and who stays home:

Abby Johnston and Kelci Bryant Qualify for Olympics by Three-Tenths of a Point

Gymnastics is a third favorite of mine. I tried it out when I was little and my determined four-year-old self gave up after a year of it. I admire gymnasts for having so much strength.

Here’s one of my favorite gymnast’s routines during the Day 1 Trials:

2012 Olympics Trials Day 1: Nastia Liukin Key Routines

I will also be watching beach volleyball and water polo games. I occasionally check-in on soccer, basketball and tennis, but I like watching the more unique Olympic sports more. But I always watch the finals for all of the sports.

Stay tuned July 27 for the start of the 2012 London Summer Olmypics!

Europe’s Hidden Secrets: The Spain Edition

This week’s secret: Montserrat.

Montserrat literally means “jagged mountain” in Catalon, one of Barcelona, Spain’s official languages. It’s most famous for its monastery, where monks still live and work. Some people also believe this site is the location of the Holy Grail in Arthurian legend.

Here’s five reasons to put Montserrat on your vacation wishlist:

1. The transportation. 

Our ascent

One of the best things about Montserrat was the trip to the top of the mountain…in a cable car. It reminded me of the first and only time I’ve been skiing. I was terrified every time the ski lifts would slowly begin our ascent up the mountain. Multiply this by ten and this was how nervous I was to get to the top of Montserrat (even though it was enclosed). However, halfway up, the view was so amazing it was easy to forget my fear.

2. The close proximity 

Barcelona, Spain

Montserrat is only an hour train ride from the heart of Barcelona, Spain. The trip is also cheap. The only thing you have to pay for is transportation. You can get a joint ticket for a train and cable car for 18 euros (about $23).

3. The rich religion 

Since Montserrat is most famous for its monastery, visitors can see and feel its deep, religious roots everywhere. This cross is just one of many examples. Throughout the site, other crosses and statues of saints appear around every corner. A large, beautiful church sits in the center of square. On hikes around the mountain, we also found three versions of the 15 Stations of the Cross. As a Catholic myself, seeing these images in such an awesome place increased my experience.

4. The sculptures and architecture

“Stairway to Heaven”

Throughout the site, awesome architectural pieces kept popping up, unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I love my picture of the “Stairway to Heaven” and even though a sign said “Do Not Climb,” my friends and I still regret not climbing to the top of the sculpture I’m standing next to.

5. The view…need I say more?

This was an experience I’ll never forget and I hope to go back!

Check back next week for my secret on a city in France!

Take a Shot at It

I wanted to dedicate this post to one of my favorites: Jon Stewarts’ Daily Show.   The Daily Show is one of my favorite “media outlets” to see how national and international news can be portrayed in a humorous way. I love Stewart and his colleagues’ humor and I’m all about poking fun at current affairs. Especially when people create problems that don’t exist, while many existing problems have not been conquered, much less heard of.

Like Missouri politics for example. Specifically, one Republican representative, Wanda Brown.

One of the Daily Show’s hilarious correspondents, Aasif Mandvi, spent the day with Brown, interviewing her about her “crusade”. The first thing I was able to say after watching this video was, “Is this real?”

Many Missouri lawmakers want to protect gun owners from any threat of workplace discrimination, just as state residents currently are protected for race, religion and gender.

Brown sponsored House Bill 1621 that, if passed, would make it illegal for employers to discriminate against people because they own or use guns. The bill overwhelmingly passed in the Missouri House, 115 to 36, according to the Missouri Journal of the House.

Brown’s goal was, “We would never consider giving up our First Amendment rights for a job. Why should we give up our Second Amendment rights?”

One of the main controversies stemmed from some lawmakers’ beliefs that maybe it’s more important to add protections based on sexual orientation than gun ownership. One of these lawmakers is Mike Colona, a Democrat representative from St. Louis who is gay.

“The Missouri House thinks it’s more important to protect the right to own a gun than take on real discrimination,” Colona said. “I could get fired tomorrow because of the person I’ve spent the past 18 years of my life with.”

Currently, Missouri has no law protecting discrimination of people who are gay in the workforce.

When Madvi asked Brown if she would support a law protecting this, she responded, ever so eloquently, “I don’t know. I have no idea.”

Turns out she ALREADY voted against a bill protecting LGBT discrimination in the workforce.

Brown: “Has that been on the ballot?” This just keeps getting better and better. “That I know, it has never been an issue that I have had to vote on,” Brown said.

Well actually, she voted against a bill on this topic one year ago.

Madvi: “How do you feel about someone being fired because of their sexual orientation?”

Brown: “Has that happened before?”

Well, Wanda, I’m no expert, but I’m willing to guess that this has happened a LOT more than someone being fired because of gun ownership.

Brown admitted she has no examples of employer discrimination against gun owners in Missouri. The other interviewees in the segment, all gun owners, didn’t even know that someone could be fired solely for gun ownership.

One of my favorite parts of the interview:

Madvi: “How many examples of gun owner descrimination do you know of?”

Brown: (Insert long, uncomfortable pause and a blank stare back at Madvi here) “Well, I’d rather not get into examples.”

She said it’s a preventative measure, protecting the second amendment and people in the future.

How many other “Wanda Browns” are out there influencing our government? Who knows what people east and west of us think of Missouri politics now. But I hope this isn’t what it usually sounds like behind the closed doors of the Missouri House and Senate.

Read more of the story here.

Read the bill here.

Watch the full video here: “Free at Last, Free to Blast” The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Europe’s Hidden Secrets: The Ireland Edition

I have always wanted to travel the world: all 50 states and seven continents (yes, even Antarctica).

This dream was semi-fulfilled during my time abroad last semester in Brussels, Belgium. The trip opened my eyes to many of Europe’s treasures that were off the beaten path.

This week’s secret: Howth.

Image

Howth is a small costal town, a 20-minute train ride from Dublin, Ireland. The country’s fame comes from the emerald green, rolling hillsides so many visitors overlook the fresh, harbor town.

Here’s five reasons to put Howth on your vacation wishlist:

1. Try the world’s best seafood (without breaking your bank).

Fresh seafood markets and restaurants line the boardwalk there with every platter costing 10 euro (about $12) or less. These include shrimp, lobster, crab, tuna and salmon all in one. For the seafood lovers like me, this was heaven.

2. Travel to Dublin, Galway and other notable Irish cities in less than one hour by train.

Galway, Ireland

The train called the Dart can take visitors any where their hearts desire for only 6 euros roundtrip (about $7.50). Even though it’s tempting to get some sleep during your ride, DON’T! You’ll miss out on the gorgeous scenery.

3. See Ireland’s Eye.

Charles II built the Ireland Eye, Baily Lighthouse, in 1665. Today, it serves as a symbol of the town and runs automatically.

4. Get a bird’s eye view of the entire town (free!).

The grassy green hills fanatics can still get their fix at Howth Head, a grassy mountain rising right above the harbor. Expect a lot of walking (the average time to the top is 20 minutes) but the view is completely worth it.

5. Experience the wildlife.

Sea manitees are no strangers to the harbor. We were lucky enough to see one while we were there. Howth residents see mainitees, dolphins and turtles daily.

Click here for a guide to Howth.

Stay tuned! Coming up next week: See what hidden secret I found in Barcelona!

Huff Love

One of my favorite places to get my healthy “news intake” for the day is The Huffington Post. It combines video, pictures, articles and blogs from media such as ABC, BBC, Bloomberg, CNN, E! Online, MSNBC, Reuters and TIME, while also adding some of its own, original pieces.

One of the topics that’s been popping up a lot in the news lately is the “great gay marriage debate” following President Obama’s gay marriage endorsement. I have been following it on Huff and can summarize it up with this: What do Baptist ministers have in common with gays? Apparently nothing, according to two ministers.

Image

The most recent story is of a Maryland Baptist minister, Dennis Leatherman, who admitted, “My flesh kind of likes the idea of killing gays.” And this man is allowed

to stand in front of a congregation of men, women and children? Scary.

Read and listen to his entire sermon here.

A video of a North Carolina Baptist minister’s sermon went viral once people heard his message: “We should put gays and lesbians in an electrified pen.” Really?

Huff had extensive coverage on this minister, Charles Worley, and his sermon on its site thanks to CNN videos and articles. Five days ago, thousands protested his actions, waving signs and screaming for justice. One of my favorite signs read, “Don’t Fence Me In.”

“Put all the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals. Have that fence electrified so they can’t get out. You know what, in a few years, they’ll die out. You know why? They can’t reproduce,” Worley said.

Watch the viral video:

Society allows people to voice their own, negative opinions but when some do in such a hurtful way, it’s abusing the right.

Huff had extensive coverage on this thanks to the way it operates. It pulled video, pictures, audio and blog posts from multiple websites and compiled them into a comprehensive, timely report on the “great gay marriage debate.”

Post Navigation