Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Saving the best weekend for last

My last week has arrived. And as much as I am fighting the idea that I'm leaving I have to think about it so that when I get home I'm not completely shocked. But I have to fight back the tears when I think of leaving the wonderful friends that I have made.

Saturday, because Alban's family was in Spain all of us were invited over to his house for a pool day. The have a huge pool in their back yard and the weather was just beautiful. It was all of us - Mamie and Alban, Davy and Melanie, Toto, Aurélien, Ben, and Romain and I. We sat in the sun, played in the freezing cold pool and just enjoyed the beautiful weather all day long. By the end of the day we were all dark and tan.

When the sun went down we all moved inside to eat pizzas and play cards in his living room. Then while they sat in the room and talked Mamie and I made an American specialty: Pancakes. We ate them for dessert like the french do but we pulled out the maple syrup and made them eat them American style. They actually enjoyed them a lot and each of them ate 4 huge pancakes.

Then for some reason Toto decided he wanted to go jump back in the pool. The freezing cold pool that was almost too cold to get into when it was 80 degrees during the day. But we decided to let him so we all ran outside and Alban pulled back the pool cover. When Toto got in he was screaming at the top of his lungs. And then one by one everyone got in. Even Mamie and I ran and jumped in together! It was sooooo cold! But definitely worth it!

Sunday was pretty much the same thing. First I went and said goodbye to everyone that I was going to miss. Noël and his family - Some friends that I had met early that semester. They gave me a bottle of wine to take home with me. Then I went over to say goodbye to Jaqueline, Xavier and Mathias. It was really hard to say goodbye to them and when I hugged Jaqueline goodbye we both started to cry. They gave me a shirt that says Paris on it. It was really sweet of them.

Then Romain picked me up and we went back to Alban's and played in the pool all day again. Before we got in the pool we finished off the making the pancakes from the day before. There was just enough for everyone. A little later everyone showed up. This time Toto brought his girlfriend and Ben didn't come and it was just another awesome day. The guys played soccer around the pool and I tried to join in some. I wasn't very good but Romain tried to teach me some things. The water was a little warmer that day so it was a little easier to get in. Then before it got dark, Alban and Mamie went and finished off making the pizzas from the day before. Then we went inside and played cards again. It was a good night.


Monday was my very last day. It was mother's day the weekend after I left so I wanted to get Romain's mom something. I was going to get her flowers but because it was a holiday that day, nothing was open. So we went to a very large store equivalent to Walmart and I got her some little mini desserts. Romain and I ran to McDonalds to get some food before going over to Alban's house and we both got our usual Mcflurries :)

This day everyone was a lot more tired so we mostly just layed by the pool. It was really relaxing and I enjoyed every minute of it. We left early that day so that we could eat dinner one last time with Romain's family. His mom had a barbecue and made us some great sausages. Then we had strawberries and whipped cream for dessert before Mamie and Alban came over for a little while. I gave my gift to Romain's mom and then I started repacking. I had received 2 bottles of wine on top of the one I bought for my mom so I had to really figure out how to make everything fit, and not weigh too much. So Romain and I would pack. Then he would stand on the scale with my suitcase to see if it was too heavy. And we would add things and take things out as needed. It was quite a task but at the end I came home with one suitcase, on very heavy backpack and one very full purse. We did well!


The next morning we woke up at 4 am to get me to the airport by 9:00. Alban and Mamie showed up at 5am and I said goodbye to Romain's family and got all my bags into the car. We had a 3 hour drive to Roissy to Charles De Gaulle. Romain fell asleep for a little while and then it was my turn. I didn't fall asleep though. We drove thought Paris and I got to see the Eiffel tower one last time. We got to the airport early enough to look around I figure out where I needed to be. We got my suitcase checked and then we all went and got Mcflurries. After that it was just waiting time till I had to be on my flight.

Saying goodbye to Romain was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I cried all the way though security and the security guards were trying to comfort me. I did not want to leave. My plane flight was very smooth but I think I only slept a total of one hour out of 8. It was hard watching that little plane cross the screen in front of me and get farther and farther away from France. When I got into Chicago and went though customs and put my bag back on the plane and then I had 5 hours of waiting. I went back though security and found a place I could watch a movie to keep my mind occupied. But Micaela called me and that helped a lot.

I finished my movie on the plane. I didn't sleep on that one either. Mainly because I wanted to be able to sleep when I got home since I would be getting home at 11pm Colorado time but it would be 7am my time. That plane ride was very smooth too and everything went very well. When I got home my mom greeted me and we went to get my suitcase which was I got home with no problems at all. I told my mom lots of stories and when we got to the house I gave my mom and brother their presents. But I was exhausted so I went to bed and slept for a good 12 hours.

And that was my semester in France! If you followed me around Europe thank you so much for reading. I loved writing these blogs and they will help me remember every little detail.

I want to say thank you to all of you special people that got to be my housemates for this semester. It was wonderful living with you and getting to share this experience together!

And I want to thank all of the wonderful friends I made in France. Romain - please tell them all thank you for me, and that you are all what made my experience the best it ever could have been!

I love you all and thank you so much!

Il n'y a que les montagnes qui ne se rencontrent jamais.

Profiter de la vie au maximum!

Bisous mes amis,


Saturday, May 22, 2010


On Thursday morning I got up at 745. It was the day I would be going to Versailles!! Romain and I left just after 9. We had a two hour car ride there and both of us were super tired. Neither of us are morning people so we didn't talk much until he got his coffee. Lol but we were just content to drive though France together. Everything is green these days and all the flowers are out so the country side is gorgeous.

We got there a little after 11 and grabbed some sandwiches before heading to the gate. I read that European union citizens under 25 get in free so we skipped the line and went straight to the entrance. When we got there I handed the guy my student card and he said he normally would have to see a visa that says I was there for 6 months. He asked me how long I was there for and I told him 5. He hands me my card back and says I didn't hear that and he pushed me on through. I love French people!

We got inside and since the audio guides were included in the "price" we each got one. It told us all about the castle but honestly I learned more from Romain about the castle than I did from the guide. He's my mister histoire. It was his second time to this castle but the first time was when he was young so he didn't remember it. This time he ate everything up. I asked him if he remembered everything he read and he proceeded to tell me about the room were were standing in. He really likes history like that.

We walked all the way though the chateau and we came to the Gallerie de Glace with all 17 windows looking over the gardens and the mirrors covering the opposite wall. It was really incredible and beautiful.

Then we moved into the gardens. Standing at the top by the chateau you could see the gardens stretching over acers and acers of land. We were standing directly off the end of the grand canal where people were rowing boats and the sun was shining... It was beautiful. We didn't know where to start so we started walking towards a pond we saw which we figured were Les Eaux Musicals (musical waters). Then we kept walking along and went into some of the gardens. Most of them were closed but we went into one that was open a ways down. There weren't any flowers in it but it was a beautiful grassy field with only one other couple all the way across. We layed down in the grass together and fell asleep in the sun for a while. That made my day even though I didn't get to see a lot of the gardens. It just means ill have to go back!!

We continued on to the houses of Trianon where the royal family visited during the summer. Though they were smaller they were still very classy and gody inside. The gardens there had flowers which were beautiful. A little further down the road were Marie Antoinette's houses. It was very different from the others and had more of a feel if a medieval castle but I liked it a lot. There were gardens there too that had just a few flowers. But we walked around them and got to see her theater as well. Very beautiful.

Then we headed back to the car. It was a long walk and we enjoyed it but we were both exhausted by the time we reached the car. And we got back just in time for rush hour. It took us a little longer ti get home but I fell asleep for a while... Romain has some embarrassing pictures to prove it.

It was a wonderful day. I wish I could have seen more of the gardens but it gives me just another reason to come back someday! Thanks Romain for taking me to Versailles!!

Friday, May 21, 2010


On Monday morning all of us that were still in France had to meet with Dr. Rawson. She was in town with her mother, her 2 sons, and her 2 nieces. She met us at Le Nonante (our house) and we headed to a cafe not far from our house. We all got a drink and talked about our stay here. It wasn't long but after we went to a restaurant called Mangez-Moi to eat Kebabs. Yum! After that we said goodbye to her. The morning went fairly well. She just wanted to know how well we did and invite us to talk in her classes next year. She was planning to go to Chenonceau with her family the next day and invited me to go because I wanted to see it again when the gardens were beautiful, but she ended up having a meeting and not being able to go.

That night Mamie, Valeria and I went out with all the guys to the club house where we ate and talked with everyone. Afterwards we took Romain's golf clubs and went out to the soccer field and we all hit balls around for a while. It was actually really fun. We were just being crazy. I think Romain lost a few of his balls because the field wasn't long enough and they went over the gate on the other end. After that Valeria said goodbye to them because she didn't think she would see them again. It made me really said and we all went home kind of depressed. But Romain was sure he would see her again. She still had 2 days till she left. He said we could plan a night.

The next day Val, Aaron, Mamie and I went swimming in the morning. It was really fun because there was a big slide. I thought it was going to be outside but it was an inside pool. It was fun anyway but we didn't stay too long. We took the bus back to Jean Jaures and ate at a little place there. We all pitched in for a bottle of wine and Val and I shared a pizza. Then I went to buy my ticket for Chenonceau but I had 1/2 hour before my train left so I just sat in the square by the Gare in the sun. It was wonderful and relaxing. I love France so much. My train took 1/2 hour to get there and when I arrived the gardens were just as beautiful as I thought they would be. I only went into the castle for a few seconds. There were too many people there. But the gardens were full of flowers and I really enjoyed seeing them again. For real this time.

The next day we all got together to say goodbye to Valeria. All 8 of us. We went out to Trois Rois and played a card game and spent the night talking and having fun. Afterwards the guys had to say goodbye to Valeria for real because she was leaving in the morning. It was so hard. She was crying, her boyfriend was crying. And when I saw them I started crying and Mamie started crying. It was really emotional and Mamie and I are scared about how hard this is going to be when it's our turn to leave. We were crying when everyone had to say goodbye to Valeria; we still have a week left here.

The next morning I woke up to my alarm at 8:00 to say goodbye to Valeria. But no one was moving yet so I just went back to sleep and figured I'd hear her when she came in. The next time I woke up was 11:00. And Valeria came into my room a few minutes later. Mamie and Val explained to me how she had missed her plane because she thought her connecting flight was her flight out of she was in my room when her flight was leaving. So we got to keep her another day :)

Then I met a friend for ice cream and he gave me a birthday present! He had brought it all the way from London. When I got back to the house Romain called me and told me he was downstairs so I went down to meet him. He asked me if I had heard anything from Valeria. I said: Yes she says hello. He asked me if she had arrived and I said no she's inside! He didn't believe me so he text her and her and Mamie came out to see him. We stood outside for a while and then decided to go to the park. We took Chase, Dr. Rawson's 5 year old son with us and we all went to the park and played Frisbee for a little while and then sat in the grass together. Jaqueline showed up and she finally got to meet Romain after 4.5 months. She was very happy to meet him.

Valeria was headed to the train station right after that so Romain offered to take her. He got to come into our house and help her with her bags so he also got to see the inside of our house. Then they were off. And Valeria is home safe now. I ate dinner with Mamie, Rawson's family and Jaqueline that night. It was interesting because it was half in French and half English because Rawson's family doesn't know any French. They left early so we finished eating with Jaqueline.

And that is my last week....sorry it is so late in the coming!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Real French Weekend

The day after I got back from my solo trip I was in my room working on cleaning and getting organized back into routine, when Jaqueline came into my room and asked me if I wanted to go with her to get Mathias from school. I had never done that before so I decided I might as well go, plus I really want to get to know Jackie better. Mathias goes to school where they used to live across town so we took off walking early to be there on time. We were walking by the park when Jackie saw a horse and carriage and asked me if I had ridden it yet. I told her no so she paid for us both to go. It was really fun. We we riding though the streets and everyone was looking at us. We even went right though Place Plumereau. It was so much fun! We got off to get Mathias and we walked home. That's one experience I never thought I'd have in France :)

The rest of the weekend I spent with Romain. On Saturday the 8th there was a Soccer Tournament for middle school aged kids. We watched them and spent the day there with Romain's friends and family. It was a huge get together. There were people making cotton candy, hot dogs, and other carnival things. I was watching the players and imagining Romain being that small and playing. It made me laugh and I said, "They're so small!" He told me to wait till the next day...they'd be even smaller. So the next day we went back again. I got to meet Romain's aunt and Uncle, their daughter and her children. The kids playing were ages 5-8 I think. They were tiny! But it was really fun to be there with all of them. It was a very French weekend. I also ate a thing called Chichi which is actually Spanish churros but they were french style here and Romain's mother was making them so she insisted that I try before the tournament was over. They were so good. She said they used 33 kilos of flour that day to make the Chichi. That's a lot of Chichi!

Then on Wednesday Romain and his best friend Anthony took me to Chartres. Notre Dame is there, not the one of Paris, but one that is actually bigger than that. When we got there we met Fabrice, one of his other best friends, and his girlfriend Marie. They took us out to dinner next to the cathedral where we all got fajitas, except for Marie. She got the Jumbo Shrimp which she proceeded to take the shells off of with her knife. I had eaten a whole fajita before she had even taken her first bite. I wanted to pick it up and peel them for her. Haha Oh the French!

The next day we went to the cathedral. It was so beautiful. It's not symmetrical but it's so tall and the stained glass windows inside are so pretty! There is also a complete sequential sculpture of the life of Jesus on the walls around the front of the church. It was really incredible! Afterwards we went up into the church tower. It was so many stairs up but it was free (for European Union students under the age of 25 again :) ) and so all but Anthony got to go up. When were were up there we could see all of Chartres. It was gorgeous and I really enjoyed being up there. It's the only Cathedral tower I've been up into. After that we took the hour and a half trek back to Tours. I'm slowly knocking things off my to do list. And it was really fun to have a trip with Romain and his friends.

Some things I noticed this week:
The classic French girls style is a stripped blue/white shirt with skinny jeans and grey high-heeled cowgirl boots with a grey or blue button up pull sweater. You know they are French right away.
French park on the sides of the road everywhere but this parking is on both sides of the road, but its only on one side for about 10 meters and then it switches to the other side for a while and then back again. You drive back and forth and back and forth down the whole street.

Just a funny thing that happened the night after I got back from Chartres. We were walking home with everyone and Valeria pulled on my coat to pull me back to her and she grabbed the little strap on the back of my coat and pulled it really hard. It came off in her hand and the buttons went flying. It was so funny. She was going to fix it before she left but never got around to it so I'm bringing the buttons home with

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Last Minutes in Marseille

Today was my last day in Marseille. I was seriously planning on just staying in the hostel, but that's just not me. I got up and turned my key and sheets in, then ordered breakfast and theguy working there started talking to me. We spoke French even though I heard him earlier speaking perfect English to someone else. I told him I had 3 hours left and no idea what to do. It was partially sunny today so he said to go up to the Notre Dame de la Garde, but I had already been there yesterday. So he said another great place to go is the coasts down by the islands. He told me which bus to take so I took off and paid 1.50 euro for a bus ticket that took me all right along side the coast. I got some amazing pictures.

When the bus started to turn inland I got off and walked to the beach. It was bright and sunny and warm, so I was on cloud 9! The beach was beautiful and it glowed bright blue when the sun was shining, and the sky was bright blue and the grass was so green! It smelled like my grandparents yard in Arizona and I couldn't have been happier to be there. And I was going to stay in my hostel all day...ha!

I crossed the grass where some guys were playing soccer and walked down to the beach. I took my shoes off and stuck my toes in the water. On one side of me I had huge bluffs of white rocky mountains; on the other I had the islands where the Chateau D'If is. Behind me was a port with boats and also some guys playing soccer in the grass, and in front of me was nothing but blue water, and way off in the distance I could see a light house. This completely changed my mind about Marseille. It truly is a beautiful, beautiful city.

I caught the bus back along the coast and I calculated that I still had some time, so if I wanted to remake my memory of Notre Dame de la Garde I could do that today. It wasn't sunny by the time I got back to Vieux Port but it wasn't raining like yesterday either. So I hopped on a bus up the mountain and spent 20 minutes taking the pictures I wish I could have taken the day before.

After that I took the bus and then the metro back to my hostel. I grabbed my stuff, but my friend wasn't there to thank for the advice, so I left and got on the next bus to the airport. I was there quite early but it's good that way because when I can't find where to check in I could just do it in frustration instead of panic. I did finally find it and I went through security and everything before I realized that I had no money to get from the airport in Tours to Tours Centre. I hoped the bus driver would just take me and I could pay at the station.

When I did get there the man on the bus was fine with me paying afterwards. That saved me a lot of hassle. So I went and got him his 5 euro after and then took off to the house. I was so excited to be home I almost ran! When I got in I suprised everyone. They were all seated down to dinner and they had no idea I was coming home, but I got a big plate of food anyway and ate happily since the only thing I'd had to eat that day was breakfast. I told them all about my adventures and for some reason my French was incredible.

I had a really great trip and I'm so glad I went, but I am so happy to be back in Tours! :) :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Mean Marseille

Today I woke up to rain again. I got ready while Jill was still sleeping and he started cussing at me into his pillow. He had kept me up last night so I didn't really care that he was mad at me this morning. I didn't really have plans today except to meet that little guy I had met on the beach my first day in Nice to buy a painting from him. He said he'd give me a good price. I got to the place and he laid out all the paintings for me so I could pick. I picked up all the ones I liked and he layed those out next to each other. I had a hard time deciding between two. So he told me where they were painted and it actually helped me decide. I got this really goreous painting from the chateau looking down on the port side. It's fairly large so it will go nicely in my house/appartment when ever and if ever I settle down long enough to get one. He even gave it to me for 18 euro!

I said goodbye to Christophe and headed back to the hostel. I was going to try to see the Russian Cathedral before I left but I had to walk a long way to meet Christophe so I didn't think I would make it. So I stopped and got a pain au chocolat instead and headed back to the hostel where I picked up my backpack and said goodbye to Robert. I picked up a newspaper which had some awesome pictures of the waves from yesterday and hopped on my train. The train ride was long but I read my French magazine again the whole way.

When I got back to Marseille I knew right where to go so that was a nice feeling. I checked into my hostel and then took off to the Notre Dame de la Garde, the huge cathedral on the top of the mountain. The view from there was incredible. It was far too cold to really enjoy it though. I could see a 360 view of the whole city. I tried to get a really good panarama picture so I'll see if it works..... I could see the islands and everything. Really awesome view. Too bad it wasn't sunny.

The church itself wasn't that great. Except for the large gold Mother Mary and baby Jesus on top. There were picture of boats covering the walls and some boat models hanging from the celings. And lots of mosaics.

I waited for the bus for too long outside and my boots have holes in the bottoms of them now so water was leaking into my shoes. I had wet feet and I wasn't a happy camper so I took the bus back to the port, and then the metro straight to my hostel. I grabbed a panini on my way back and I ate that right after I took off my wet boots and socks. I talked to the guy at the desk in French for a while about the storm in Nice and what I had seen in Marseille. I plan on staying in tonight. There is a huge soccer game - Marseille and Rennes - and most everyone is partying and going to be drunk, and I don't trust Marseille guys. I have some nice roommates that are all girls, and honestly I'm exhaused so I plan on going to bed early and sleeping in till 9:30 and checking out right at 10. Nothing planned for tomorrow because the rain has just put a little damper on my trip, but I'm ready to go home anyway. I'll probably stay in and talk to the workers in French if I can. Get some good practice in.

Well I'm headed to bed! I love you all and thanks for keeping up on my travels! Gros bisous a tous!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Not So Nice Nice

I woke up to rain today. It was hard to pull myself out of bed, but I did it because I knew I had to meet Bryce at 9:30. We were both late but we still ended up showing up at about the same time in the lobby. We headed out to a museum but the second we got there I realized it was Tuesday and all museums in France are closed on Tuesdays. So we walked down a street and found a boulangerie to get breakfast, then we went to a cafe and got some hot chocolate. We sat there and talked for a while before heading back to the hostel. It was still raining so hard to we decided to play some games inside. We played cards for a while, then the sun came out so we headed to the beach. We stopped for some noodles at a little restaurant where I had to speak French for him. He's studying in Italy and knows no French.

We headed down to the beach where the sun couldn't decide to shine or not. But we got some really great sunny pictures though. Just 10 minutes later however, the waves started getting huge. We were watching people run from them on the beach and at first it was funny, then as we passed a restaurant farther down on the beach we realized it wasn't funny anymore. This guy was frantically carrying chairs up the stairs but the waves were so big and fast that when we went down to get more he had to jump up on them to stay out of the water, but it was so big it crashed over him and the chairs, and then took half the chairs out to sea. They were desperately trying to save their restaurant but it was hopeless.

(Sunny beautiful day in Nice)

(10 minutes later)

Soon the waves were so big they crashed over the roof and ripped it right off. Everything inside was being swept away. We were standing on the Place 8 Mai 1945 and the waves got so high that they were crashing up onto the place, and it's normally way above the water. We got yelled at by the cops to stand back. When the waves started coming up onto the road they closed off the sidewalk and put tape up to keep everyone on the other side of the road. We decided to go get crepes while all this was going on, which were amazing by the way, but when we went back the whole road had been closed and there were rocks from the beach everywhere. I asked the police officer if this happens often and he said no, never. He'd lived there for 30 years and never seen anything like it. But he did say that they had known the storm was coming. They obviously didn't prepare hardly enough.

We went back to the hostel for a while where we showed the pictures to everyone of the mess down at the beach and then we decided to go back at eat dinner somewhere around there. It was the first night I had been able to go out late at night because normally I'm alone so I come home by 7. Everything was all lit up and beautiful. We went back to see if there had been any new damage and we just saw a lot of rocks and the rent-a-bikes were all tipped over. The road was still closed and the police were still everywhere. So we ate in Vieux Nice at a little restaurant where I got Gnocchi and a cheap glass of wine and Bryce got the plat de jour. We talked about anything and everything and just had a really good night. The walk home was far too cold for this time of year though. When we got back some people were outside talking in the garden so we sat with them for a little but I was too tired to stay there for long. I went to my room and fell asleep in seconds. Soooo tired!

Another long and CRAZY day! I saw something no one ever sees in Nice. Nice.