Anticonstituonnellemment

The longest word in the French language. Learned that today at my community service. Its an adverb for something that is unconstitutional. But I don’t think that such a word exsists in English…

More importantly, I went to Paris this past weekend.

I was supposed to meet up with one of my roommates from last year who is studying in Nottingham, but she got food poisoning and couldn’t make it. But I hung out with two of her friends whom I also kind of know from Linfield and acted as an interpreter, so it turned out just fine.

Saturday we left our hostel at about 9:30am, and returned at about 12:30am Sunday morning… it was a long day of mostly walking, but we saw a lot!

  1. Eiffel Tower: she was a little shy, so we decided to postpone going up until later in the day if it was nicer.

hiding in the fog…

2. Arc de Triumph: two groups of people decided to stop traffic so they could run across the round about. Stupid. Americans. Otherwise, always a lovely experience. One day I need I will pay to go on top and enjoy the view.

3. Champs D’Elysées. Full of people, expensive shops, and Christmas decorations.

Apparently ever city feels the need to have one of these now….

4. La Bastille. A special monument for July 14th, my sisters birthday, I mean, French Independence day…

5. L’Opera. I had never even heard of this/ thought of going but I am so glad we did. It was absolutely stunning. Pictures cannot even start to do it justice. I was amazed by the detail and absolute magnificence of the building. I don’t like opera that much, but I think I would pay to go see an opera there.

The music starts where the power of words stops. (it sounds better in french).

6. Notre Dame.

7. Bridge of Love Locks. Not sure what it’s called, or if this is the official one, but apparently you’re supposed to come here with your “love”, write your name on a lock and lock it on the bridge. One might also exist in Venice, fact not confirmed, but will have to return here one day with my love and put a lock on the bridge.

8. Garden of Luxembourg. We got there 10 minutes before closing so we couldn’t spend as much time there as we would have liked because it’s a huge and beautiful garden.

9. Seine boat tour. 1 hour on the Seine at night to look at 22 of the 38 (?) bridges in Paris and numerous famous sites. Gorgeous. Cold. But gorgeous. Maybe an activity better suited for the summer months…

Notre Dame

10. Dinner. Ate some lovely traditional French pasta…and spoke with the waiter who was impressed (only a little) that I could (pretend) to speak French, and he told me that it was important that I drink more wine than water because water makes you weak but wine makes you strong…oh the French, I told him he was joking and he just walked away.

My dessert: Café Gourmand= an espresso with a variety of little desserts (different at each restaurant) this one consisted of carmel creme, some fruit, and chocolate mousse

11. Eiffel Tower. Accompanied by some “champagne”. I was there for my 21st birthday after all. So obviously we bought some fake champagne to drink beneath the radiant Eiffel Tower. Then we finally got to go up and look at the gorgeous views of the city by night. I think Paris is prettier by night, if that is even possible.

View of the Seine and the Military Museum from the Eiffel Tower

12. Sleep

13. Montmontre and the Basilique Sacre Coeur. Probably one of my favorite parts of Paris, but it was raining and I only had a few hours left in Paris so I did not spend as much time exploring as I would have liked. But I did manage to buy a l’eau de toilette at Fragonard (thanks Sissy) that I have been looking for my past few months in France.

Basilique Sacre Coeur. Unfortunately no pictures are allowed of the inside, but it might be one of the most beautiful things in the world, much prettier than Notre Dame in my opinion.

Montmontre and view of Paris

A little cloudy, but it’s Paris

14. Musée de l’orangerie. I remembered this as one of my favorite museums from my last trip to Paris because of its panoramic impressionist paintings of lily pads.  They also have several other exhibits of impressionist art, which is I think my favorite style. After taking an art history class at Linfield last year I enjoyed being able to look at the paintings and compare techniques of different artists and try to determine some of the deeper significance of the paintings instead of just speeding by each one (my previous way of going through museums).

15. Train back to Aix. I tried to go to the Musée D’Orsay because I have still never been, but the line was like 200 people long, and I only had an hour before I had to catch my train, so I decided my time was better spent elsewhere.

Overall Paris was wonderful. A weekend is definitely not enough time to be there- you really need like a week so you don’t feel a chicken running around with your head cut off. There is so much to see and do that you have to take your time in order to appreciate all of the richness and history of the city.

Dusk in Paris

I am now back in Aix for the last few weeks of my life in France. Lots of homework and studying and papers to write (dissertation on a comparison between the French and American education systems anyone, in French??), but first there’s a Thanksgiving feast to be had with all of the teachers and host families Friday night, and a big ball at one of the French universities Saturday night. After that hopefully I will find some time to study. But then again all the Christmas festivities will be starting…

Anyways, I’m going to go read about the construction of the European Union. I hope you have a very happy thanksgiving tomorrow!!

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Nice!!

Today is my last day being 20. Tomorrow I will be 21. It’s so weird!! And doesn’t feel as real being in France, but I’m having fun so that’s all that matters.

Today I had my community service, and it’s with one of my good friends host mom, and she knew it was my birthday so she brought a chocolate cake and a little cookbook for me for a present! It was super sweet and all the little old ladies sang happy birthday to me and referred to me as “the little American”.

This past weekend I went to Nice with five other girls from my program.  Although it rained all day Saturday, I had so much fun. Nice is gorgeous and it’s always fun to explore a new city. We started off the day by going to the flower market, which is the biggest in all of France. The flowers were gorgeous and I wanted to buy some but they would be hard enough to transport on the train let alone mail back to the US…. We then went to look at the sea through the mist and climbed up to a waterfall and cold city ruins that have beautiful views of the city and the sea. When I was in Nice five years ago we found a playground amongst the ruins and also a tree that I had tried to climb but really just struggled on, so I made it my goal to find the same branch. And finally, I was successful.

5 years later…not much has changed

After getting sufficiently soaked by the rain we found some lunch in a little café, and went back to our hostel for dry socks, stopping at little shops and exploring the old city along the way. For most of the afternoon we wandered around, stopped at a café, found a bakery that I had remembered from the last time I was there. And then, we walked into Le Negresco. Five start hotel on the French Riviera. The last time I was here my high school French teacher showed us the outside, but told us it was way to nice for us to go into. Se we tried. And succeeded. It’s basically a museum. Gorgeous. As part of my birthday celebrations I had thought that it would be fun to try to have a drink at the bar Saturday night, despite the price, so I went with one of my friends and sat in this super nice bar with live jazz piano and singing, and a big fat orange cat. Words cannot describe, I was so content to be there and absorb the elegance and people watch.

Nice center

Candy at the market

note: its a cat umbrella

Port of Nice

inside Le Negresco

Nice by night

Le Negresco by night

Sunday it was actually sunny for a little bit so after breakfast and stopping by the flower market to buy some presents, we went and sat by the water to wait for the other half of our group. It was stunning. As always. Apparently I might be a little too obsessed with the ocean because one of my friends said, “you really need to live by the ocean, huh?” Mais, pourquoi pas? I even touched the water. Which was challenging because the waves were really big and had made something like a rock cliff and was challenging to navigate, but I made it and the water felt great. Like always the time came to leave, and we grabbed some lunch, some postcards, and a chocolate crepe on the way to the train station. And back to Aix we went…

la mer est belle toujours

Armistice Day parade

 

Jeg teler ikke dansk

I don’t speak danish.

Except for « jeg tak » and « hyggeligt ».

That means, ”yes thanks” and a feeling that I more or less could define as warm and cozy. If you picture sitting by a fire with some hot cocoa, a cat, and maybe some snow falling, that basically embodies the sentiment of hyggeligt.

Copenhagen started great because my best friend from high school met me at the airport instead of me having to take the train and find her. I was so excited to see her I almost wanted to cry for no particular reason other than it had been forever since I’d seen her. And its good that she was there because she told me how to get to the train, but then we got lost anyways…but no worries, we made it into downtown Copenhagen and stopped for a coffee (because I had been up since 4:30 or something and now it was 5pm…) and then walked around the city a little bit before taking a bus back to her apartment to make some dinner.

Wednesday night was Halloween, and at first we were just going to go to a small party and not dress up, but I’m not even sure how it happen but we just said, okay we can dress up and go to a bigger party. I had clothes that were all black, and she had clothes that were all white, so I cut out an “S” and “P” from one of my midterms study guides (don’t need that no more!) and we went out as salt and pepper. It was easy, it was fun, everyone thought we were adorable.

Copenhagen is now on my list of one of my favorite cities. Other than the bitter cold, it is gorgeous! There are so many different types of architecture and different things to look at, it was amazing. I was pretty much on my own Thursday because my friend had class, but I walked all through the city and then met up with her during lunch and breaks (and to take a break from the cold).

Some things about Copenhagen and Denmark in general:

  • Bicycles win. There are bicycles everywhere, everyone has one and they have priority on the road. There are bike lanes between the road and the sidewalk and you will get run over if you walk in them. It’s cool how they ride bicycles everywhere because it’s so energy efficient, but I don’t understand how they can do it when it’s so bitter cold there practically all the time…
  • Salted licorice. My friend made me try it. I hate licorice anyways. It was gross. I don’t understand why it exists.
  • Legos are Danish.
  • There’s at least 5 H&M’s just in Copenhagen. Copenhagen is a big city, but not that big. And they’re big H&M’s. I got lost in one of them. And there’s separate stores for kids and men also.
  • The Little Mermaid (the statue not the movie), is actually pretty small. But in a very pretty area of town.
  • J-Day. We didn’t know about this until just before, but November 3 is basically a national holiday for the release of the Christmas beer. Most of the pubs empty their taps and then at 8:59pm or something trucks drive into the street and start handing out free beer. It’s a little bit of a joke because they say that the formula changes every year but no one knows because no one can remember what it tastes like…to me it tasted like dark beer, which I don’t really like, but I got a cool Christmas/ J-Day hat, so after that I didn’t care about beer
  • Denmark is even more collectivist than France. They pay at least 50% in taxes, and don’t care as long as everyone is equal, and by equal they mean more or less the same.
  • There are some schools than don’t have homework. Or tests. Not so much for university but there are high schools that people can live at and they just sit in classes apparently but don’t ever need to study.
  • Copenhagen is expensive. And the conversion is something like 6 Kronar (Denmark currency) per dollar, so the whole time I had no idea how much money I was spending
  • Everyone speaks english (probably better than me) but I still hated not being able to communicate in the language of the country. I started looking forward to being back in France where I can more or less understand the signs and communicate in the language.

To get back to France I had a 26 hour train trip, complete with a ferry ride and a 4 hour stop in the Hamburg train station (where there was absolutely no where to sit other than a cold stairwell). The train literally got on the ferry and the ferry took us across the water to Germany- I didn’t know such a think existed!

All in all I loved Copenhagen and didn’t want to leave, and I had a great week off traveling around Europe- and I didn’t lose anything! Yes I had to purchase a few extra tickets…but I made it back in one piece with all my belongings and then some, and experienced some cultures other than the French, so I would say it was a successful vacation.

Photo documentation:

The Little Mermaid!

Nicest neighborhood in Copenhagen- where all the representatives in Parliament live

View of Copenhagen from the top of a church- I chose the worst time of the day to go up there- it started to rain/sleet…

City Center

Christmas beer! Not for drinking, but the bottle was pretty

18 hours in London

No time for introductions. Gotta jump right in. Vacation started with a nice little flight to London with one of my classmates. We made it to the airport and through security and to our gate in perfect timing, like PERFECT. Unfortunately, we said that out loud. Because shortly after getting crammed into a room to wait to board the plane, we were told the plane never left London, and we would have to wait 2 hours.

pas content.

Luckily they let us out of the room and back into the terminal. And after two hours onto the airplane that finally arrived.

Yippeeeee!!

But they waited till we were trapped on the plane to tell us it would be another hour before we would leave because of mechanical problems. (Je detest RyanAir).

BUT. After three hours we finally made it to LONDON- and even got to help a lovely french family with their bus into the city.

This was what was waiting for us (after we walked 2 miles to our hostel, and as we were trying unsuccessfully to find Chipotle- to my deepest sadness)

So I mostly saw London at night and a little bit the next morning before I got my train. This is what I saw.

Not too shabby, huh?

So getting to Nottingham was just as difficult. And anything but amusing. There was a point that I thought I might be stuck in London. My train ticket failed to tell me that I had to take the Underground to a station other than the one I asked to depart from. So very long story short. I ran through about three or four stations like a chicken with my head cut off asking whatever officials I could trying to figure out where I was supposed to go (which was St. Pancras train station attached to Kings Cross in case you’re ever in the neighborhood.). So obviously I missed my train. And again karma got me because my I had been super excited by how inexpensive the train ticket was, until I had to buy a new one. And use all the pounds I had with me at the time because my cards wouldn’t work. And after helping two more french women find the trains, and arguing about my ticket with some officials, I finally got on the train an hour later to Nottingham. And spent a few lovely days there speaking English yet not really knowing how to communicate…”you alright?” as a greeting still confuses me. But there were some lovely sights to see and it was awesome catching up with my roommate from last year!

Nottingham City Square/ city hall type building

Robin Hood

The “oldest” pub in England/ the world?

So I was more in vacation mode than tourist mode (thanks in part to how easy it was to get around downtown Nottingham ), so I don’t have enough pictures of the downtown, but it was very charming and British. I decided that England isn’t quite like Europe, but not quite like the US either. For example, practically all of Europe has coffee shops everywhere (yes yes I realize England is famous for tea), but there weren’t even that many places to sit and enjoy after say 6pm (which is before my dinner time). So I was slightly perplexed what to do with myself (since I’m so European now…) between the hours of 5 (dinner) and when you decide to go out- because you’re options are restaurant, or bar (coffee shops are closed)- I don’t know it was just different, interesting! New experiences!

British guys are a lot cuter than french guys. More classily dressed (french guys tend to be euro-trashy looking), taller, and generally cuter.

They dress up scary for halloween. Like everyone is their own haunted house. I prefer to be a cat thankyouverymuch.

After Nottingham I visited my best friend from high school at Copenhagen. But that I will save for the next time (I’m still going to school, homework is calling…)

but, here, a sneak peak…

We stumbled upon the cutest/ nicest neighborhood (where all the members of parliament live!) on our search for the Little Mermaid