Things I No Longer Understand Since France

1) Pancake mixes. (They don’t exist in France, so I’ve just been making them by scratch and it’s so easy!)

2) Gallons of milk. I mean, liters were working just fine and now I feel cowed by my own milk.

3) American alcohol culture. I just literally don’t understand anymore.

4) The lack of bakeries. Seriously though. Where the hell am I supposed to get pastries and bread?

5) Where’d all the cobblestone go?

6) How am I supposed to go places if I can’t walk there?

7) So…where did the espresso go?

8) You mean I can actually SEE my friends again? Wait. What? They live in the same time-zone? Woah man. One thing at a time please.

Advertisements

In the End There’s Only Love

Well my time in France is done for now and I am back home. As we all know, I will never forget my time there and it is so bitter-sweet to be home. I made some pretty fantastic friends. Friends from different countries, different states and all with the most wonderful views and experiences. I think that might be the hardest part about leaving. Leaving all those wonderful, fantastic people.

What isn’t hard is leaving French University. And that’s the last time I complain about it here! Because I will also miss just how jank the Fac des Lettres was. I doubt I’ll go into a building like it again!

I’m also going to miss this. My home street. The place I walked up everyday for a year. Cobblestones, a sketchy shisha place and the strangest lingerie shop I’ve ever come across.

IMG_2269

France, I’ll miss you. My friends, I will miss you more.

p.s. culture shock is really gonna suck.

London ft. Baker’s St. and Tea. So Much Tea.

London is amazing. It was at once exactly what I thought it would be and so far from my expectations. Foreigners from around the world crowd streets that are surprisingly wide, world famous sites are crammed next to modern-style buildings and 19th century buildings and massive gardens. It’s incredible that there could be so much to do in a city with as relaxed a beat.

In other words, it’s a fantastic vacation spot.

First of all, the public museums are all free. Including the Natural History Museum.

IMG_1970

First step in and I suddenly remembered why I loved Dinosaurs as a child. It took all of half a second for it all to come rushing back!

IMG_1984

And we can’t forget about my favorite museum ever! The British Museum! Home of the Rosetta Stone! However, I say it’s my favorite museum because it’s basically a giant course on human history through artifacts. Tons of signs explaining the life, times and culture of what is in there. Just beautifully done.

IMG_2231

You can’t forget the English Breakfast either, with its rather strange and wonderful inclusion of beans. [sidenote: every time you go to a different country, I suggest trying their bacon. Because nobody does it quite the same way and that’s so cool!]

IMG_2003

And pubs. If you go to London and skip out on going to a pub, you’ve just missed out on a super cool part of culture. If you’re not into pubs that much, go the the Cheshire Cheese Pub. It’s not the oldest pub in London, but it was frequented by the likes of Lord Tennyson, Mark Twain and Charles Dickens (who seemed to have enjoyed it so much, he referenced the place in A Tale of Two Cities).

IMG_2043

Then of course is Westminster which is either my favorite or second favorite cathedral ever, I can’t decide (the St. Mary’s Cathedral in Barcelona would be the other contender). I went to a service there as well as did the whole tour. And I’m just going to say, it was entirely worth everything.

IMG_2236

I’ve decided one of my new life goals is to go here, because it is my favorite set of buildings in all of London:

IMG_2235

Never complete without Baker’s St. That was worth it just to be there.

IMG_2241

And Cheapside! From my favorite film of all time A Knight’s Tale! William Thatcher was born here!

IMG_2244

So much to do in London. I certainly didn’t do it all. If you’ve never been, go. For the non-travelers it’s an easy one (English-speaking and similar culture) and for the travelers, well. There’s plenty to experience.

IMG_2249

Morocco

Going to this country was a blessing. Two weeks later and I still am not sure what to say about it. It was my first time in Africa, my first time in an Islamic country, my first time riding a camel, my first time haggling. So many firsts. So many new experiences. So many new ways of seeing and understanding.

The camel ride in the desert was the best thing ever. Two dreams in one. Camel riding. And sleeping in a sand desert. So cool.

IMG_1874

The Souks are pretty sweet too. It’s fun to haggle with people and really just talk with vendors. You can learn so much about them, the culture, whatever. And in the end everyone leaves happy. Even if you don’t get the “best” price you could have.

IMG_1889

We met all kinds of people. Super posh English women who are all three lawyers, Moroccains and Bedouins, Dutch. All kinds.

IMG_1795

And in the end I found I realized that the world is no bigger than I thought. Just a hell of a lot deeper.

IMG_1782

Adventures

Having my parents and brother to visit me here was incredible. Tired as I was afterwords, it was well worth every second. The trips we did were fun, but honestly. It was good just to be together as a family and to show them where I’m living. Because, as I said before, this is really where I am living.

I got to introduce them to real hot chocolate. Which is basically like drinking hot pudding and is generally the most delicious thing ever.

I also went with them here. To Cassis.

Cassis, France

Yeah. If you haven’t gone. Put that one on your list. Or at least some Calanques somewhere.

Oh. And Montagne Sainte-Victoire. Because it’s one of the most amazing and stunning and arresting and generally awesome views I’ve ever seen.

IMG_5090

Castles: The Ultimate Adventure

So I have never had a more difficult trip. Just ever. Not to say it wasn’t awesome. But I got lost many a time, traveled alone and carted around my twenty-pound backpack everywhere because I had a hotel in a different city every day. And now that I’ve given you the background of this trip, here’s what made it all worth it. (From least to most favorite).

Blois Castle:

IMG_1438

The staircase here is awesome. Other than just looking really cool, it’s a testament to the fact that castles started becoming much less about actual security and much more about fan-fare. I mean, who would want to stand on an open staircase when people are shooting arrows and things at you? Not me.

IMG_1450

And this thing has got to be the most comfortable-looking throne I’ve ever seen! Especially after reading Game of Thrones, this thing is just the height of luxury. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to be king…

Chateau de Versailles:

IMG_1267

This is the Hall of Mirrors. It’s basically one of the coolest places ever. Lined with pictures of battles in which France was awesome (fun fact, the French aren’t really traditionally surrender-ers), it drives home the extravagance of the castle. Well, the famed extravagance. It’s basically what you would get if wall-paper, hundreds of sculptors and gold all got together and threw a gigantic party together. That lasted years. Straight. With no sleep.

IMG_1281

And this is an example of garden art at its finest. The entirety of this absolutely massive garden is designed to be full of surprises, and let me tell you. It is. You would never know that the garden part of this picture was even there until you were almost on top of it. It just looks like a lake in the distance. Total design brilliance.

IMG_1297

All those little flowers there are called Snowdrops. They are my favorite flower of all time. And there are HUNDREDS of them here! I about died. It was too freaking cool.

Clos Lucé:

IMG_1358

This was a really sweet place to visit. It’s the home of Leonardo da Vinci in France and where he died (right in this bed apparently). Especially cool because of just how much of the Clos Lucé I share with my dad. It was a really awesome experience.

 

IMG_1364

Amboise:

IMG_1346

I think this was by far the most beautiful castle I went to, even though it was also probably the smallest. I mean, this picture sums it up pretty well. Open gardens, a view out over the Loire, a refined and not over-decorated castle. It’s a place you might actually live in and there’s a lot to be said about that where castles are concerned.

IMG_1327

And this is one of the first throne rooms in France. Well at least in what we would consider a “traditional” throne room would be. François I actually saw people in this room, which was something of a first for the time. François I, by the way, was a total beast. Patron of the arts (he was the dude responsible for bringing over da Vinci), the start of the absolute monarchy (he rejected the supremacy of the pope over the king), and just generally a cool dude. He is, for the moment, my favorite French king. I’m sure at some point I’ll learn something awful about him though. He was, after all, a king.

And that was a quick summary of a really fantastic trip. Castles. I will always love you.