En Conclusion

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
– Marcel Proust

I am going to severely miss being in the minority. I was an American living among the French and, more specifically, a girl from Aldie, Virginia who briefly lived in Vanves, Ile-de-France. I would take the train daily from these suburbs, where I lived with my adorably endearing French family, into the Sixth Arrondissement of Paris for classes at l’Institut Catholique. I would do my utmost to appear Parisienne in class, on the Metro (shout out to Line 4), and strolling (and occasionally strutting) down the Haussmann aggrandized boulevards Paris is famous for. I visited all of this city’s great monuments whilst wishing I could, yet knowing that I could never discover every secret corner of this French metropolis.

I believe that I mastered the masquerade of living in Paris because by the end of my trip I no longer felt like I was trying to fit in, but instead considered myself a fully adapted city dweller. The Metro was no longer a monster, for I could ride between its fourteen lines and five RER tracks without a hiccup as well as navigate above ground easily. French slang and customs no longer felt foreign, and (actual) Parisians were no longer distant, unapproachable creatures, but possible friends who I felt comfortable communicating with. I had, quite understandably, developed a taste for any and all French pastries and could walk into any café, brasserie, or restaurant and confidently order a meal and stay there contentedly for hours. What annoyed Parisians annoyed me and what pleased them pleased me also and their city gradually became my city.

Reflecting on the changes the last few months had brought during one of my last days spent in Paris, the lyrics of a Joni Mitchell song wafted back to me on the breeze: “Sitting in a park in Paris, France…” which described the moment perfectly, as I was actually sitting on a bench in said city while waiting to meet a friend. The reality of where I was hit me like never before and I took a moment to be thankful. I also began to contemplate the future (for the 100th time) that would arrive after graduating from college and I questioned what my life would consist of: Where would I end up? Would I return to Europe? Would I ever live in Paris again? Within this moment, I was not sure at all how things would fall into place later on, but somehow I knew that I would be coming back to France. Yet, in an almost fast-fowarded span of time, the day of departure arrived: June 29th. To reference John Denver this time, I was ‘leaving on a jet plane’ without knowing when I’d be back again and ‘oh babe’ I did hate to go. I was frustrated at having to leave a place for an indefinite amount of time that I had fallen so deeply in love with (before even arriving) and had quickly made my home.

However, upon returning home, Europe does not seem so distant because I realized that it is in fact only eight hours away. And, even if flying across the Atlantic Ocean is perhaps the most expensive way you’ll ever pass eight hours, Europe is readily available and I am more than willing to return, visit new countries, and revisit those that I know already. For, Paris is waiting; that breathtaking city that artfully blends the new, the old, and the in-between while somehow less successfully blending the poignant mixture of locals, tourists, and immigrants, where nights along the Seine are a crowded affair because its banks burst with people of all ages from April to August, where the people are in fact friendly if you give them a chance, and  where somehow all romantic clichés associated with it being the City of Light never grow dim.

[Au Revoir Paris]

[Fin]

A Tale of Two Cities

I have officially been home for exactly two weeks as of today and I plan to share my final thoughts about my beloved adoptive city (Paris) in one final post later tonight; a post-Paris post, if you will. However, before doing so, I would like to share my experience in London, a magical place that I have always imagined visiting and was able to jet over to towards the end of my time in Europe.

I did not really ‘jet’ over to the UK as the above sentence would have you believe. I actually took the Eurostar train that runs through the ‘Chunnel’ or Channel Tunnel connecting France and England and met my friend Amelia, who was already in Great Britain, on the other side. It was both of our first times in London which meant that we wanted to do and see as much as possible in the five days we had allotted for our visit.

What exactly did Amelia and I accomplish on our London journey? Be patient! I am about to tell you and then afterwards you can tell me if you think we succeeded in our endeavor to see everything.

We rode the Tube where we minded the gap, we reveled in the endless red telephone booths and buses that abound on London streets, we marveled in the ultra-chic perfume floor at Harods, we attended the Choral Matins service at Westminster after which we lingered to visit with Charles Dickens, Geoffrey Chaucer, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and a few other friends below the ancient marble floor, we saluted Big Ben and Parliament as we walked along the River Thames, we rode a red double decker bus to the borough of Camden to enjoy the Camden Market and also to the west of the city to honor the Beatles at Abbey Road Studios, we cheesed with St. Paul’s Cathedral, St. Bart’s Hospital, Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace, we returned to Buckingham Palace one sunny morning to join the pomp and circumstance of the Changing of the Guard, and goggled at mummies at the British Museum, we went to Piccadilly Circus to partake in the theatre where we saw a play called ’39 Steps,’ we dined in pubs and taverns and picnicked on people’s stoops, we paraded across Trafalgar Square, we walked across Tower Bridge and London Bridge, and visited the Tower of London (no heads were lost), we had a proper tea at a quaint cafe at the recommendation of a cheerful Beefeater from the Tower of London, we visited the (new and improved) Globe Theatre, we lounged in St. James Park, Green Park, Regents Park, and the Kensington Gardens, and I took a trip to the Sherlock Holmes Museum and Speedy’s Cafe as part of my Sherlock Holmes hunt.

Opinions?

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Theatrics 

Greetings! The nature of my posts should now tend once more towards a French vibe as I have been residing in Paris for the last month (since returning from Spring Break) and will continue to live here until the end of the month : June 29th to be precise. I will be traveling to London for the next five days, but that’s a minor detail. For now, I would like to take this opportunity to share a little vignette of a ‘Mararah’ outing that took place in the beginning of May and also : [Mararah = Mary + Sarah]. I give the story first in French, followed by the English translation.

Mars 2014.
Mary et moi nous nous retrouvons à une festival des films français à la ville de Richmond en Virginie aux États Unis. Nous avons regardé plusieurs films cette journée là et inclut dans le programme était le film Demi-Soeur. C’était un film de réalisatrice française Josiane Balasko dans lequel elle a aussi joué un rôle. Son mari, George Aguilar, un acteur américain, a apparut dans le film et lui et Josiane étaient tous les deux présent à la festival.

Après la projection du film, nous sommes sorties du théâtre et nous avons rencontré George devant un peu par hasard. En parlant avec lui, il a révélé comment il a rencontré Josiane et comment il a déménagé à Paris il y avait quelques années. Nous l’avons dit que nous étudierons à Paris le printemps prochain puis il nous a invité à le contacter lorsque nous serons arrivées en France. Son geste était vraiment gentil mais il semblait plutôt comme une politesse qu’une vraie promesse.

Mai 2015.
Après une année, un courriel, et une invitation plus tard, nous étions assises en deux places au Théâtre de la Michodière prêtes à regarder Un Grand Moment de Solitude de Josiane Balasko. George Aguilar a gardé sa promesse et il nous a invité à voir la spectacle. La pièce était super drôle et les personnages joués par Josiane et George en particulier. Nous sommes restées après la performance pour voir George et le remercier pour l’invitation et nous avions aussi parlé avec Josiane pendant quelques minutes avant qu’elle est partie. Et voilà, c’était la fin d’une bonne soirée.

March 2014.
Mary and I found ourselves at a French film festival in Richmond, Virginia. We had already watched a good number of films that day and included in the line-up was a film called “Demi-Soeur” (‘half sister’) that was both produced and directed by a French woman by the name of Josiane Balasko who also starred in the film as the lead actress. Balasko’s husband the American actor George Aguilar also played a role in the film and both Balasko and Aguilar were present at the film festival.

After the showing of the film in question, Mary and I left the theater and met George outside by coincidence. In talking to him, we learned how he had met his wife Josianne and subsequently moved to Paris. We then explained to him how we would be studying abroad in Paris the following spring  and he promptly invited us to contact him once we were in France. This gesture was extremely kind, but seemed more like a politeness than a true promise.

May 2015.
After one year, one email, and one invitation later, Mary and I were seated side by side in the Théâtre de la Michodière ready to watch Un Grand Moment de Solitude [A Great Moment of Solitude] by Josiane Balasko. George had kept his promise and invited us to watch the show. The play was hilarious; extremely witty and entertaining. The characters that Josiane and George played were quite funny in particular. We stayed back after the performance to say hello to George and thank him for the invitation and we actually ended up talking to Josiane for a few minutes before she left. And there you have it, a wonderful end to a wonderful evening.

  

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[Note the progression of the gentleman seated directly behind us: first oblivious to the selfie being taken – followed by a sense of curiosity – and finally he joins in and cheeses for the camera (!!).

Dinner Diplomacy

“I met a lot of people in Europe. I even encountered myself.” – James Baldwin

[Sketch 6 : Rome]

Trastevere : pronounced : Trah / stay / ve / ray ; quiet neighborhood located in the southwestern corner of Rome known for its charming restaurants and supposedly being less ‘touristy.’

The evening that Megan and I found ourselves in that quaint pocket of the city, the air was still warm from the bright day, yet was not heavy with humidity. The sun was still high in the sky and cast late rays of spring on our faces. Due to the suspended hour that was no longer afternoon, yet still long before Italian dinner time (eight/nine o’clock), there were only a few couples seated on the terrace of Alle Fratte di Trastevere.

We approached the restaurant in order to glance at the menu and in doing so I caught a glimpse of an old, Italian man dressed in a navy suit sitting on a plastic chair in the shade nearby. I did not pay him much attention; however, and after reading the list of entrées we started to saunter off in order to assess other options when suddenly a voice from behind stopped us. The man had stood up and walking over towards us, asked us a question involving a guidebook. This was the first and only word I could pick out from his accent and before I could decipher the rest of his inquiry he started to explain, this time more clearly.

“Have you heard of the guidebook Lonely Planet? Yes? It is the one of the best guidebooks, the very best!”

The gentleman pulled out a 2013 edition of said book and opening it to a dog eared page continued,

“And do you know what is inside? Let me show you, let me show you.”

He pointed excitedly to the top of the precious page to a review of the restaurant behind us of which he was apparently the owner. Satisfied with this introduction he handed us the book to read for ourselves and further prove the merit of the establishment. There was no denying the repute of the restaurant or the enthusiasm of its proprietor, but before we could make a choice of whether to dine there or not he began to eagerly ask us questions. He was curious about our nationality and what brought us to Rome and as the conversation progressed, we naturally inquired about his life, so, with a gleam in the corner of his cornea,  he started to recount his story.

During the condensed [?] telling of his life story he motioned frequently to his wife who was sitting at a nearby table and would occasionally roll her eyes and interject a plea for us not to listen to him. It was evident that she was bemused by his antics and that we were not the first to hear his tales. He ended his dialogue ended with a recommendation to take a small tour of the surrounding streets and then climb the hill visible in the distance for a spectacular view of Rome. We took him up on this last suggestion because how can one refuse a convivial Italian man dressed in a nice suit? “Climb the hill,” he said, so we climbed the hill. This hill was our last hike and overlook of our spring break travels, for we had surmounted some type of height in every destination thus far. We were not disappointed with the panorama and when we climbed back down the hill, walked back up the street, and returned to Alle Fratte di Trastevere, this time we stopped, went inside, and sat down.

   

  

[Top : St. Peter’s Basilica; The Colosseum]
[Bottom : Roman panorama; River Tiber]

Pizza With Gusto : ‘Gusta Pizza’

“Travel is glamorous only in retrospect.” ― Paul Theroux

[Sketch 5 : Florence]

It was evening when Megan and I entered the Floretian pizzeria called Gusta Pizza (for which we had long been searching) and stepped into bustling chaos. The small square room was filled wall-to-wall with customers, primarily students, who were queuing to either order their pies, pick up the piping hot pizza, or be seated at one of the few tables which were veritable islands in the ocean of people. However, the purpose of the lines weren’t evident at first and it took us a few minutes to reach the above conclusion and then elbow our way diagonally across the restaurant to the end of the ordering line (what a privilege!) and order our meal. Then we swam to the counter and fought for a place to wait amongst the other wide-eyed, hungry patrons.

Just beyond the counter behind a thin layer of eye level glass there were two men preparing the pizzas: rolling out soft dough and decorating the empty tableaux with a mix of fresh ingredients. The man closest to us would alternately pause to call out the numbers of the completed orders, but he could barely be heard above the buzz of the feeding frenzy and because it took a decent amount of time for the destined owner to reach the counter there were copious amounts of shouting, confusion, and more shouting. Yet,the hustle and bustle was so fun! The waiters obviously enjoyed swaying through the crowd; serving the seated customers gaily chatting in a mix of Italian, English, and Italiash (?) and munching at their remaining slices, oblivious of the elbow wars taking place around them. The scene was so beautiful! It was Italia.

  

  

 

[Top : Me with ‘excited to be in Florence’ face that looks like a yawn; The best gelato I have ever eaten]
[Bottom : The River Fiorne; Il Duomo]

Tales of La Spiaggia and Focaccia

It is not down in any map; true places never are. – Herman Melville

[Sketch 4 : Monterosso al Mare]

A small stretch of pebbly beach bounded by a rocky coastline entered my line of vision as I walked down the main street of Monterosso al Mare. I was just returning from a hike in the foothills behind the town and sought a quiet place to eat my lunch. As I approached the shore I could make out two, perhaps three, other people enjoying the serenity who didn’t seem to mind if I joined them. In one swift movement I plopped both myself and the brown, paper bag containing my lunch on the ground and I positioned my body so that my back could rest against a piece of driftwood.  I placed my limonata fresca on the convenient log behind me and inhaled deeply. The air was clean and fresh and cooled the sweet sweat left on my arms from the ascent of late morning.

On said hike I climbed to a height from which I could see Monteresso as a colorful splash on hills of green, yet I could not see any of the other towns from where I was located, for Monterosso is, in fact, one of five towns that make up the Italian national park of Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre translates to “five lands” which is an accurate description of the five peninsulas that jut out into the Mediterranean sea, each crowned with a distinct jumble of orange, yellow, and red colored buildings. I was staying in the town farthest from Monterosso called Riomaggiore, but could easily hop between all of the towns by train which I had done earlier in the day.

Sharp hunger pains piqued by the delicious smell of warm focaccia called me back to the present. I dug my toes deeper into the gray rock and sand mixture and began to unwrap my lunch. Fresh, chewy mozzarella, crisp, juicy tomato, and thin slices of salty ham in the bread greeted my tongue with each bite of the focaccia. My fingers quickly became coated in grease, but I paid them no mind and continued to chow down on the sandwich taking sips every now and then from my lemonade made from lemons grown in the surrounding landscape. Munching contentedly, I settled back and watched the sea. The waves arriving on shore with an aggressive vehemence were demanding my attention and I gave it willingly. The continual recession of the swirling waters left behind a thick, white foam just as fluffy as the whipped cream I had atop my tiramisu the previous evening and I yearned to plunge my feet into the fray. I rose and went over to the crash zone unprepared for the cold sting of the water.

A swim would be so welcome, but no one else on the beach had dared to try it. The dark clouds that had formed in the eastern part of the sky began to shed small droplets of water and as they slowly collected on my face I pondered diving in…

 

 

 

 

 

Rolling off the Screen

“Traveling tends to magnify all human emotions.” — Peter Hoeg

[Sketch 3 : Monaco]

The day began in Nice. The day began in my blue and white striped dress with a Panama hat thrown in. And it began with the warmer-than-Paris sun breaking over the  Mediterranean Sea.

Yet the day was destined to be spent in Monaco. Our chosen mode of transportation to reach the world’s second smallest country was the local bus where, at the hefty sum of a euro fifty, one can reach Monte Carlo in about an hour. One can also enjoy views of la Baie des Anges of Nice slowly being left behind and glimpses of approaching coves as the bus progresses up the coastline. And for this reason my one conseil [advice] is not to take the train from Nice to Monaco because you would miss the magical landscape.

After the considerable bazar [chaos] of boarding the bus (it seemed like all the tourists in the world were going to Monaco that morning), we were finally en route, flying down the road lined with red tile roofed residences that had palms trees guarding their front doors. As we wound our way around sharp bends and passed sports cars and motorcyclists cruising at high speeds, we caught blinks of inlets of a deep blue dotted with white boats.

I felt like a proper heroine set against this tropical backdrop and with each new glimpse of the sea my heart leaped within me. Or was that my stomach? It was starting to growl so I eagerly pulled out a fresh and flakey pain au chocolat that was crumbling satisfactorily into my lap and with each bite left little pieces of chocolate to melt on my tongue.

My hunger tamed for the moment, I took note of my fellow passengers who were mainly tourists with an odd assortment of locals in the mix. These habitués to the South of France came and went with the collection of bus stops on the highway while the bulk of us sat in anticipation for the terminus. I turned my gaze back to the window and in looking out over the road the sun almost blinded me. This brilliance called to mind the event of possible burning, but the scent of fresh cream wafting off of my face reminded me that I had already applied sunscreen that morning and would have nothing to fear. My braid tucked neatly beneath my hat began to tickle my neck and as I contemplated the morning’s events and those to come I longed to simply absorb the beauty of the moment and remember it forever.

  

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 [Left to Right : Baie des Anges, Nice – Monaco – Friends ❤ ]

Confessions of a Spring Breaker

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends… The mind can never break off from the journey.”
– Pat Conroy

Dear blog readers,

I recently took note that it has been a full 27 days since my last post! Is it true that I’ve let almost an entire month go by without writing? I would have updated you all earlier, but it appears that my travels got in the way. However, now I have the opportunity to treat you to tales from my two weeks away from which I just returned this past Saturday.

The line-up :
France:  Lyon, Aix-en-Provence, Nice
Monaco
Italia : Cinque Terre, Florence [Firenze], Rome [Roma]

I shall to endeavor to describe my most poignant memory from each destination visited so that you can get a taste of what traveling through the south of France and Italy are like without having to worry about hairy travel itineraries or living out of a backpack for two weeks. I will start with my first two stops : Lyon and Aix-en-Provence and follow throughout the week with a post for each of the other places.

[Sketch 1 : Lyon]

It was night one of the trip and my beginning-of-spring-break-when-I-still-had-energy, adventurous spirit prompted me to boldly try Lyonais cuisine. There are many different types of meat which fall into this category, but my dinner happened to manifest itself in the form of Andouillette. Have any idea what that is? I didn’t either.
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Sitting comfortably at the table after finishing my first course of soupe à l’oignon and a petite salade, I was enjoying both the subtle warmth radiating from the fire in the corner stove and the cool, evening breeze wafting in from the square. Little did I know what was in store for my taste buds. When the smartly-dressed server returned with my entrée I was pleased with the presentation of the dish and hungrily gazed at the contents : it appeared to be a sausage covered in a creamy mustard sauce. And my eyes served me correctly, for it was indeed a sausage covered in a creamy mustard sauce. However, this was not a typical mélange of meat and the odor that greeted my nose did not immediately tempt me to dig in. Although I began to question what I had ordered, I willed myself to cut off a piece and take a bite. And after doing so I then forced myself to eat the entire dish. Instead of getting into nitty-gritty details about the taste of Andouillette, let’s just say that I was later informed that it is a sausage composed of the entire digestive system of the pig. Oink.
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 [Sketch 2 : Aix]
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A few days later, I found myself a two hours south of Lyon in Aix-en-Provence, a beautiful and somewhat petite city in the south of France where two friends from home study and who I was able to visit while there. These same friends gave Megan and I a suggestion for an activity just outside of Aix : hiking Mont Sainte Victoire. What a lovely idea! We could bring a picnic and spend the afternoon on the mountain that Cezanne famously painted.
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Twenty-four hours later we found ourselves sweatily sticking to the scratchy chairs of the local bus that we had been rushing down the mountain in order not to miss. The bus was relatively empty and its few occupants all looked a bit sunstrained and haggard; myself included. It had been a warm day and although the sun was still a little ways from setting it felt like ages since we had set out that morning for the hike. My feet were toast and I could feel a slight tan coming on around my neck. There was nothing that I wanted more than a shower and a (very) long drink of water, but I still had to sit through the 20 minute bus ride back to Aix. However, this was no big deal, as I could take this time to cool off as we weaved our way across the countryside back to the Cours Mirabeau.
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What exactly had passed in the interim between the morning bus ride to the Mont and the bus ride back?  Well, Megan and I encountered a 900 meter climb that led to a summit with a view of the Mediterranean Sea in one direction and the Alps in the other with Aix visible in a valley between the two. It was unbelievably breathtaking and the weather was perfect for your basic amost-1000 meter ascent. It is true that Megan and I were slightly unprepared for the steepness and difficulty of the hike, but as the French say, ça valait la peine [it was worth the effort] and I am so glad that we did the climb.
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Lyon
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Aix

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Nederlandse Escapade

Amsterdam : Capital of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Population : 820, 654 persons
Conditions on the ground during the weekend of March 28th : Windy. Wet. Cold.

I would say that Amsterdam was a trial run for future trips for multiple reasons. Let’s just say that Mary and I learned many lessons between the two of us.  For instance, our departure from Paris may have involved running through the metro and subsequent train station and boarding the train with 2 minutes to spare. And this (utterly uncharacteristic) lateness may have had something to do with my forgetting my passport and running back to our house ten minutes into the journey. It is also possible that someone’s train tickets were lost and had to be reprinted. Really though, once our train ride was underway our travels went very smoothly and the only true obstacle was the weather mentioned above.

Stop one : A houseboat! We would spend the night on a humble vessel called the Noorderzon which I deemed quaint upon first sight and a very welcoming refuge from the blustery streets. After check-in, Mary and I proceeded to go to an equally quaint and loveably quirky café called De Bakkerswinkel where we rested over a nourishing déjeuner before making our way to the Anne Frank Huis, or, rather, to the line outside of the Anne Frank Huis that stretched around the block. Now understand, I was beyond exhilarated to visit this building, this place where the Franks and four other people stayed for almost three years. It was mind blowing really. I emerged from the house very contemplative and definitely saw Amsterdam differently afterwards – I was walking down the very streets that the Gastepo had patrolled daily in search of hiding families like the Franks. Yet, after walking in the cold for a few minutes, Mary and I decided to duck into a (warm) restaurant called the Pancake Bakery where we tasted the Dutch specialty stroopwafel on top of a giant crêpe-like creation. One word : parfait. Following this delicious detour, we decided to return to our (warm) houseboat and sleep.

Day two began with checking out of our homey houseboat and hitting the (surprisingly) empty and (very surprisingly) dry streets. The rain had abated for the time being. We mosied our way to Leidseplein Square to find the bus(es) that would bring us to Keukenhof. Now, Keukenhof deserves an explanation and it is a rather simple one : Keukenhof = Tulips. There you have it. Keukenhof is a large garden devoted to celebrating tulips that opens every March and we were there for the opening. However, the dry morning was not destined to lead to a dry afternoon and we spent our time at the gardens huddling under our umbrellas and wiping water off our cameras. When we boarded the bus back to Amsterdam Mary and I were exhausted, but there was more to come! I saw my friend Kevin! Kevin, is an old friend from the Dominican Republic who I met a few years back and have seen in different places around the globe since. This time just happened to be in the Netherlands where he is currently living. Incroyable. The three of us ate dinner together where I introduced him to Mary and he and I caught each other up on our European lives. Then we bid him tot wederziens [good-bye] and boarded the Thalys to return to Paris.

So what were my other impressions of Amsterdam? First, I regret to inform you that I have not reached a definitive conclusion as to what I think of Dutch people. However, the Dutch language is now one of my favorite things to listen to. Honestly, it sounds like a (slightly) sophisticated gibberish and I mean this in the most complimentary way. Also : Stroopwafel. One bite is enough to fall in love with this sticky, sweet cookie-pastry. And what we’ve all been wondering : was there weed? Oh you better believe there was weed. I’m not saying that I participated, but there was a lot to observe! But we won’t spend time discussing the cannabis consumption habits of Amsterdam residents and tourists, you’ll just have to wait and see for youself. And lastly, I would say that Amsterdam is one of the quirkiest places I have been to thus far and it is quite comfortable with its identity so I approve. And if you should venture to this place of canals, zigzagged tramways, legalized drugs, and stroopwafel then maybe we can compare notes.

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Kevin, Mary, and I right before our depart

Hometown Feels

Ready for a picture overload? So, to be honest, ideally I would have liked to have carried my camera around with the video running so that I could share footage with you of my daily jaunt through Paris, but I think it might be easier, if not as comprehensive, to give you a glimpse through pictures. I took all of the following photos in the past two days around Vanves, the Parisian suburb where I live, and at the college where I take my courses. And besides, I was just getting ready to go to the grocery store, care to join me? Oui? Allons-y!

Before we go, let’s have a look at my home. Welcome to my humble abode : I live on the third floor (level with the top balcony) with Mary and my host parents

 

The view from the (top) balcony – a peek at the neighborhood rooftops

 

A slightly lower scope of vision – that’s the street we will take to go to the store!

 

Dandy enjoying the fresh air with us-  “would you like to come?”

 

Time to leave the building; we just climbed down two flights of stairs and now we shall embark!

 

Here’s the driveway where you can note two vehicles; neither are for us. We do everything on foot around here – hope you’re up for the challenge

 

Walking down the street towards the main road…

 

Now we’ve reached the corner : which way, right or left?

 

We’ve successfully taken a right, now let me point out a few areas of interest in Vanves

 

Point of interest number one – an empty road. This is what mid-morning, mid-week Vanves looks like

 

 

2) The bakery “Le Grenier à Pain” where my host father Jacques buys our bread. We could stop in, but we should really try and get to the grocery store first

 

“Hey, let’s take a picture together!”

 

Quick salute to the Bureau de Poste

 

And to the municipal cemetery

 

Let’s take a look inside the gates

 

Back on our route: This panneau shows where Paris is in relation to the surrounding banlieues [neighborhoods] – Vanves is right next to Malakoff

And there you have it – good ole Vanves (And do you see the sign for the Carrefour in the corner there? That’s our destination)

The Carrefour – we’ve reached the store!

 

Buses, bikers, and beautiful blue cieux [skies] – groceries in hand, it’s time to reroute towards home

I know the groceries are a bit heavy, but we’re halfway there! Courage!

 

A sign informing us of the amenities in Vanves such as the pool/sports center and park

Almost home…

Just one more street to go – we’ve made good time, you must be used to this kind of work out

 

We made it home, dropped off the groceries, and ate lunch with time to spare. Now I have to go into to Paris for class. Would you like to come along?

You haven’t seen this part of Vanves yet, it’s in the opposite direction of the Carrefour. This is around the Vanves-Malakoff Train Station

 

A view of the tracks!

 

*Whoosh* Here’s the train, I guess we’d better run!

Here’s the entrance to the gare [train station]

Looks like we missed that one. Oh well, we have the opportunity to mill about on the platform – the wait is always longer than the ride into Paris which takes approximately five minutes

We have arrived! This is what the outside of Gare Montparnasse (the Parisian train station we pulled into) looks like – let’s go back into the station to take the Metro to school

 

*view on a sunnier day*

 

Walking through Gare Montparnasse to Line 4 – the metro is usually much more crowded than this, we’re lucky!

There you have it – l’Institut Catholique de Paris

Here’s the garden in the center of campus, in case you were wondering. And right across the garden is l’église saint joseph des carmes – the chapel situated on campus that was here long before the school

 

The building for one of my classes – the sign also indicates which faculty I take my courses in : French Language and Culture

 

View from the classroom where I take 18th Century French Literature – on point

 

It looks like we’re headed home – class was fun, but today wore me out. How are you holding up?

 

We have to look at the board to see what track the train that stops at Vanves is going to come into – can you tell which one?

 

People rushing to and fro – per usual

 

 

Here’s the track – thanks for figuring it out

 

 

Time to board the train – we’re going to take the one on the right. It looks like it’s an older commuter train instead of one of the newer ones on the right, tant pis!

 

 

Back to my corner of the universe

That just about wraps it up! Thanks for accompanying me – you’ve been great to have around. Let’s both take a nap.