Oh, the places you should go….

So, If you haven’t noticed, I have neglected this blog. But hey, I have been having a good time, so blogging wasn’t really on my mind. My time being an au pair is almost over and I am “kind of” ready to come home. I will miss France, but I also miss home. I miss things like ice, target, and Mexican food. To name a few off the top of my head. And of course my family. Especially the little ones, they change too fast when I’m gone. I have instilled a sense of wanderlust in¬†my oldest nephew, so my work is done. We are going to Iceland. I don’t know when, but I will figure it out. My sister and bother in law will have to deal. ūüôā

Leaving France will be hard because even though I have seen a lot, there is still so much I want to see. Being here, everything is just so accessible. I can take a train for 70 euros to ANOTHER COUNTRY for the weekend. Trains are big and comfortable, not like planes.¬†You¬†don’t have to weigh your bags, and the only time¬†I had to go through customs was when I went to the UK because of stupid brexit.

I had a conversation with a French person about Americans traveling in Europe. She said she met some Americans on vacation. They were here for 17 days and were going to each place for 1-2 days. They told her that they were “doing Europe” and she found that so bizarre. I had to explain how flights are expensive, etc. When Europeans “do America”¬†most of them¬†skip the middle. If someone tells me they have been to the US the places are usually California, New York, or Miami. Also, French people have basically all of August off, so they can spend 3-4 weeks in another country if they can afford it.

I have been so lucky to get to do this. I have gotten to go to so many places. I haven’t written anything for months. Since Barcelona I have been to so many great places. Brussels, Lyon, Avignon, London, Amsterdam, Giverny, Etretat, La Salle de Alps to name the main ones. Some were just¬†day trips from Paris, and most were weekend trips¬†where I only stayed one night. Now I know where I want to¬†visit again, and where I don’t.¬†I really loved all of the places I have been, but I have some favorites so far. And,¬†that is what I am going to tell you.

These are the place I think you should go, and why. First off, Normandy if one of my favorite regions in France. I have been there on two¬†day trips and one overnight with travel companies that are run out of Paris. YEP and We Discover Paris, they are good for day trips.¬†If you are coming to Paris, go to Normandy if you have time. I would take three days if possible. A¬†day trip to see Monet’s gardens at Giverny would be amazing if you have time. It’s surreal to go there, and so beautiful.

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Second, Aix-en- Provence, France. This can Include Lyon and¬†Avignon which are nearby. Seriously, if I get married… It would be in a lavender field in Provence. Looking over one of these amazing villages. I¬†had never¬†seen such a breathtaking site until I went to Provence. The lavender doesn’t bloom¬†until early July, so I missed out on that, but I will go back. A road trip through Provence in early July is added to my bucket list.

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Third, London. I loved London. I definitely want to go back. London was very cool. Everyone I met was so nice. I think it also felt more like home because I went to the Plaquemine Lock restaurant and was treated like an old friend. They are so nice there. If you go to London, stop by. I saw¬†the musical An American in Paris. I know, It’s a little clich√©. But, I didn’t want to see Aladdin or The Book of Mormon. There are only so many choices when your on a budget and have a specific date. I am so glad I got to see it. It was absolutely amazing!

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Brussels and Amsterdam are two places I am glad I went but I do not feel a need to return. Brussels was beautiful, but if I go back to Belgium I would like to see Antwerp and Bruges. Amsterdam was cool, but it was so crowded. Most cities that are “touristy” towns have lots of places that you can go to get away from the crowds. Amsterdam is very small so it is a little harder to do that. I¬†did love riding a bike around¬†Amsterdam for two days, though. But, I have never been so tired after a trip.¬†And don’t get me wrong, Amsterdam is beautiful! I spoke to a guy who said that Rotterdam is a lot better. I would love to go back to the Netherlands and explore other areas. So if you go to Amsterdam, make sure and go to Rotterdam, too. I missed out. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And finally, Skiing in the French Alps. This was so beautiful. If you love skiing and want a challenge, go skiing in France. The slopes are much steeper and thinner. You cannot ski on your own, ever. The trails are not marked like in the US. Everyone needs a guide and goes in groups with an instructor, no matter the level. I saw experienced skiers fall down mountains. There were multiple people walking around with slings on. I skied 3/6 days because of bruises on my body from falling. They are intense. Although,¬†the ski passes are cheaper. If I ever ski again it will be in America where trails are wider and there are always fires inside the lodge. Who am I kidding, I’ll probably never ski again. I’m traumatized.

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FIN.

Please like and share… if you like it! Of course¬†ūüôā Love, Jo

 

 

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Au Revoir Barcelona… Oh wait, it’s Adios.

Last weekend I took a quick trip to Barcelona. I arrived at 12pm Friday night from Paris and left Sunday night at 8:00. It was not enough time to see everything. But, it was enough time to see that I want to return.

I took Spanish in high school. That was a waste of four years of my life. The basis of my vocabulary when I was in Spain was Si, Hola, Adios, Gracias, and¬†De Nada. Barcelona, like Paris, is a big city with many tourists. So, getting by with only English was easy. The problem with me was the “French mode”that I was in. I would use Oui, Bonjour, Au Revoir, Merci, and de rien more often¬†that the Spanish words I know. It’s like when I came back to the States I instinctively said “Pardon”(in a French accent)¬†when passing a lady in the airport. I added the “me” because I¬†realized I was in America now. I had now become an 80 year old southern woman. So, the whole trip was me saying, “Oui, oh Si, ugh I’m sorry.”¬†speaking 3 languages like an idiot.

P2251283.JPGNow, enough about my horrible language skills. Let’s talk about the highlight of the trip. Sagrada Familia. Now, if you have never heard about Sagrada Familia, this is a link to their website here Sagrada Familia. Basilica de la Sagrada Familia is Antoni Gaudis masterpiece that has been under construction¬†since the late 1800s. I have seen a lot of Cathedrals and Basilicas in Europe. However, this one is so detailed that it is going to be hard to beat in my mind. Everything was thought out and¬†has a meaning behind it.

There is a Nativity side and a Passion side of the Basilica. On the Nativity Side there are three doors. Jesus in the middle, Joseph to the left, and Mary on the right

The Passion Side has columns that that are meant to look like muscles. The carvings are deliberately made to be more square or rough on this side because of what it represents.

 

The inside of the basilica was modeled after a forest. Gaudi made the columns on the inside look like huge trees. The side of the church where the sun rises has huge stained glass windows in cool tones. And the side where the sun sets is in warm tones. The light reflecting inside the Church is really what you notice. Colors dancing on all of the walls.

 

 

I took the lift up to the tower on the Passion Side of the Basilica. I researched when I bought my ticket and that at side is supposed to have a better view of Barcelona. The view was amazing! I also think the line was longer for the tower on the Nativity side. So, if you are going, maybe choose the Passion side. Overall Sagrada Familia was my favorite part of the trip because it just blew my mind. I just kept thinking about how Gaudi got thousands of people to commit for hundreds of years to his vision. He just designed something so ambitious and people are still trying to achieve his goal. Amazing.

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My favorite picture from Sagrada Familia

Saturday I needed to eat something. I had researched food in Barcelona before I left and discovered¬†La Boqueria. It was¬†was highly recommended by many websites and blogs. Mainly because of it’s fresh fruits and juices. Also the variety of vendors and food choices. This was a close call for my favorite thing in Barcelona. The atmosphere and the people were great. The juice was only 1 euro (at the small booth I found) Some were 1.50 euro. So, walk around a bit if you want to save money or find the best deal. There are so many vendors. Also, If you see something that looks good I suggest you get it at that moment. I saw a few things and thought,¬†I’ll come back if I don’t find anything better to eat. After walking and not finding anything else, I couldn’t find those places even though I tried. I had to settle for some fried seafood¬†that I didn’t really eat. But then I found some ice cream that was like heaven. So, overall it was a success.

The best thing about traveling by yourself and staying in a hostel is that you meet new people. Saturday night I got dressed and sat down in the common room. I was going to rest and then find a place for dinner. I ended up talking to some people and met a guy who was from Lafayette, LA. It really is a small world. I then had an invite to dinner and met three new people in the span of 10 minutes. That night we played drinking games with Sangria, and tons of people who were staying at the hostel joined.

Sunday I had a ticket to Park G√ľell for 10am. Waking up for¬†a shower and everything before was tough because of the Sangria, but I made it there. If you don’t like to walk I suggest you take the bus from the Metro to Park G√ľell or take a taxi. The walk to Park G√ľell is about 15 minutes and it¬†is not the easiest. It makes the views great but the walking includes going uphill. Although, the one thing I noticed in Barcelona is how Sagrada Familia and Park G√ľell would be easy for a handicapped or older person. Sagrada familia has ramps and an elevator for the towers. Park G√ľell has access to the front gate by taxi, and most of the going up you can do by ramp. That is very rare for Europe.

 

Park G√ľell was beautiful and the stone formations were very cool. The architecture of the buildings is interesting to look at and there is a great view. I don’t know if I would¬†recommend going to¬†Park G√ľell if¬†you only¬†have¬†2 days like I did. It is very time consuming and kind of out of the way. Very worth it if you have the time, though. I loved it.¬†I also saw Casa Mil√† and Casa Batll√≥ from the outside. I did not see the inside of Casa Batll√≥, but I wish I would have. The exterior was absolutely amazing. It was so interesting and cool.

Last but definitely not least, I went to Barceloneta Beach. The beach was very beautiful. There is a nice boardwalk that you can walk along to get there from the metro. There are restaurants and a big marina with huge sailboats. If you do not want to walk along the boardwalk, there is a bus that will take you strait to the beach. The bus stop is right by the metro, easily named Barcelonta. The walk is nice, but if you are crunched on time, the bus is a good option. After about a 20 minute walk you will make it to the beach. The beach in Barcelona was absolutely beautiful. I did not have the greatest experience because I decided to go touch the Mediterranean ocean. Well, the next thing I know, my jeans,¬†shoes, and socks are soaked. So, I guess I have been in the Mediterranean ocean. It’s about the memories, right?

 

Overall Barcelona was an amazing trip. I discovered a new love of Gaudi and I made some new friends. I also answered the question¬†Spain¬†vs. France, which is better? I have no idea at this point. But Barcelona is a must visit if you are in Spain. It has the best of everything. Beautiful beaches, good food, nice people, great history, and amazing architecture. Definitely not as pretty as Paris, though. Every building¬†is pretty here.¬†I was asked about liking Paris because some people¬†say it is dirty, which I have not noticed at all. I am told people love or hate Paris.¬†My answer to this is that all¬†big cities are dirty somewhere. Its like New Orleans. Don’t judge it based solely on Bourbon Street.¬†FYI: Watch out for dog poop in Barcelona too. Except, it doesn’t make sense to me at all there because they actually have grass. So, It must be a European thing.

That’s all for now.

Besos,

Jolie

 

 

 

Parisians don’t know how to walk.

Now I want to talk about something that happened today. This is my biggest pet peeve of living in Paris, or near Paris. The people who live here do not know how to move out of the way. You stay to the right and I stay to the left. Simple right? No.

It’s not so bad when I am alone, I can just weave my way around crazy people who are like freight trains and act like no one is in their path. However, when I have the two kids in a stroller it is very hard to move the stroller out of the way. The looks of disappointment that I get on the street, as though I should be the one moving are so surprising to me. I have two kids who are probably 25lbs each in one stroller. It is not easy to move this thing.

Now, I don’t want to make all people seem like buttholes. Some move happily. And I have to think that some are not paying attention because most people walk with their head down or with headphones. But, This has happened multiple times over the period I have been here. It is a little crazy. I do like the fast paced walking in the city, but not moving for a woman and a stroller is inconsiderate.

Also, I have some advice on how to not look like a complete tourist when you come to Paris. When I arrived here I was in awe. I looked up and around everywhere I went, and not paying attention to where I was going. I was talking with two friends about how we each stepped in dog crap at least once when we arrived. It is because you are just not paying attention. This is how people get their stuff stolen and look like a tourist. So, my advice is to look down. It will help with the poop thing. (Paris is not dirty BTW) rich people are just lazy.

Do not smile at anyone. They will hit on you if you are the opposite sex and they think you are attractive. (Or the same sex, if that is your thing.) It happened to me in a park my second week here. I was just trying to find an au pair picnic. When I casually passed a guy with a polite smile. Normal for the states but not in France. I hit on someone without knowing it.

The lesson is to keep your head down, but still pay attention because people walk like maniacs. Look out for dog poop, even in the fanciest neighborhoods. Do not smile at French people, unless you think they are cute. And I have to admit a lot of them are.

Also, don’t let this post deter you from visiting. Paris is basically the New York of Europe. People work a ton and want to get home to their families. They think it’s weird for a stranger to talk to them because it’s a huge metropolis. A lot of the reason they may be misunderstood is because their sense of humor is VERY sarcastic. So, of course I like most of them, because I have been told I am a smart ass.

Bisous,

Jolie

 

Tomber sept fois, se reveler huit

P2041177.JPGFall seven times, stand up eight is one of my favorite quotes. It became literal last week when I was in the French Alps skiing. When I say that I fell, I mean that I fell down a mountain. I fell while trying to go up the mountain, also. If you ever go skiing in France I would say if you are not an expert skier to start in a beginner class.¬†Even if they tell you¬†not to.¬†The levels are Green, Blue, Red. I told the lady who placed me in a class that I hadn’t skied in 10 years. She put me in a level that was way too advanced.

On the first day I was on a “dark blue” which means that it is a harder blue, closer to a red. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA Turkish lady in my group injured her knee the first day and was out for the week. I saw countless people with injuries throughout the week.¬†The skiing is¬†just on another level there. I was looking forward to skiing like in Colorado. Where you can go off on your own and have some peaceful alone time. In France, that is only for skiers who know the trails well. They are not marked like in the US. My host dad joked and said that I couldn’t do that because I might end up in Italy. -I think it was a joke.

Overall, I am a pretty good skier. ¬†I can do a dark blue and survive. But, once I bruised my whole body the first day, my level of skiing went from high to low.¬†And now I¬† can’t even do Pilates on a mat and it has been 2 weeks since that first day. The biggest lesson I have learned from this I that skiing is not like a bike. As much as all of the French people want to repeat that to you. If you haven’t been in years, start¬†as a¬†beginner.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe best part of the stay was just walking around the town. I walked up and down the mountain. I like walking and taking pictures, and this was the only way I could do it. With the group ski lessons, you can never stop to take pictures. The whole week we were skiing constantly in a group. Every single day you are in a group skiing. Mainly I think because it is hard to get around the mountains without a guide. I think it is more fun when you can go with your family and have a little more freedom.

I do want to go skiing again. Preferably somewhere¬†with my own¬†family. ūüôā And now I have all of the clothes to do it. FYI if you need to buy ski clothes and you are going to ski in Europe, buy everything here. It is so much cheaper than the US. Skiing is cheaper too, but once you add in the flight it becomes about the same P2041226.JPGprice or more expensive.

La Salle de Alps was one of the most beautiful places I have been in my life. The pictures I have included do not do it justice. If you are an avid skier and want a new experience, I would highly recommend it! Another place on my bucket list checked off. Now, What’s next?

 

 

Saisis le Jour!

I have been MIA from the blog because of a few reasons. I was in Louisiana for the holidays. Lately it has been because I have nothing to write about. I have nothing to write about because I have been depressed. I haven’t been doing anything with my life. I haven’t been seizing the day. Carpe Diem should¬†be my motto when I am¬†living¬†in France, but technically that is Latin. Saisis le Jour! I think I have gotten out of my funk, whatever it was. Thanks to a visit from my cousin I started to get out of it.¬†He gave me a pep talk that he didn’t even know I needed at the time.

This has made me think about perception. Every time you look at¬†someone’s social media, all you see are the happy photos. Travel pictures or photos with family.¬†Everything is great in their life. Congratulations¬†you are¬†engaged, pregnant, or married. In my case I am living in Paris and traveling around¬†Europe.¬†But, There are never things that you can relate to if you are going through something horrible.

I am feeling better now after a couple of weeks. However, I used to be severely depressed. That is how I gained over 150lbs without realizing what I was doing to myself. When I felt that way I would see everyone else’s lives from the outside. I would think- They have it so good. Their life is perfect. Well I’m here to tell you it’s not.

This girl who is living and traveling in Europe loves her job and sometimes hates it. I want to go home some days and sometimes I think I want to stay another year. That couple that you think has the perfect relationship probably fight a ton in private. Those people who just announced they are having a baby may have had trouble conceiving. Trust me, everyone has something.

I just want to say that you can handle it. Whatever it is that is going on now, or the next thing¬†that comes your way.¬†I don’t know how I got to where I am today. Family, friends, and Therapy. Seriously, It was a long road. The people around me are amazing.

Talking with people you love is the best thing to do. And the best advice I have ever gotten is so simple. Depression is in the Past and Anxiety is in the Future. You cannot change the past, or control the future. So, basically we just need to Saisis le Jour!

Lots of Love(beaucoup d’amour),

Jolie

An American in Normandy

Normandy was my first trip in Europe away from Paris. I went on a guided trip with EIAP-Sorbonne Nouvelle. This is a trip that is mainly for Erasmus students. (Erasmus is a EU student exchange program). The trip is also open for au pairs. I ended up being the only American on the trip. It was mainly Italian and Spanish students. Also, there a was a guy from Greece and another from Germany.

On this trip everyone spoke French to each other. My French is not great, yet. So, most of them could speak English to me. This just made me realize the difference in language skills¬†of Europeans¬†and Americans. We rely on English so much and do not stress the importance of¬†learning a second language. I have spoken to people who have been studying languages for years. Many schools in America do not do that, but they should start. Anyways…

Normandy was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Even the bus ride was amazing. As soon as I saw the picturesque countryside, I had to add another thing to my bucket list. A road trip through France.

The first city visited was Honfleur. It is a very beautiful city with img_5896-2quaint streets and a marina. There was an open market and cafes¬†right¬†near the water. We ate lunch here and I got the recommended meal: Moules √† la cr√®me (Mussels with Cream) Which is a specialty in Normandy. If you like seafood and go to Normandy, get the Mussels. It was delicious. Make sure you order the correct thing. At first when everyone’s appetizers came out, I thought I had ordered incorrectly. We had all ordered the same entr√©e and I was looking around at plates of escargot and hoping that I was not getting¬†that same¬†plate. I didn’t! Thank you random French word that I somehow knew. Seriously, Moules? Why can’t all the normal¬†words stay in my head?

 

img_5594-1After Lunch we headed to Deauville. There is a beach here with beautiful views of the hills. There are a lot of
shells on the beach.¬†It reminded¬†me of my recent trip to Florida.¬†FYI, I tried to bring one of the shells back as a souvenir…FAIL. It broke into tiny pieces in my purse.¬†So,¬†I guess look for a thick shell if you do that.¬†We also had some amazing cr√™pes at this place called Tutti Frutti. They have so many choices that you cannot go wrong.

After spending the evening there, we headed to Caen. This is where we stayed for the night. Before going out we took a walk to Caen Castle. It was founded by William the Conqueror in 1060. We walked to the top and had some great views of the city. The battery in my phone and Camera died at this point. Sorry, I have no pictures of any of this.

soro5276The next day¬†we visited¬†Mont St. Michel. There isn’t much to say about this. The magnitude of Mont St. Michel is still crazy to me. It reminded me of kings landing on Game of Thrones. It was actually the inspiration for the castle in Tangled, which got me excited. Does the fact that those are two of my favorite things to watch say something about me? I guess I really like castles. Or, I have very eclectic taste in cinema and television. Moving on now. I was not expecting¬†a little village within MSM. It is something that you need to see if you have the time. Truly amazing.

My weekend in Normandy was wonderful. I got to meet a lot of people and see a few cities in France. I wish I could have had more time in each of them, though. I truly loved Normandy.

 

 

Auf Wiedersehen Berlin…

Berlin is a beautiful city filled with history. I really did not expect to love Berlin as much as I do. I think my overall experience was made great by the people I met as much as the city itself.

First of all, If you ever plan to go there make sure you have a way to get plenty of cash. Don’t plan on relying on your credit card. Many businesses only take cash. Also, ATMs are scarce. Berlin is behind on that. However, I love that all of the trains have Wi-Fi. So, basically once you figure out the train system you can connect to the BVG Wi-Fi. The trains are more complicated than I thought they would be. The U-Bahn and S-Bahn are hard to understand at first. Also, there are a lot of trams that you can take, but they are not very reliable like the metro in Paris because of traffic. So, I walked A LOT in Berlin. I found it easier and sometimes it was the faster route.

Visiting Berlin is very intense. Everything you visit is beautiful, however I had this feeling of sadness when I looked around. An example is the Brandenburg Gate. It is the most famous monument in Germany. When I picture it, I also have a picture of Hitler marching through it in my mind. Also, it is a symbol of freedom in Berlin. It is still an iconic symbol of the Berlin wall coming down.

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Another thing I noticed is the architecture of Berlin. Most of the buildings in Berlin are fairly new, which is strange for Europe. A lot was destroyed in the war. So the architecture of most of the buildings is very plain. Then you will see something like the Berliner Dom that is absolutely amazing. There is so much history in every monument that still stands.

The history of Berlin and the Holocaust was very interesting and sad¬†to learn. It’s not easy to take in.¬†It’s something that I think everyone should do. I visited Sachsenhausen, a Nazi Concentration camp. There are tours for this, but most of them were¬†for¬†6 hours total, with two hours of travel.¬†I like tours, but I think if I would have spent¬†4 hours there it would have been too much. Entrance to Sachsenhausen is free. If you have an ABC train pass you can go outside of Berlin and it is only 3 Euro for the audio guide. you can then leave whenever you are done.¬†Walking to the Gate was very strange because there are houses right next to the gate. Picture a small town row of cute houses with Sachsenhausen as the dead end. People are living in these houses. This was unsettling to me. However, the town¬†Oranienburg¬†is very nice.

 

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Sachsenhausen

 

 

I took a free walking tour and that was the best thing to do.¬†I saw things I wouldn’t have gone to and returned to some that I wanted to see again. It is a tip based service. I gave him 5 Euros, and felt like it wasn’t enough because the guide was awesome. I didn’t have anymore cash because Berlin is the city of using cash for EVERYTHING.

We visited Checkpoint Charlie which was the crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. It was¬†fun to learn about some American History that happened here too. There was a stand off between Soviet and U.S. Tanks over the travel documents of a U.S. diplomat. The tour guide also showed where the CIA and the KGB would have been stationed at the time to lookout at the checkpoint. There is also a place to take a picture with some “American” soldiers in uniform. It’s really just some German guys dressed up like American soldiers.¬†It was very entertaining to watch people pay for photos with these guys.

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Checkpoint Charlie

 

I also saw some Nazi Architecture. Which was not on my list to see, but I’m glad I did see it. The guide took us to the former headquarters of The Third Reich. The building is like a prison, grey and cold. He also told of us Hitler’s plans for The Grand Dome (Germania). The Dome was to be 16 times bigger than St. Peters Basilica in Rome and to fit 150,000-180,000 people. Anyways…Hitler was FN crazy and on meth¬†towards the end. He was planning to completely destroy Berlin as it was. If the war had ended differently, Germania was his plan. Thank God there is not a Germania.

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Headquarters of the Third Reich

 

Ok, enough about Nazi’s. They suck.

Berlin was actually a lot of fun! As much as the history sucks, the city is great. This is a classic case of your past doesn’t define who you are. Berlin has taken that and ran with it. I didn’t know that Berlin is a huge¬†party city. The clubs and nightlife are a big part of the culture. There are clubs that people wait hours to get into. I know what you’re thinking. Why? Well, these clubs are open from Friday to Monday. I met one German girl who said the longest she stayed was 20 hours.

My favorite things about Berlin were the people I met. This was my first hostel and I had the best time. I met so many people that made this trip wonderful for me. The Berliner Dom was one of the highlights also. The interior of it is amazing and the view from the top is a 360 of Berlin.

 

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Berliner Dom

 

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Inside the Berliner Dom

 

Walking along the Wall at The East Side Gallery had to be the coolest thing I did. All of the art was interesting and beautiful. I remember seeing one that was a person going over the wall. You could¬†only see a leg with a hand holding the foot. A friend I was with said to me “Do you think the hand is pushing them or pulling them down?” I was thinking pushing, but I will remember that painting forever. I took pictures of some of my other favorites.

 

The food in Berlin is also really good. I like that it is not ridiculously expensive. We went to a Pizza restaurant in Mitte where you could get a pizza for 4Euros. The German food was very good and the best beer I had was from the Brewery at the Circus Hostel. And weirdly enough, I learned that Berlin has a big Vegan population. So, for anyone with diet constraints this is the place to go. There is a large variety of good restaurants everywhere. I had awesome German, Thai, Vietnamese, and Italian.

Overall, Berlin was amazing and I would visit again if I didn’t have a list of about 300 more places to see. Next on the list for Germany: Oktoberfest in Munich.

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, I am a blog slacker.

I am not good at keeping up with this blog. Mainly because I have been¬†busy these last¬†two weeks. Also because I have been sick and it sucks. Being sick when you live in a foreign country is horrible. Thank God one of my host dads is a doctor, because all of the medicines here are totally different. The best thing I did when packing was bring my “favorite” medicines from the US. It’s getting better everyday, until I go to Paris and walk 3-7 miles and climb¬†15-19 flights of stairs. ūüôā That’s my average according to my iPhone.

Anyways…

I visited the Catacombs about two weeks ago. It is very interesting because you are right in the middle of Paris and then you just walk down some stairs, and bam here are the bones of¬†6 million people?¬†¬†It wasn’t really on my list of things to see, but some girls were going to see it, and I didn’t have anything to do. I would say if you are coming to Paris for 2-3 days put it low on your list. But if you have time¬†it’s cool to see. If you go be prepared to walk a lot and go up and down a lot of stairs.

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I also visited La Marais to go shopping and ended up walking to Notre Dame. This was a really nice day. I went to some vintage shops and looked at ton of clothes. The resale shops in Paris are good quality and packed with clothes. The problem for me is that some of them do not have places to try things on. When I was done looking and I didn’t want to carry anything for the rest of the day I saw that Notre Dame was close by. Meaning that I could see it so I figured I would walk there. The walk is BEAUTIFUL… here are some pictures.

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This past weekend I went to Nuit Blanche, which is a really cool event in Paris where places stay open late and they have special art installations and parties. I unfortunately was still feeling crappy so I didn’t stay out all night. I did, however, go to the Mus√©e du Luxembourg¬†when it would normally be closed.¬†I was there from about 10:30-12:30 pm looking at the Fantin-Latour exhibit. The flowers that he painted are so realistic. The painting of the lilies is my favorite.¬†Also, if you want to know what the guy looks like, he painted himself almost¬†every year. Maybe a¬†narcissist? IDK. I took the VERY LAST train back and FaceTimed¬†Al at 2 am.

I also started school last week.¬†My¬†professors name is¬†Anne. I told my host dad¬†C that I had professor ANN and he did¬†not understand me because I did not pronounce it AHN.:) In class everything is in French. Even when she gives us new vocabulary it is in French. Sometimes I can understand when the describes a French word with other French words, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. Thankfully, all of the other girls are at the same level. The activities that we do in class are good. When I know I did 90% right and the 10% I’m not sure of, she will ask me to answer the 10% out loud. I think it is my face. I probably look so nervous when she gets to the 10%. Damn you ANN.

That’s about it for now.

Bonne Journée

Just call me Gigi!

I have been slacking on the blog lately. I really do need to do this more often so I can keep track of my time in France. The past two weeks have mostly been settling in and getting to know family and the kids  that I will be caring for. The kids(J&C) are finally getting used to me. They cannot say Jolie, so they call me Gigi.

I haven’t done many touristy things yet because I was busy, but this week I am going to try to do a lot. I want to go back to the Eiffel tower and take some time for pictures.

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I have found that I have already learned a lot about French culture in my two weeks living in France. I think I will be very comfortable here. I will feel much better once I start school, though. I need to study more French so I can speak a little better!

Some things I have learned so far:

French stereotypes: some are true, and some are not.

1.French people are dirty: not true for the most part. However, you do come across some B.O. on the metro. I know some Americans cannot get over the fact that women here do not shave their armpits. I was next to a woman on the metro who was holding onto the pole right next to me, and I could clearly see her armpit hair. She was clean and nicely dressed. I find its mostly men that stink. The family that I live with shower their kids twice a day. So, it depends on the person, not the nationality.

2.The¬†French don’t eat a lot:¬†The reason why Parisian women are skinny is because they walk everywhere. There is a book about how French women eat and it says they eat small portions of good food. Well, I thought maybe that was true because I live with two men(I’ll call them¬†F&C)¬†as my host family and they eat a lot. However, we went to lunch today and F’s mother ate an appetizer, entr√©e, and dessert. It was not small servings. She is a skinny Parisian woman. Every time I have gone to Paris I walk 5-6 miles. My family here is always telling me I do not eat enough. After dinner they eat cheese and then after cheese they eat cake. It’s a nice change from Americans who find not eating and being on a diet a good thing. Clean eating is the key.

3. French people are rude: This just depends on the person I guess. Most people I have come across have been very nice. I have gone to cafes and they spoke English with me. One waiter asked me if I would rather French or English, because he could tell I knew some of both. However, I smile way too much for Parisians. I am learning not to smile at random people¬†on the street. It’s weird to do it here and¬†you get unwelcome advances from¬†French men.¬†This is city for women with¬†resting bitch face. Come here and you will fit in.

I have noticed a lot of other things while I have been here. French people like to eat very clean and the government invests a lot of money studying what goes into your food. Everything they eat is organic, just look for anything marked BIO in the French market. This is organic products. We eat fresh bread. The meat that the family gets is from the open market. The people who they buy it from say to eat it within 4 days, because there are no preservatives. I have had two different types of French Boudin. It is similar to Boudin from Louisiana, but they have different stuffing. One had apples in it and  was one of my favorite meals so far. As much as they like healthy food, they also love Pringles. Before lunch today, we had Champagne. The snacks with Champagne was mixed nuts and Pringles.

We should adopt the tradition of having Champagne before lunch on Sunday. It was very enjoyable for me. ūüôā I am learning a lot about wine. I tried a Porto, which is a Portuguese wine that is 19% concentrated. I had another wine from a region in Burgundy this week. There are¬†so many regions in Burgundy, though. I forgot the name of this wine. Fun French wine fact:¬†It is illegal in France to add sugar to the wine. The wine is only sweet because of the grape.

I also know why French people do not like dogs. There is dog crap everywhere.¬†When you walk¬†everywhere¬†and you have to be aware and lookout to make sure you do not step in it, I get it. I was walking behind a Parisian woman and her dog on Thursday observing this. She let her dog pee on a trashcan, then the dog peed on someone’s car. I get it now. I understand that there is no grass, and its not like you can bring your dog to Luxembourg Gardens to go to the bathroom. I love dogs and I couldn’t imagine people not liking them, but it all makes sense now.

Tomorrow, I¬†am meeting some au pairs for coffee. It will be a lot of us there and I think a few are going to my school. We are meeting at a caf√© called Caf√© Kitsune. It is in Le Palais Royal, which is near The Louvre. There are some Shops on Rue de Rivoli near the Louvre that I want to visit. I need a backpack for school. My school is in a very¬†upscale neighborhood, so¬†I could not get a backpack near¬†there. To give you an idea, I walk past Lonchamp and Hermes on the way to school, and Chanel is down the street. It’s a nice walk for me.

I was asked if it is as beautiful in person. Yes, it is. I haven’t even seen a lot of Paris yet. My favorite place so far is Basilique du Sacr√©-CŇďur de Montmartre. The view of the whole city from Sacr√©-CŇďur¬†is¬†breathtaking.¬†The musicians¬†on the corners¬†in Montmartre are quintessentially Parisian.¬†The streets are small and a little confusing. This is the first place I had to ask where the metro was. I love it there.

I will try and write more often so I do not have to write a novel next time.

à plus tard

Jolie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaving the great state of Louisiana…

In 11 days I will be leaving for Paris, France. It is official, I have my visa and a one way¬†plane ticket. I have been seeing a ton of posts about comments on the floods that say, “Why would you stay there?”My response to these¬†people¬†is that¬†it’s all about the people around us. They don’t get it. Please don’t get angry at the people who live in places that just haven’t experienced southern hospitality. They don’t understand that neighbor helps neighbor. Our friends are family, and we try to¬†treat everyone with kindness.

I am going to miss Louisiana, and it is even harder to leave now.When things like this happen in Louisiana, it makes me love my state even more. I see people doing things for others and not wanting for themselves. I see friends helping clean out houses and tearing down walls. I have friends who have flown down from other states to help other friends of mine. All I see is love, kindness, and respect. I am amazed at the people of Louisiana.

The one thing I have also noticed is that friends whose houses have flooded never stopped caring about those around them. Their lives have been turned upside down, and they still are making sure those around them are helped.We¬†put others first, and that is¬†why I love¬†this state and the people so much.¬†I had one friend message me on Facebook (while his house flooded) to say he couldn’t make it to my house that day for a going away party. He did have the wrong day, but he messaged me and told me that even though there was 4 feet of water in his home.¬†Another friend of mine had about a foot¬†of water¬†in her house. As soon as I found out I asked if I could help. Her first response to me was, “No, no. You have to pack.” The fact that these people around me care so much makes me wish I had more ways to help. C’mon Powerball…ugh¬†I have to buy tickets for that to work.

In closing, all I want to say is I have some amazing friends and family. You all make me sad to leave Louisiana. Yet, you are the ones who push and encourage me to go. This State is strong and resilient. I am glad to call Louisiana home.

 

Love is all you need.
Photo Credit: Dustin Clouatre

 

Love is all you need,

Jolie