Sun and Tapas Make Everything Better

I have been under a massive amount of stress lately. Last week I think I cried just about everyday. I realize I am making a giant decision to stay in a foreign country, pick up a 9 to 6 job, … Continue reading

1 Step Forward, 10 Steps Back.

I finally got a car. One of my huge frustrations here is being so isolated. I mean I seriously live in the sticks. I wish I was exaggerating, but it is a serious journey to get to civilization. So when I finally got a car after waiting several months I thought it would make it a lot better. And in theory it really would… if it worked.

Today marks the fourth day I have been able to drive my car. It also marks the death of it. Yes, my fabulous new car is sitting in a car park in St. Germain because it just couldn’t do it anymore. If only I could retire after 4 days of work!

Through the 4 months I have been here, I am really starting to understand the high turnover rate of au pairs. This job is definitely for the thick-skinned. Little to nothing goes right and I surprisingly have pretty unfortunate luck. However, as shitty as things get I appreciate what it has taught me. I get irritated but I am honestly so much more easygoing because I realize that things don’t go your way and being upset about it isn’t going to help. I actually find my situation quite humorous. I prepare so much for the unexpected, (well know I guess it has turned into the expected,) and it really pays off. I manage to get myself out of pretty sticky situations. You try driving in a foreign country in a wind-up toy car that just loses all power in the middle of driving– and when it just can’t go on anymore… finding a car park and the next bus home.

Moral of the story: when things get shitty, you get smarter and more resourceful. Never in a million years would I have thought how easy I can roll with the punches. C’est pas grave.

Although, I am seriously starting to wonder when something will just be what it is supposed to be.

My First Solo Adventure in the City of Lights

For those of you who knew me, you know that I do little to nothing by myself. I love people and I love to be around them 24/7. I mean, come on, living in a sorority house of 30 girls was my dream. Part of the reason I came to France was to become more self-reliant. I use this term instead of independent because I believe I have always been an independent person–I have always done what I wanted to do, had my own thoughts, and made things I believe in happen. However, I do feed off the love of the others around me. I have always lived closed to my parents. My sister has always been there for me. For the past 10 years of my life, I have been in a relationship for 8 of them. I joined a sorority and constantly had a sister around. And for my best friend, well she knows how much I need her. Of course none of this is a bad thing and I wouldn’t change any of it. But I do want to be ok just being me. When people would tell me that they went to the movies alone or out to eat I thought they were weirdos. Part of me was envious though. I never thought I could do that. So me, being all that I am, moved to a foreign country. Go big or go home, right?

Callie is gone for a week in Sweden so it was my first weekend alone. Although I was exhausted, I didn’t want to waste a Saturday. Before I had left for France, I had bought Frommer’s 24 Great Walks in Paris because I knew I was going to want to some guided exploring when I first got here. There is several good things about this book–it gives you a starting and ending metro stations; it gives clear directions; and it gives a history and facts about the things you are walking by. I knew that I wanted to stop by my favorite museum, Musee d’Orsay so I tried to find a route that included that. Here is my route below:

My Walking Route (to see larger, right click on the image and open in a new window)

Pont Alexandre III

Although I had seen the Pont Alexandre III with Annie, this is where my route started and it is so magnificent I had no problem exploring it a bit more. This bridge is named after Alexander III because he had laid the first stone for it as a symbol of the alliance between France and Russian during the Franco Prussian wars. The neat thing about this bridge is that it is one of the first prefabricated structures in the world and only took 200 days to assemble. That is truly incredible when you see this bridge. The views from it are just breathtaking. It is probably one of my favorite views of the Eiffel Tower. There is something about the Seine that I think is just marvelous. As it runs throughout the city and even beyond Paris’s boundaries, I always find such beauty in it. The bridges are such an important part of the history of the city and the river is such an important part of the culture. Parisians can always be seen holding hands walking along the bridges or picnicing with friends along the river banks.

Pont de la Concorde and Assemblee Nationale

Once I crossed the bridge, I made my way over to the Pont de la Concorde- a bridge that leads to the Assemeblee Nationale. The Pont de la Concorde, though not as ornate as the Pont Alexandre III is still beautiful and important in its own way. It was made out of blocks saved from the demolition of the Bastille. Once over the bridge, I took a look at the Assemblee Nationale which is the seat of the lower house of the French Parliament. It was really neat to see where laws are voted on. The building was guarded and looked like a forbidden place. I was so curious to see what was inside those doors…

Little place du Palais Bourbon

As I continued to make my way to Musee d’Orsay, I headed around the Assemblee Nationale and stopped at this little square filled with mansions from Louis XVI’s era. They were elegant and beautiful. I felt like I had stumbled upon a hidden gem because there really was no people around. There was one café with a few workers preparing for the day, but other than the noise of their work, the square was silent and peaceful. I couldn’t help but wonder how many memories had been made in those mansions over the centuries and what this square used to look like on an afternoon like this. After leaving the square, I walked through this small street filled with tourist shops and little cafes. I stopped to look for a bit because it had started raining and that was a perfect excuse to dry off. It is funny to me how there can be so many tourist shops in one area that all carry the same thing. I was thrilled however, to find one place selling postcards for an actual reasonable price.

Musee d'Orsay

As I made my way down the little street, I came upon the Musee de la Legion d’Honneur and the Musee d’Orsay. There are so many reason I love the Musee d’Orsay. For one, the building has a remarkable history and is incredibly gorgeous. Originally, the space was built for the 1900 World Trade Fair, however the project was given up and plans for a train station took its place. The station was built for steam engines and when electric trains had replaced them, the platforms were not long enough. The Orsay station then remained abandoned until 1977 when the idea to create a museum arose. The museum would be dedicated to the 19th century. When I walk into the museum, I just stand there in awe. The ceilings are beautifully decorated and there is a large clock above the door. You walk into a wonderful foyer filled with impeccable sculptures and doors that led into themed rooms of art. I could spend days in this museum–even just sitting in the main foyer examining all the sculptures and people watching. The great thing is because I am now a European resident, I get in free! Which means I will spend countless lazy afternoons there…

Stairs leading to the Jardin de Tuileries

Jardin de Tuileries

I headed to the Jardin des Tuileries after spending a few hours at the museum. To get there I crossed the foot bridge, Pont de Solferino. I walked down to the river level and walked up some stairs into a beautiful garden. By now, it had started raining but the gardens were still incredible the second I got up the stairs. Unfortunately, I did not get to explore very much because it started to down pour! I made my way to the metro and headed home.

I would have to say… my first solo adventure was a true success!!!

#26: Completed 1 of 5 in going somewhere by myself!!!

Check out my pictures from the trip!

Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em: Being a Tourist in Paris

One of my best friends Annie, her dad, and some of her friends has been studying abroad in Florence for the last couple months and now that they have completed this term, they are traveling. Fortunately for me, one of their stops was Paris! I was really excited, not only to see them, but also get a chance to see the more touristy things in Paris. Since I have been here, I have not been able to do many “typical” Paris things. So here was my chance!

Annie and her posse had gotten tickets for a hop-on-hop-off tour bus. Because I have a Navigo card (a prepaid transportation card that allows you to travel between 5 zones including Paris on the metro, RER, and buses), I decided I would meet them at each of the stops their bus was going and use the metro. Until now, I have gone everywhere and done everything with Callie, so this was my first adventure into the big city by myself! It was all up to me to figure out the buses, metro, and RER system! I was so proud of myself. This was a perfect day to do it too because I had to go to so many stops. Once you get the hang of it, it really is not bad at all. I actually quite enjoy it because you don’t have to think about driving. Although, I do hate relying on the buses a bit, because I never seem to have my timing right. And because I live in the sticks, the buses to my village stop early and then its 13 euros for a taxi. Not very economical. Ok enough of my commentary on public transportation.

Palais Garnier

I met Annie and her friends at the Palais Garnier (also know asthe Opéra de Paris). The first time I went to Paris I had seen the Palais Garnier but not the inside of it. For only 5 euros, you are able to go inside and explore. The Palais Garnier was finished being built in 1875 by Charles Garnier, an architect who had won the competition set out by Napoleon III for the project. It is so beautiful and definitely worth the euros to see inside.

Annie and Me on the Grand Staircase

The Grand Staircase is made of marble and decorated in ornate gold, deep reds, and royal blues. I was also extremely impressed by the library, which holds three centuries of  the Opera’s history, as well as paintings, photographs, drawings and temporary exhibits.

The foyer in the Palais Garnier

Next we headed into the foyer that just beamed with gold fixtures, elaborate decorations, and a gorgeous painted ceiling. Chandeliers lined the ceilings and two giant fireplaces were at either end. There was then an exhibit on a famous opera singer named Regine Crespin. The exhibit examined her life as an internationally acclaimed singer as well as showcased some of her costumes from her famous works. We then headed to the auditorium and I couldn’t help but picture people scurrying to their seats and private balconies centuries ago.

Arc de Triomphe

Our next stop was the Arc de Triomphe. This monument honors those who fought for France, especially during the Napoleonic Wars. I am not completely sure what I find more amusing: the actual Arc itself or the idiot tourist trying to cross the busiest traffic circle in Paris. For the people who put their thinking caps on when they woke up, there is a fabulous, and safe I might add, staircase that goes underground from one side to the Arc. However, for those with limited brain power, apparently running across the street with children seems to be the way to go. Americans constantly say that the French hate them, but I am here to say there is an extremely valid reason for this. Please insert brain before coming to tour Europe. Thank you! Ok, enough about the tourists… I should expect it in August!! The Arc is gorgeous to see. The size of it is truly remarkable. The monument stands 160 feet in height, 148 feet wide and 72 feet deep. Incredible! After people watching for a bit and gazing up at the giant Arc, we headed over to the Grand Palais and Pont Alexandre III.

Grand Palais

Pont Alexandre III is a magnificent and ornate bridge that cross over the Seine that connects the Champs-Elysees quarter and the Eiffel Tower quarter. It was built at the end of the 1800s and named after Tsar Alexandre III. Its architecture and design matches the Grand Palais nearby. The Grand Palais was originally constructed for a World Fair back in the late 1800s-early 1900s. Now it is a exhibition hall, museum, and historic site. Unfortunately, we were unable to see very much of it due to the construction and it being between exhibits. However, we were still able to see the remarkable architecture.

View from Trocadero

After the Grand Palais, we headed to my favorite stop, the Trocadéro. The Trocadéro is across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower giving it impeccable views. The square is filled with street performers and gypsys selling little trinkets to tourists. People are everywhere snapping shots of the Eiffel Tower. It is such a fun place to not only see the view, but also partake in a favorite pastime of Parisians–people watching.

View of the Louvre from the boat

From there we headed to catch a boat tour on the Seine, (I know! All the touristy things in one day!). This is a definite must when you come to Paris. I only had to pay 9 euros which makes it even more worth it! It is such a great wait to see the city from a different view. There is a personal audio guide for each seat that gives you interesting facts about the things you passed by. It is so relaxing and perfect for when you want to see Paris, but also need to rest a bit. I did this the first time I came to Paris as well and enjoyed it both times. One of my favorite things to see is all the people strolling and picnicing on the river. The Parisians just sit and chat with their friends over their baguettes and fromage. Unfortunately, right after the boat ride I had to scurry home so I didn’t miss my bus… which I did anyways!

It was such a nice and full day. I absolutely love this city.

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Check out pictures from Annie’s visit!

Settling in

Second week of work.

The weirdest part of vacation ending was coming home. Home to Chambourcy. I think because I had just barely got to France before I jetsetted my way over to the south and Spain. I never really got the opportunity to settle in here. So although I am going on 4 weeks of being here, I am just now finding the groove. Last week I made the attempt to set up my bank account and cell phone. For those of you who know me, you understand that I have always been fortunate enough to have the help of my parents for almost anything difficult I have had to do. So the complexity of setting up a bank account and a cell phone contract, in a foreign country I must add, was a little frustrating to say the least. I decided to do both in the same day– all while watching a cranky 3-year-old. This was definitely my worst day since arriving in France. Overwhelming and frustrating beyond belief. I thought everything would be easy and work out the way I wanted but this experience is slowly helping me realize that is not the way the world works. Fortunately, I have Callie and after a nice walk over to Carrefour* for some fromage**, I was calm and life was good again. I realize I can’t be in control and have everything I want the way I want it. But that is the beauty of what I am doing. I am learning.

I do have to say jet lag was awful. They say you are supposed to give yourself a day for every hour difference. For some reason, when you mix in traveling and such, your body gets very confused. Now I finally think I am through it, though sleeping at night still is a little tough.

Work is good so far. Luckily, the way it worked out has allowed me to ease into it. Last week we only had the little one, Edgar, and this week we only have Victor. It’s nice to just have one at a time at first so I can get my bearing. The kids are great. I am so fortunate to have a great family. I hear au pair horror stories and thank God everyday for bringing me here. I mean, don’t get me wrong, kids are kids and that means that they can be little devils sometimes. But, I have to say overall I am very lucky.

This weekend Callie and I decided to stop being lazy, (sorry but our Spain trip took a bit out of us!), and go into Paris. I needed a few things but one of the things you need to know about being an au pair is that it is the life of being eternally broke. So she decided to take me to an area where I could get a purse– Montmartre. Wow. It is so funny when you take the Metro and as the stops get further from out little bubble outside of Paris and closer to areas like Mont Mart how the crowds change. As soon as we stepped out of the Metro stop, the streets were lined with cheap stores and bins over piled with poorly made purses, shirts, shoes–whatever ever you can imagine. It was like a street of garage sales with stores packed with more cheap things. People filled the streets rummaging through the 2 euro clothes and fought over the 6 euro purses, which colors included puke green and metallic purple. Although the prices were good, a large part of me does not think the hassle of dealing with crowds worse than Ross at Christmas time is worth it. So after forcing our way through the crowds of bargain hunters for about an hour, we decided to call it quits and head over to a nicer area, Opera. Ah, much better. Unfortunately, we couldn’t enjoy it much since all of our energy was sucked out of us by the land of cheap goods.

There is something I must say about Paris in August. There are no Parisians here. It is all tourists. Complete with oversized backpacks and maps in hand. Yes, I know that I cannot call myself a resident just yet or anything close to a Parisian. But I can complain about the crowds of tourists filling the streets, stores, and attractions, making it near impossible to do anything without getting extremely frustrated. This is why the Parisians have it right. Go on holiday for the month of August and avoid the mobs of tourists.

After our hours of fighting the crowds, Callie and I headed home to eat dinner with Sian before we got ready to go out that night. I hadn’t been out in Paris yet so I was very excited to finally hit the town! After dinner we took the Metro to Paris. We got in at like 11pm and decided to go to Grand Boulevard. In Paris, bars and clubs do not get crowded or fun until about 1am, but because of the bus and Metro schedule, we really had no choice. I was disappointed with the bar scene at first. Because everyone is on holiday and it was early, the first few hours were anything but exciting. However, as the night went on it picked up. We ended up going to a few bars, even taking the Metro to Cafe Oz in Chatlet and back to Grand Boulevard again. Eventually, Corcorans managed to hold our interest. Again, because of the Metro schedule, you either need to decided to leave at midnight or stay out until it starts in the morning. Obviously we chose the later. Eventually at about 6am, we left to go some breakfast with people we met at the bar. It was so weird that instead of the usual Mexican food at 3am in San Diego, that I was now getting a croissant in a café in Paris with the other locals. Exhausted, Callie and I made the trek back to Chambourcy. A truly successful night in Paris.

*Carrefour is like a Super Walmart. It is the grocery store in Chambourcy but it is more than a grocery store. There are clothes and all sorts of goodies.

**Fromage. One of the most important things to know in France. Fromage=cheese. Clearly I will be using this a lot in my blogs.

In the Land of Tapas– San Sebastian

Front of our hostel, Enjoyss

Because Callie and I could not bear another day in Bilbao we left for San Sebastián as soon as we checked out of our hostel. The bus ride is only about an hour so it wasnt too bad. Right off the bat, San Sebastián was a better experience for us. Not only was our hostel easy to find, but also it was in the middle of everything. We stayed at the Enjoyss Hostel and it was so incredible. First off, the staff was extremely friendly and helpful, especially Pablo who ran the place. The vibe was right up our alley too, (unlike the hostel in Bilbao). Young backpackers filled the place! The hostel offered a bunch of opportunities to tour around San Sebastián or rent things like surfboards and roller blades. Oh and the beds–heavenly. They were so unbelievably comfortable it was ridiculous. The street our hostel was on was the oldest and only street in San Sebastián to not be destroyed by the huge fire in 1813.

Replica of Iglesia de San Vicente

Right outside our hostel was the oldest building in San Sebastián, Iglesia de San Vicente. It was built in 1507. Not only was it really cool to have the some much history right outside our door, but also it helped us always find our way back to the hostel!

Me eating my first tapa!

Right after we checked into our hostel and settled in, we of course were hungry. Sian, (the mom of the children I watch), had given us a tapas guide for San Sebastián so we were very excited to try the best tapas at the best places. It is very popular to go tapas bar hoping here and that is exactly what we did. We went to about 4 or 5 different places and got a few tapas at each in order to try the most. SO DELICIOUS! Everything we tried was incredible. A little miniature piece of heaven! I have to say, although everything is absolutely amazing, that my favorite kind of tapas are croquetas.

My favorite croquetas!

They are a little fried food roll made up of potatoes and minced meat or cheese, then encased in bread crumbs. It is shaped into a cylinder or ball usually . Incredible. Another great thing about tapas is that they are pretty cheap.

View of Jazzaldia

After was filled our tummys with tapas, we headed back to the hostel to shower and get ready for the night. San Sebastián was hosting Heineken Jazzaldia while we were there. This jazz festival is the longest, continuously running music festival in Europe. It is right on the beach and free to the public (though there are special shows that you have to pay for, but most of it is free). I am so happy that our trip was conveniently around the same time because I absolutely loved the festival. There were a few different stages and although it was mostly just jazz, they also showcased some soul and other types of music. After staying at Jazzaldia for quite some time, we decided to check out the bar/club situation. The streets of San Sebastián were already packed so it was already looking much better than Bilbao. By this time it was around 1230am, (people go out much later in Europe–and stay out till the early morning!) so we decided to grab a drink and some tapas. We met some new friends and then continued our bar hopping with them. We ended up going to several bars/clubs and also going back to see more of Jazzaldia. It was such a fun night!

San Sebastián Beach

The next day had absolutely gorgeous weather so we headed to the beach. After getting used to the topless sunbathers, we were able to relax. The beach was packed with locals and tourist alike. It was very entertaining to people watch! When finished up at the beach, we walked around the marina area and looked around the shops. There was this incredible smell coming from all the restaurants of the fresh seafood. I really could not asked for better weather.

Cathedral Buen Pastor

We eventually made our way to some of the churches we had been interested in seeing. First we went to the Cathedral Buen Pastor, which was built in the 1890s. This cathedral has the highest point in San Sebastián with its 75 meter high tower.

The Basilica of Santa María del Coro

Next, we walked over to The Basilica of Santa María del Coro, which was built in the 18th century. Both churches, although different were beautiful. Seeing churches and cathedrals is probably one of my favorite things to do when I am traveling. It is incredible to me that something so magnificent could have been built in a time were there was very limited technology. The time and effort spent on the these buildings is just incredible to me.

Later that day, we went back to Jazzaldia and called it an early night. San Sebastián had taken a lot out of us!

Check out my pictures from the trip!

Journey into the South- Biarritz and St Jean de Luz

So here is the first of several many posts I am going to have about my recent holiday to the south of France and Spain. It was such an awesome time and I have no idea how I am going to write all about it! Bear with me… I promise I will get to it eventually.

Biarritz beach early in the morning

Callie and I left on the 19th late at night for Biarritz to meet the family I am au pairing for. They had rented a house just outside Biarritz and invited us to stay with them for a few days. Callie and I were really excited to go on the night train because it was one that was supposed to be designed for a younger crowd (such as, having a bar/club on board). Although it was not what we expected, it still ended up being a lot of fun. I tried Desperados for the first time, which is beer and tequila mixed! Definitely not very tasty… but made for a very interesting train ride! Because Callie and I got no sleep on the train, we were exhausted when we got into Biarritz.

The colorful tents lining the beach

We arrived there around 6am and had to wait until about 10am for our family to pick us up. We must have looked so funny– exhausted, no place to go, and with luggage! However, there is so much beauty in seeing the beach this early. Beside the occasional runners, the beach was empty and quiet. We sat there watching people set up the tents to get ready for the day. The beaches in Europe are very different than California. They set up all of these tents and activities on the beach– a huge ordeal! Seeing the beach made me miss San Diego a bit but I reminded myself where I was and the adventures I am about to take on! Callie and I sat on the beach until the stores and cafes started to open. We grabbed a bite to eat and then the family came to pick us up. I was nervous but they are so nice. I felt comfortable right away!

Our house just outside of Biarritz

Me in the middle of the road on our beautiful walk

When we arrived at their house, I fell in love with the boys I will be watching right away. I am extremely fortunate to have found such a great family. After resting for a bit, I had lunch with the family and their guests. I cannot get over this love affair I have with the food in France. Even the simplest meal can be so mouth-watering. I seriously look forward to every meal. On the bright side, Europeans walk everywhere so hopefully my tummy doesn’t start to show how much I love the food! Callie and I decided to explore the village after lunch. All the country houses are look like they are out of a movie. Almost all the houses have red shutters in this area because in the past when there was no paint, they used bull’s blood. The walk was phenomenal. Green, luscious plants line the dirt roads making for an idyllic walk through the French countryside. When we got back home, we joined everyone in the pool and had a laid back evening.

Me and my pot of delicious mussels!

The next day we decided to join the family on a day trip to a town near by called St. Jean de Luz. Another gorgeous beach town. We walked around with the family taking in the sights and shopping in the little stores that line the streets. We were able to see the church that Louis XIV married Marie Antoinette. It is incredible to me that there is so much history intertwined with modern culture on the streets in Europe. People hustle and bustle on the streets flooding the tourist shops and then you just turn the corner to find a miraculous church filled with remarkable history. I will always love this the most about Europe.

One of the things this area is known for is their mussels. As food connoisseurs, Callie and I of course had to try them! There are no words to describe the delectable tastes that came from the pot of mussels I consumed–truly incredible! Callie got mussels with a blue cheese sauce and mine was cream based with a touch of peppers in it. Now I know why they are famous for them! Delicious!

After our day trip, we went back to the house and played with the boys. And of course, we had a fabulous dinner! We rested up the rest of the night for our trip in preparation to go Bilbao the next morning. Before our bus ride to Bilbao, we walked around Biarritz a bit. The bus ride to Bilbao was about 3 hours. Stay tuned for most posts about my holiday!

Check out my pictures from the trip!

Life in France

So here is my first blog post from France! How exciting! Never really thought this day would come but I can’t even explain how happy I am that it has. I know all the earlier posts were me freaking out about the decision but I am more than satisfied that I decided to make the move. I definitely had my doubts and I definitely freaked out the first night I was here, but I know this was the best decision to make. This year is going to be incredible.

So what have I been doing the past 3 days you ask? Let me tell you…

The first day was kinda tough but I was just adjusting so now I think all is good. My flights went really well. Air Berlin was awesome for my long flight. I got 2 meals, free wine, an amenity kit, free magazines, the list goes on. I also had prime seating in the middle with the seats next to me empty so I was able to sprawl out. Air Berlin seriously pampers you, which is extremely different from how awful the Germans were at the Düsseldorf airport.

I seriously got yelled at in German a thousand times. The airport is really confusing too. I had 10 minutes to make it to my gate once landing. First I had to get my passport checked and wait in this long line so I didn’t think I was going to make it. Then I sprinted to my gate which I swear was like 2 miles away through all these weird hallways and such. Then after I gave them my boarding pass, I had to walk down stairs to get on a bus, which took me to the middle of no where on the runway to this little dinky plane–four seats across. No one on my plane spoke English and I sat next to this smelly guy. Awesome.

Me on the bus right after Callie picked me up at the airport

I got in to Paris at like 430pm and Callie picked me up. From there it was seriously Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. First off, my suitcases weighed 400lbs. Callie and I dragged them through the airport, through the metro, on the buses, and then through the quiet town of Chambourcy. To make matters worse, one of my suitcases broke.  So we literally had to drag it. 70 pounds of weight getting dragged on cobble stone streets. Needless to say there are pieces of my broken suitcase in front of our house. You all would have died laughing to see Callie and I.

That day we went to the boulangerie in our town and got a baguette. I am so French… I know. Then Callie made a quiche and we had dinner. That night I slept awful because I was jet lagged and had a mental breakdown. But all is good now! 4am is not fun alone in the dark after you made the biggest decision of your life.

Yesterday was Bastille Day, which is basically like France’s 4th of July. We had all these fabulous plans like going

La Fête Nationale Parade

into Paris to watch the parade, then having a picnic by the Eiffel Tower, finishing off with watching fireworks. Of course, this didn’t happen because Paris decided to have a torrential downpour! The morning was beautiful and we went into Paris to watch the parade. Ok so here is where America has one up on France–we know what a parade is. For some reason the French just play music out of speakers and stand there in military uniforms. It was the weirdest thing. All of the tourists just stand there staring at French military standing. Strangest concept. So Callie and I decided to walk along the path and make our own parade. It was neat to see everything but unless you were walking along the route, you would have stood there and stared at the same guys the whole time.

Me in front of the Arc de Triomphe during the pouring rain

But then the storm hit which was hilarious. All of the sudden it just started pouring. I was luckily prepared with my backpack that had an umbrella and rain coat so while all the lame tourists sat under canopies in cafes, Callie and ventured in the torrential downpour to meet up with her friend Nicole. We sat with her for while by a park and then took the metro to her house which is a couple of towns away from ours. After hanging out there and me taking a nap, Callie and I went into St. Germain en laye (which is the big town by our village) to show me around a bit. This is where my school will be. Everything was closed of course because it was a national holiday but it was awesome to see everything. It is so precious. I love it here so much. Afterward we went home and made crepes. I love Nutella.

Most exciting thing is that I got a full nights sleep last night! I fell asleep at a normal time and woke up at 10am! Callie said that it was amazing for my second day.

Today, Callie and I went to the grocery store and had an incredible lunch involving cheese and baguettes obviously! On Friday, we are driving down to Reims for a day trip with Nicole. So excited. This is somewhere I really wanted to go. It’s a city in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France about 2 hours northeast of Paris. I think that we are going to some vineyards to try some champagne. We will also try to see some chateaus.

Then Sunday we leave for Biarritz and then Spain. I cannot wait. I absolutely love it here and it feels so natural to be here. I cant wait to understand French though!

Check out my pics from today!