Katie' Pau Life En France

Ma vie En France

Confession… March 3, 2010

Filed under: Italy — katiespaulife @ 9:30 am
Tags: , ,

Okay, so I have to admit I think I did something really, really stupid. I sent out 8 postcards last weekend and I tried to write about different activities on each one, but I know I mentioned the Colosseum and Sistine Chapel on quite a few. I wrote the majority of the postcards when I was sleep deprived in the airport during that 14 hour wait. The next day I came home and Elly noticed I  wrote Sicilian Chapel on Facebook instead of Sistine Chapel!! oops…

I was well rested for Facebook error (can’t even find an excuse for my stupidity), which means there is a good chance I also wrote it in 4 or 5 postcards which had already been sent by the time I discovered my mistake! Not sure how I got ‘Sicilian’ into my mind, because honestly I don’t know much about Sicily outside of what I learned from Sophia on the "Golden Girls".
I’m not ashamed to admit I spent many sick days and summer mornings in high school zoned out in front of the TV for 2 hours straight of the "Golden Girls", but I do feel really frickin dumb about messing up the name of the SISTINE Chapel!! Maybe the postcards were fine, I really can’t remember, but I figured I should just warn you all beforehand… try not to cringe if you get a postcard with such an error!

Okay, now that I have come clean I’ll finish writing about Rome:



Overall Rome was amazing! It was definitely the coolest city I’ve visited and I love how rich the history is, you just feel immersed in it throughout the entire city!

I’d love to go back to Italy one day to see Naples, Pompeii, Florence and Venice, but I don’t know if I will ever return to Rome. I saw almost everything there is to see! There were a couple ancient ruins and an area an Italian hostel mate described as "the cute district" which I missed, in addition to the main square of bars and pubs that Marco recommended, but otherwise I saw everything I wanted to. Elly, Vanessa and I picked up a tourist map from our hostel upon arrival with all the sites illustrated and we spent many hours walking to the vast majority of them. I’ll write down everything I saw below, so if you have been to Rome (or want to go) feel free to mention your favorites to me.

Vanessa, Elly and I saw:


Piazza della Repubblica


San Carlo Quattro Fontane



Fontane del Tritone



The Trevi Fountain


Villa Medici


Palazzo delle Esposizioni



Castel Sant Angelo


Piazza Navona


The Vatican Museum



Santa Maria Maggiore


Mercati Traianel


Arco di Costatino
The Sistine Chapel


St Peter’s Basilica



Palazzo Montecitorio


Palazzo Madanta

Piazza del Pompolo



Camplo de Flori


Isola Tiberina

Mouth of Truth


V Monte Savello


Colonna Traiana


Area Sacra


Chiesa del Gesu





Giolitti – Best gelataria according to Marco, Natasha and Mike J

Elephant Obelisk thing behind Pantheon





Spanish Steps


First McDonalds ever to be built in Italy – inspired slow food movement

The Jewish District

Marco’s favorite pizzeria

~Okay, the McDonalds was on accident and we only later found out that it had any significance…I know, shame on us, but we were starving! It was by far the grandest Mickey D’s I have ever seen though and it was packed!! Also noted that there were McDonald’s everywhere – counted at least 8! ~



If I had to choose, I would say St Peter’s  my favorite. I have never and will never see anything so ornate – c’était vraiment incroyable!


I also enjoyed the company of my fantastic travelling companions Elly and Vanessa! We laughed so much and shared many quotable moments. I love those girls and I can’t wait to travel with them again! Vanessa is very sarcastic and a ton of fun. Plus every once in a while her Ohio heritage comes out in a quote such as, "I just wish we coulda seen Rome in it’s hey-day ya know," which I love to mock! Elly is an original too; picture a dirty hippy, that is very religious and was the valedictorian in high school, but isn’t afraid to dirty her vocab with low class slang and cuss words. One of my favorite memories from the trip was when Marco was describing how much he loved eating rabbits and she casually mentioned she ate a squirrel once. Vanessa and I couldn’t stop laughing and Marco looked terrified!

"You ate a what?"

"I ate a squirrel. We were camping and my brother killed it, so my dad said, ‘In this family, we eat what we kill’ so we put it over the fire on a stick after skinning it and ate it."

"Did you use any seasonings?"

"Nope, just plain squirrel"


I’ll be going to Ireland for a week in March with Elly and hopefully somewhere else with Vanessa. Can’t wait to travel with them again!

All in all, Rome was worth the horrid trip home. It may have been the most memorable trip of my life! I have a few other stories from it, but I think I should take the blog back to French life, so if you want to know more, ask!



Also, a few notes to my readers:

1) If anyone who went to ECHS reads this, you may or may not have  heard Peter Feldstine had a heart-attack. He was definitely a character and I will always remember my interesting discussions with him, Nathaniel and Christina after school. It is always so tragic when someone so young dies, if you knew him, I’m sure you’re keeping his family in your thoughts and prayers.


2) Grandma and Grandpa Beckes – If you read this could you send me your AZ address please, I have a postcard to send you


3) And to end on a happy note, congratulations to Jessie for getting an internship in Kodiak, Alaska! She’ll spend this summer working for the coast guard. I’m not sure exactly what her job entails, as she told me the description was “bear-wrestling and teaching people to drink”, but I’m sure she’ll be great at whatever it is she is actually doing ha-ha..


Marco!! February 27, 2010

Filed under: Italy — katiespaulife @ 9:39 pm


I wrote this on Monday, 2/22:


Saw Marco today!

We met in front of the Spanish steps at 3 pm to spend the afternoon together. I arrived about 40 minutes early with Vanessa and Elly in tow and we were absolutely exhausted from walking around the Colosseum and Palatino all day. We just sat on the steps to rest and I laid down like a homeless person to take a nap while I waited. I was drifting off to sleep when all of a sudden, WHACK! something very very hard hit me in the head. I looked up and found this:




It’s a stupid toy vendors try to sell to tourists and some punk kid had thrown one at me from the top to the steps. I was very dazed and confused for a minute, but some Italian woman next to me stood up, shook her hand at the kid yelling at him in Italian and threatened to call the police.  Once he was gone Vanessa, Elly and I laughed about it and Elly said, “Why does this shit always happen to you?”. There had to be 100 people on the steps that day and I was lucky enough to get hit in the face. Man, oh man it hurt too! It’s just filled with flour according to Marco, but it feels like its full of sand. I guess I’m lucky the flour didn’t explode all over me. Would have been great to reunite with Marco after 4 years looking like a coke addict.

Around 2:55 I walked to the bottom of the steps to wait for him, but after 15 more minutes I became very impatient and went back up to where Vanessa and Elly were sitting to talk to them and search from their viewpoint.

Waiting for a friend you haven’t seen in 4 years is not easy and when I finally spotted him looking up from the bottom I was ecstatic. I ran down the Spanish Steps and gave him a huge hug! It is crazy to meet up with an old friend in the middle of Europe and seeing him felt unreal. Marco was one of my best friends at ECHS along with Eleanor who was an exchange student from Uzbekistan. Entering a small private high school junior year makes it hard to find friends, because everyone else had been going to school together since the elementary level and the clicks were well established. I immediately bonded with Ella and Marco since we were new kids who had the same classes and I missed them terribly senior year after they returned home. For those of you who went to ECHS and know Marco, I assure you he is still the same! Definitely more mature (he has always been very mature for his age though) and you can tell the stress of med school has worn him down a bit, but otherwise he looks the same and still has that unique condescending sense of humor!  We had some good laughs as he reminded me of how horrible my French was in high school and poked fun at the fact that I completely fail at blending in to any foreign culture. Hanging out with him was just like the old days…. except in  the middle of Europe….


Marco was rather disappointed to learn we had already seen all the major tourist sites, but he took us down a street with good shops and then to his favorite gelatataria. They must have had 50 flavors and choosing was not easy. As I approached the counter to place my order,  Marco told me,

“Katie you need to get fat in Europe!! I gained 15 pounds when I was in the states.”

“I remember you and Eleanor complaining about that, but I really couldn’t tell”

“Oh no, I got huge and lost it all the summer I came back. I also had this Finnish exchange student in Italy  who lived with me for a year and by the end of it she was fat all around her face and asked me if I thought she had gotten bigger and I was just like, ‘no, no, you’re fine, keep eating’…..but she was really huge, she ate gelato everyday!”


Poor girl! Shame on you Marco! I will admit that after trying out that ice cream shop I can see why the girl ate gelato every day, it was sooo yummy!


Afterwards, we walked around a bit more, went across a cute island in the middle of the river and into the Jewish district (also the wealthiest area of Rome). Parted ways with him at 8 pm, because he had to take a train back to the city he has his internship in. Marco is insanely busy with med school and his internship, so I’m thankful he was able to make time to visit.


He’s going to try to make it back to Rome tomorrow night to go out for dinner or drinks at 8 pm, I really hope he does!




Update: He didn’t make it back the next day =( He said he would FB me, but I still hadn’t heard from him by 7 pm. Searched out a payphone and when I reached him he said he was just about to send me an FB message telling me there were no trains that night. Our conversation was cut short within a minute though and sadly I didn’t get to properly thank him or say goodbye.


Marco, if you happen to read this thank you so much! Next time we’ll have to somehow reunite with Ella too! Good luck with your internship and exams. Keep in touch, miss you!


The Bad beginning February 26, 2010

Filed under: Italy — katiespaulife @ 6:14 pm

My trip to Rome started as all my days start; rushing to catch my bus on time. I packed as many outfits as I could, but my host mom hadn’t done laundry in a month, (yes a month! I had to wash clothes in my bathroom sink 2 times, so thanks for those packets of laundry detergent mom!). To my dismay, I only found one pair of socks to wear and 2 loners to take with me on the trip. After a disappointing search through the family’s clean sock pile I had no time to spare and ran outside. It was pouring rain, so I rushed back in to grab my umbrella and started speed walking to the bus stop.

I was crossing a hill just around the corner from my stop when the series of disasters that will forever mark my trip to Rome began.
Water was rushing down the sides of the street in a stream about a foot deep. As I was about to step up onto the sidewalk I was thinking how awesome Rome would be when all of a sudden I felt my left foot slip. I fell into the stream of dirty water running down the hill up to my knees and my purse came along for the ride. My bright blue umbrella flew as chin and hands hit the sidewalk. Purse, boots (including socks) and leggings got soaked and I arrived at the bus stop laughing at how ridiculous I looked, waving to Elly with muddy (and slightly bloody) hands. Did I mention my leggings were torn at the knee as well? Classy. The leggings were a staple for about half my outfits in Rome and I had been awaiting a care package from my mom with backup leggings, but it was late and thus this was all I had…

I feel like I always end up looking homeless when I travel, even when I try to dress nicely.



That fall was just an omen of things to come. Rome was wonderful overall, but full of ups and downs along the way.


From there, the rest of the day went smoothly. We had to catch a total of 3 buses, 2 trains, one plane and 2 metros, but everything went efficiently. Elly remarked several times that it was all going too well, sooner or later something was bound to go wrong…..if only she knew….


Got into Rome around 11:30 that night and found the hostel very easily. Because of costs we opted for a 6 person mixed gender room, which ended up being about 80 Euros for 5 nights. Our roommates changed every night and boy they made our stay interesting. The first night we had a Canadian guy and an Australian boy in the room with us. When we arrived they were finishing a bottle of wine with an American girl from Connecticut. We started to unpack and get ready for bed while exchanging some interesting looks as we overheard their conversations:


American Girl (US): I think I’m done drinking….

Canadian guy (C): Ah, c’mon, finish your wine.

* US chugs the glass*

Australian (A): That is the most American thing I have ever seen!!!

C: Yeah, seriously! Why would you do that? If someone told me to finish mine I would take my time.


The conversation continues to embrace the topic of how and why Americans can’t drink. The Canadian reveals himself to be very anti-American in the next half hour and the Australian (who looks like he weighs about 130 pounds) makes a comment about his record of drinking 14 pints of Guiness in one night. He continually fights to one up the Canadian who boasts about being undefeatable in drinking contests. The American girl just agrees with everything they say.




US: Well I think I’m going to go to my room. *softer mumbling* I write when I drink….

C: What?

US: Nothing it’s not important.

C: You write when you drink?

US: Yeah, I like to write after a glass of wine
A: Me too! I’m keeping a journal actually, but it isn’t a typical journal. For example, today all I wrote was this: “I sat on a bench next to a pretty girl”

US: That’s exactly the kind of thing I write!

A: Yeah and then I went on to describe an imaginary conversation I had with the girl….


Topic moves onto the subject of literature….


A: It is one of my favorite books, but the author is very misogynistic

C: All authors are misogynistic

US: Yes, that is very true

A: *turns to US* Actually, can I tell you something? To be honest, I really hate women.

US: I am totally cool with that…


At this point part of me is tempted to turn around and say something to the girl, but I’m too tired to deal with retards and am already preoccupied with keeping myself from laughing. I should also mention that this girl is very pretentious and spoke as if she was well read. You could just hear how intelligent she thought she was in her tone of voice.


I fell asleep to their conversations and awoke well rested the next day and ready to discover Rome!!!


Write more later…..sorry for the long blogs!


Worst Journey of my life February 25, 2010

Filed under: Italy — katiespaulife @ 4:18 pm

Currently on the train home to Pau from Paris. It has been one hell of a trip to get here thus far.


Here’s how it was supposed to go:



3:40 am – Wake up and walk to Termini train station in Rome

4:30 am – From termini catch the 40 min bus to the airport

5:25 am – Arrive and get passports verified at airport

7 am – 9 am – Flight from Rome to Paris (Beauvais)

9:30 am – Take a bus from Beauvais airport to downtown Paris lasting 1h15

10:30 am – Take 2 metros from there to the train station of Montparnasse

2:40pm – 7:40 pm – Train to Pau

8 pm – Get a ride home from Elly’s host fam


Here is how it went:



3:30 am – Alarm rings,  I’m already awake. I feel like I didn’t sleep at all, but I must have caught 2-3 hours because I didn’t hear our roommates enter.

4:10 am -We arrive at Termini and catch the right bus to the airport

5:20 am – Elly gets her passport verified, Vanessa is declined and the worker says she has the wrong flight. Her plan leaves at 5:45 that night, not 7 am. Turns out I have the wrong one too. Ryanairs website is really confusing and I managed to accidentally book flight 9635 instead of 9631. Genius.

5:25 am – We plead with information to let us switch flights. They say we would have to each buy a new ticket because we already checked in online. We checked in over a week ago for all the flights, because it is required that you check-in 15- 2 days ahead of time. A new ticket would be over 200 Euros.

5:30 am – Vanessa lights up a cigarette and we begin the countdown of 12 hours till boarding. We try to check in, but they won’t let us until 3:45 pm.

8 am – Debate taking the bus back and spending the day in Rome, but decide we don’t want to spend the money and wait in the lines to catch the 40 minute buses. Get breakfast at the airport instead.

11:30 am – Get kicked out of the half-empty cafeteria because we are not eating lunch. The airport is very small and there are no other tables to sit at, so we go outside till check in time.

3:45 pm – Check in and get ripped off for the worst sandwich of our lives. As if we weren’t in a bad enough mood already…

5:45 pm – Line up (or cluster, because Europeans can’t ever seem to grasp the concept of a line, but definitely know how to push, shove and cut in front of you) outside of the gate

6:15 pm – Our plane is supposed to be leaving now, and the board says it’s on time, but no one is even boarding

7:00 pm – finally let us through the gate. Then we are herded onto buses and have to wait for everyone to fill up 3 before the buses drive across the runway to the proper plane

7:30 pm – Our plane finally leaves Rome. Pilot explains that all the planes are delayed because of a strike. The French are always on strike! Even high school students go on strike!

Elly is getting into the train station at Pau about the same time as we leave Rome.


I begin to panic on the plane. We had planned on trying to catch the last train to Pau at 11:30 that night since we missed our 2:40 pm train. Not sure how this will work since we won’t arrive until 9:30 pm and then have to wait in line to take a bus to Paris that lasts over an hour. I ask a Parisians woman next to me if the train station is open all night. She says it closes. At this point in time I haven’t had more than 3 hours of sleep in the past 36 hours. Haven’t showered in 2 days. Am very stressed, anxious and oddly hungry. My imagination is filled with visions of the movie “Taken”, me smashing the bottle of Italian liquor I bought for my host mom to fight off hobos, knocking on the door of the Sacre Coeur to see if I can stay in their guest house, staying in a bar until closing at 3 am, sleeping in some nook in the metro or near a train station, wandering the red light district trying to find that hostel I stayed in with Sarah and asking the police if I can sleep in a cell for free,

Then the plane starts to go through some of the worse turbulence I have ever felt. The old woman next to me takes out two phones from her purse and switching sim cards and taking out parts. She doesn’t look like a terrorist….but I don’t trust anyone right now… Shortly thereafter the cabin lights go off and a stewardess comes on the line to say we are making a landing with all lights off and that it is a very normal procedure. I wonder why I have never ever heard of this “normal procedure”? The plane felt very hot and I wasn’t profusely sweating by any means, but I definitely was glistening (the most ladylike term applicable) and probably looked beet red. I was breathing very deep slow breaths, trying to focus on not letting anyone notice my condition, lest they think I was about to be sick. The turbulence only gets worse and worse. I don’t get nauseous from planes, but I do panic when we are about to land and the plane is swaying heavily from side to side. Part of me keeps telling myself to get a grip, then the other part of me, having a mini panic attack starts to think, “This is it. This whole day has just gotten worse and worse and it’s all leading up to the finale: death!”

The landing gears come out and just before we hit the ground the plane rocks heavily to its side one final time. Vanessa and the old woman both look terrified. We finally touchdown and I yell at Vanessa, “This is one of the worst days of my life!!” She starts to fan me with her airplane ticket, “I’m not going to be sick” I tell her, “but if this panic attack gets more real maybe we can stay at the hospital for free?! Sorry about this by the way.”

Not going to lie, there may have also been a few leaky tears of anxiety, fatigue, panic and fear. As previously revealed in my blog about my arrival in Pau, I don’t hold together well when exhausted.

Vanessa was very patient and reassuring saying, “It’s okay, if it wasn’t you it would be me”


As we stop, the old woman asks if I am okay and wishes me a nice stay in Paris before she leaves.


10 pm – We get into the airport and I use my emergency cash to buy Vanessa and I tickets for the Beauvais-Paris bus. Vanessa ran out of money and the rest of mine is in a purse I had Elly put in her bag because Ryanair only lets you take one carry-on.


Vanessa looks for an ATM as I start to speak with a woman at the information booth. She isn’t French and her English is not very good. I kept having to explain everything over again and then she told me the train station closes at 11, but when I get into Paris I can take metro 1.

‘Where do I take it to?”

“Wherever you want to go”

“But I don’t know where I want to go. We don’t have a place to stay.”

“It connects to all the other metros in Paris”
”Well can you tell me where there is a hostel in Paris or where I can take it to get help”

“No, we only help people staying in Beauvais. Just take metro one”


10:15 pm – We board the bus from Beauvais to Paris.  I dig through my journal for the business card of Vintage hostel, which I stayed in the last time I was in Paris. Sure wish my phone wasn’t fried right now so I could call them.

Vanessa: “What do we do now?”

“I don’t know, maybe see if anyone else on here is going to a hostel: ‘Hey, are you going to a hostel? Mind if I follow you around the streets of Paris in the middle of the night?"’

Vanessa (with sarcasm of course): “’Yeah, can we just tag along?’ haha great.”


I notice the 2 boys across from me are speaking English and start to listen in on their conversation. The one close to me is from Toronto and he seems pretty down to earth so I lean over and ask, “Excuse me, sorry to bother, but are either of you going to a hostel tonight?”

The Canadian says he is and we’re welcome to tag along if we want, but he can’t remember if this hostel lets people check in after 11. Then he casually remarks, “And it looks like it’s raining, so I guess sleeping on the streets isn’t an option…”


11:30 pm- The bus arrives and Vanessa and I help the two guys find the metro. I look at the map of the Canadian’s hostel and remark, “I stayed in one near here last time. Kind of a sketchy neighborhood…..you’re right in the middle of the red light district”

As we wait for the metro he calls the hostel to make sure he can still check in and hands me the phone to ask the desk clerk if he has extra rooms.

“yes, I think we have 2 extra beds”

“Um okay great and how much?”

“For 2? 80 Euros.”

“Eighty? As in 8-0 or 1-8”

“Eighty, 8 0”

“Um….okay…uh, be there soon”

I get off the phone and tell Vanessa. We start to question the possibility of wandering the streets all night or staying in a bar. That is way way way above our budget by this point.

As we exit the metro we come out right in front of The Moulin Rouge. “Welcome to the red light district!” I tell them.

A French guy around our age attempts to help us as we look at our map, but is confused as well.

“Hmmm…” he says, “I think it’s that way, but you should go across the street and ask for directions. Get directions from the Boulangerie, not the sex shop, they’ll just tell you shit”


We get directions from the baker, but they don’t seem to be accurate. Then this creepy guy approaches us and offers to help in exchange for a cigarette. I wouldn’t have taken that deal, but the Canadian does and the man points us back in the opposite direction. As we walk back, we pass the baker who calls us over and redirects us. He had given us good directions the first time, we just missed a step.



12am- Arrive at the hostel. I ask about the 80 Euros and the man tells me they have 2 formulas because they are a hotel and hostel. 80 Euros was for the hotel, hostel is 25 each, plus free internet and free continental breakfast. Thank you Jesus! The three of us check in and then walk to the Sacre Coeur for the best view of Paris one can find! I had thought St. Peter’s won my heart over, but was once again thoroughly impressed as I looked in awe at the Sacre Coeur. It looked gothic and eminent by the nightlight. Very very different from day.

In front of the church some young Parisians had parked there cars and were drinking and dancing in the moonlight.

Walking through the cobblestone streets and down the hill back to the hostel I once again fell in love with Paris.

2am – The Canadian asks if we want to go out to the bars. I almost laugh. All I want is a shower and sleep.

3am – After 24 hours of travelling from Rome to Paris I crawl into a safe, warm bed.

7am – The concierge knocks on our door for an alarm. I get out of bed eager for my free breakfast, but Vanessa just wants to sleep. I try to get her up because our train leaves in 3 hours. She says she would rather sleep than shower and wants me to go back to bed till 8.

I go downstairs to get breakfast and the man tells me he is just about to run to the bakery and will be right back with bread.

7:15 am – I eat the most delicious croissant of my entire life. It is still warm from the oven and absolutely perfect…..mmmm….I love France.

8 am – I wake up Vanessa and she goes downstairs to get her breakfast

8:45 am – We walk to Starbucks. There is a Starbucks across from the Moulin and oh how I have missed a real cup of coffee. French only drink about 4 ounces of coffee or simply an espresso straight. A size “Tall” seemed enormous and I can’t believe I used to drink that much!

9:00 am – We catch the metro, go the wrong way, get off on the wrong stop and climb a mountain of stairs.

9:15 am – Realize our mistake and return to the metro

9:50 am – Finally get off with 20 min before the train leaves. Our tickets were for yesterday’s train and Vanessa says to me, “Okay here is the plan: We try to plead with them not to make us buy new tickets. Explain that the strikes made us miss our train and go for the sympathy card. If not, we’ll use the bitch card”

“How bitchy do you feel?”


“Good,” I tell her,  “Because I feel defeated from the airport staff”


10 am – After walking through the station and panicking at being unable to find the platform easily we arrive at information. The line is huge.

Vanessa looks at me and says, “Well we’re going to miss our train”

I remind her, “The next one doesn’t leave for 2 hours and it lasts 7-8. This one only lasts 5”

“What are we gonna do?”
”Want to just get on and see what happens?”

“What the hell, let’s do it! What’s the worst that could happen?”

“Get kicked off…we couldn’t be deported for something like this right?”


10:03 am – board the train and sit down at a table for about 2 minutes before getting kicked out of someone’s seats. The seats on trains this long are assigned, but we have seats from yesterday of course, so we don’t know where to go.We settle on wandering the train until it starts and then finding empty ones. Luckily, we find a deserted room in the caboose and sit there. Anxiety sets in as we await the ticket man. How illegal is it to ride a train you don’t have the right ticket for?


10:30 am – Ticket man comes around. I keep telling myself to look calm as he grabs my ID card and ticket. He looks at me and smiles as he lifts them up to verify.I wearily half-smile back. He punches my ticket and Vanessa’s without a word and leaves. Maybe he just saw the names, or maybe using an unused ticket for a later train is alright….I don’t know, but I am just thankful to be on my way to Pau and not about to be kicked off this train.


12:38 am – Current time as I type this. Vanessa is passed out across from me with her mouth open and I-pod headphones falling out.


5 pm – estimated time of arrival to my bed in Pau.


As you can see my vacation was quite adventurous. I have a lot to write about the actual trip, but I’ll get to that within the next couple days – A bientot!