Katie' Pau Life En France

Ma vie En France

Interested in Study Abroad??? October 7, 2010

Filed under: Preparing to go abroad — katiespaulife @ 2:02 am
Tags:

I’ve gotten a couple e-mails from people who have found my blog and are interested in studying in France. A new site just popped up where you can search programs and places that other students have been to and reviewed:

http://www.studyabroad101.com

USAC sent all of us Spring students an e-mail asking us to review Pau. The site looks pretty new, but I haven’t had much time to check it out. Hope this helps someone!

 

Last day in Pau April 20, 2010

Filed under: Pau — katiespaulife @ 9:04 am
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Woot! Last day in Pau!

 

I have been restless this past week, Pau is alright, but I am excited to see Paris again!

 

I was supposed to go to Nice last Thursday, but when I went to the train station to buy my ticket I waited in line for an hour to be told me there was no way I could get there. No trains are going to Nice, because of…..well you know why.

I was so disappointed. Aside from Paris, La Cote D’Azur was top on my list of places to see. Saved it for April so I could go to the beaches when it was warm outside.  Oh well…..guess I’ll just have to come back  ; )

 

I decided at the station that even if I couldn’t get to Nice, I had to escape Pau. What would I do here for a week?  I had already seen all of what little there is in this town, aside from a mall and a forest with trails I had yet to explore. So I bought a ticket to Marseille and my train was set to leave at 8:30 am the next morning.

It seems that I was destined to stay in Pau though, because for the second time in my life I slept through an alarm. I’d gone to bed at 8 pm the night before and set my alarm for 5am so I could finish packing, clean my room and shower before I left for the train station.

 

I woke up at 7:25!

 

I packed for a week in Spain in a rushed 10 minutes, but even if I pulled that off again I still wouldn’t have had time for the 10 min walk to the bus stop, the 20 minute ride to downtown and the 15 min walk to the train station. I was so angry at myself. Sleeping through that alarm = 80 euros down the drain.

 

Realizing I wasn’t going anywhere I skyped Elly and have been hanging out with her all week. It’s reminiscent of being a kid; I have no phone and set up a time and a corner to meet my friend at every day. Not to mention, I haven’t had this much free time since elementary school.

 

My bus pass expired in Ireland and we’re too cheap to pay for the buses, so we always walk wherever we need to go. I’m glad I got new shoes. I spend at least 3 hours walking each day and one day it had to have been more like 4-5. My legs felt like jelly by the end of it, but it is a good way to walk off the yummy French food. Speaking of which, for my last day here I decided to walk to a bakery to get a pastry for breakfast. Settled on this guy:

 

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Oh and I feel like I’ve mentioned Elly in every blog lately! I haven’t forgotten my old friends. I walked to the univeristy to have lunch with Ravid and Sarah yesterday. I will miss them! Ravid said if I ever come back to France, to call her, even if we haven’t talked in 10 years. She also gave me a bracelet she bought in Israel! She went back to visit these past 2 weeks.

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These 2 ladies bid me adieu and told me to be young and crazy while I can! I am pretty certain they will be young and crazy their entire lives….they are both 5 years older than me and much crazier!

 

Last night I went to Kawita’s for dinner. One final delicious Thai meal….

 

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There were 11 people there and afterwards they all went to a goodbye party for another USAC student afterwards.

I thought it would be a but awkward if I tagged along for that so I went home, I needed to ask my host mom for a ride to the school Wednesday morning…something I had been dreading all week. I hate asking for rides, but the walk is an hour, there are no buses and I will have my giant suitcase with me.

 

The sky was so beautiful last night – so clear!

 

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Today I am going to finish packing, clean and say goodbye to Elly, then Kawita, Rebecca and Hiroka. I leave at 7 am tomorrow for Paris!

 

Barcelona!! April 17, 2010

Filed under: Spain — katiespaulife @ 7:56 am
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Okay, back to the subject of Spain, since I only mentioned San Sebastian….

In Barcelona I met up with fellow cougs Ashley and Lauren (who are also keeping blogs which I added to my blogroll). It was nice to see some familiar faces after a long bus ride where I couldn’t understand anything or talk to anyone. I like travelling alone, but I think in the future I probably won’t go to countries where I don’t speak the language without another person.

 

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Barcelona was a cool city. One and a half days there was not enough, but sadly I don’t think I will ever return – there are too many other places in the world to see. I was fascinated by all of Gaudi’s architecture, but I think Paris is a much prettier city overall (sorry Goonting!).

 

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Our first night there we went out for some awesome Spanish cuisine! Ashley got regular Sangria, but Lauren and I ordered the Sangria Cava Blanc. I’ve had my fair share of regular red Sangria in France, but this drink was incomparable.So delicious and very large!

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And some yummy yummy Paella! (Mom – your paella is still the best = )

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The waiter tried to convince us that this wouldn’t be big enough for 2 people – haha, I’m glad I stuck to my intuition and told Lauren it would be.

 

The next day I went to Park Guell, which was amazing!

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The best of Gaudi is of course the Sagrada Familia.

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This church has been under construction for 150 years and won’t be finished for60. Seeing other USAC student’s pictures of this place is what made me decide Barcelona was a must-see.

 

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For my second (and last) night here, we went down to this fountain for an awesome show (complete with cheesy American music) and saw the remnants of the Olympic games!

 

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Thanks to Lauren and Ashley for being great travelling companions and have a safe trip home next week!

 

Sous Le Soleil D’Espagne! April 15, 2010

Filed under: Spain — katiespaulife @ 6:47 am
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I LOVE San Sebastian! Just look how blue that water is! What a beautiful place!

 

My trip to Spain was rather complicated, but it started off with 2 nights in San Seabass on the northern coast. You might recall a blog I wrote when I went here way back in January on my first weekend in Pau. The weather was so stormy (and snowy!!) that I couldn’t do anything but the bars. This time I did everything else!

 

My first night there I met a girl from Quebec who I practiced French with and had a nice dinner of fruit, bread and cheese on the beach after dark. The bay was equally beautiful at night, with all the buildings lit up, but my pictures didn’t turn out well, so here is one in daylight:

 

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It felt so relaxing to just sit in my shorts at 9 pm with my toes in the sand as the Atlantic ocean washed up on this quiet shore. Not to mention I was eating the freshest strawberries from Portugal and had a great dinner companion! Sadly my dinner company was extremely homesick that night. We spoke of Quebec and the hunting trips she would take with her dad when she was younger, her big family back home and her tiny country village where no one speaks English. And of course there is a boy in the picture to add to the homesickness. She told me every place she has visited in Europe is so romantic (San Sebastian really was!) and she has a boy in Montreal she won’t see again for a long, long time. My heart really went out to her, because she is so nostalgic for Canada and won’t return until the end of July. However, it is true that there is no place like home, but I also think there is no place quite like San Sebastian!

 

The photos above and below were taken from the top of a funicular that led up to an amusement park for kids! There was a hotel up there as well, with views like this one:

 

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I wonder how much a night here would cost??

 

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Unfortunately the weather wasn’t this perfect for the entire trip. The first day it started off with pouring rain and winds. I tried to keep dry by going to the aquarium – which was awesome. It had one of those tanks with a tunnel where you can see sharks swim right over your head! Oh and the aquarium was at the end of all the docks so I got to see a lot of Basque fishing boats on the way.

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In the afternoon the skies cleared up a bit so I reunited with my Canadian friend and we climbed Mt. Urgull. Actually, “climb” is kind of a misleading word, we walked up a paved path – nothing too extreme for my flip flops.

 

Here are my only shots of the mountain and the Jesus statue on top!

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The horizon that evening was amazing! Never looks as awesome on camera, but it was a once in a lifetime kind of sunset – great to see from the top of Urgull! And across the way you can see that hotel.

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Another great thing about San Sebastian was the hostel I stayed in. The owner spoke only Spanish, but he still gave me advice on where to go, was kind-hearted and genuinely hospitable. After the freezing rain he gave the Canadian and I tea with lemon and when I returned from Barcelona he had seen that I gave him a 100% review on hostelworld so he grabbed my face and kissed me on both cheeks. That was a bit awkward for me…I feel like I’ve had so many random ppl kiss me on the cheeks here.

 

Anyway, I’m too tired to write more, but here are a few more pictures of San Sebastian. If you ever go to Spain you must visit!

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La ville Rose April 13, 2010

Okay….continuing on from the last blog, we arrived in Toulouse just before sunset.

 

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Being far from the Pyrenees, stones are expensive to ship here and thus most of the buildings are built out of bricks, which is a sign of poverty. Notice how this church was constructed with stones at the bottom and more and more bricks as it was finished? Apparently their budget ran low…

 

Oh, did I even mention we spent Friday night in Toulouse? Got to stay in a hotel Friday – nice break from the hostels. Than Saturday morning we had a tour of the town (really just a tour of 3 churches), which was very informative and pretty interesting overall. Not going to lie though, it is much, much easier for me to space out when I’m listening to French than English.

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One church had the feet of Saint Christopher (patron saint of travelers) in it. People could pray here and touch them for better feet (yep, I touched them). Elly said they looked more like monster feet than those of a saint!

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His body used to be painted here as well, but time (and dirty fingers) has erased it.

 

After the tour we had another giant lunch! The entree was good, but a rather heavy and American-like dish of mashed potatoes, mushrooms and chicken. I only took pictures (or stole from Kim, icr) of my favorite courses!

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Mousse

 

We walked off the mousse by exploring le jardin des plantes in the afternoon. I don’t know why they call it that though, seemed more like a jardin des oiseaux to me!

“This is like your heaven!” Elly said, with a bit of panic in her voice, because unlike me, she hates birds. The peacock freaked her out a bit – I thought it was awesome though, especially when it chased this poor little duckling into the water!

 

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And afterwards we crossed a couple bridges, went through another park and then into the shopping area.

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Got some free gum!

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And finally returned to Pau for the night. Great excursion!

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Weary from Walking April 12, 2010

Filed under: Spain — katiespaulife @ 1:50 pm
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I’ve just spent 6 days in Spain! Kind of a last minute trip that I ended up on, but a very good one. I was supposed to go to the Riviera this past week.Once again the French and their lovely strikes put a damper on my plans. I thought I would be stuck in Pau for 3 days because of booked hostels and no trains, but at the last minute I realized I could escape the country! San Sebastian was my savior!

 

I had already planned on going to San Sebastian Saturday night with 3 friends, so I didn’t want to stay there from Tuesday night through Sunday and bought a ticket to Barcelona and back .San Seabass ended up being heaven on earth  and I think my trip would have been just as enjoyable if I had stayed the full 6 nights. Instead this was my agenda:

 

Tues night – Thursday morning = San Sebastian

Thursday = 7 hour bus ride to Barcelona

Thursday night – Saturday morning = Barcelona

Saturday = 7 hour bus ride to San Sebastian

Saturday night – Sunday = San Sebastian encore!

Sunday (today) = one hour bus ride and afternoon in Bilbao

 

I’ll rest here for the night and travel all day tomorrow. Getting back to Pau will be a bit complicated…I have to take a bus back to San Sebastian, then a tram to Hendaye in France and then 2 trains. I just hope the strikes are over in France! As of today it was dependant on the train.

 

I had a great trip here, but I’m worn down from the bus rides and walking all over the cities. I think I need to see a foot doctor ASAP when I get home – my arches and achilles tendons are really messed up! I suppose I deserve it for not investing in good walking shoes, but the only ones with decent arch support are about 90 Euros!

 

My foot injuries are making it difficult to stay positive at this point. I probably should have gone home instead of to Bilbao this afternoon, but curiosity got the best of me. I walked around the city for a good 3 hours and saw most of the tourist map (except that I didn’t enter the famous museum in Bilbao, the idea of more walking plus the cost of 13 Euros made me decide against it).

Overall this city was probably the sketchiest one I have yet to visit. I knew that I wanted to be back in the hostel before dark, just to be safe. I was travelling alone this time and sans pepper spray. I saw lots of crazy people and in the three hours I spent walking around, I saw at least three people searching through dumpsters.

I wanted to walk more than three hours, because I didn’t see the garden and some popular streets, but at this point I feel like I have 2 voices in my head: one who constantly bitches and moans about how much pain my feet are in and how I am permanently damaging them and the other wants to see everything and walk until I cannot walk any further. I’m at the point where I’m praying to Saint Christopher and I’m going to get ice as soon as I get home to Pau!

 

On a positive note,  I finally hung out with people I met at hostels. Today I even met 2 girls with clam shells on their backpacks, which signifies they are travelling “Le Chemin de St Jacques”; a religious pilgrimage throughout France and part of Spain. I think I’ve written about it before, as it goes through Pau and St Jean Pied de Port. The pilgrimage has always interested me and I probably annoyed these exhausted girls with my many questions about their experience thus far. Unfortunately, they are cutting their trip short because of a foot injury and have to return home (which is South Africa for one and Switzerland for the other). One of them already did a third of the pilgrimage last summer and the other one just started it this year. They said that it was quite the experience, much harder than anticipated, but that there is a great sense of “walking the well trodden path” and a good connection with fellow travelers. They usually only pay about 5-6 Euros for board a night and some places are even donation only, such as one where they stayed at, which even provided huge dinner and breakfast for everyone that fellow pilgrims prepared.

 

I’ve also hung out with a couple Canadians and a Brazilian at the hostels in Spain, which has been a nice change. Up until this trip I felt I hadn’t gotten the real “hostel experience”. I’m going to bed early tonight (as every night in this trip) and tomorrow I’m hoping to head out early enough to spend a couple more hours in San Sebastian. Just cannot get enough of that place – you’ll see why when I put up pictures in a few days!

 

P.S. I sent out some more postcards last week and on 2 of them I signed my full name! Sorry about that guys, I’m so used to signing my signature on forms that it just kind of flows when I sign letters and cards. Such a bad habit, I promise I don’t mean to end a cheery postcard on a cold and impersonal note.

 

Sugar Binge March 18, 2010

Filed under: Travels in France — katiespaulife @ 7:18 am
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This week I have all my final exams. I’m done with the 2 extremely easy ones and I have 3 to go! Because of the testing, there was no school Tuesday.  I just had to show up for an oral exam that I was over by 11 am. Not wanting to waste any more of my precious time left in France, I hopped on a train to  take a day trip to Bayonne – the chocolate capital!

 

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I was very pressed for time when I arrived though – my train had been delayed at a stop for over an hour in some ghetto French town called Dax, because of an accident. I ended up only had 2.5 hours to explore Bayonne before catching the last train that would take me to Pau in time to catch the last bus home.

 

…..I miss my car sometimes

 

When I finally got there, the first thing I set off to find was the tourist office. I couldn’t find a hostel online, but I was hoping they would know of one nearby. I wanted to spend the night in Bayonne and head farther south down the coast to St Jean De Luz the next day. I also passed the public gardens on my way which smelled so good! Nothing beats the scent of fresh spring flowers!

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Unfortunately the tourist office informed me that there are no hostels in Bayonne – bummer! I decided to hustle and try to see as many of the sites as I could in what little time I had. I’d done a bit of research online and my program directors lent me a guidebook for the trip so I had a route all planned out.

 

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Oh and did I mention it was 70 degrees out with clear skies? Finally some good weather!

 

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The city has most of the original fortress, two chateaus and a decent amount of medieval houses. It made for a good walk.

 

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I also explored 3 or 4 churches, but this is the only one I really liked. Walking into it the temperature dropped about 15 degrees, it was a nice oasis from the heat.

 

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And the picture on the right is a “cloitre” in French. I had seen it online and went to find it, but the gate was locked Tuesday and I took this picture through the bars.

 

I saved the best part of my trip for last: Rue Port Neuf – the chocolate street. My advisors and a yearlong student (Leanne) told me I had to get the hot chocolate from Cazenave – one of the many chocolatiers on Rue Port Neuf. It ended up being a very pretty Tea Salon as well.

Bayonne 058 Leanne also recommended I get the special of toasts with my cocoa. I didn’t see what could be so great about toasts, but decided to try it. Leanne said it was expensive, but worth it.

Bayonne 060  I think the photo speaks for the hot chocolate. It was a dream come true for my taste buds. The toast on the other hand, was just really really buttery toast that cost 3 Euros. Considering I can buy a loaf of bread for 27 cents in France I don’t really think it was worth it. The chocolate made me feel fat enough without the buttery bread, but oh well, it was dinner.

 

Afterwards I bought some actual chocolates to save for a rainy day (or take back to the states with me if I can resist them!).  I got 3 truffles, a milk chocolate bar with sea salt and caramel, as well as a dark chocolate bar with spices. I think the latter will be similar to the Mayan/Aztec truffles you can get in the states.

 

After my hot, hand whipped cocoa I headed back to Pau and arrived just in time for the sunset =)

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Today my plan was to take a train to St Jean de Luz. I had no school so I went to the train station at 10 am and just barely got my ticket to Bayonne. From there I was told I would have to wait half an hour for my bus to St Jean de Luz.

Then the bus was delayed half an hour. 20 minutes afterwards it still had not shown up and I was told there had been some sort of “accident” delaying it. I was very very hungry and still annoyed from the train delay yesterday. I knew now that by the time I got to St Jean I would only have 2 hours to explore before taking a train home. I decided instead to see the sites I had missed in Bayonne yesterday.

 

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I replaced another meal with dessert! A gateau Basque with cream and blueberry filling. This is the only place where you can get one with blueberry filling! This cake was perfect, everything about it was just decadent. With it, I also had a macaroon. It was the first time I have tried the French macaroons and it won’t be the last. I didn’t know a cookie could taste cool and creamy. This bakery made the best French desserts I have yet to taste…mmm…sugar.

 

I also found the “cloitre” open today and went inside!

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I had studied on the train, on the blvd with my gateau and wanted to lay out on the grass with my notes. Thought it would be fine since I was the only visitor, but I got kicked off by the guy working there =(

 

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Afterwards I just meandered about the city. Went back to the tourism office because I knew there were gothic caves around that I wanted to explore, but unfortunately those are only accessible through the Saturday tours.

Other than that I saw everything I wanted to. Bayonne was fun, but I look forward to making it out to the ocean next time!

 

Skiing in the Pyrenees!!! March 14, 2010

Filed under: Pau,Travels in France — katiespaulife @ 9:05 pm
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I finally made it to the mountains!!

 

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Beautiful isn’t it?!

I’m actually quite close to several ski stations, I think the drive was about 1.5 hours, but I know there is one just 20 min outside of Pau. Most of the length of the drive to this station was due to the windy roads at the end.

 

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My dad looked up the height of the peak I was on and I guess it is about as high up as the top of Whistler (So guess my estimation was way off on IM yesterday David…)

 

As you can see, there aren’t any trees on the slopes =( But just off to the side is a little forest at the same elevation as the ski lodge.

 

 

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The view was absolutely breathtaking! I can’t believe I skied in the Pyrenees!

 

And, making my Saturday even better, I discovered half my class wanted to go on the same day!

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Here I am with Sara (the Australian). I skied with her for most of the afternoon, but I spent the morning solo, because everyone else was taking a lesson.

 

I felt a bit apprehensive going up this chair alone….

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Curiosity overcame that though, because I really wanted to see if the mountain had a backside. Most of the runs on the front were pretty easy and I was hoping to find some challenging slopes like the runs at the top of Alpental.

And luckily it did!

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The back was awesome! The fresh powder was hiding here, but unfortunately a cloud settled right in the bowl in the afternoon – the air became thick, cold fog and my lovely powder got scrapped down to ice.

 

The front was very icy too! I hate going over moguls when I can feel a ski slipping, it is so unnerving!

 

Face of the mountain:

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And the backside:

 

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Plus I haven’t skied much since high school – so my form is horrible! I tried to keep your voice in the back of my head dad = ) Thanks for all the years of patiently re-teaching me how to keep in form.

 

Here is the very top:

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And a couple of my favorite pictures are from my very first run, which I later figured out was out-of bounds, but many people went down it anyway. They don’t mark the “out-of-bounds” areas as well here in France, but after skiing Alpental I’ve learned to be wary when I don’t know the slope.

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Oh and last, but not least, I saw “une source de l’eau chaude” for the first time! The chair went over the crest of a hill and it just popped out of nowhere!

 

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Heard the skiing back home in the Cascades was good too! The Pyrenees were beautiful and so different than what I’m used to! I noticed the French have some amusing ski habits. One being if you fall under a chair, every French person who sees you from the lift will yell, “Woah!!!” as they pass over you. And if you are standing in line for a lift while another lift goes over you, the skiers will tap their skis as they pass overhead to give you a nice snow shower.

I skied all day and returned home completely exhausted last night. Had a nice bowl of soup for dinner with my host mom and I could barely speak French. I went to bed at 9:30 and woke up hurting, especially my neck, caused by a rather painful, but amusing fall. Felt great to get some exercise other than walking. Spent all day skiing in the sun =) Oh yeah, I’m sunburned too – judging from the facebook news feed, my classmates feel the same. This has been an excellent weekend!

 

Confession… March 3, 2010

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

 

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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

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Fontane del Tritone

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The Trevi Fountain

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Villa Medici

 

Palazzo delle Esposizioni

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Castel Sant Angelo

 

Piazza Navona

 

The Vatican Museum

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Santa Maria Maggiore

 

Mercati Traianel

 

Arco di Costatino
The Sistine Chapel
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St Peter’s Basilica

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Palazzo Montecitorio

 

Palazzo Madanta

Piazza del Pompolo

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Camplo de Flori

 

Isola Tiberina

Mouth of Truth

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V Monte Savello

 

Colonna Traiana

 

Area Sacra

 

Chiesa del Gesu

 

Palatino

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Pantheon

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

Elephant Obelisk thing behind Pantheon

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Colosseum

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Spanish Steps

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

The Jewish District

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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..

 

D’ou viens-tu Cotton Eyed Joe? February 15, 2010

Filed under: Pau — katiespaulife @ 10:00 pm
Tags: , , ,

There is a 2 week long carnival taking place in Pau right now. It’s actually almost over and I only saw a small sample of it, but my goodness the French are crazy!

The carnival here takes place right before Lent and it is basically an excuse for everyone to be sinful before the fast. The king of the Carnival is a jolly, huge fat man who eats and drinks excessively. He has a doppelganger mistress and a very thin, unhappy wife who is basically his opposite. There are a many other characters, but when I went to the carnival none of them were present.

I heard the most interesting stories about the Carnival from my bus buddy Angie who went the weekend before. While she was talking on her phone at a parade, some men put a burlap sack on her head, kidnapped her and set her on the kings throne where she was screamed at in French by the king’s wife. She also was spanked by a man dressed as a priest with a cross and the poor girl definitely left  a little traumatized.

 

If you are wondering about the sacrilegious aspect of it, the priest was there because everything is inversed for the carnival. Good becomes evil and everything sinful is good. Also men dress as women and vice versa; it is quite the spectacle. There is one other element/celebration that is even more disturbing than this, but I’m not going to share on my blog since everyone in my family reads this. It is very very disgusting, but if you’re curious as to what could be worse than a priest spanking a tourist with a sacred symbol, ask me on FB and I’ll tell you

There have been many celebrations, but unfortunately I have only been to one of the three balls, which took place Friday night. So many people were dressed as freaks – I loved it!! I went with my classmates and we danced for 2 hours to the live band there (which played way too much American music).  I saw an old guy dressed as a bloody butcher, a nun, priest, 2 trannys (maybe 3…wasn’t sure) and a ton of unidentifiable freaks. One guy had a backpack that was a stuffed animal raccoon- coolest accessory ever!

While we were dancing poor Jessica had a random French guy sneak up behind her and cover her eyes. She flipped out, but he moved on to creep on other girls and was later attacked by the “maybe tranny”. He took a lot of kicks where it hurts and slaps to the face before that was broken up. Considering his alcohol intake in addition to this, that man probably had a terrible Saturday!

That fight in itself was worth going to the carnival to see, but the real highlight of the night occurred just as we were about to walk out the door. Everyone had just put their coats on when “Cotton-Eyed Joe” came on. Cooper and Jessica were the only other Americans there and we all threw are stuff down and ran back out to the floor. I don’t think I have danced the “Cotton-Eyed Joe” since 6th grade, but Cooper has it mastered! A few French people tried to copy us and this one nasty wasted guy got way to close to Jessica and I. I think he was trying to do the dance, but all he did was stumble and get in the way of my lasso space!

 

As soon as our American line dance was over, we called it a night and went home. I had a 3 hour test the next day, so I was relieved to get to bed at a decent hour. I’m going to the Carnival again tomorrow…stay tuned for more craziness!