Friday, May 22, 2009

Final Post in France







Hello Hello. I leave for Philadelphia in 2 days. This will be my last Parisian Post. 

Things have been wonderful here. My friend from high school, Alyson, is backpacking Europe with some friends...and they stopped in Paris and stayed with me. It was great to see her and I got to do some touristy things all over again...in really beautiful weather. It is gorgeous here and I do not want to leave! 

One of my roommates and I finally went up the Tour Eiffel and got a look at the city...beautiful as always. A few days before all of my roommates and I went to the Tour Montparnasse, which is 59 stories tall (with the fastest elevator in Europe) and we saw a great view of the city as well. The theme of the last week seems to be "great views" as some of my roommates climbed 400 stairs to the top of Notre Dame, and we have been spending quite a bit of time at Place de la Concorde, Tuileries, and other beautiful areas. 

Spending the rest of today at the Louvre and then making dinner with the roommates. Peace and love. United States in 2. Where has 4 months gone???

Monday, May 18, 2009

my last week






This last week is full of interesting things...as my friends and I are trying to jam pack anything we had not yet checked off our "to-do" list into 7 days. The weekend started with saying goodbyes to friends who are already home in les Etas Unis...quite sad. My roommates and I had dinner at a cafe we enjoy and then chocolate/fruit fondue at Paradis de Fruit with our friend Will. My roommate Liz and I went to Palais Garnier and saw a ballet, which was great....such a beautiful building. Before the first group of people started to depart we went out one last time to a nightclub called Madam....and now my week of museum-going alone begins. Most of my friends are on the Sorbonne program (which runs until the 30th) so I am the only one without class all week. Lucky me :) 


Thursday, May 14, 2009

La Fin




Today was my last day of classes and finals for my junior year. Weird........

CEA is over, but I am still in Paris for another 10ish days. It was a great semester, and I am happy to have a little time left here. Tuesday night our program took us to the Mosquee de Paris and we had a big Moroccan meal of cous cous and meat.....so delish. Afterwards I went out with a bunch of friends to St Germain de Pres and we went to this little bar called Chez George. They broke into all this Jewish music and it was hilarious....we were literally singing havah nagilah (SPELL CHECK!?) in a bar.....what has my life become??????? But yes, it was good fun. After we went to another cute place that has mojitos with fresh strawberries in them (yummy) and then called it a night. 2 guys I went to high school with, Todd and Zach, who were studying abroad and London but are not backpacking crashed on my couch....and it was fun to see them. Also....and this is pretty cool....my roommate Liz and I went and saw Angels and Demons at Bercy Village Movie Theatre last night (2 days before the US opening...hah hah) and it was 3euro movie week! Who knew! Such a great treat...

Please watch this video just to see what happens to my friend Jessie Sandler in the last 2 seconds. Thank you and good night. 
video

Monday, May 11, 2009

Praha






This past weekend I went to Prague with my roommate Liz. This trip goes in my list of top 3 favorites....and I would love to go back to Prague one day...SUCH a great city. We got in late on Thursday night, and I was apprehensive about staying in a hostel after the night-so-wonderful experience in Roma. However, we were pleasantly surprised. For anyone reading this who is studying in Europe in the future...go to Prague and stay at Hostel One! It was GREAT! It was the epitome of a backpackers environment....everyone was from all over the world...they were all friendly, they were all looking to make friends and go out and party....and the place was run by a really fun, young staff. Our room was basically like a hotel suite....and it made the stay so much nicer. 

We got up early on Friday and headed over to Bohemia Bagel for breakfast. This is a place frequented by Americans...as it was founded by an ex-pat and offers up some great bagels and other breakfast faves. It was so nice to even have a bagel....I forgot what hey had tasted like! After Bohemia Bagel we explored the Old Town Square, and went to the tower above the famous Astronomical Clock and got a great view of the city. After this we walked (the city is tiny so we walked absolutely everywhere) to the National Gallery, and saw some really beautiful Czech art (a lot of religious work and iconography) . Thennnnnn we went to Josefov (old jewish ghetto) and took a tour of all the synagogues, saw a ceremonial hall, and went to the cemetery where for many years Czech Jews were forced to bury their dead. It was amazing at how much history is in Prague....everything was dating back 1,000 years-it was, as I have had several this semester, another reminder at how young the United States is. 

On Saturday we walked along the Charles Bridge and (after eating at Bohemia Bagel yet again) went to the Old Palace and hung out in the palace area. It was really beautiful and we saw some cathedrals and other interesting buildings and museums. After our day spent in the palace we decided to try some traditional Czech food. Umm....how shall I put this.......it...was....heavy. I had sirloin in "czech sauce" with bread dumplings (they weighed 50 lbs each) and cranberry sauce. It was sort of like Thanksiving dinner...Czech style....on steroids. That is the only way I can explain it. We also each had a "pint" of beer....which was clearly larger than a pint. I don't think I need to try Czezh cuisine again any time soon...but I am glad I experienced it! After we took a nice walk, saw the John Lennon Peace-Wall, and then went back to our hostel to get ready for the evening...

Later Saturday we met up with two of Liz's tri delta sisters from Pitt who are studying abroad in Prague (it was nice to see Pitt people!) and they took us out for the night. It was really fun...and the nightlife is crazy! We went to a five-story club by Charles Bridge and danced until 5AM...and then got back to our lovely hostel and spent another hour hanging out with fellow travelers. Woke up only a few hours later to check out of the hostel...feeling tired and ready to head back to Paris....and then spent Sunday morning/afternoon with 2 of our hostel friends in Wenceslas Square drinking coffee and hanging out-we didn't have any energy to do much else! 

It was a great weekend, and as usual-I am very happy to be back in Paris. I'm getting a little nostalgic thinking that I have to leave here in 2 weeks....but it is truly bittersweet. I will miss everything about this place, and I am so grateful to have had this experience. For any friends of my parents (or other adults) reading this who have kids in college....if theyre not interested, MAKE them interested in studying abroad. All my friends who have done this agree....its unexplainable and life changing in the best way possible. 

2 weeks left...and planning to soak it up. You can catch me in Philadelphia May 24th, or in Pittsburgh in June. Peace and Love until next time. 


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Les Invalides




Today my roommate Liz and I went (finally) to Les Invalides, which is the French Army Museum. It is a beautiful building with a gold-detailed dome, and is within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower. The museum is much bigger, and nicer, than I had expected. We walked through the WWI/WWII section....interesting to see a lot on what happened in France from a French perspective. Afterwards we walked into the church thats on the grounds there and checked out Napoleon's tomb....which was cool (in a morbid sort of way...)

Friday, May 1, 2009

May 1



It is the first day of May, so, Happy May! Weird...I don't really know where these past months have gone. All of my roommates in Paris agree-it feels like years ago we were packing our things to leave for France....yet at the same time this has flown and we can't believe its already the end. 

I leave to come home to Philadelphia May 24th, and go to Pittsburgh for summer classes (and a job...hopefully...) June 4th. I have finals in 2 weeks! 

Anyways, not much to report today....just wanted to remark on how near the end I am--its very odd. Last night my friends and I went to this discotheque/restaurant we really like called Le Cabaret. The weather is finally getting nice again (it was depressing for awhile) and there are still things left to be seen and done! 


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Roma






Finally the internet is back in my apartment....that was rough. 

Any hoot....went to Rome last weekend. It was definitely great to see the amazing architecture, rich history, eat some yummy pizza/pasta, and quote Dan Brown's "Angels and Demons" everywhere I went......however I am not the biggest Roma fan....and I much prefer Paris. Can't really put into words....just the feeling of the city didn't mesh that well with me........it could also just be that the place where my friends and I stayed was pretty bad (yikes) and that put a minor damper on things.

Anyway.......the Vatican is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Who knew the Catholic Church had such amazing art? Well...they do. Lots of pagan stuff.....pretty interesting. My favorite parts of my trip were, as mentioned, the Vatican....but also the tour I went on of the Colloseum/Palentine Hill, and then my little journey into the basilica Santa Maria Maggiore. My tourguides for Colosseum/Palentine Hill were phenomenal and it was SO interesting and informative. Fun facts: Women and "midgets" (thats what they said...errrr....) fought inside the colosseum. Also, it gladiators were originally criminals but they gained such popularity that free men started volunteering for a little spotlight. How cool? Other fun facts: the word palace comes from "Palentine Hill" and Romulus and Remus, the brothers who fought to found Rome (Im sure you can guess who won) were given up by their mother, a member of a cult of virgins (this clearly posed a problem) and taken in by a prostitute. Cool stuff, eh? Anyways, Santa Maria Maggiore was really breathtaking.....I ate amazing pizza and pasta.....and the weather was lovely. 

So happy to be back in Paris....its been non-stop travel. Heading to Prague in 2 weeks. Home in 4 and can't WAIT to see my friends, family, and dog...Dexter. I miss Dexter most of all. 

Peace and love. Enjoy the pics. 

Thursday, April 23, 2009

La Vie Post Spring Break











Hello Blog-Readers
It has been awhile. I miss you.....
my internet has been out since my return from the land of gyro's....so excuse the lack of life updates. I know you're anxiously awaiting (KATE MARCHETTI...cough....)

Greece was amazing...by far the most amazing trip I have ever taken. Go there immediately if you have never been! I started my journey in Athens on Friday April 10th. Got into Athens VERY early in the morning...which was good, because it took my group of friends abotu 2 hours to find our hostel. No big deal. Athens is bustling...but not my favorite place on earth. The people were incredibly friendly (I realized I had forgotten and gotten accustomed to relatively unfriendly people) and welcoming. We started our day off with a gyro lunch at an outdoor restaurant in Athens, and then made our way to the Acropolis. The city is a really interesting juxtaposition of new and old...its very odd and kind of cool. We saw the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Hardrian's Arch, and then walked up to the Pantheon and everything on the Acropolis. The view from the top was (is) really astounding and beautiful-such a great way to look at the HUGE city. On the way we stopped and some of my friends bought actual grecian sandals....not the steve madden knock-offs. pretty cool stuff. Later that night we had greek pizza for dinner (I love any excuse for mass amounts of kalamata olives....) and then crashed because we were so tired from our long journey (3 hour flight from Paris) and then all of the walking. The following morning we did a bus tour....sort of cheesy....but really interesting and informative. I saw all the government buildings and we walked around a modern agora and saw some pretty amazing knock-off handbags and jewelry....the Greeks seem to love that stuff? Who knew....

Later on Saturday I met up with the rest of my roommates (some had not come to Athens with me and the others I went with) at the airport and we flew out to the island of Santorini. When we got to Santorini it was dark, so we couldn't really see what the island looked like. We settled into our hostel, which by the way...was hardly a hostel. It was BEAUTIFUL and adorable, family owned by an adorable man named Stelios and his wife....and situated literally on the beach in Perissa. They were so welcoming and the place was spotless....had a pool.....a lounge room....everything. It was so nice to travel and not be in a 10 bed-room hostel! We went out to dinner that night (Myself, Roommates Elysha-Jessie-Simon, friend Alyssa) to a cute restaurant right on the beach that had an amazing fish tank....which my dad would have freaked out over. I decided to be semi adventurous and ate an octopus as my appetizer. I was expecting small little octopus-type salad....but was surprised with a HUGE octopus leg. It ruled....so tasty....I continued to eat this almost daily for the rest of my trip. Afterwards we went to a beach bar and met a lot of people traveling...Americans, British, Australian....the usual mix. It was a young crowd in Perissa Beach and lots of fun.

We woke up the next morning to the most beautiful, and memorable view I have ever seen. Santorini is surrounded by HUMONGOUS volcanic mountains and beautiful beaches. It was really overwhelming. I felt like I was in Jurassic Park....waiting to see a dinosaur walk by with a pina colada or something. The sand of Perissa Beach is black sand....and the water was incredible blue (and cold!). Our first full day we went into the main town, Fira, and walked down 500 stairs (we later learned there were more effective means of traveling down these stairs.....just our luck) and hopped on what looked like the pirate ship ride every amusement park has (that sways back and forth and makes you vomit up your cotton candy and carmel corn) and rode out to a massive volcano. We hiked the volcano for about an hour, and again, witnessed one of the amazing views of sea and sky I have ever seen while in Greece. After the volcano hike our boat took us to another part of the Aegean, where my friends and i bravely jumped into the ocean (Jessie and I went first, screamed incredibly loudly, and everyone on the boat was staring at us.....) and then swam several feet (it was NOT easy) to a calm, shallow hot spring where the water was 80-some degrees. It was really fun....kind of extreme....and I felt semi adventurous. Good times. Later that night we had lunch and went out in Fira...which is a really fun city with a LOT of good seafood.....my fave. The next day in Santorini was basically spent on the beach, working on the tans we all desparately needed (I was starting to turn transparent....). In the evening we went to Ios.

Ios was a little dead. In the summer, it is THE party island in Greece. We got there, and the immediately all of us were just really taken aback byt he view. Our hostel (again, gogeous and not hostel like...family owned and operated and LOVELY--check it out online, Francesco's Hostel in Ios) was situated up on a hill-and the view from the terrace was of the port and surrounding mountains. It was incredible....and by far the best sunset I watched in Greece. We went out that night with everyone from our hostel to the Red Bull Bar, and met the famous George who owns many of the bars and restaurants on the island. We decided though to pack up and go to Mykonos a day early, since there wasn't that much to do in Ios.......lack of mobility there, and none of us drive manual-so we couldnt rent a car to drive up the coast! Dommage.......

Mykonos. Where do I begin? This is where I want to honeymoon.....soon....so I better start working on that. Kidding. But seriously....Mykonos was out of a postcard. White and blue everything, beautiful views everywhere, crowded compared to Santorini and Ios. GREAT seafood....I ate seafood twice a day every day in Mykonos. I turned into an octopus. We rented ATVs and drove them to Paradise Beach, which was really fun and exciting. I rode behind Jessie, who I trusted to drive since at school she drives a motor scooter. Paradise Beach was beautiful, and the water was literally the bluest water I have ever seen. The windmills in Mykonos were really pictaresque as the sun set, which we watched 2 nights in a row overlooking the port. Met some funny friends along the way, saw some beautiful things, and ate some really good food. Went to the island of Delos for a few hours, which is an island that is essentially an archeological site-with remains from the temple of Apollo and his sister Artemis...so ancient....very cool to experience. Beautiful.

Back in Paris now...and getting readjusted to city-life. I'm a little tanner...more relaxed....and still in vacation mode (which I need to break out of since I have a presentation for a class in an hour). Paris is beautiful...spent yesterday afternoon in the park Place de Vosges drinking wine and eating bread and cheese with friends. I am definitely going to miss this place! But I have 5 weeks left....and planning to take full advantage.

I go to Rome tomorrow for the weekend......and when I return expect pictures from Greece and reports from Italia.

Peace and Love!
BB

Monday, April 6, 2009

6 April 2009








Back in Paris... Amsterdam was AMAZING. By far, Amsterdam is my favorite trip I have taken thus far. It is BEAUTIFUL and I had a great time. Took a plane with my roommate Molly and met up with my friend (and future roommate in my 8 woman house in Pittsburgh) Meghan, who is studying in London. When we walked out of Centraal Station it was a perfect, sunny day. Our hostel, the Bulldog, was incredible. It is by far the nicest hostel I have seen......the lobby is decorated to the max-there is a fish tank in the wall-and the people at reception were just really cool and fun. We were in a room with 7 other people....all people ranging from about 18 to 25....mostly from England and Australia. Everyone was really friendly and it was more than tolerable--I really enjoyed staying there. After we checked in we went to the Anne Frank Haus, which was far more moving than I anticipated. The museum is beautifully done and it was such a wonderful experience. I'm really glad I went. Friday night we went out on a pub crawl hosted by "Ultimate Amsterdam", aka crazy Australian guys who were super nice and showed us a great time. We were friends all night with kids from Wales, England, Australia, and Scotland. It was pretty funny. 

The following day we went to the Van Gogh Museum, and saw an exhibition on themes related to the night. It was great to see--a very cool museum. We walked around Museum Plein for a long time, did the Heineken Experience (tour of the original brewery with lots of weird interactive stuff, a beer tasting, and plenty of history.....it was actually interesting) and then at night we got a great Indonesian meal. After dinner we walked around the Red Light District....something to definitely see. Coming face to face with prostitutes was....well.....interesting. Kind of sad and degrading to look at--I felt like a little kid who was looking at something they should not have been. 

All in all....Amsterdam was great. Met some fun people, saw some amazing things, had some good times. 

In Paris until Friday.....when I depart for Athens.

Peace and Love. 

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Le 2 Avril

First of all....I can't believe it is April. That....is just......not real. Any hoot-today was a really great day so I thought I'd write about it all before I forgot later. My Haute Couture class met at Musee de la Marine today, and we saw this great exhibit on the influence the Navy has had on fashion. Basically, it was total eye candy... Chanel, Lanvin, Gaultier, Dior, Givenchy.....you name it-it was there, and all with crazy, haute-couture nautical inspiration. Beautiful-I wish I had taken pictures. After this I had my Oenology class. We did a rose tasting and it was enjoyable...I just don't love rose wines. After this my friend Will and I went a little outside the city to a parc where they are currently giving free hot-air balloon rides. It was so much fun! It was also a beautiful view...again, the theme of the day must be not having a camera when needing one...because I have no visual documentation of the ride. Sad....but it was great! We're both a little afraid of heights so it was funny. But, I survived my first hot-air balloon. Good times.

Heading to Amsterdam in the morning. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend

Monday, March 30, 2009

Hola Paris





This past weekend my friend Susan, who is studying in Barcelona, came to Paris and visited me! It was great to see her, especially since I visited her in Barcelona several weeks ago and it was nice for her to be in my city this time around. We did some of the usual touristy things, except that for my Oenology class I had to go...and thus she came along...to the Salon de Vignerons de Paris. This is a yearly event at a convention centre where vinyards from every region of France come into Paris for 4 days and the public pays 5Euro to come in, walk around, taste whatever they want....and then hopefully buy. It was quite a sight to see. People came in with literally wheely suitcases, searching for their favorite vinnificateur from Bourgogne who makes the worlds BEST...obviously. People were clearly hoarding up for Easter.....it was out of control. It was also a great way for me to practice my French....and learn some more about wine. I talked to about five or 6 different booths, and especially enjoyed 2 of them. I met a younger guy who invited me to come grape pick over the summer (I respectfully declined....but that would have been cool) and a woman who bought her vinyard off of her father and now runs it....pretty rare in the wine industry. 

After the wine expo I took Susan to do some more touristy things....and then we did some local food shopping by me. Again, this is my favorite activity....stopped by my local poissonerie and got fish from my two favorite men there.....went to this little frommagerie owned by the cutest elderly couple ever.....got some wine.....and then made dinner in my apartment. The night after we went out to dinner with 2 of my roommates to Brasserie Balzar in the Latin Quarter....really good food, and hilarious service. I think my hand was kissed 5 times....why not? 

In the evening we decided that we needed to see the Pitt/Nova game at a bar. We had watched the Pitt/Xavier game live on my computer....but decided to be a bit more social this time around. So, a bunch of us went to "The Great Canadian Bar" in the latin quarter and watched the game with many other eager Americans. Since we lost...I will leave it at that. Sad day...but Hail to Pitt anyway! 

Thats all for now....going to Amsterdam Friday morning so stay tuned. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

International Fun & Sight Seeking & Seeing











Bonjour a tous.....

Lots to update on. A few days ago my roommate Liz and I decided to take advantage of this great city that we live in...so after class we walked around the Tuileries (really pretty garden area across from the Louvre) and went to Musee l'Orangerie-saw Monet water lillies and other art as well. Then we walked towards Opera Garnier (which we will be going to in May to see a ballet! Very excited about that...) and along the way I stopped and bought some really amazing chocolates. 

Last weekend however, I went with a large group of people on my program to Strasbourg (France). It was literally out of Disney's Beauty & The Beast. Very quaint....very German (obviously....its been German proper several times...Franco/Prussian War, etc) and overall it was cool to see. We did a walking tour with our amazing tour guide, Pierre-Jean. We started talking about dogs...and he has a pug named Prozac. That may sum up the experience. Anyway, as most cities in France have one...we saw the Notre Dame de Strasbourg. It houses a giant clock that, and forgive me because I was not paying attention to the tourguide at this part, is somehow connected to Easter....and the solar system....or something. Not sure--but it was very impressive! At night we went to this very Alsacian restaurant called Le Gruber and had wine, tarte flambe, chicken with German style noodle french frie things, and creme brule. Everyone had the same meal, provided by CEA.....it was pretty nice! Then we called it a night at our hostel, Ciarus....which was also very nice, except that the beds looked like a jungle gym or McDonalds play place. That is the only way to properly describe it. 

Sunday morning we woke and got back on the bus....and went to Germany! Strasbourg is on the border basically, so it was less than a 2 hour drive. We started in Schwartzwald (I am probably spelling this incorrectly) or, the Black Forrest....and spent some time at the Titisee Lake. Everyone had fun with that name...we're a mature group. It was very storybook-esque, and I really felt like I was in Germany...even though we were extremely close to the French border. We got a very German lunch....and went to a coo-coo clock shop....and I may have bought one for myself! Hope my roommates next year do not mind.....

After the Lake we went to a small town called Freiburg. Nothing to report. It is REALLY small and wasn't really worth going to. Although, I did have a rather delicious ice cream sundae. Right......

After this we went back to France, just south of Strasbourg to a city called Colmar. We went to the Paul Beuscher winery and sampled some Alsacian wine--that was cool. It was especially interesting since I am taking this Oenology course....and as we were being told the process of making their sparkling wine....I really understood what he was saying! It was great. 

This week has been a continuation of midterms and boring-ness. However, last night my roommates Liz and Elysha and I decided to blow off some steam (you know...our lives are just very stressful here in Paris) so we met up with friends at this nightclub called Le Duplex. It is located right off the Champs Elysees....literally next to the Arc de Triomphe. It was SO fun...and we actually ran into a French friend, who has other french friends, so we met lots of people. Good times. There are two different sides to the club, and one is the Salsa/Latin side....spent a lot of time there....so funny. 

I'm off to class for the day. Hope everyone is well. I think about everyone/Pitt/home all the time....and leaving Paris is going to be so bittersweet. I don't want to leave....but I am excited to come back and see everyone! If any Chi Omegas are reading this: GOOD LUCK at Greek Sing Friday! I know we'll win! Kick those ZBT boys into shape if need be......to my parents: Skype session later this week? Great. Grand. 

Peace and love! BISOUS!