So it’s been a while since I last posted. Having to upload pics to Facebook and write a separate blog for my scholarship sometimes means that this blog gets left behind. Which I really don’t want to happen, since this blog is purely for me and my own reflection (take no offense, my few followers, I appreciate you too).
Being in the smaller dorm (there are only 14 or so of us compared to the 100 or so in the other dorm!) means that we’ve kind of become a nice dysfunctional traveling family, so I went with them to Luxembourg last weekend and Paris this past weekend. It all goes great until someone gets hungry. ;) Despite the bickering, still a great group to travel with.
Luxembourg was a really neat little country! It’s quite tiny and because it’s been taken over so many times by different countries, most Luxembourgers speak 4-5 languages. Our tour guide was funny and interesting, showing us around and telling us about the history of Luxembourg and the current state of the nation. I find it so interesting that despite being ruled by several different European powers, the Luxembourgers still hold their own cultural identity and are very proud of it. They’re also a very socialist nation: progressive income tax and incredibly high sales tax (20 percent!). Luxembourg City is very hilly (and very beautiful, check out that first picture!), and the rich used to live on the top of the valley and the poor down below, so I think that gap in wealth and that physical divide probably is what pushed the nation towards socialism and as our tour guide put it, “fairness.” Interesting to observe the little things like that. The tour guide also made an observation about America, joking that we were a nation of losers until we found tobacco, then we became the most powerful nation in the world, then in the 1970s when we decided smoking was bad, we are becoming a nation of losers again. :P Correlation does not mean causation, but it was a funny joke nonetheless. Anyhoo, that was basically Luxembourg!
The next picture is of me and mon amie française Audrée (we met when she did a brief exchange with my high school!) in her university town of Nancy. Nancy has this wonderful plaza with all this iron and gold detailing, and getting to explore with my friend was really great. She’s also a first year, studying law, so we talked about adjusting to college and all sorts of things. French college is just as hard as our college (though significantly cheaper!), and as she put it, sometimes you have to touch the fire before you know how not to get burned, so I’m glad to know the French procrastinate and slack off as much as I do. ;) She’s incredibly trendy, and I really talked her up to my friends. When she picked me up from the train station with her huge tiger-head backpack and her cute army green coat, she didn’t disappoint! When I was on the train to Nancy, I told my friends how she liked my overall shorts the last time I saw her in the States, and when we got there, she told me how when people asked who I was, she told them I was the girl in the States with the overalls! It’s funny when you have those shared memories. She was a great friend for showing me around on her birthday, and that was another successful day trip!
The following weekend, I woke up at 4am on Friday to walk to my train by 5 so that I’d get there by 6. That was a rough morning, but Paris was worth it! As most of you know, that’s my second time there, and it really was neat seeing it at a less touristy time of year. The winter sales were going on (France regulates its sales, so there are two big sales periods: the winter sales and the summer sales) so I found some great pants at GAP for half off. We spent the morning in a bakery, then went on a walking tour and learned a lot about the Haussmann renovations of Paris, Notre Dame, Henri IV, Louis VXI and Marie Antoinette, and so on so forth. Really neat little tour that ended with a lunch of escargot and boeuf bourguignon. That was my first time eating escargot, and man, was it good. I always assumed it would be slimy and gross, but you know what they say about assumptions. After lunch, we went to check into our hostel and decided on heading up to Montmartre (the big hill overlooking France, and a really neat little district) for the evening. We checked out Sacre Coeur, a huge cathedral at the top of Montmartre, and actually got to see part of their mass. On the way up Montmartre, the zipper on my boot actually broke right off, and caused problems for me the rest of the trip. Of course I didn’t bring another pair of shoes with me to Paris. :( I’ll have to contact Hushpuppies and see if they’ll fix or replace them for me. Anyhoo, even with a broken boot, my team of resourceful engineers helped me make a temporary fix and we moved onward! We went down to the Moulin Rouge, and of course, everyone started getting hungry as we walked down this huge road of sex shops and strip clubs. So we hopped on the Metro and headed to the Latin Quarter, hoping we’d find a nice restaurant somewhere over there. We eventually did, and I got a three course meal of frog legs, lamb, and crème brûlée and a nice glass of rosé. Mmm. Frog legs are interesting little things. They taste a lot like chicken and you eat them much like you’d eat chicken wings, but when you’re done, you can hold up the little skeleton and hop it along the plate. You can definitely tell it’s still a frog, and that’s a bit strange for an ex-vegetarian like me. We then walked along the Seine (the main river in Paris) and made it to the Eiffel Tower just in time to see it sparkle at midnight. We enjoyed the view then made our way back to the hostel and crashed for the night. It was a looooooong day.
The next day, we headed to Versailles. It was my first time at Versailles, and I’m going to be honest, I was a bit disappointed. I guess I just had built it up in my head a bit more than it really was, and there were lots of annoying tourists. (I may be a tourist, but I’m not an annoying one!) It was still really neat, and I got that great picture in the hall of mirrors, but I guess it didn’t effect me the way I hoped it would. Oh well. When we tried to make it back downtown, we hopped on the wrong train and that cost us quite a bit of time. What was supposed to be a morning-early afternoon trip ended up being us getting back at 6! We were trying to figure out how we were going to manage to eat and make it to the pub crawl in time, so when we got off the metro stop, we split into teams: one was going to find food, the other was going to grab our wristbands. We stopped at a burger joint and got some burgers to go, and somehow our crazy plan worked. Mine had fondue on it. Oh my god. Fondue. It wasn’t the best burger I’ve ever had, but it sure cost a lot anyways. I scarfed down my burger and fries as we walked to the first bar, and once we got there, I met a group of Australians that were exploring Europe for a couple months. They were really cool guys, and I hung out with them most of the night. One of them got his phone stolen by some French assholes, and I went and bitched them out in French (daring, I know, but they don’t have guns here! haha), but they insisted they didn’t have the phone, and I realized they must’ve been the diversion for some other French assholes. Zut. I then took the most expensive taxi ride ever back to my hostel since it was raining and the metro was closed, and in the morning, the group went to the Eiffel Tower to get one last look, then off to the train station to return to Metz.
And that, my friends, is an incredibly long summary of my past two weekends.