Oh, where to start; the endless grape fields that span across hundreds of miles, the mountains that reach up into the clouds and castle-like buildings along the way. Over the weekend we visited 4 remarkable cities, each with their own personality- Narbonne, Toulouse, Carcassonne and Collioure.
Narbonne gave us high winds and left us with tangled hair, haha. It was
quite windy here, but was still incredible to see original roads from the
Romans. We went to the local fresh produce market- similar but much smaller
than St. Joseph’s Boqueria in Barcelona. I got to try my first éclair, very delicious…highly
recommend! On a funny note, there was a Sephora and I still had some chipped
purple nail polish on, so I figured I would take it off there. Long story short…don’t
try to paint your nails there, haha, at least not all of them!
Carcassonne brings to mind two words- castle and Disney. An amazing sight to
see was this colossal castle with snowcapped mountains in the background. It
looked like something in the Disney movies, which I found out later, is one of
the places Disney actually got their inspiration for some of their films with
castles. We walked along the inner curtain wall, in the towers and peaked
through square cut outs along the wall where cannons and guns were placed.
There was an entire city within the walls- tons of shops and eateries!
Collioure, France is a seaside city that kisses the Mediterranean Sea! It
contains the most outstanding views that will set you instantly in awe. You’re
surrounded by mountains, red-tiled roofs, crystal clear waters and the aromas
of the best seafood you’ll ever eat! We were only here for a brief period of
time, but I wished I could’ve spent a couple extra years here! It was so serene.
Monday, February 17, 2014
Officially made it to Paris, France!! It still seems absolutely surreal! I knew I had one mission before I even took my first steps onto France ...I needed to see the Eiffel Tower light up and sparkle at night. It has been one of my biggest dreams since I was a little girl.
We seen the magnificent Mona Lisa in the Louvre, which is one of the largest museums and historical monuments in the world! Visited Notre Dame, more famously known from Disney's "Hunchback of Notre Dame", or at least for me! Of course we had to indulge ourselves in escargot, duck, and macarons! The food was pure perfection, and the service was quite good despite what we were warned! The waiters even helped us decipher the menus, haha! I did pick up a few phrases which really helped me out with the locals, probably helps having a French last name too!! The Love Lock Bridge was a must-see as well! The legend says that if you put a lock on the bridge and throw away the key, you will have an unbreakable love. Did I put one on? Heck yes I did! I was even able to put my lock for my boyfriend and I on the original bridge (which is quite difficult due to how many locks are there). Hopefully when we come back we might be able to find it!
And finally..we seen the Eiffel Tower. I will probably always remember seeing it for the first time as I rounded the corner and someone said "LOOK UP!" ...it took my breath away in an instant! I couldn't believe I was in Paris..THE Paris, with the Eiffel Tower right in front of me! I'll be honest, I had to tear just for a second! But then since we were oh so close, we HAD to reach the tip-top over 1,000 ft high (which for size comparison, is like stacking Lady Liberty 3 times!!) Now, being afraid of heights, I had to quickly get over the fact that I needed to reach the top! The elevator zipped us up faster than any elevator I had ever been on EVER! It probably had something to do with us being able to see the outside world get smaller and smaller. The view was incredible, you could see all of Paris! Some even toasted with champagne for 12 euro a glass!
Then, the night I had been waiting for- our last night!! We had a dinner cruise that left right in front of the Eiffel Tower. We were on our way...rather sprinting through the streets of Paris to catch our cruise when we decided to catch the next one. We all took a moment to take pictures of the Eiffel Tower glowing..when it magically began to sparkle!! Everything I had been waiting for!! All 20,000 lights flickered blue in the night- no picture or video could ever do it justice! It left me in awe for the entire 10 minutes, never taking my eyes away from it. I don't think I could even if I wanted to!
We seen the Eiffel Tower light up 3 more times before we left (it lights up every hour on the hour for only 10 minutes). Each time was nearly as amazing as the first. Nearly ran into a couple light posts because of how many times we would be walking and I would turn around to grab another glance.
Monday, February 10, 2014
Sent with love!! One month in and already "goodie packages"!! My mom and brother sent me little treats and some much needed trinkets!
I was in dire need of shoe sole inserts as my feet were surely not prepared for the walking they needed to do everyday on these cobblestone sidewalks. Blisters the size of quarters were my reward for exploring the city, haha! They're doing much better and everyday I make it a point to see something new!
Lots of American items aren't very popular here. For example, I was for whatever reason, craving popcorn..and I couldn't find it! Once I did, it wasn't like the taste from home. So my mom snuck one pack in with the rest of the trinkets! Thanks Mom, haha!! I also seemed to have packed everything in my luggage except the essential trend setter- boots! So a pair of those also made their way into Spain for me!
Can't forget about Valentine's Day fast approaching! She even sent me a Valentine's card with a hand crocheted heart and stuffed puppy. I couldn't help but miss home a bit more on these days and feel closer at the same time. Thanks you guys for all the yummies and trinkets! <3
Thursday, February 6, 2014
It's officially one month today that I have survived Barcelona, SPAIN!! Honestly, two weeks ago it felt like I had been here a month and a half if not more..but now..it feels like I just got here yesterday! Most people have been wondering about what Spain is like and what I find weird/strange and what I miss the most from being gone.
The taboo things:
1.) The ever-famous "Siesta" time! It's typically a time between 2-4pm when the shops close and there is no school and everyone goes home to eat a very large lunch (comparable to our dinner) and then back to work until around 8pm. But because of this, dinner is served extremely late- between 9-10pm.
3.) Mentality. Back home, over 4,000 miles away, the mentality is "Live to Work" and success is measured by your paycheck, your car and the size of your house among many other material things. However, here it's much simpler and people "Work to Live". They revel in life more fully and simply than I've seen in most Americans. They never eat or drink on the go...ever. Even if it's a small espresso to a sweet dessert. After trying this out, and eating outside, not rushing my meal or my bill (which by the way you always need to ask for) I find that I enjoy my food and company so much more. Perfect opportunity to people watch too, haha.
4.) The amount of bread!! Every meal I've had so far has had some source of carbs- bread (baguettes are very popular), potatoes, rice, or noodles. Another peculiar thing is that the Catalans (northeastern part of Spain) rub their bread with a tomato. It's because when they first came to Spain they were extremely poor and hungry and the cheapest thing they could afford was stale bread that would fill them up, so they rubbed it with a cut tomato to make it softer. The tradition is still very strong..and my lunch baguettes all have tomato on them.
5.) Lastly, affection! PDA (Public display of affection) is very predominate and open here! When I say open..I mean wide OPEN! On the metro, waiting for the metro, waiting to cross the street, in stores, everywhere people are kissing and being intimate in a way that would be a little bit much in the United States. I'm not sure why, but I think it's because the 'home' is considered very private here- not meant for guests (most people go outside to get together).
Of course, I miss the people closest to me back home the most- I miss my mom, my dad, my brother, my boyfriend and friends!!! I wish they could see all the beautiful places I've seen and meet all these wonderful people along this journey! It has certainly been an experience for all of us this semester already! I also very dearly miss Jiffy peanut butter, a working hair straighter that doesn't blow the power, and good popcorn! Skype has at times tested my sanity because it pixelates images, breaks up conversations or drops the call..or honestly all of the above, lol. Probably the hardest "homesickness" time was my returning flight from Paris (which I need to post a blog for very soon!). I was coming through the terminal to where everyone was waiting for people- like friends and family and taxi drivers with name cards. I couldn't help but tear up at the thought of how bad I wanted to see a familiar face and to run to open arms! From this moment alone...I know I am going to be a complete wreck when I return home, haha. I'm going to have tears rolling down my face and will have to remember to not wear much makeup that day!! But I can't wait to see what next month will bring! CHEERS TO ONE MONTH IN SPAIN! :)
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”