Last Day in Paris

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Spring break travels are sadly winding down. Today Sash and I sipped on one of the best lattes of our lives at an off the beaten track café she found in a book at another café! 

We also explored our area (Montmare), awing over the beauty of Sacre Cœur, enjoying a Parisian lunch outside in the sun and buying matching rings to forever remember our spring break travels.

For the afternoon, we took a short train to Versailles! Sasha had a pilgrimage moment, for she has had a fascination of Marie Antoinette ever since she was a little girl. The palace is over the top with size, surrounding gardens, and ornate details and decorations! We had a recharging sunbathe on the grass with the lovers, ducks, geese, and swans. I found the nature I have been craving. I wonder how much Louis and Marie actually walked through their massive gardens! We were impressed by the runners and bikers covering a lot of the gigantic space.

To save money, we had another picnic at the Eiffel. We each got our own baguettes this time in addition to Chinese food (practiced my Chinese AND French). Nothing is more beautiful than watching the sunset in Champs de Mars, surrounded by many foreign and local lovers of Paris and spring’s blooming cherry blossoms. The only irritating thing was having at least 20 men come up to us and try to sell us cheap Eiffel Tower statues and bottles of alcohol! We appreciated the experience nevertheless, including the light show at 9.

We had a resourceful journey back to our hostel, because my phone died while I looked up the metro route to get back. We  managed to find a metro station and only got on the wrong train once! Not bad for some millennials; we can survive without technology 🙂 We rewarded ourselves with a Nutella crêpe. 

If you go to Paris (which you should), I highly recommend going in the spring. We had perfect weather, and there were surprisingly not many tourists. It’s bittersweet knowing I’m leaving tomorrow, but I’m comforted by the fact that I will be back in this city of love. I think of Paris as a European Manhattan. What’s so wrong about that? xo ~ ex



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Surprise! I’m engaged in Paris! Okay, I’m not, but today’s highlight was witnessing a proposal at sunset at the Eiffel Tower. Sasha and I enjoyed a picnic and saw a couple hug and kiss not far from us. She had a rose in hand, and another couple took photos of them. The curious hopeful lovers that Sasha and I are offered to take a photo of them, and they happily said yes before blurting that they just got engaged. We told them we figured. I also got to write #justengaged on the black chalkboard heart he brought along with a gorgeous rose ring. I still have the piece of chalk and will keep it as a momento of Paris. She is Brazilian, and he is Polish, but they spoke Spanish to each other. They live and work in Dublin and travel the world together. The week in Paris was a surprise and spontaneous trip for her birthday and something she didn’t know was coming. They’ll look back on the photos we took and maybe tell their kids about the story of how Mom and Dad got engaged in Paris. We couldn’t get over how we will be a part of their hopefully forever love story. We’re convinced Paris is the city of love. xo ~e.

Oui, Oui Paris!

Monday, March 27, 2017
We made it to Paris! 3 hours and 44 minutes via train from Amsterdam. Traveling on the ground feels more like passing through instead of soaring over; I like it. Our hostel with a private room is a ten minute walk from the Sacré-Cœur. We walked over three miles to the Eiffel Tower! There we sun bathed and played frisbee with two strangers. One was a young Italian man (we practiced our Italian) and the other was a girl “traveling aimlessly” from Canada. She was also just in Amsterdam! She told us “I hope you find love. If not here [in Paris], somewhere.” That was one of the most memorable experiences I’ll have of Paris. We ate Indian for dinner and had a long walk back to our place. We are exhausted but love Paris so far! It’s much bigger than any European city I’ve been to. More to check out tomorrow! xo ~ e.

*There’s romance seeping throughout the city. We couldn’t get over the adorable, posh, elderly couples and the young loves hanging out in the park together. 

Sensational Sunday 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

It wasn’t the 35€ purchase of cute shirts and T-shirt dresses at Primark or the heavenly salad at Cau for dinner  that made this Sunday sensational. It was the visit to the Anne Frank House that made it memorable and meaningful.

I have always been fascinated by the Holocaust, and I’m thoroughly enjoying my history class focused on such an important time in history this semester. Getting to be in the house of a famous female journalist was truly chilling and inspirational. The house included pages from her actual diary, layouts of the house, biographies, videos, the wall Anne collaged on, photographs of the Frank family, the original bookshelf that hid the eight Jews when Netherlands was occupied by Nazis. Being able to connect the dots with what I’ve learned in the classroom only enhanced my museum experience. My favorite part was seeing her original journal and skimming the letters she wrote to Kitty. One of the quotes I remember explains how Anne desperately wanted to be a writer/journalist. Although she passed at a young age, she is one of the most successful, honest, and revered (female) writers of the 20th century. Her diary and story will only continue to move and inspire others. I am so happy I got to read her edited diary in middle school in Vermont and also pages from her real diary in the actual home she hid in for two years during WWII in Amsterdam. I still can’t comprehend the events that occurred revolving around religious anti-semitism; it was such a dark and tragic period in world history. However, it’s heroes like Anne that give me hope for the future. xo ~ e.

16.78 Miles in Amsterdam 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

This photo blog features a full day of walking all over Amsterdam! We ate a delicious breakfast at one of my all time favorite cafes I’ve been to thus far in Europe. I was in a Holland(aze)! We saw people exercising in the park, dogs in baskets enjoying a bike ride, and people buying flowers to welcome spring. Sasha’s friend from high school met us for the day; he’s studying at university a couple hours away via train. We had a coffee pick me up at the cafe in our hostel. We really lucked out with our accommodation! Had to stroll through the Red Light District. Tomorrow we will check out the Anne Frank House. Clocks change for us tonight! xo ~ e.

Greetings from Amsterdam 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Sasha and I safely arrived in Amsterdam after a very bumpy ride from Bologna to Eindhoven!! The off duty flight attendant assured us in the boarding line that we had ‘good’ pilots today. Little did we know it would be a turbulent flight, and she was warning us! The regular commuters didn’t seem frazzled a bit, commenting on how it’s like this ‘every week.’ Something about the specific route and crosswinds make the plane feel like it’s about to go down! We laughed about it once we were on the ground. 

We took the bus to Amsterdam Central Station and walked to our trendy hostel. I’ve lucked out with hostels! This one has an awesome kitchen and common area for the friendly travelers.

We ate some good food, walked around the city, and had a memorable experience at the famous “The Fault in Our Stars” bench. This scene from this epic movie had me in tears at a movie theater a few years ago with Kayla Crossen. I never would’ve guessed I would have sat on it in real life! 

Our lunch and Chinese dinner hit the spot after a busy travel day. We had Ben and Jerry’s for dessert!

We love the buildings, friendly people, canals, postcards at cool shops, abundance of bikes, flowers sold on the street, and good vibes in Amsterdam. So excited to be here for the weekend! xo ~ e.

Ho Finito con Esami

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Exams are officially over! I didn’t think this day would come four days ago. I can’t even think about the next round of exams in May when we will all be simultaneously packing, saying goodbye to Florence and this life changing experience, and studying! So I’m going to bury that thought somewhere deep in my brain until it absolutely has to surface.

Philosophy this morning went better than I anticipated! I knew and understood more than I thought I did. The pre-exam walk around the Duomo definitely helped calm my mind and focus. Steven and I also had a nice walk together to Tetriz so I could print my boarding pass, Eiffel Tower ticket, and Anne Frank House ticket. Sasha and I leave at 7 AM tomorrow and hope to be in Amsterdam 24 hours from now! Very excited for my second to last international trip of my freshman year abroad. It’s bittersweet, but looking back, I can say I have had wonderful abroad experiences. I love being well traveled.

In between my exams, I went to Sit’N’Breakfast to do some Amsterdam & Paris planning and studying. At that point, I couldn’t study much more! The literature exam went very smoothly though. I was tired and took breaks by sipping water, stretching, staring at the European map, and listening to the noise outside. One of the beggars I pass every day on my way to class shouted repeatedly “Ho fame” (I’m hungry). I could hear it from my small desk three floors above. It was unsettling and unexpected yet memorable. The beggar situation in Florence is a major issue, stirring conflicting emotions within me on a daily basis. I wish there was a simple solution.

I am all packed for my spring break trip! Sasha did have to remind me to pack my passport though. And this time I am bringing flip flops for the showers at our hostels! We are staying in an 8 person co-ed dorm in Amsterdam. That’ll be a new experience for both of us! We’re a little nervous but also excited for a new, rugged traveler’s experience. In Paris, we’ll have our own, private room. This is another one backpack trip; I am a pro at packing light these days. I have this year to thank for that! Here’s what’s in my bag (AKA my MUST-HAVES):

  • Passport
  • Journal
  • Headphones
  • Wallet
  • 4 shirts
  • 1 pair of leggings
  • Cosmetic bag
  • Flip flops
  • Travel documents/excursion tickets
  • Glasses
  • Deck of cards
  • Pack of gum
  • 1 pair of pajamas
  • Phone charger

Sasha and I plan on doing lots of eating in Amsterdam and Paris (we’ll pass on the space cakes and edibles in Amsterdam), drinking of coffee in cute, trendy cafés, walking as much as possible, navigating public transportation, picking out unique stationery, hanging out in museums, and soaking in the sunshine (clear forecast for us)! We want to make it to Keukenhof in the Netherlands if we can. It’s the opening weekend this weekend! The recent, traumatic events in Paris and London cannot be ignored; however, we must remind ourselves not to live in fear and that bad things can occur anywhere. Socrates would agree in that living a life in fear is a life not worth living. Check back for travel updates! xo ~ e.

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Treated myself to Edoardo’s after the conclusion of midterms