Sunday, November 29, 2009

Paris: Practically Perfect in Every Way, Day 4

Friday was a magical day. After all, there is no other way to describe it when you're spending the day at EURODISNEY, in Paris, on Study Abroad, with some of you best friends. MAGICAL. Our decision to go to the place where dreams come true was not done lightly, but after talking to the parents and thinking long and hard about it we realized we'd be crazy not to. I now know it would have been one of my biggest regrets of this experience. I know this because I had the time of my life on this magical day.

We woke up that morning in our tiny hotel room around 8:30am, got dressed, and did our best to sneak out before anyone noticed there were 3 too many bodies in our room. Once again we succeeded. I have to say we've gotten pretty good at this sneaking stuff. For breakfast we grabbed a couple pastries, then we made our way to the metro, and hopped on the train. After about 45 minutes we arrived at Eurodisney. When we got outside the sky couldn't have been bluer, Disneyland couldn't have looked better, and mine and Ann's grins couldn't have been wider. All of us were beyond excited, but for us Disneyland is the best place ever. No exceptions. After buying our tickets we entered the park and walked down "Main Street, USA, Paris". That is literally what the sign said. With maps in hand we headed over to what we thought was the traditional Indiana Jones. We were a tad mistaken. This was Indiana Jones gone wild...we're talking total rollercoaster with loops, spirals, everything. It was hilarious and definitely got our adrenaline pumping. I loved it. Next up--Pirates. This one stuck to the original that we all know and love, however because we're in France the pirates had to speak French of course! That was pretty funny. They sounded so sophisticated. From there we headed to "Peter Pan"! It is one of mine and Laura's personal favorites. I actually think it became a favorite of all of ours when the ship was flying above London. It felt a little bittersweet to think that we'd really be leaving it behind in just a few weeks. I'm not sure I'm ready for that yet.

Next we decided to go on the ever classic Space Mountain. However, once again we were in for quite the surprise. I think in Europe roller coaster laws must be a little looser because I have never been on something like that in my life. It was literally insane. Ann and I were sitting by each other and I don't think we stopped screaming the whole time. We were holding hands too and by the end my fingers were stuck in that position. The whole "space" element was just blackness, and the "mountain" element was just a series of loops, sharp turns, jolts, bumps, and out-of-control speed. All of this isn't to say I didn't have fun because it was a blast. Mixed in with my screams was nonstop laughter, and as soon as we were done I demanded that we go again before we went home. Obviously we were needing a little break after this so we decided to eat at "Pizza Planet" from "Toy Story". So legit. The pizzas were even shaped like Mickey, and we got to meet Woody!  I was very pleased. After lunch we decided to head over to the other park to seek out some more rides. On our way who did we happen to see but Minnie Mouse. For all those who didn't know, Minnie is basically my idol. When we saw her I waved and naturally she greeted me like we were old friends (which we are). It's known throughout Disney that I'm her longest standing fan.

Over at the other park they had Tower of Terror,  and Rockin' Roller Coaster! These are two of my very favorite rides. First we went on Rockin' Roller Coaster and it was a blast. Once again another roller coaster to rattle our brains, but so worth it. Afterwards we headed to Tower of Terror. I forget how much fun that ride is. When we were at the top and had our first free fall I was laughing so hard. I'm not kidding, I was probably floating for a good three seconds. We all came off of it just cracking up. As we were wandering around we caught one of the character shows. It was so great. There were all princesses, Minnie and Mickey, Donald and Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, Sully, Woody and Jessie, Cruella DeVille, and many more. I swear I felt like I was five years old again. The words were once again in French, but I didn't mind. I was just eating it up.

We decided to head back to the other park and catch a few more rides. First, however, I bought myself a Minnie sweater. I couldn't really walk away from Eurodisney without some form of memorabilia could I? Plus, I was freezing cold. But back to the park. We went for the Haunted Manor first. Abs and I rode it together and had a blast. The workers there take their job pretty seriously and wasted no time in scaring us every chance they got. That ride's a great one too because at the end they always send a ghost home with you. It's the best. Next up--Thunder mountain. It was another wild ride. It felt a little like thunder mountain combined with splash mountain, but that's fine by me. I love them both. Abs, Cath, and I went on the teacups next and I have to say that it was the one ride that let me down a little bit. They just didn't have much spin to them. It was too bad.
We ended our magical day with one more go on Space Mountain and a trip on Star Tours. As much as I loved Space Mountain the first time it made us all a little sick the second time around and getting jolted on Star Tours didn't help. Haha, I guess I'm not as young and resilient as I used to be. It's kind of too bad. On our way out we did a little shopping, took some pics, and grabbed some quick dinner in the Disney Village.

It was an amazing day, but it definitely took a lot out of us. I slept most of the train ride back, and as soon as we were back in Paris we headed straight to our hotel, got in our pajamas and gave our feetsies a rest.

I'm so happy we went to EURODISNEY! It was too much fun and one of my favorite memories I've had while here in Europe!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Paris: Practically Perfect in Every Way, Day 3

Today was a really great day in Paris. The weather was perfect and we managed to cram in everything we had planned to do. Lauren and I started the day by checking out of our lovely hotel and meeting Laura, Ann, and Abs to take our bags to Cath's parent's hotel. Our group was leaving that day and we weren't so they said they'd store our bags for us. After we dropped them off we hopped on the Metro and headed for the Musee D'Orsay. It is probably my very favorite museum that I've ever been to. I love all of the art inside of it. It has work by Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, and my favorite, Degas. The sculpture of the young ballet dancer that Degas did is my very favorite piece of art. I just love everything about it, so I was really happy that we got to see it. After we had seen most of the museum we decided to head over to Notre Dame. On the way there we picked up the best crepes of all time. I'm not kidding. I don't think I've ever tasted something so delicious. It was a lunch crepe with chicken and cheese on it. Now while that may sound pretty basic to some of you don't knock it till you try it. It seriously hit the spot in every way possible and I could not have been happier. When we were done with our lunch we headed to Notre Dame.

Notre Dame is such a cool landmark in Paris. We had a really fun time there. When we first got there we decided to take a group picture and as were posing I heard someone come up behind me and say, "You're going to think I'm so weird for this...". I was a little nervous for a second, but when I turned around it was Dr. Soper. I started laughing so hard. He cracks me up. His whole family was there with him so we decided to get a "planned" shot with them. After that humorous moment we decided to climb the tower first. I never realize how high these towers are when I choose to climb them. Every time I get to the top I'm always huffing and puffing. Ann made the comment that Quasi should've been in better shape, and I agree 100%. Disney wasn't accurate about that for sure. When we got to the top it was worth all that heavy breathing. The view was amazing. You could see the whole city and the Eiffel Tower and Sacre-couer. I was loving all the gargoyles too. It's such an interesting structure when you look at all the details included on it. We also got to see the huge bell as well. When I say huge, I mean HUGE too. It took 16 fully grown men to ring it! However, Ann and I felt like if we were hunchbacks we could push it too, no problem. When we got back to the bottom we walked through the inside and then headed to Saint Chapelle.

Saint Chapelle was really cool as well. When you walk in the entire wall is just made of stain glass. I was honestly in awe. The colors and pictures were so detailed, it was unbelievable. Apparently the entire thing tells the story of the Bible from beginning to end. I can't imagine the amount of time and detail that would take. I enjoyed just sitting there for a minute and admiring the glass. I've never seen anything like that before, and I doubt I will ever see something like it again. It was truly a beautiful site.

After that we decided to head to the Rodin Museum. However, first we had to say goodbye to Lauren. She was heading back to London with the rest of the group while we were staying. I wish she could've stayed with us! The Rodin Museum was really cool. I found it to be quite the pleasant surprise. We first walked through the gardens and then the inside. We had a lot of fun in the garden. First we saw "The Thinker". It was a really cool site. I've always heard about it, but to see it up close was amazing. We had fun impersonating the sculptures throughout and doing some funny interviews too. It was just the most beautiful day you couldn't help but be happy. The inside of the museum had some impressive sculptures as well. I really liked his other famous sculpture, "The Kiss". I'm just so happy we decided to take the time to go to that museum!

Next Stop? La' Oragerie. (I told you it was a busy day.) I went to that museum last summer and loved it. It contains some really cool Monet panel paintings. I love them. The colors and images are so pretty. I just enjoyed sitting down for a minute and admiring his brushstrokes and details. We weren't there for very long, but it was just the right amount of time. From there we strolled up the Champs Elysees, picked up some bon bons, and talked about a possible trip to EuroDisney the next day.

To end the night we climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. It was really fun and really cool. I love the view from the top of the Arc. It's so cool to look down and see how all the streets span out from it. It's like a huge and magnificent star. It was pretty cold up there so we didn't last too long, but it was still a good time. We were clearly tired by this time, and I think we deserved to be, so we decided to head back to the hotel. Because it was technically a room for 2 and there were 5 of us we had to be sneaky. Ann and I snuck in together and the others followed soon after. We spent the night watching Gossip Girl on Cath's computer and falling asleep pretty quickly. It was a jam packed, super busy, totally fun, and perfect day!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Paris: Practically Perfect in Every Way, Day 2


On Wednesday it was Cath's 20th Birthday! How lucky is she to spend her birthday in Paris? Well, we started the day off a little rushed...Lauren and I intended to wake up at 6:30am and woke up at 7am instead! Luckily, we still had a half hour so we managed to get dressed and eat breakfast in time. Breakfast was of course traditional French croissants. I gave Cath her birthday present that morning too. It's a necklace with a crown charm on it, just like the one she gave me for my birthday. At 8am we began what was about to be a very long excursion to Versailles. The hotel suggested we walk to the train station because it was only 15-20 minutes away, yet somehow we ended up in the Industrial Zone of Paris, walking along the highway, wondering where in the world we were, for an hour and 10 minutes. There were elements of humor to it and also elements of frustration. However, we did manage to make it to the train station and after a 40 minute ride we arrived to Versailles.

Versailles was a lot of fun. I'd been there last summer so it wasn't a shocker like it was for the other girls, but I still really enjoyed it. We went through the inside first. The Hall of Mirrors is always quite the site. It was what Annie and Lauren were most excited for. We took our time wandering through it and admiring the vision Louis XIV had. He was quite the spoiled guy. After that we headed out to the gardens. The one downfall in comparison to last summer was that the gardens weren't nearly as pretty and it was really cold. Other than that we had a lot of fun. We took some excellent pictures and wandered down to the lake. When we got there the girls wanted to see Mary Antoinette's village she had built. It was a ways up another path so we kept walking till we got to the entrance. Cath and I went there last summer so we decided to let them go ahead. We ended up sitting at the entry gate for a good 40 minutes listening to some tunes. When they weren't showing up we decided to head back to Paris and meet them at the Louvre.

When we got back into Paris we were in desperate need for some lunch so we went searching for a pastry shop. After wandering through a couple streets we found one and enjoyed a nice cheese bread. It tasted great. When we got to the Louvre Abs, Ann, Laura, and Lauren were waiting for us. Poor Abby got "coat picked" at Versailles! Well, we stepped inside the building for a long afternoon of artwork. Don't get me wrong, I love the Louvre and I appreciate the art, but it gets a bit wearing after a while. I did love seeing the "Winged Victory" and the "Mona Lisa". That sculpture is amazing and inspiring and I love everything about it. The Mona Lisa is cool, but I think it gets a little more hype than necessary sometimes. It was also fun to wander around the museum and recognize a lot of art that we've been discussing in Humanities this semester. I think it made me appreciate it a lot more. When it was around 5pm Cath and I had to go back to her parent's hotel for dinner. We decided we'd meet the girls around 8pm at the Eiffel Tower!

Dinner was really fun. We went to a restaurant that had a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower. Cute Lisa and John treated us to a delicious meal. I shared some french onion soup with Cath and had some ravioli for my main course. It was so nice to have a good sit down dinner. We talked a lot about London and how amazing it has been for Cath and me over the last 3 months. I've really realized how much it has changed my life. I honestly don't think I've ever been happier. Lisa said that if she could do 3 things over again Study Abroad would be one of them. I think I feel the same way. I have just loved every minute of it. When we were done with dinner we headed to the Eiffel Tower. The light show was going on as we were walking and it was so pretty. It was gold, blue, white, multi-colored, and flashing. I loved it.

When we got to old Eiffel we got our tickets and got in line for the elevator. We were so lucky because it had been really crowded every night, but of course on Catherine's birthday the place seemed to be empty. The ride to the top was an exciting one. I couldn't wait to be on top looking over all of Paris. When we arrived it was FREEZING! Truly so so cold. However, I think that made it that much more memorable. We were laughing so hard the whole time and hurriedly taking pictures of each other in the brisk wind. Hair was everywhere, fingers were numb, but I've honestly never had a better time. The view is so amazing. The Eiffel Tower is so much higher than everything else in the city that you can literally see every single thing. We sang "Happy Birthday" to Cath plus John and Lisa's own ending verse. I'm so happy she's now 20 with me. Bye bye to our teen years.

When we were back on the ground we had to end our night with some crepes. We went to the place located right next to the Eiffel. John and Lisa were so nice and treated us! I got a Nutella banana crepe and it was beyond good. I think it must be the best place in town. Seriously, something could not have tasted better at that moment in time. I think everyone felt the same way as me. We were all just savoring every bite. It was the perfect way to end the night, and I think Cath had a great day!

Another wonderful day in the City of Light!

Paris: Practically Perfect in Every Way, Day 1


Last Tuesday we Chunneled off to one of my very favorite places...PARIS! I was so excited. We spent all of Monday night packing and I was more than happy to get up at 5:30am so we could be on our way. The Chunnel ride was excellent. I slept soundly for the 2.5 hours and woke up to us arriving in the Paris train station. From there we had to literally run after the Sopers to the metro so they could show us where the hotel was. Lauren almost got stuck in the doors in her haste to get on. Luckily all of us made it (almost) unscathed and we were on our way. After a metro ride that took us way out of the city we arrived at our hotel. I have to say I didn't have high expectations for it, but I was happily proved wrong. The "Novotell" was actually quite nice and to top it off Lauren and I were roommates. I called Cath to let her know we were there (because she was already in Paris with her parents), and we finished our lunches while waiting for her to arrive. When she got there I was so excited to see her. When she left on Friday it was the first time we'd been apart in 80 days. Weird. It was so fun to see John and Lisa too. They both gave me a huge hug. They also came bearing gifts. My mom gave me a necklace with the Eiffel Tower on it! I loved it and wore it the whole time we were there.

When we were ready we decided to head up to Sacre-Coeur. It is a really beautiful church that overlooks the whole city. Ann, Abs, Kristen, Lauren, Laura, and I grabbed our map and hopped on the metro. It felt weird to be in a place where English wasn't the native language. I quickly learned that I am terrible at pronouncing French words, but I did my best. When we made it to our intended stop we now had the task of finding the church. We ran into Courtney, Emmy, and Megan so all of us headed toward what we hoped was the right direction. We were in luck because after about 10 minutes we found the church. It was really fun to climb to the top of the stairs and have our first view of Paris. I just love that city. It made me so happy to be there! From there we decided to head to the little town behind it and eat our first crepes. Ann and I shared a chocolate one and it was quite delicious. I could tell this would be the first of many crepes I would be eating in the next five days.

As we made our way down the hill we found Cath and her parents again and decided to head to the Arc de Triomphe. When we got there we had fun taking a bunch of pictures and walking around and underneath it. Yes, my name is proudly proclaimed on the Arc. My parents had it engraved there for me. Everyone loved the arc as much as I do. It's just such a cool structure right in the heart of Paris and at the top of the Champs Elysees. Speaking of the Champs, we decided to wander down it after finishing up at the Arc. I love the Champs Elysees. It has such a lively atmosphere and so many fun stores to wander in and out of. It was especially fun because all the christmas lights were up. It was here that we found our favorite candy shop "Glup's" that we would visit many times in the next few days to pick up our daily dose of bon bons.

When we reached the end of the street we wanted to go on a river cruise on the Seine. We decided to walk along the water in the hopes of finding one. After about a half hour we found it. It was freezing cold, but a lot of fun. It took us all the way around the river and we saw Notre Dame, the Lourve, and the Eiffel Tower all lit up! We actually passed it right on the hour so not only was it lit up, but sparkling too. It is one of my favorite things about Paris. I love the Eiffel Tower at night. It just seems to light up the city and make Paris everything you'd hope it would be.
When the river cruise ended we were freezing so we decided to head guessed it! McDonald's. Aren't we oh-so-predictable. My only reasoning I can give is we were freezing and hungry and the hotel was much too far away. This McDonald's was located on the Champs Elysees so it felt quite gourmet. I ordered myself a delicious chicken mcnugget happy meal and felt fully satisfied. When we felt like we had warmed up a bit we decided to start heading back home to get some sleep. I went with Cath to her parent's hotel to pick up some things first. There, I was greeted with another surprise from my mom! She sent me two "New Moon" shirts and a hear necklace with "Edward" on it. It could not have been more appropriate. She and I will always be Team Edward. When Cath was ready we hopped on the metro and took our long journey back to our hotel. That night Laur and I entered our lovely smoke-smelling room, showered, journaled, and went right to bed.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Laura!


Today is my soul sister's. Laura has quickly become someone who I share more similar qualities with than anyone else I know. Everyone laughs at us, but it's seriously creepy how much we have in common. For example, we both love Peter Pan, Harry Potter, and the movie, "The Santa Claus". We also had the same bedspread and Audrey Hepburn picture last year (it's how we met). I knew when she came to London we were meant to be friends. Haha, but really I love her to death. For her birthday Abs, Annie, Lauren, Laura's friend Tara, Laura and I went to dinner at Zizii last night (just like mine). It was a lot of fun. I think she really enjoyed it. Today we sang to her before dinner and had cheesecake for dessert (yum)! Cath and I gave her a necklace with a crown charm on it and Annie, Abs, and Laur gave her earmuffs. I hope she had a great day!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Meridian madness and Glorious Baroque

Straddling the Prime Meridian

On Friday we travelled to Greenwich. If you've never heard of this place it's ok, because I hadn't either. However, I can now tell you that Greenwich, England is the home of the Prime Meridian. We'll get back to that later though. We left around 10am for the town and had to take a tube and a ride on the DLR to get there. Of course we arrive to pouring rain. I can't say I'm surprised. Our good luck London weather has finally run out. Rain is becoming a constant part of every day now. Abs, Annie, Lauren, Kristen, and I stuck together as we tried to figure out where the heck we were supposed to go. The map we'd been given was pretty vague on the details. We ended up wandering through the covered market and to the nearest Starbucks to pick up some steamers. They warmed us right up but didn't seem to taste as good as they normally do. It was too bad. Eventually we figured out where we were and headed to the Royal Observatory. It was a good 20 minute walk in the rain and Kristen and I were the only ones with umbrellas and even they weren't helping that much. Oh well, what can you do right? When we got to the observatory we followed the signs to the Prime Meridian. This is the line that divides the world into Eastern and Western hemispheres. Pretty cool right? I was standing in two different hemispheres at once. I'll admit, I felt pretty special at that moment. We snapped a few pictures and then decided to go to the astronomy exhibit. Annie's a pretty big fan of those types of things, so we wanted to give her the chance to go. It too was fun to look at. From there we decided to head back to London. Again, we trekked through the pouring rain and had a nice soggy train ride back home.

That night we went as a group to see a night of Baroque Music at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square. Annie, Lauren, Abby, Nicole, and I decided to get some dinner first. We went to Nando's and it was so good. I got a caesar salad and just loved it. The concert was really neat as well. The church was beautiful. I wasn't sure what Baroque music was, but now I know it is very pleasant sounding music played mostly by strings. They played "Four Seasons" and "Pachobel's Cannon" just to name a few. I really enjoyed myself. Afterwards we had some delicious ice cream cones from McDonald's. Seriously, one of the best I've had while over here. It was a pretty great day!