Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Paris Ooh-la-la!

Since I've been hopelessly behind on blog posts, I'm not going to attempt to remember all of the beauty that was Paris.  I actually was shocked at how much I loved the city.  I had all of these horrible expectations of smoke everywhere, rude people, and bad food; boy was I wrong!! I had the best meals of my semester so far in Paris, every person we encountered was wonderful, and there was NO SMOKE.  I don't even know.  I'll run through our schedule:  We arrived on Friday in the afternoon and took a cab to our hostel in Montmartre (now that cab did smell).  After we settled into our room on the 5th floor we headed out to explore our neighborhood.  After stopping in at a little bakery and getting olive bread, we went to get crepes--can you already see what the main objective of our trip was?? :)  The place ended up being a hookah bar which provided ceaseless entertainment through the form of Hindi rap and I ended up getting a banana/nutella panini and an espresso.  After that we took the metro to the Louvre to take advantage of a free ticket night! The Louvre is absolutely better when it is free.  But in all seriousness, it was spectacular.  I'm definitely not a museum person but I was certainly impressed and could have spend probably four hours there. 

When it closed at 9pm we walked down the Seine toward the Eiffel Tower, hoping to get a glimpse.   Here's our glimpse!

After that we ate dinner at a rugby bar we stumbled upon (my roommate freaked out because she's a rugby player--she the one on the right in the picture) where we had an amazing meal of hard -boiled eggs, chicken, french fries and wine, nothing better.  Somehow we didn't leave the restaurant until well after midnight, it must have been the magic of Paris. :)  After that I think we walked around a bit more and then headed back to our hostel.  The next morning we woke up and headed to the Musee d'Orsay!  That was also beautiful, I particularly enjoyed the Manets and Monets as well as a new guy I found, Paul Signac who was one of the first neo-impressionists.  This was my favorite painting, although the colors were much more brilliant in real life. :)  

After that we went to the Eiffel Tower, and thus started my favorite afternoon probably of all time.  It was slightly drizzling and started off at Starbucks and then walked right towards it!  We had so much fun taking pictures and walking all around the tower.  We stopped for a snack at a vendor under the tower and shared waffles with nutella on them which were perfect for the drizzly weather.  Then we walked across the Seine and found a great location for some perfect pictures.  Here's my favorite.  

After that lovely afternoon we headed back to our hostel and took a nice nap.  For dinner we stopped at this amazing little restaurant in Montmartre and then went to this Irish pub/nightclub the girl at our hostel had recommended.  There we danced all night long. :) 

On Sunday we headed over to a flea market in our neighborhood where we spent a couple hours looking over the wares and then stumbled upon the most amazing antique row!  I wish we'd had hours to spend there; store after store of beautiful mirrors, jewelry, old clocks, and anything else you could think of.  We also found a little street vendor who was roasting peanuts and bought some delicious snacks for the plane ride home.  He was so cute, when he saw my friend taking a picture of his cart he asked her to e-mail the pics to him so he could use them! After that we saw Notre Dame, which was was so spooky, I wish we could have gone inside but unfortunately we were there too late.  I'll have to go back!  Here's one of the more scary pictures I took.  

We ate dinner at a restaurant right across the river and had an amazing meal! I had Croque Madame (kinda like grilled ham and cheese with an egg on it, but way better) and shared a Tiramisu with my roommate for dessert.  After that we rushed back to the metro hoping to get to the Arc d'Trimph before the station closed at 12:30 and just made it! After an epic night of running around trying to see everything on our list, we collapsed back at the hostel and had little snoozes before leaving for the airport at 4am for our 7 o'clock flight.  

It was an epic weekend, chock full of adventures and beautiful sites, and it only made me want to go back again very soon.  :)  One more picture...

Update on Classes!!

Hello everyone!  Some very exciting things have happened lately in my classes that I thought I should share.  I believe I've talked a little bit about my Ancient Architecture class already , but it has gotten really exciting lately.  Last week we made it up the Acropolis but it was too windy to have class so our Professor took us into the employee offices and we sat around this big old wooden table surrounded by guys speaking Greek who shoved food and shots of raki at us.  This was at 11 in the morning!  Our Professor disappeared during this time searching for books and by the time he came back we all had eaten loads of bread, "giant beans", amazing olive oil with spices in it, and radishes.  For the rest of the class he alternated between showing us pictures of different monuments and lovingly yelling at the guys in Greek.  Definitely a cool experience.  The next time our class met we were able to stay outside because the sun was out, but towards the end he took us inside, saying, "You probably want to go sit inside and have a snack".  During our lecture time outside on that same day, we also witnessed our professor getting into a shouting match with a newbie guard who didn't know who my professor was.  Apparently they've been recently tightening up on security so they hired a new batch of guards and my professor is used to just walking over all ropes, out onto any scaffolding, etc.  It seems like every day is an adventure up on the Acropolis, I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!

On another note, I just received a call from the cousin of my grandparent's friend, Vali, whom they met when they lived in Greece over 35 years ago.  They have a small school where they teach Greek to foreigners and have been waiting patiently for me to come visit them.  I am all set to walk over there tomorrow afternoon and I am so excited! This weekend a few of my friends and I are planning to take a ferry to the island of Aegina for a day trip because it's supposed to be a beautiful, sunny day in Greece.  Last weekend we also had a few sunny days and I bought some handmade leather sandals from the famous "Poet Sandalmaker", who's made sandals for the likes of Jackie O, John Lennon, Sarah Jessica Parker, and even Bob Saget! ;) While out and about on Saturday we also took a walk up to Anafiotika, a tiny little village built up against the base of the Acropolis that has an amazing history, which I will share in my next blog post!

Until next time,