Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Experiences

So.... hi all!

This week has been very low key. I went to see Nicolas Flamel's house, which was pretty cool (sorry if i repeat things I've already said...). It's now a restaurant, but it has carvings on it (made after his death) and it was built in 1407, which makes it pretty darn OLD.

Samantha came again on the weekend, which was a lot of fun. We went out for Moroccan food, yum, then went to the Palais de Chaillot (right near the eiffel tower) to watch the tower sparkle. It sparkles for about 4 minutes, every hour, on the hour. It was beautiful! At night it is lit up to look kind of gold-ish, then strobes turn on and it sparkles. Other nights it has been lit up blue for the european union (there are gold stars in a circle on it, like the EU flag).

The next day we went to meet Maggie and get falafel for lunch. We strolled around a bit, went into a couple stores, and rested. That night my family and Maggie's went out for Turkish food. It was a very ethnic foody weekend.!

Recently I've been having a flare of Crohn's Colitis (meaning my large intestine doesn't like me), so I spent the last two days getting to know the American Hospital in Paris. Despite its name, most of the doctors are french, and I heard mostly french spoken. It was a good hospital though. Tuesday I had blood tests and a CT-scan, and yesterday I had a colonoscopy. Woo! I have been prescribed new medicine, so hopefully everything should be under control in the next couple days. Unfortunately, this means I haven't been able to do much! (or, I have an excuse to lay around in bed all day, my guilty pleasure).

I've been hearing about snow in some parts of northern New England. Here it ahs been in the 60s, quite beautiful. Now it's sunny, with a clear blue sky. Very nice.

Sorry there's not much to talk about! I have one more week here, then I'll be going to Portugal for two weeks.

Chau and bisous!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Spiron and the Eiffel Tower


In the past two weeks (tomorrow makes two weeks that I will have been in Paris) I have visited (not in that order):

The Eiffel Tower
Sacre Coeur de Montmartre
Notre Dame (many times, but never inside)
The Cluny Museum
The Grand Palais where I saw a Picasso exhibit--very interesting
The grande arche de la défense
the Arc de Triomphe
The Pantheon
many cafés, restaurants, etc.

Taken a boat cruise on the Seine, which is wonderful! Seeing all the monuments lit up at night is great.
I also got together with Maggie, another american gap yearer who's here until January. it was fun meeting someone else my age, as the next week all my mom's friends arrived (4 of them), so I spent a lot of time exploring Paris with them.

The Cluny was my favorite museum because it's based on the middle ages. I love old things! they also had an exhibit on celts and scandinavians, which I found fascinating.

This past weekend samantha came to visit from versailles, which was lots of fun. We went to see the Arc de Triomphe and witnessed a couple getting engaged! it was sweet.

I've also spent a good amount of time at the bird market, held every sunday on ile de la cité where the flower market is during the week. there are thousands of birds for sale, as well as goldfish, guinea pigs, mice, squirrels, and even chipmunks. it's very cute and I want to buy them all, but clearly I can't.

across the street lives a bird in the window of a restaurant. last night I learned that his name is Spiron. he is a beautiful yellow canary and I say hi to him every morning. I also bought some birdseed and have been busy feeding the pigeons and the little brown birds you find in parks. In some places (mostly touristy), if you have the right type of food they will land on your hand! it's great.

the other day I saw a street juggler, who was quite good. I watched the show, then talked to him a bit about circus. I miss circus here!

The Grande Arche de la Défense is a modern arch from which you can get great views of paris. it's set outside of the center of paris, right down the street from the champs elysées, in skyscraper-ville. I also got a great view from the top of the galerie lafayette, a huge shopping mall with a beautiful dome. The printemps is another domed shopping mall (even prettier than the galerie lafayette) where we had a nice lunch with samantha.

Since I last wrote the weather has gotten a lot better, and it has been quite warm! It's very nice.

ps. sorry about the random formatting of this post :-D.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Grapes and Baguettes

Hello, it appears you have come across my first blog post. Here I hope to write (in some detail) of my adventures during my gap year, starting last week, when I boarded a plane at Logan airport....

I flew AirFrance which was great because foreign airlines always offer better food. Arrived at Charles-de-Gaulle and waited there for about 6 hours until my mom arrived on a different flight, then flew to Bordeaux.
We stayed with a friend of my mom's near Bordeaux (in the country, in WINE country) for a week. It was nice to relax, take walks, go see some little villages and eat a lot of baguettes. We have "tartines" (slices of baguette) every morning for breakfast and they are wonderful!

There are vines all over the place; we only saw red grapes. the grapes are in perfect little bunches, very small and round, with dark skins. We visited a couple wineries and got to taste some wine, including "bourru," which is a 10-day old pressing of the grapes (not exactly wine). The last day we were in the Médoc (that region) the "vendanges" were starting--the grape picking! It was very cool. A bunch of workers were winding through the pebbly soil among the vines, cutting grapes and putting them in big plastic tubs on their backs. There were also some grape-picking machines, used solely for that purpose.

We also visited a beautiful 14th century abby, the Château de Cadillac and a 12th century château-turned-winery that looked exactly like a disney castle. It was great.

Yesterday mom and I took the TGV from Bordeaux to Paris, then took a bus and walked to our little apartment, where we met my dad, who was coming in from Istambul. It's quite nice, and perfect for a family of three. We're in the Marais (means swamp), right in the center of Paris, also known as the gay district and the jewish quarter. Alas, most of the clothing stores around here are for gay men, but there is a good shopping mall down the street.

Today was our first full day in Paris--we saw the Jardin de Luxembourg, which I like because of its role in "Les Misérables," the Panthéon (a beautiful 250-year old building full of famous dead people. seriously. Marie Curie, Victor Hugo, Voltaire, Rousseau, etc...), then some nice churches. We also consumed crêpes, quiche, coffee and chocolat like good french people...

The weather has been unpleasantly cool and slightly rainy, so I'm hoping to buy a hat and gloves sometime soon. Hope it gets warmer! My french is getting better, though I haven't had many chances to speak it yet. Waiters, etc. recognize my accent and speak english (usually with fantastically funny accents themselves).

Until next time,