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summer travel 2011

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summer travel 2011 - Page Text Content

S: England, Poland, France, and Italy Summer 2011

FC: England, Poland, France, and Italy Summer 2011 EH

1: 5.30.11 Ashley Hotel, Paddington Just arrived in London after twelve hours of traveling and am now sitting in my tiny but very cute hotel room. Plans for the evening: shower, watch the remainder of Dances with Wolves (I started it on the plane), hopefully sleep, and get up bright and early for continental breakfast. | London, England

2: 5.31.11 First day in London today and Harper isn't arriving until tomorrow, so I spent the day walking around London by myself. I took the underground to the hotel Harper and I will be staying in starting tomorrow to make sure I could find it, and then walked to Westminster Abbey and the Parliament buildings. On the way there it started raining very hard, and when it stopped there was a man who was washing his hair in the street. Pretty bizarre. Unfortunately the Parliament buildings aren't going to be open for tours while I’m here in London, but I hope to go back to Westminster Abbey tomorrow and take the tour. I bought a Westminster Abbey Christmas decoration to match the ones that Dad and I got on our last trip to London at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. From the Parliament buildings I walked across the river Thames and then all the way back to my hotel in Paddington via Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park. I had lunch at Pret, which is a great sandwich place that Dad and I ate at all the time when we were here, and had a steak and onion sandwich and fries for dinner at Lite Bite before returning to my hotel. My feet and legs are sore from walking so far, but I’m glad to be back in London. The people here are so diverse, and I feel at home here.

7: 6.1.11 London, England The Park Hotel, Westminster Today I went to pick Harper up from Paddington Station at nine o'clock. I didn't want to check out of my hotel until eleven, so we dropped her bag off in my room and walked around Hyde Park for a bit. She had never heard of it before. Then I checked out of the Ashley Hotel and we took the Circle Line from Paddington Station to Victoria Station and walked the rest of the way to the Park Hotel on Belgrave. It's a very quaint area with rows and rows of white facade hotels with basement apartments and large, tall windows that open onto terraces with views of the street below. We walked over to the Parliament buildings again and saw Westminster Abbey, but we didn't go in. We walked across the bridge and saw the Eye, and ate Pret sandwiches on a bench that overlooked the Parliament buildings from across the river Thames. From there we walked back across the bridge and down Victoria Street to Buckingham Palace, where the flag was up and the Queen was at home. Then we walked by Canada Gate and through the rose garden in Hyde Park all the way to Kensington Gardens, where we saw Kensington Palace. Unfortunately the normal tours were on hold due to renovations of the front gardens, but we did meet a man feeding a squirrel who he called Mary. He said he comes there to feed her almonds every day. Then we took the tube from High Kensington station to the Monument, but unfortunately we had missed the last entry, so we're planning to go back tomorrow. Then we walked down the Thames walkway and saw the Tower of London, which was also closed, and walked across the Tower and London bridges, and then got fish and chips and traditional Cornish ice cream on a platform overlooking the Tower of London. The Cornish ice cream was delicious and tasted like butter, very cold, rich, and incredibly creamy. After dinner it was back to the hotel where Harper passed out from lack of sleep. My legs are still aching from all this walking, but I’m still excited to be back in London.

11: 6.2.11 Today we woke up early and had a quick breakfast at Nero Café, a chicken salad (which is cut chicken, mayo, lettuce, and tomato – not the kind of chicken salad we're used to at home) and an iced orange juice before heading to Monument Station from Victoria on the tube. Monument station is named for the column next to it, which is simply called the Monument, which was erected in remembrance of the great fire of 1666, which burnt down most of the city. It is the tallest free standing column in the world, and we climbed the 311 steps to the viewing deck at the top, which had some lovely views of the city. From there we walked back to Tower bridge and entered the exhibition, which goes up to the viewing decks above the road and look over the River Thames, and then down to the engine rooms, which displayed the original hydraulic lifts used to life the bridge when tall masted boats needed to go through. Then we took the train from Paddington Station to Windsor. We had tea at a 17th century restaurant that included cucumber sandwiches, a scone with clotted cream, English breakfast tea, and chocolate gateau. It's the same lunch that I had with my Dad when we were here three years ago. Then we took a bus tour on a double decker bus around the cities of Windsor, Dachet, and Eton. After the tour, we walked on foot back to Eton and wandered through Eton College, where many famous and prestigious people have gone to school, including Princes Harry and William. We also found a very neat antique book store in Eton with tons of books and prints over a hundred years old. We walked around the Eton school grounds, and back to Windsor. Then we walked to the long walk, which is a three mile path leading from Windsor Castle to a statue at the other end. We didn't walk along it, but headed back into town and had dinner at a Thai restaurant called the Thai Palace. Unfortunately, the antique shop I wanted to visit was already closed when we made it there, so hopefully I can come back someday and go there. They have gorgeous old rings and jewelry. Then we headed back to the Park Hotel via the train.

16: 6.4.11 Dizzy Daisy Hostel Krakow, Poland Today was a day full of the little talked about and much less liked part of travel: waiting. We checked out of the Park Hotel in London at ten thirty in the morning, and we had been hoping to go to Buckingham Palace to see the Changing of the Guard, but unfortunately both the Circle and District lines were closed for work this weekend and it was too far to walk with our luggage. Instead we made our way to the Victoria coach station, bought our 1:55 p.m. bus tickets for Stansted Airport, and spent the next three hours at a café called Melissa's just down the street. After boarding the bus at two, we spent an hour and a half on the bus, sometimes sleeping, sometimes observing the countryside, which somehow surprises after being in the city of London, where there are always people everywhere. As we entered the airport the stress seemed almost tangible in the air. There were women arguing with the ticket people and children crying, the staff seemed tired and irritated, and it was possibly the least pleasant airport I’ve ever encountered. The airport itself was entirely confusing, with everything marked by vague letters and arrows which seemed to have no meaning whatsoever. What managed to save the whole experience was the large Pret located near our terminal, where Harper and I managed to spent the last of our pounds on egg salad sandwiches, tropical fruit bowls, a slice of banana cake, a chocolate chunk cookie, an almond croissant, and a miniature baguette – quite a feast! The flight was about three hours long, and on it we met an older lady who was very kind despite being a little strange. She was born in Poland but had lived in England all her life. She helped direct us to the proper bus, told us where we needed to visit, and even helped pay for our bus tickets as we did not have the correct change. As soon as we left the airport the road signs were completely in Polish with no English or other language recognizable to me in sight. When we got off the bus, our directions were not as clear as could be hoped, but fortunately some friendly souls walked us all the way to our hotel after we managed to get turned around. At first I was worried, since it was late at night and they were two young men, but they were very kind, showed us to our hotel, shook our hands, and left us very appreciative. Our hotel here is in fact a hostel, and although we have a private room we share a bathroom with one other room of guests. The room seems comfortable enough and is decorated cutely. For now, I’m excited to sleep and start our adventures in Krakow anew tomorrow.

17: KRAKOW, POLAND | 6.5.11 Today we took two walking tours of the city of Krakow. It was a hot day – although still about ten degrees cooler than the weather at home. The first tour, which took three hours, was called Royal Krakow. We walked around the city center and square, where St. Mary’s Cathedral is located. At every hour, a bugler plays a Hungarian tune out of the watch tower once in each cardinal direction. The tune is played 96 times a day. It was originally used to alert the city dwellers in case of a fire. The Cathedral was originally built in the 13th century. The square on which the cathedral is located is the original market square of the medieval city. It is the largest medieval town square in Europe. Today, it is lined with souvenir shops and restaurants that cater mainly to tourists. In the center stands the cloth hall, where merchants used to sell their goods, as Krakow was a crossroads between north, south, east, and west despite being a small city of about 3,000 in its early history. Later we walked along the park where the outer walls of the city used to be. Most of the original walls and towers have been knocked down, but some remain due to the fact that they are part of the ‘royal route’ – the path that monarchs would take through the city before their coronations and when they were to be buried. Next we traveled to Wawel Hill, where Wawel castle is located. It is a Gothic castle, built by Cisimir III the Great, although it has been rebuilt several times since then due to fires. The cathedral there is large, but barely visible as it is surrounded by 25 slightly smaller chapels that are built nearly upon it, in various styles that must have been popular at the time they were built. One of these chapels is said to be the finest example of Italian renaissance architecture in northern Europe. After this tour we took a short break and had some delicious pirogies for lunch. Then we started a tour of the Jewish part of Krakow. We started in the Jewish district of the city, where the film Schindler’s List was filmed. Before World War II about one third of the city’s population was Jewish, and the Jewish community was wealthy and prestigious amoung Jews in the region. There were eight large synagogues there. From there we moved to the square that was used as a location for the pickup of Jews being deported to concentration camps during the War, it was very sad to think that over one thousand people were executed on the spot where we were standing – mostly old woman and young children that would not survive the journey to the concentration camps. What was the Jewish Ghetto during the war is an area of the city that contained just over 300 apartments, but had to house over 10,000 people. Two or three families would be crammed together in one small flat, and more kept coming because at the time the ghettos where advertised as places of safety for Jews. That area of the city seems as though it hasn’t changed since 1943. Many of the buildings are derelict, there are bars and chain wire above the fences, and graffiti and litter everywhere. The buildings and streets are sad and dirty. It still looks and feels like a prison. We walked to what remains of Schindler’s factory, which is now a museum, and then to what remains of the ghetto wall. The wall is made of black stone and has arches that are shaped like tombstones. There are two theories as to why the wall was made this way: one story says that the architect who designed the walls was Jewish, and that he wanted to warn Jews traveling to the ghetto of what awaited them there. The other theory goes that the Germans designed the wall in this way for the same reason, although their intent was not to scare the incoming Jews away. The place felt somber and quiet, although life oddly goes on there, as people continue to live in the apartments and flats in the area. After ending the tour, we walked to a local shop that sells ‘polish pizza’ – toppings like cheese and vegetables melted on top of a baguette half. The food was very good. We walked back to the main square via the Jewish district, and had some delish fruit and ice cream to end the day on a positive note. I also bought two paintings from a local artist for 50 zloty – a real steal. The paintings are of the same scene, one is larger and in black and white, of a road in the city that leads up to Wawel Castle, the second is a smaller version of the same street, in color, which I will give to my mother. Tomorrow, I will travel to Auschwitz alone, as my companion does not share the same passion for history as myself, and has no desire to face the more difficult aspects of the country's past with me. As for me, I am looking forward to going there. I have no doubt that it will be a disturbing experience, but I feel that it is a necessary visit that cannot be avoided, and that is owed to those that both survived and lost their lives there.

23: 6.6.11 Today I visited the Auschwitz – Birkenau museum at the site of the concentration camp. To be there left one feeling heavy. I cannot describe it, but I feel that if you can, you should go and visit. It is so important to understand what has happened there. They give tours, which are not really informative, but rather simply allow you to see the place. Even after being there, it is hard to accept that such a place can have existed in such recent times. I will never forget the things I have seen there. Krakow has been an interesting place to visit. In my short time here, I wonder if I have really gotten to know the city at all. It is quite different here than in London or other cities I have been to before. The upkeep of the buildings, the condition of the streets, and the relative lack of modernity all subtly hint at the country’s darker history. It is easy to forget in the west that this part of the world was under soviet control until 1989. I’m certainly appreciative of the medieval and world war history here. It is amazing that people have survived and thrived here for so long given the adversity that this city has faced throughout its history.

24: 6.7.11 Today we woke up early, thinking it was time to head to Paris, when I immediately realized that we still had another day to spend here in Krakow. We decided to walk to a monastery outside of town, which we were told was a twenty kilometer walk there and back. Before heading to the walking trail, we went back to the city square and bought a ticket to go inside St. Mary’s Cathedral. It was very beautiful and brightly colored inside, with a blue and gold roof and lots of ornamentation. I sneaked one picture, since you had to pay double to take photographs. Then we headed out of Krakow along the Vistula River. It was a hot day, in the 80's, and most of the path offered no shade. Despite this, it was a beautiful walk with a few little carts along the way, which offered an opportunity to sit down at the picnic tables beside them and purchase a drink. We both got a tan on the way there from the bright sun, and by the time we reached the monastery we had been walking for three hours. We took the long way up to the monastery, through a small down that it overlooks from atop a cliff facing the river. The town was very quaint and rural, full of old ladies tending their gardens. In the monastery we saw no monks, but found a little shop filled with products made by them; herbs, noodles, jam and honey, and some baked goods. I bought a truffle, which they made also, and a fruit juice from the dessert restaurant above the shop, and then we stopped to admire the view from the monastery wall. Then we descended back down the hill and stopped to have dinner at a stand at the base of it – spinach, chicken, and mozzarella pirogies and kielbasa. It was very good. Then we started the long walk back to our hotel. It was cooler by then, and the walk back seemed to take much less time than the walk there and seemed more enjoyable. When we got back to our hotel, we basically collapsed into our beds and didn't get up until the next morning, our feet were so sore. Later we realized that the walk there was twenty kilometers as the crow flies, and that we had actually walked closer to thirteen kilometers both ways – about twenty miles in six hours!

27: PARIS, FRANCE | 6.8.11 Holiday Inn Gare de L’Est Paris, France Today we got up and checked out of our hotel, and then remained in the common room to eat the provided breakfast and use the computers before heading to the airport. When we arrived and went to check in, I realized that I had made a terrible mistake; I had booked the tickets for July the eighth instead of June! The woman at the desk informed us that there were exactly two seats left. There was only ten minutes left to get on the plane so we had to run back to the ticket booth and purchase the tickets for today. They weren’t cheap, and I feel so silly. I planned the trip so carefully and still this careless mistake! I feel bad asking Harper to pay for her ticket when it was my mistake, although my father says it wasn’t fair that I had to plan the whole trip in the first place due to her rather laissez-faire attitude. Despite what he thinks, I will pay for the tickets myself somehow, for I dread having to ask her for that much money and I do not think it would be fair. Regardless, we made it on the plane to Paris, and after much confusion with the metro system, which I have never used before despite this being my second trip here we finally made it into the city. We alighted at Gare du Nord after missing it and returning on the opposite bound train, and walked to Gare de L’Est, which our hotel sits opposite of. We are staying at the Holiday Inn Gare de L’Est thanks to my father’s generosity in letting us use the hotel points he has accumulated while working. The whole week here was free – and the cheapest rooms cost over one hundred euro a night. I simply love the hotel – it feels so lavish after staying in hostels and the cheapest hotels we could find, and feels glamorous compared to home. We are on the fifth floor, and have French doors that open to a tiny raught-iron balcony which faces the station. The room is decorated in brown and blue and white and the beds are comfortable and have two pillows each (something unheard of in our other hotels). The best part however, is the bathroom. Two small double doors open to a large hardwood floored room, with a very large white porcelain sink, and best of all a giant tube. The first thing I did after settling into the new room was to take a bubble bath, and when you lay down in the tub, nothing is above water except the tops of your knees. It was divine, and I feel really clean for the first time in a week. Before going to bed we went down to the Monop’ and I bought fruit and bread and some peanut butter for breakfast all week, and a sandwich for dinner. Paris is an expensive city, especially for food, and this way I know I’ve at least got a cheap breakfast every day.

29: 6.9.11 Today we met my friend, Marine, who was an exchange student who stayed with me for two weeks during a summer in high school, at noon in the hotel lobby. It’s been five years since I’ve seen her, but she is just as I remember her except that she wears makeup now. She took us through her favorite neighborhood to hang out, Saint-Germaines, and then we had lunch at a café. We all had the same dish; duck with potatoes, and it was delicious. It was so rich I almost felt sick afterwards, and Marine, being so sweet, said she had invited us to lunch and paid for the whole thing even though it cost thirty euros! Then we walked to the islands and went into Notre Dame. The cathedral was overwhelmingly beautiful. The towering arches and height of the ceiling were spectacular. Then we went up in the towers, which cost five euros with a student card, and climbed the 400 steps to the very top. The views of the city were astounding, and I took a picture of the famous gargoyle and his friends along the walkway. Then we climbed into the bell tower where Victor Hugo’s Quasimodo lived and saw the giant bell, and then climbed again to the very top of the building. It was well worth the money and absolutely stunning in every way. Then we walked back to the hotel, where Marine left us after promising us homemade macarons and a picnic lunch for tomorrow, when we plan to visit the Louvre in the evening. After getting dinner at the Monoprix (again a sandwich) Harper and I walked back to the islands and wandered around the shops and streets, stopping to buy some souvenirs and crepes. I’m loving Paris even more than I did the first time. The city is beautiful and picturesque, the people are interesting, the streets loud, and everyone is always moving somewhere.

36: 6.10.11 Today we woke up early to try and beat the crowds to Versailles. It's about a thirty minute train ride from Gare St. Michael, which is just south of the islands. Once there, we paid eighteen euros for an entrance ticket, audio guide, and entrance to the Trianon, which was Marie Antoinette's favorite area during her time. The main chateau was built by Louis XIV’s father but was at the time a much smaller brick and stone chateau. Louis XIV renovated it to its current splendor and made it the king's residence instead of what is now the Louvre Museum to escape Paris for political reasons. It was built basically as a way to display the most beautiful French art, of which Louis XIV was a great patron. It looks much like a museum and it one of the greatest collections of French art in the world, and also houses the largest painting ever realized, which is on the ceiling of one of the large state rooms. Everything is embossed in gold and is made of bright, royal colors. The hall of mirrors must be the most beautiful part. A large golden hallway used as a ballroom and reception room, it is lined with crystal chandeliers and mirrors from floor to ceiling on one side, and large windows that look out over the magnificent French gardens on the other. It was in this chateau that Marie Antoinette was married to Louis the XVI, and it is easy to see how she could be overwhelmed by moving here. The whole place was built to impress the public, and even the wooden divisions in the king and queen’s bedrooms which are now used to keep tourists from touching the furniture where there during her time, used as a rail behind which nobles and courtiers would watch her get up and go to bed every morning and night. After exiting the main building we walked along the grand walkway into the gardens, which the audio guide described as ‘nature a la Francaise’ because it is incredibly ordered and symmetrical. Shaped trees line every wide gravel walkway, and along the main stretch there is a long rectangular pond with two circular ends where you can rent row boats. The main garden is basically a maze, in which hide many beautiful Grecian statues and fountains. A two kilometer walk brings you to the Grand Trianon, which is a building made entirely of pink and white swirled marble on the outside. It is two buildings connected by a long open-arched walkway, through which you can see the flower gardens beyond. The Trianon was also used as a residence by members of the royal family or important guests. It is less grand than the main chateau, but nonetheless beautiful. From there you can walk further into the gardens and tour the Petit Trianon, which is where Marie Antoinette spent much of her time. It is not made of marble, but of stone, and is a large square house with tall windows. The inside is much less glamorous than the other two buildings, but it is entirely enchanting, which is just the way Marie Antoinette wanted it. It was called her escape, where she came to get away from the courtiers and public life at Versailles. The grand staircase leads upstairs where you can see her small bedroom, which she had decorated in furniture and curtains covered in her favorite flowers, and her boudoir, which was done in the fashionable light blue with white details.

37: Behind the Petit Trianon is the English garden, which is much less structured than the French gardens, and contains more flowers, natural looking ponds and creeks, and two beautiful white stone gazebos. Just a short walk further into the gardens leads you to the farm, where there are many small cottages. This is something that must be seen, for they are incredibly whimsical, and were also one of Marie Antoinette’s favorite escapes. The cottages have small winding staircases leading up to the second floors on the outside, and one contains a lighthouse. They look like something from a painting of a fairytale or a child's book. The outside of the cottages are deceiving however, when you look inside you can see they are built of stone, have high ceilings, and simple but ornate decorations much in the style of the Petit Trianon, but without the grand furniture. Here vegetables and animals are still raised, including ducks, chickens, rabbits, goats, sheep, cattle, and donkeys, which are friendly and come up to the fences to be petted and fed grass by visitors. After seeing all this we had only visited a portion of the grounds, but we headed back into the city of Paris nonetheless. At six thirty we met Marine outside the Louvre museum and went inside to look around. We visited the Mesopotamia and Assyria area, and then made our way to the Italian painters to take a look at la Jaconde, which is what the French call the Mona Lisa. I had seen it when I was here before, but Marine, who has lived here for ten years, had not, and of course Harper had not either. Then we walked over to see Nike of Samothrace and the Venus de Milo. Finally we visited the wing of the northern school painters, which is my favorite and houses works by Jan Van Ike and Rembrandt, amoung others. We spent quite a bit of time there before heading out to the park in front of the pyramid to have a picnic dinner which Marine graciously provided. From a park bench we sat with the Louvre behind us and a view of the Eiffel Tower in front of us and ate what Marine called cake; it was a cake like bread with pieces of ham and green olive in it which she had made herself earlier that day. Although I’m not usually a fan of olives, it was delicious. We also had sesame sticks and macarons, which were tiny pastry desserts that looked a bit like hamburgers because they had two rounded soft pastry sides with a colored filling in the middle, which she also made herself. There were violet, vanilla, and one other flavor, and I was very impressed by them because they must have been very difficult to make and tasted very good. At ten o’clock we watched the Eiffel Tower light up and sparkle before heading home. The whole picnic affair could not have been more Parisian, and I’m very grateful to Marine, who has now brought us two free dinners.

38: 6.11.11 Today we slept in and met Marine at two o'clock in the hotel lobby. From there we walked to Montmartre, and I stopped to get lunch from a Monoprix along the way. It was only about a half hour walk from our hotel to the top of the hill on which Sacré Coeur stands, and the walk to the top of the hill is very pretty and scenic. The atmosphere in Montmartre feels different than in the main city of Paris. There a young musicians and talented performers on the steps leading up to the church, and visitors sit on the white stairs to listen, observe, and admire the panoramic view of the city. Inside the church is very pretty, although much less imposing than Notre Dame, which I prefer, although the two really can't be reasonably compared. After leaving the church, we turned right to meander along the tiny streets of Montmartre, which are lined with artists and souvenir shops and tiny restaurants. After much trouble deciding, I finally purchased a blue watercolor of Notre Dame and the Pont de Neuf for thirty five euros, brought down from forty-five thanks to Marine, who is fearless when it comes to these kind of things. We continued to wander around the shops until around six, when Marine needed to return home for dinner. Then Harper and I made our way back to the hotel, stopping again at a Monoprix to get dinner – a tiny salmon quiche and my favorite Haribo candy: smurfs. Along the way as we were looking at the map to find the way home, a taxi driver stopped and gave us directions. He was very kind, and for the most part my trip has disproved the Parisian stereotype. Only a few interactions with the local people have proved to be negative, and for the most part the people have been friendly and helpful. Today was mostly a lazy day, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow, when we plan to visit Marias and the Champs.

40: 6.12.11 Today is our last full day in Paris. We met Marine in the hotel lobby at 2:30 and walked to Marais, a neighborhood which used to be the Jewish quarter and which is now known as a very trendy shopping neighborhood. Unfortunately many things are closed because it's Sunday and a holiday weekend, but it was still lovely to wander around the narrow streets. It is the beginning of a Jewish festival today, so there were lots of Jewish musicians in the street and we even passed a Jewish wedding. We stopped at L’as du Falafel to get some falafel, and stopped in a square to eat it. While sitting in the square we fed hungry finches from our hand. Then we visited Places des Vosges, the square on which Victor Hugo lived. Unfortunately his house was closed today because of the holiday, but usually it's a free museum. From there Marine took us to a really pretty park that was built by Napoleon III. There was a large hill with a cliff facing a body of water, on top of which there was a stone gazebo. There is a view of Montmartre from it which is really great. We only stayed for a few minutes, as the weather wasn't great, and got back on the metro to go towards the Champs Elysées. We rode the metro for free, thanks to Marine, who gave us her own tickets to use. She really is incredibly generous and I’m extremely thankful to her. We said goodbye to her for the last time at the Champs Elysées station and then headed above ground to walk the Champs towards the Arc de Triomphe. It was raining lightly by then, which was okay because the street wasn't so crowded, and there was a great view of the arc at the end of the road. We stopped to admire it for awhile and then headed in the direction of the Eiffel Tower, stopping at a café named after it to get some dinner and wait until ten o’clock, when the tower is lit up. At the café we both had a delicious quiche Lorraine and some creme caramel. We sat at a tiny table next to the glass partition that's put up during bad weather and watched passersby for a few hours before heading to the tower. It was dreadfully cold by the time we left the restaurant, and raining harder, but we made to the tower and the sparkly lights lit up beautifully against the dark sky. Again, I didn’t mind the bad weather because the crowd was small and we were afforded a good view. After watching the lights we took the metro back to the hotel, and made it back fairly late and exhausted after an eventful day.

42: 6.19.11 Lyon, France Tomorrow will be the end of my first week here in Lyon. It’s gone by pretty quickly. Harper and I arrived by train the first day and met up with the other students from our school and our professor, Dr. Levy. The parents of my family, who are called Vincent Colombe and Marie-Celeste Colombe, came to pick me up in their van because they thought I would have tons of luggage, so I no longer felt embarrassed of my large duffel bag. They live in a huge old house which has been in Mrs. Colombe’s family for years. It’s in la Mulatiere, which is an old neighborhood just south of the University of Lyon (about ten minutes by bus). It’s along a main street and has a high stone fence around the perimeter of a large garden/yard. The front doors are large and made of stained glass, which is plentiful in the rest of the house as well. On the main floor there is a small living room with a TV, a computer, and a couch where the kids hang out. In it there is a fireplace made of green marble and red tiles and two full length windows. Behind this room is the toilet, the kitchen, and a large wooden staircase which faces the front doors. There is also a formal dining room, a salon which is full of beautiful art, old furniture, and a piano. Attached to the salon is a sun room, whose windows are made of pink and white glass, which is full of plants and a small table with chairs. The large wooden staircase leads to the second floor, where there are the four bedrooms of the family members, two bathrooms, and one toilet. The staircase also leads up to the third floor, where my room is located as well the bedroom of the oldest child, Olivier, who is sixteen, and a storage room. Throughout the main floor the floor is made of tiles older than 100 years old, in green, white, yellow, and red, which are really pretty. There are four kids in the family, Olivier who is sixteen, Clotilde, 14, Pierre-Antoine, 12, and Paul, 10. I like them all very much. The two younger boys are fairly shy and don’t talk around me much, but Clotilde is very nice and includes me in everything she does. Olivier is funny and very helpful as well, and I feel at home amongst them. My first week of classes has been good although it has been difficult to keep up with the homework. There are many funny little differences between France and the United States. The meals here usually have at least three courses. They start with an ‘aperitif’ (a drink, alcoholic or non), and something small to eat, then the main meal, which consists of some meat and several vegetable dishes and lots of bread, followed by a course of cheeses eaten with bread, and then dessert. The food is absolutely delicious, and I have hopes of leaving with a bunch of new recipes at the end of July. | LYON, FRANCE

44: Host Family & Home

45: Chaâteau Visit

48: silk museum | Elizabeth E.B with roommates

49: Universite de Lyon II

50: views fromFourviere | and old Lyon | city of strains

52: Roman Ruins

53: Croix Rousse

54: Perr | our favor

55: oudon.. | rite cafe

56: Teacher for a day & Girl's Night Out

57: An American Dinner in France...

58: Harry Potter movie release

59: 14th of July

60: Turin, Italy, & the Alps

64: last days in Lyon and a first class flight home to Missouri

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