Friday, September 17, 2010

Paris and Versailles

The greatest thing about my location here is how central I am to the rest of Europe. It gives me the opportunity to say, take a short train to Paris if I feel like it. So, that is what I did. On a Weds afternoon I hoped on a train for Paris to stay until Saturday evening. It was a wonderful amount of time to spend in what is now my favorite city.
When I arrived in Paris I went to my hostel and then to bed. My travel buddy, Annie, was coming the next afternoon so I was still on my own and exhausted. The next morning I made plans to go to the Louvre.

You'd think that seeing some of the world's most inspiring works of art would change your life in some way. Or perhaps allow you an intimate moment to look into the Mona Lisa's eyes and say "It's been so long" but you get there and it's crowded with people and that intimate moment you had hoped for turns into a crappy picture and a shove from the other people trying to get their own crappy pictures.

This seems to be a very recurring thought on many of my travels. That seeing the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, or other European culture trademarks will have a profound effect on one's life. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened (excluding the Cliffs of Moher) for me. Don't get me wrong it's really great to go and see such wonderful creations but you see them and although I did gasp at the Eiffel Tower, it didn't change my life in a profound way at all. You go, you see that it's real, perhaps have lunch in the view of it take a couple pictures (or more than a couple) and that's it, you return home and you can now say you've seen it but your life isn't any different because of it. I find your life is different because of the people you meet or the stories you can tell, not because of the objects themselves.

Annie came later that afternoon and we met up and went to the hostel. On the way to the hostel we discovered the bakery right at the metro station by the hostel. This bakery would be the reason I was able to save a lot of money on food this trip. I would recommend that if you are tight on cash and trying to save money food is the best way! I brought a bag of apples, bread, peanut butter and jelly and granola bars that lasted me the whole trip. We only grabbed lunch out once because we got caught in a rainstorm. I don't think I spent more than 20 Euro in the 3 days I was there on food. :-)

The next day I went on a day trip to Versailles to see where Louis 14th decided to set up shop. It was very impressive and remarkable (although not life changing) and I'm really glad I went. It was a beautiful day to go as well! The sky was a brilliant blue dotted with puffy clouds that made my pictures quite lovely. I learned a lot about the history of Versailles and the French monarchy. One of my favorite things about traveling is learning about these cities and European history. I feel like I'm in European History 301, "The experience" and the money I pay for these trips is merely tuition.
The next day was our last day so we went on the free tour. It was mostly things that we had already walked around to see but now were able to learn more about them. I felt that in the short time I was there I saw quite a lot of the city, from the Latin Quarter to Mont Martre and most in between. Paris is such a beautiful city and was my favorite so far because of how much space there is. There are also beautiful buildings around every corner and the view of the Eiffel Tower shooting above changing leaves is truly breath-taking. I'm so excited to go back for New Years and show the city to my sister and friend. It will be wonderful!

Next up is Oktoberfest! I'll be traveling there Sept. 24 - 26, then Zermatt October 2 and 3 and then a week long trip October 20 - 26 to go to Belgium (Brussels and Bruges), Copenhagen and Berlin. I'm pretty excited to see all of these places and learn about their cultures. This will be a solo trip so we will see how that goes! Probably many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches will be had :-)

- B

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Yvoire, France

A Sunday without something to do is a wonderful thing. Especially in Switzerland where you can plan a day trip somewhere at the drop of a hat. As much as I love planning huge trips with everything worked out there is certainly something to be said for spontaneous trips as well! On this particular Sunday 3 of my friends and I decided to meet in Yvoire, France, a medieval village not too far from where I live. They took the boat over from Nyon and I rode my bike. It ended up taking me an hour but should have only taken around 40 minutes. Once we found each other we went on a search for Pizza. I ordered a Vegetarian pizza that was beyond delicious. After lunch we walked around, stopped and got Mars bar / Brownie Gelato and looked in some of the little shops that dot the tiny streets. I'm so excited to go back to this village before the holidays and do some gift shopping!
After touring the village we got back on the boat and went to Nyon. The boat was so crowded and it didn't help that we had to tote my bike around too. It was a very pleasant afternoon and a relatively cheap trip! I'm so lucky to live in such a great area that offers day trips to such wonderful places!

- B