Reclaiming Experience

This blog is a tool for recording my experiences as well as evaluating my day-to-day life. With my camera in hand, I will make meaning out of my life.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Day 90: Trip for One to Paris

I woke up quite nauseous and unaware of how my journey on the train to Paris would go.  I did not sleep well because I had not tested my alarm (I know, stupid) and I was concerned that it wouldn't work.  Of course, it worked just fine and I was up at 6:00.  

I don't know if I was feeling unwell because of my lack of sleep, my nerves, or something I ate the previous day, but I was focusing really hard on not getting sick.  I fixed a beautiful breakfast, but I could not eat it.

Before leaving for the train I went to the bathroom one last time so I wouldn't have to go on the train.  As I sat there, I saw something large and black moving out of the corner of my eye.  As I looked over I stood up abruptly and screamed.  Luckily I was in the bathroom not connected to the apartment, so no one heard me.  This beetle-like thing was the length of my thumb and a little wider.  Freaking out, I grabbed the nearest object that would have killing power and heard the crunch that ended the life of the bug.  I should have picked up the object and the bug under it, but I could not bring myself to do it, so I left it.  Sorry to my aunts if they lifted that cup and found it.

After this scariest moment of the trip, I loaded up and walked with my aunts down to the shuttle.  It was a windy morning, perhaps even mistral-like.  I secured a seat on the shuttle and waited for take-off.

As I waited at the train station I started to get hungry, which was a good sign.  I did not need my back up vomit bag.  The train ride was kind of long because I was now ready for the last leg of my adventure.

The arrival in Paris caused my adrenaline to kick in.  Note to self, don't bring two carry bags, it is too much work.  Note to note to self, don't rely on a "pretty" bag because it is probably not durable and the straps will break.  I had to make two connections, walk probably two miles, and follow the assistance of a helpful Parisian to get to my hotel.  Once there, I dropped off my baggage and with less weight on my shoulders, I was ready to explore.

I have to tell you before I go into the details of this day that this was one of the most amazing days in my travel history.  In case it does not come off in my explanation, I need you to know that.

I had created a rough plan of what I wanted to do before the arrival, but I thought it too ambitious, so I just tried to do what I could.  The first necessity was lunch.  On Rue Cler (the street I stayed on) there was a wonderful smell coming from a boulangerie and I picked up a poulet sandwich to eat as I walked.  This was one of my "to-do" items and I was so happy to come across it.  I ate half and stowed the other half for later.

I got on the metro and went to Hotel de Ville to see the Doisneau photography exhibition.  When I arrived I found the line way too long, so I tried to make my way to Carnavalet.  I wandered for awhile, and I finally reached the musee.  I walked around a bit in this museum of Paris history.  I thought the museum was okay, but it does not rank up there with the Louvre, L'Orangerie, or Rodin.  

I thought I'd try to make my way over to the islands, but seemed to lose my sense of direction, so after walking the streets of Paris a bit, I got on the handy metro and took it back to Hotel de Ville.  I found the line to be much shorter this time, so I waited.  After about a half an hour, I was let into the exhibit.  The focus of the photographs was Les Halles (the market).  He captured some amazing photographs of the vendors.  I really liked how this exhibit focused on the one theme of the market.  It inspired me to select a theme for my day of photographing adventure.  Although I took pictures of whatever I thought was interesting, I tried to capture more of the people.

After the exhibit I went to Isle de la Cite to see Notre Dame.  This is my favorite church in the world (so far).  It was so busy and I contemplated not going in.  I started to walk away, when I thought I better go in now.  I waited in line for a short while.  I noticed a sign going in with a picture of the relics from the Passion.  I was hoping I would see them, but I figured the sign was for Palm Sunday.  There was a mass beginning as I walked in, so I looked around and enjoyed being in the church.  As I approached the middle of the church by the rose window, I stopped to take some photographs.  A man came up and pushed us all to the side.  I thought he just wanted to get us out of the way so that others could walk past, but I did not realize that the others would be the head of the church, nuns, fathers, and THE relics.  I began snapping like crazy.  As the relics began to pass me, maybe two feet away, I began to feel a tingling sensation.  I found myself tearing up and I could not believe that I just happened to be there at that moment.  I always wish I felt more when it came to religion and I have to say this is the first time it felt like there was something else.

I continued to walk through the church and listen to some of the mass.  As I left the Notre Dame doors, I was in such a good place.  What a moment.  This moment called for something extraordinary: Berthillion Glace (ice cream).  I walked past the side of the church, finishing my sandwich.  My next stop was across the bridge to Isle Ste. Louis.  I passed the street musicians and walked up to a line full of people with the same thought as me.  I devoured my cone of cafe and chocolat.  I walked the streets where we stayed the last time in Paris and did a bit of shopping.  

There was one more sight to see in this area, so I crossed the bridge to leave the islands and walked up the seine.  I looked at the book stalls to see if anything caught my attention.  I found a CD for 5 euros with French love songs.  The owner of the stall tried to talk to me, but all I could really understand was that he played the drums.  He pat me on my shoulder as I walked away.  

I found the Shakespere and Company bookstore.  The last time I was here I bought "A Moveable Feast."  This time I bought Julia Child's cookbook.  It was approaching the time to check in, so I got on the metro and headed back to the hotel.  

I stayed in a nice little one bed room with a sink.  The toilet was next door and the shower was up two flights of stairs.  It was a safe hotel that worked perfectly for my needs.  I dropped off my bags, refilled my water, and headed back out to the streets.

I could see the Eiffel Tower from my street, so I started to walk in that direction.  I walked through beautiful residential neighborhoods.  Each time I sneaked a peak of the Eiffel Tower through the side streets, it looked more and more beautiful.  The first time I saw it, I was not too impressed, but as I see it from different perspectives, I enjoy it more and more.  I came up on it in a different angle this time and there was a lovely little garden and pond next to it.  I had never seen it from this side, so I snapped a bunch of pictures.  

At this point my stride was slowing, so I had to make a plan.  I was originally going to eat on Rue Cler, but the sun was still out, so I took the metro up to Montmartre.  I had wanted to do this, but I just couldn't see how I could fit it in with time.  Time was on my side, so I walked up by the Place de Tetre and planted myself at a cafe.  I ordered wine and escargot.  I watched the people walking by and artists trying their best to get some business.  I also did a bit of shopping at my favorite store up there: Anoki.  I didn't think I had anymore room in my luggage, but I knew I'd find a way.

I walked to Sacre Coeur and found a nice spot on the crowded stairs.  I listened to some music as the sun began to set.  I couldn't believe that I was so lucky to sit on these steps and take in all of the things that I love about Paris.  As I looked over I saw a guy that Valerie and I saw every night when we were in Paris four years ago.  It was kind of sad that he is still doing the same thing and trying to pick up ladies on the steps.  

It was getting dark, so I took the metro back to my hotel.  I found a very busy cafe and decided to have one more glass of wine.  I ordered champagne and a cheese plate.  I watched the Parisians enjoying their Friday night.  I wish I could bring this cafe home with me.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 89: Return to Arles

The morning began with goodbyes.  Becky and Christy were off for their next adventure in Paris.  They left around 8:30 to return the car and catch the train.  

After they left we finished getting ready and we walked to the train station to get a ticket to Arles.  We enjoyed our time there yesterday, but we wanted to see more.  While at the train station Janey, Linda, and I also figured out the necessities about obtaining a shuttle to the other train station to catch our train.  I'm glad we did this; it saved some time and energy for the next day.

While in Arles we walked around most of the Van Gogh tour.  We first saw the "Yellow House" which has been featured in paintings and is where he used to live.  Later as we were walking we also saw a park that he used for inspiration.  Along the Rhone there is a stop where he supposedly set up his easel to paint "Starry Night."  The scenery doesn't really look anything like the painting, but maybe he used his imagination.  Before lunch we saw the Hotel Dieu which is actually a hospital.  This is where Van Gogh went after the loss of his ear.  He painted the courtyard while he stayed at the hospital.  There was some good shopping in this courtyard.  I bought a couple posters postcards, gifts, and some music.  The final Van Gogh site we visited was the cafe that is in one of my favorite paintings.  It is interesting to walk in the footsteps of an artist and try to see how they saw the sites.

We ate lunch at the Blanche Mule and it was amazing.  This might have been one of my favorite meals on the trip.  Janey and I ordered the plat du jour.  It said veau, so we were thinking veal, but after biting down on the tender meat, we think it may have been liver.  It also came with buttery scalloped potatoes.  It was a rich meal which I probably paid for the next day.  We ordered a bottle of rose that came out in an icy bag.  We sipped our wine as we enjoyed the beautiful surroundings.  

The restaurant was not busy at first, but it definitely filled up as we sat there.  One couple sitting next to us was from Chicago.  He asked how the plat du jour was.  We talked a bit about home, but then it was time to get up and see a little more.

Earlier in the day we saw a church.  We must have walked past this church over five times, but we never realized that this was the church we were searching for.  

We caught the 15:24 train back to Avignon for my last night.  We decided to walk around and eat out together.  We finally went up to the gardens at the Popes Palace after seeing the broken pont.  It was a nice hike up the ramp.  Each step higher got windier.  We walked around at the top and then began the descent.  We found the church to be open, so we sneaked in.  There was a statue of Mary Magdalene inside.  It was a nice church.  

We came back down to the square and ate dinner at a more touristy place.  Although it wasn't the kind of restaurant that I'd prefer, I had great company which is more important.  It was sad to think that it was our last night together, but I was also excited to go on my independent journey to Paris.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day 88: Memorable Places and People

What a day!  We cruised to Arles first.  Once again, it was a market day.  If your visiting Provence, I strongly recommend scheduling your stops around markets.  The towns really give off a different life on these days.  

This market was pretty large.  It seemed to go on and on.  I got into quite a bit of trouble because there were so many options.  I bought quilted bags, shoes, a shirt, and placemats.  Janey and I spent most of this morning together because we got separated from the rest of the group.  We went to the end of the market and worked our way back. 

Once meeting with everyone at the car, we realized we still had a half an hour before our parking time was up, so Linda, Janey, and I went to the Triomphe Cloisters. The guidebooks talk about how amazing it is, so we thought we better see for ourselves.  Once we paid our dues, we opened the door to the cloisters to find them under renovation.  Not quite the stunning views I thought we might see.  

After our time was up, we left for the Camargue.  We saw bulls and horses, but I don't know that any of them were wild.  We ended up in Saintes Maries de la Mer.  Food was the first item on our mind, so we went to a restaurant called Le Belvedere.  I don't think we could have picked a more wonderful place.  

The restaurant was decorated with objects from the sea and memories.  The restuarant seemed to be owned by a family and their pictures were all over.  Apparently the gypsy king's first guitar was showcased.  I couldn't exactly understand if the bartender was the gypsy king or if the gypsy king had come to this restaurant.

On a side note, this town is known by gypsies because of Sarah.  It is said that the Mary's, Sarah (their servant), and Lazarus came ashore in this town.  The gypsys worship Sarah, so once a year they all gather here.  Apparently the men that worked and owned this restuarant were gypsies.  It reminded me of Johnny Depp in Chocolat.  I think all of us ladies agreed that the men were up there with Johnny Depp too.

Beyond the eye-catching service, there was also amazing food.  Janey and I shared moules and gambas.  I didn't exactly know what gambas were, but they sounded like shrimp to me, so I went for it.  Our waiter didn't seem to understand the words shrimp or prawns, so I decided to brave it and see the surprise once it came.  It turned out to be shrimp, and big ones.

We decided this would be our big meal for the day, so we also ordered desserts.  The presentation was beautiful.  We thought we were done at this point, but then our waiter came out with shots.  Three were red and yellow while the other three were blue and yellow.  We cheered and took our shots.  We paid and left a large tip.  Unfortuantely it was time to go.  I did not want to leave.

Making our way out the restaurant, we walked down the streets to the church.  Sarah was definitely the main spotlight at this church.  I was hoping to see more about Mary Magdalene, but I suppose this isn't her "claim to fame" spot.  

We shoped a bit afterwards.  This has definitely been a shopping trip.  I bought some postcards, a Sarah figurine, St. Christopher pendants (saint of travelers), and a Camargue cross.

Finally it was time to put our feet in the Mediterranean.  The water was quite cold, but they got used to it after time.  I don't know that it would have been a good day to completely immerse myself in the water, so the feet were good enough.  I collected some shells and sand to bring home.  This day had been so amazing, I didn't want to leave.  The only adventure we had left before returning to the apartment was getting gas.  It was quite a site to see six grown women get out to fill up one car.  It was a learning experience for all.  In case you ever need to know, diesel is gazole in french.

When we got home I took a little nap because all of the fun had worn me out.  When I woke up, it was time to go to the movie we were planning on seeing.  The artist that sold the painting to Lori told us that there would be a movie on the back side of the Popes Palace.  We got the impression that it would be an outdoor theatre, but that impression was wrong.  We ended up going to a fairly traditional cinema to see 2 Days in New York with Julie Delpy and Chris Rock.  It was actually really funny and I didn't even understand everything that was said.  
As we were walking home a woman walked up behind us saying bon jour, bon jour.  We turned around to see who it was and she tried speaking to us in French.  We explained that we didn't understand, so she spoke in English.  It turned out she was from Austria and she didn't have enough money left for a hotel.  She didn't exactly say what she wanted, but I got the impression she wanted to stay with us.  During this time, I'm looking around carefully to make sure she was not bait for some bigger scheme.  Linda suggested she go to a hotel where we saw a bunch of Germans, but the girl just got aggravated and wondered what she would do with a bunch of Germans.  I suggested that she stay at the train station so she didn't have to walk around all night, but she did not like that idea.  She finally got frustrated with us and walked away.  It was definitely an unnerving moment and I know that Lori was disturbed by the situation.  It would be nice to think that nothing bad would ever happen on a trip, but it is so important to be careful.  Once cannot lose their sense of reality too much.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Day 87: Fulfilling French Cravings

Today we went East to Aix en Provence.  It was market day, so we got to see spices, legumes, and sweet fruits.  I also fueled up on one of my must haves in France-nutella crepe.  I got my sugar kick and was ready to go.  

I bought some posters that were reasobably priced.  I am in love with posters.  Someday my place may be completely covered with posters because I can't seem to say no.  I just love them.

We walked down the streets and I took several photos.  There was one scene I really wanted to capture, but I ruined it.  In this picture you see a man and his dog.  As we were walking down the street, I saw this man head to head with his dog while his dog sat in his lap.  It was very sweet and it seemed as if there was some indescribable connection between the two of them.  I love capturing dogs and their owners, so I thought I'd offer him a euro and get their picture.  Unfortunately my approaching them caused the dog to get up, so I missed the moment.  I guess I learned my lesson: snap, then offer money.  At least the image stays in my mind.

We then went to lunch and I had the "suggestion."  Roti poulet with puree potatoes was the plat du jour and it was wonderful.  I don't think you can ever go wrong with rotisserie chicken and mashed potatoes.  Somehow saying rotisserie chicken and mashed potatoes doesn't sound quite as grand, but it was delicious.  The potatoes were very thinly spread so every little bite that I could scrape up kept me wanting more.  Ahh the flavor.  After sitting in the sun and enjoying our lunch, we went to a church.

When we returned, we walked around Avignon after an espresso, au pain chocolat, and vin.  I bought a lavender sign and soaps.  Lori bought a painting from a local artist and gave it to Becky as a gift.  

For dinner we had Linda's famous lemon garlic fettucine, roasted asparagus with rosemary we grabbed at the Pont du Gard, fruit salad, roti chicken, and Anthony Bourdain's favorite way to eat radishes.  For dessert we had macaroons that we bought while we were in Aix.  I definitely don't eat this well when I am at home.

Linda, Janey, and I went out for a walk and drink.  We walked quite a while and found a tapas restaurant on a side street to get our drink.  Janey and I ordered a kir royal and sipped it as we took in the wonderful French evening.

As I walk through these towns, I keep finding religious statues/carvings in the walls.  I love how there are little surprises everywhere you look.  It reminds me a lot of Venice in that way.  

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 86: Roman Ruins

The day started off well with clear skies.  Our first stop was the Pont du Gard.  It is amazing to think that it was built about 2,000 years ago and it still stands strong.  I walked all around looking for the perfect angle and found it on the other side, down by the river.  While down there Linda told me to pick up some rocks.  As I bent down to grab some, I found a shard of pottery.  Maybe ancient?  Probably not, but it is a nice idea.

The temperature warmed up fast and we got back on the road to go to Uzes.  Before we reached Uzes, Janey found a winery, so we stopped in.  There is very little English spoken down there, so communication can be challenging.  We tasted several wines.  The tasting portions were quite large; about a fourth of a glass.  We bought three bottles of wine: red, white, and rose, and three glasses.  It was so wonderful.  Definitely a happy moment for the wine lovers.

We reached Uzes, but I don't think we actually found it.  The area we were in seemed much newer.  Some people were pretty hungry, so we stopped for lunch at a patisserie/boulangerie.  It was located in a roundabout, so we had to to turn around to make it back.  Provence has many roundabouts.  I think it is a great solution.  It would be nice to avoid all of these stoplights we have here.  The food was okay, but not exactly the kind of lunch I was searching for.  Sometimes when you are hungry you have to go for what is available.  It was so funny to see my Aunt Lori so happy.  At one point she sat with her bread and au pain chocolat in her lap.  She embraced it as if it had been too long since their last visit.  I think I could create a photography exhibit on people and what they love.

After are brief stint in Uzes, we went on to our last stop, Nimes.  It is a beautiful city that seems cleaner than Avignon.  The arena there is supposed to be the best preserved Roman coliseum, so that was neat to see.  We split up for awhile and I walked down the main boulevard.  We were reunited at the Monoprix as we shopped for food.

When we came home I had an espresso and au pain chocolat for a little energy boost.  After this sustenance, Christy, Janey, Linda, and I walked around and shopped for awhile.  During this time Becky and Lori stayed back at the apartment while some men worked in our courtyard.  While shopping, I bought many items including tablecloths and napkins.  Unfortunately the store was only open this one time.  He was very friendly and helpful.  Really, everyone has been friendly and helpful on this trip.

As we were walking down the main street in Avignon, I couldn't help but think that all of the guys look like guidos.  I don't know if they are watching Jersey Shore and thinking that this is the cool way to dress, but it is not attractive.  Someone should tell them.  All the kids are out on the street walking.  I suppose they don't have much homework.  

We came back from our walk to fix dinner.  We had hamburgers, salad, roasted veggies, fruit, avocado, aioli, and tapenade.  I'm a big fan of the tapenade. 

After a busy day, we decided to stay in.  Several of us drank wine and watched "Lorna Dune."  I'd never heard of it before, but I liked it.  

As I reflected on the day, I had some thoughts about the shortness of life and the lack of time available to be upset or angry.  I know some people get annoyed with optimists, but I really just want to get rid of all negativity and take in all of the good.  I think these thoughts arose because we were talking about my grandmother and how she is 87 years old.  For some reason it never occurred to me that she is aging.  I still picture her being in her 70s.  I miss my granddad and I worry about my grandmother without him.  I was trying to imagine today what holidays would be like without her.  I've never experienced that and I think it would be difficult to celebrate without doing it the right way.

I also had thoughts about Kendra.  Sometimes it is nice to get away because it truly makes me realize how much greatness there is in my life.  

I was also thinking about my mom.  I need to be nicer to her and try to spend more time with her.  I worry about her health and overall well being.  I want her to be happy.  This is what traveling does to me.  Sometimes I just need a new perspective.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Day 85: Morning Walk, Antique Markets, and Hilltop Towns

I started the morning by fixing breakfast for everyone.  The menu included eggs with brie, toast, prosciutto, a fruit salad, and yogurt.  I have found that I have to have a good breakfast in the morning, otherwise it feels like my day is not as productive.

I got ready a little faster than everyone else, so I went for a walk around our neighborhood.  I came across a pretty courtyard with statues.  The morning was so peaceful.  Avignon must wake up later.  I did see some people out.  One was a restaurant owner setting up his tables.  I also saw some clergy men outside the church.  

I was really excited for today because we were going to L'Isle Sur la Sorgue.  They are known for having one of the largest markets in France.  It was pretty large.  Most of it was on the main street, but you could see it winding down smaller sidestreets as well.  I bought some goods and enjoyed looking at all of the antiques.  Linda, Janey, and I stopped at a pizza place for lunch.  I ordered their Provencal pizza witch had tomatoes, olives, cheese, and pesto on it.  I ordered a 50cl glass of rose to go with it.  To my surprise, 50cl is a pretty big portion, maybe half a bottle?  I enjoyed what I could and took the rest with me.  Janey did a pretty little sketch of the scenery as we sat at lunch.

The next stop was Gordes.  It is an eye-catching hilltop town.  We wandered the streets a bit and I did some more shopping.  I bought quite a few pottery items like a butter dish, cooking utensil canister, and herbs of provence jar.  We all took a break at a cafe with an amazing view out of the town.  Several of my fellow travelers found the bartender to be cute (a bit too old for me).  One of them even talked about laying on the bar and getting a picture with him.  I won't say who though.  I love these ladies, who would guess that they aren't my age?

We stopped at a scenic spot to take some pictures.  Unfortunately we had to go up a steep slope to get back to the street.  We struggled to get the car to go forward and not roll back into another car.  Like a pro, Becky managed the situation and we were off to our last stop, Roussillion.

Sprinkles began to hit our windshield as we ventured further east.  We drove through the rouge colored town and saw the ochre.  It had been a tiring day though, so it was a simple drive-by and we were on our way back home.  There really is not enough time, but we try to make the most of it.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Day 84: Desitination Provence

The trip from DC to Paris was long.  United Airlines has very little room and there was no place to put my bag but at my feet, so it was a pretty immobile journey.  We left the airport over 50 minutes late because of computer issues and technical difficulties.  This caused us to miss our train to Provence.  Because of this, we had to pay 108 Euros for a new ticket.  At first I was upset, but once I got off the plane and a lady said bon jour to me, I figured I couldn't be too angry because at least I was in France.  I knew I was in France when I saw the ladies underwear on the ground.
The train ride was scenic.  We arrived at the station and picked up our rental.  We checked the car from bumper to bumper to look for scratches and dings.  It was a little nerve-wracking in the beginning because we pulled forward and realized we were going into a dead end.  It was at this moment that my Aunt Becky tried to reverse, but was unable.  The manual car was different than what she'd driven before.  After jolting forward a few times, she found the way to reverse and we backed out safely.  I was a bit anxious about renting a car, and I am so glad that Becky took on the huge responsibility of chauffeur.  She nailed it.

As we got close to the apartment, we dropped off Lori and Christy while Becky and I searched for parking.  It was crazy.  The roads were sooooooo narrow and people were becoming very impatient as they reved their tires and honked at us.  We parked on the outside of the wall, but at least it was safe and free.

It was a tiring walk to the apartment with our luggage, but reaching the apartment provided a sense of accomplishment.  It was absolutely beautiful.  There was a courtyard with a tree, a wonderful kitchen with updated appliances, wood beams, soothing shower, plenty of space, and a guest house beyond the courtyard where I stayed.  Linda stayed with me the first two nights, but it was not working out so well, so I stayed there by myself.  The bed was very comfortable and the comforter kept me warm in the chilly night.

We grabbed dinner at a cafe by Les Halles.  I ordered a salad and lasgne.  I needed something warm and filling because I was starving.  Janey and Linda ordered some beautiful salads.  All in all, it was a long day, but as we toasted with our drinks, it felt good to be in Provence.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Day 83: Impaitiently Waiting

I did not sleep well last night.  I woke up around one and didn't fall back asleep till about three.  It might have had something to do with my trip.

Work was sooooo long.  I thought that it might be nice to not have to teach and just guide my station, but it made the time go by so slow.  It was warm, the kids were grouchy, and I was just ready to go.

Finally the end of the day approached and it was time to go to O'Hare.  The weather was not very good and I was nervous about catching my flight in DC.  Fortunately it all worked out.  Today's picture shows the scene outside my window.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Day 82: Trip Picture

Whenever I go on a big trip, I have to bring a picture of my pet with me.  Here is the picture I will use for this trip.  Isn't she funny?  My first trip to Europe, I painted a picture of my guinea pig and brought that with me.  For some reason I have to bring that little reminder with me.

As I got ready tonight, I listened to "Midnight in Paris" (twice).  I have all of these ideas for what I want to do in Paris, but maybe I'll just sit at a cafe.  I wonder how others feel, but I have this idea that you can't really define yourself around others (acquaintances, friends, family, etc.) .  In the end you are just comparing yourself to those individuals, and a relative definition does not suffice.  To truly identify the I or me, you have to be alone.  I'm not saying you can't be around others, but prior associations seem to inhibit this ability.  I may be completely full of hot air right now but there is something about setting out on your own.  As I try to find sleep tonight, many thoughts flow in and out of my mind.  One of them being: who will I be when I return?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 81: Waiting Impatiently

It feels as though Friday may never get here.  I have been so bad this week with checking the time over and over.  I am just sooooooo ready to get going!

Today's picture shows a little sneaky guy that likes to fill his cheeks with bird food.

The other picture shows what I think are pawprints going up our column.  I wonder who did that.

2 more days!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Day 80: Narnia?

I'm sorry, this picture is pretty lame tonight.  I came home from work and just kept going, so I didn't really come across much that was "scenic."  This lamppost is just outside our door and it always reminds me of Narnia.  I haven't traveled through any wardrobes to get here (that I know of), but this style of lamppost seems a little whimsical.

3 days till this wanderlust girl gets to go!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dat 79: Life

Today's pictures are brought to you by Kendra's walk.  Bird nests and buds fill the once bare branches.  Below we also have some lovely moss and another picture of the forsythias.  The color is great.

I am getting sooooooo excited for my trip.  I normally hit the snooze 3 or 4 times in the morning, but my alarm went off today and I thought, lets do this.  Luckily I am out for meetings the next two days, so the week should go a little faster.  As I was eating my mountain duck (new recipe I tried) and basmati rice with roasted tomatoes and garlic, I began to think about all of the great foods I am going to eat.  I cannot wait to try aioli, I think it will be a new favorite.  I also want to try any kind of provencal snails, pastis, anchoiade, and whatever new dishes are featured as specials.  Ahh, I can't wait! 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Day 78: Steel Magnolias

I don't think I've ever seen magnolias bloom this fast.  There used to be a tree right outside the education building at NIU and I loved looking at its blooms.

Today was all about preparation.  I woke up early so that I could do my school work and I was able to finish before 9:00.  I made lists, started using them to pack, made more lists, talked to my aunts, then packed more.  I don't remember doing so much planning for the departure in my early traveling days, but I definitely feel like I do much more now.  I think it is because I have realized how valuable every second is while abroad and I don't want to have to waste it on anything silly.

I think this trip ranks pretty high with excitement.  I'm so excited to see new areas and visit my old favorite, Paris.  I was talking to my Aunt Linda about what I want to see in Paris and we both came up with these lists that are unrealistic, but I just think that shows how much there is to do there.  This will be my third time visiting and I think that even if I lived there I would not be able to see everything I want.  Here are some ideas though:  Old Favorites-Notre Dame, Seine, Tullieries, Montmartre, New Sights-Carnavalet, Hotel De Ville (photography exhibit), Rue Cler, and who knows what else.  Adventures lie ahead and I'm ready.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Day 77: St. Patrick's Day Pub Field Trip

What a lovely St. Patrick's day.  I had a great time traveling around the city, enjoying the weather, and hanging out.  It is amazing how many people were in Chicago today.  It seemed like a mass of green.

The only part of the day that was not so great was the trip back to the car.  First, there were a crazy amount of people.  Second the L was delayed for about a half hour.  Third, there were some drunk people and people looking for fights.  One woman was being insane and punched a guy a few feet from me.  Two girls also got in a fight and one got off the L crying and bloody.  One woman was so wasted on something that she could barely stand and her eyes were rolling back into her head.  There were some crazy people out there.  So tonight, it is great to be clean and laying in my bed.