Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Odds and Ends

Video of my apartment:
  • Paris, France is seven hours ahead of Austin, Texas.
  • Paris is divided into 20 districts (arrondisements), numbered starting in the middle of the city and spiraling outward.
  • It doesn't start getting dark until 10 pm!!!
 I've been dying to get out and take some night pictures.  Tonight I went on a walk with my camera and tripod (just in case), even though I was hoping to go to bed early.  I ended up walking all the way to Notre Dame and I stayed there for a while taking pictures.  Here are a few.  They were taken between 9:30-11 at night.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Giverny - Monet's home (Day 5)

The famous bridge and water lily pond
 Today the two CEA girls who live on another floor of our apartment, my roommate and I took the metro, a train, and a bus to get to Giverny to see Claude Monet's home and gardens.  You guessed it.  Beautiful.  It rained on us in the garden for a little bit but wasn't too bad since we were under so many trees.

Once we were done looking at all of that, we grabbed lunch at a local restaurant.  I had provençal, a crepe with ham, cheese and ratatouille.  I wasn't a huge fan.  After lunch we were off to wander around Giverny for a little bit before catching the train back to Paris.
Woman painting a wildflower field in Giverny

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Notre Dame/The Islands (day 4)

Notre Dame: the back side view, pretty different!
Today (Sunday) my roommate and I went to the international service at Notre Dame.  Wow!  That place is incredible.  Something that I didn’t expect when I walked in though was the smell!  It had such a strong musty/old scent!  Anyway.  It was great.  And almost a little scary when the organ played, and was very beautiful to hear people sing during the service.   

Afterwards we looked around then went outside and started a walking tour of the islands (Île de la cité where Notre Dame is and Île St.-Louis) that was listed in my tour book (National Geographic Traveler – Paris).

Thanks to the beautiful pictures in my tour book, we decided to get tickets to go inside of Ste. Chapelle.  If you ever go to Paris, GO to Ste. Chapelle!  It is a absolutely gorgeous chapel that has more stained glass than you can imagine.  My pictures don’t do it justice, you might want to Google it!

After Ste. Chapelle, we continued our walk and saw a bird market, and then ended up on Île St.-Louis.  After seeing long lines out of many stores, we found out it was the hot spot for ice cream and sorbet.  We were trying to decide which line to join when I overheard someone say that a certain one was said to be the best and point across the street… so that’s where we went.  I had a cone with "raspberry with hint of rose" sorbet and "honey with nougat" ice cream.  The sorbet was pretty amazing, the rose flavor was so different!
Berthillon: great sorbet

Berthillon: the long line!
Notre Dame and a bridge where my roommate explained you leave a lock and make a wish

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Days Two and Three

Yesterday (Friday) we had CEA orientation from around 9:30 am to 3:30 pm.  One of the sections touched on research by Pascal Baudry that looked at French v. American culture.  It was really interesting and a great way to explain the differences!

After explaining some of Baudry's research, she said that Americans are less close to their families and country, making them have a solid inner shell, but are easier to talk to and friendly (and thus have Facebook friends in the 100s), a softer outer shell.  The French are much closer with their families and country, making them have a soft inner shell, but are a little harder to get to know (Facebook friends numbering less than 100), a harder outer shell.  Americans=peaches French=coconuts.  So she said if someone bumps into us and doesn't say sorry (as we bruise easily as peaches) or yells at us, to keep that difference in mind and not take it personally.

Cavalier Bleu: Crepe with nutella
Cavalier Bleu: Croque-monsieur
CEA took all of us to lunch at a restaurant down the street from the headquarters called Cavalier Bleu.  They ordered  croque-monsieur with fries for our main course and we had crepes after.  Yum!  I know my dad will probably love to see the food and others might too, so I'm snapping quick pictures (no flash) with my iTouch as I go.

Les Invalides: Napoleon's tomb
The Eiffel Tower at sunset
Last night my roommate and I walked around to check out our neighborhood, then decided to see if we could find Notre Dame.  We didn't find it (but can't say we were lost because we were just walking wherever we wanted without looking at a map!), but we did find Napoleon's tomb and a view of the Eiffel Tower at night!  And I learned a valuable lesson: DON'T leave the apartment without my DSLR!  It made me sick that my good camera and tripod were at the apartment when we ended up at the Eiffel Tower with such beautiful clouds in the sky.  But at least I had my point and shoot. 
Glittering Eiffel Tower

Today (Saturday, May 28) CEA had a bus tour lined up for us.  We rode around Paris and got to see the major monuments and get an idea for where they are in relation to each other.  Once that was over, my roommate and I walked around and looked at vendors along the Seine river, then went to dinner close to our apartment at Café Canon des Gobelins. While we were there, I said my first whole sentence in French (to our waiter, my first person who didn't start speaking in English after being around us for five seconds!): "Qu'est-ce que vous me recommandez?" or, "What do you recommend?"  See her answer below.  From what I could tell it was made up of eggs and ham in a pie crust.  Yum.

Café Canon des Gobelins: Tarte salée du jour

Friday, May 27, 2011


I made it!  I arrived in Paris yesterday (Thursday) morning around 10 (Paris is seven hours ahead of Texas).  When I got off of the plane, a CEA (Cultural Excursions Abroad) person was waiting for me.  After another student arrived, we loaded our luggage into a van and were driven into Paris.  I thought the airport was in Paris--not quite!  It took at least forty minutes for the driver to get us to the CEA headquarters.  When we got there, we had a short orientation and then were sent back to the car to be taken to our apartments.

I'm so glad I'm getting to live in an apartment.  We were able to pick between living in an apartment, dorm or Parisian home.  Since I can basically say I don't know ANY French, I figured the home was out of the question, so I went with the apartment.  Our apartment is in the 13th district.  We're on the top floor of the building and our apartment is two stories.  There are four of us in the apartment right now; two of the girls here just finished the spring semester here and they will move out tomorrow, so it's going to end up being just two of us for the whole month, so we'll each have our own rooms!  Very cool.  Pictures later.

After seeing the apartment and taking my stuff in, my new roommate and I went to find the nearest grocery store to get some food.  Oh gosh.  We got a little lost (by "lost" I mean that even though I was following my iTouch, I took us in the opposite direction because "Southwest" didn't mean anything to me!)  We eventually figured that out and got to where we were going, then we were just mentally a little lost in the store!  And they didn't have any macaroni and cheese in a box, I was sad.  You see, I'm not exactly gifted when it comes to cooking, so here I'm a completely lost cause.  Anyway, we got a few items, successfully bought them without the cashier talking to us and finding out we had no clue what we were doing, and completed our first adventure in Paris.

The five of us at the Eiffel Tower with our dinner
Next, we had to drop our stuff off at home and then go back to the CEA headquarters using the metro.  Guess what?  We got lost again.  Oh well.  We made it eventually.  The people who work for the program are really friendly.  We found out that we will have an excursion (that's included in our trip) to Dijon and Beaune at the end of June!  Very cool.  There will be mustard, gingerbread, and wine tasting.

AMAZING garlic cheese!!!
After we were finished talking with the staff at CEA, the five of us students who went to the meet-and-greet walked over with one of the staff members to a bakery to buy baguettes then to a store to buy cheese to take to the Eiffel Tower to have a picnic.

I found Aggies in Paris!
 We had a great time.  On our way back to the metro (it was getting pretty cold so we left), I noticed a girl wearing an A&M sweatshirt!  I asked if she was from A&M then showed her my ring.  I found three other Aggies in Paris!  Crazy!  They were there with the A&M marketing study abroad program.  The girl in the sweatshirt is one of our Women's Basketball National Champions!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's time!

Well it's finally here... I leave today!  I will arrive in Paris at 9:40 am (2:40 am our time, ouch!) tomorrow.

Globe Trotters

You usually know my horses because they're named after things to do with movies (much of the time Disney ones Pocahontas, Skywalker, Black Beauty, Evenstar), renaissance fairy tales (Arthur, Guinevere, Lady 'O Lake, Lady Elaine), or the latest string, anything to do with being an Aggie (Aggie Wrangler,Starr Boogie).  For this year they have taken on a new theme.

My first foal of the season was out of my mare Rosaline.  Rosaline was named after a character in Romeo and Juliet, the book I was reading in high school when she was born.  Rosaline had a baby this year and I named her Verona (last year she had Juliet) to follow the Romeo and Juliet theme but also tie into my trip!

Flower Girl, Lauren and Athena
Next, I had a Paris and then Olympia.  Well last night my last pregnant mare (Flower Girl, named when I was the flower girl in my sister's wedding) had her baby and I'm trying to figure out a name before I leave for the airport in an hour!  I think I'm going to go with Athena (Athens would sound too much like a colt).

Keep a lookout to see what her name ends up as: Little America Foals, she's the sorrel filly that was born this morning, dad had three mares that went into labor last night!

Monday, May 23, 2011

All Packed (?!)

My (packed!) luggage for the trip
I'm still in shock that I'm already all packed for Paris.  When I went to DC for a semester in 2009, I was up packing until almost 2 am the night before.  This time, thanks to my roommate Carrie, I packed all of my clothes last week before I left College Station.  Carrie went to Belgium for a study abroad the summer before we became roommates, so her guidance as I picked clothes was much appreciated!

They say you should take a picture of your luggage before leaving just in case (heaven forbid) it gets lost or stolen during travel.. so here is my luggage!  Beautiful and MAROON!  Whoop!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Five days!

Five days until I leave... yeesh!  Still a few more things to do!

The good news is that I've finally finished setting this thing up.  It was fun to brush up on my Illustrator and Photoshop skills to make the background!  I found the color scheme, "Bubblegum Black," through kuler.adobe.com.  I got the idea of using the texture for the background from this: http://designreviver.com/tutorials/create-convincing-watercolor-effects-using-photoshop/ while looking for a way to produce a watercolor look (my first plan which didn't end up going through).

It's not what I originally planned on, but I'm happy with it!  Once I was all finished, I uploaded it and thought it needed to have a kind of ripped-edge look to the side to blend into the blog.  This page helped with that: http://www.photoshoplab.com/ripped-and-torn-edges-and-stuff.html.  It's amazing what you can find by just doing a Google search for your question!  :)