Paris: Sacre Coeur, Moulin Rouge, Picasso, et moi.

Paris. It was a long time ago now. Even though I got back just over a week ago, so much has happened. But let’s leave that for another post. It’s PARIS TIME. C’EST LE TEMPS DE PARIS. (Oui, je parle un peu français.)

So Paris began with an overnight bus trip from Dortmund, which wasn’t nearly as horrific as I’d expected. Sleep didn’t really happen, but it meant that I arrived at my hostel at 6am. A little too early to go sightseeing and WAY too early to check in. Day one I spent all by myself, mostly wandering. I went to Sacre Coeur, a beautiful (but not Europe’s most beautiful) cathedral, which was delightfully close to my hostel. Wandering down a lot of streets full of semi-sketchy formal-wear boutiques (it was weird), I ended up feeling overwhelmed and hungry in Le Galleries Lafayette, which is a big big big department store. I even cracked and went to a Starbucks in the store (my first American chain restaurant since going to Europe).

The view from my hostel room!

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The rest of the day was a bit of a blur. I had hoped to meet up with my friend Nancy but it’s hard to meet up with people when you’re just kind of hoping to run into them. So I saw La Place de la Concord, the jardin du Tuilieres (a big garden in front of the Louvre), walked along the Seine, saw Notre Dame, bought a book at Shakespeare and Company, and went to the Pompidou Center. It ended up being about 11 hours of walking with few breaks.

Sacre Coeur before climbing the stairs

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The view from the top– the highest point in the city is Sacre Coeur

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Dome at the Lafayette Galleries

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Tapestry at the Pompidou Center

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Robert and Sonia Delaunay pieces

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Start day 2. Taking it slow in the morning, I met up with Nancy and Deena at the start of a free walking tour (can’t speak highly enough of New Europe free walking tours), and we went on a long walk with a lot of other tourists, then sat and had a long lunch, before meeting up with the tour guide again and doing a walking tour of Montmartre, the trendy, arty neighborhood which is home to Sacre Coeur, Moulin Rouge, Picasso, et moi (it’s where my hostel was). Deena and I got a nice dinner in the artist’s square (a really cool square full of portraitists) and I went to bed.

Le Louvre est mon chapeau.

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Le lock bridge

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Nicole Kidman’s place of work

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Picasso’s apartment (above “The Laundry Boat”)

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Jour trois. I took another stroll through Montmartre in the daylight before heading into the city, the LONG way, stopping along the way to eat my apple watching old men do tai chi in a park, and and another to eat the best pain au chocolat the world has ever known (fresh and still warm). Then I saw the Arc de Triomphe, walked some more down back roads, and came upon the Eiffel Tower. It’s still way too surreal, but there was a lot of ear-to-ear smiling. Nancy and Deena and I had planned to meet at a McCafe near the Louvre before going, but we missed each other and none of us got to go to the museum. So we met up for dinner and then climbed the stairs up the Arc de Triomphe! It was a great view of Paris without the lines that the Eiffel Tower had. We walked down the Christmas market on the Champs d’Elysees, which was great and we had potato pancakes (when in France?)

It’s a little smaller than a typical Parisian lamppost.

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Is it just me, or is it a little crooked?

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Champs D’Elysees lit up like a French flag

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Day four, clearly time is getting away from us– it’s the last day of 2013! We met up in the morning south of the downtown part of the city, and waited in what we thought would be an hour long line for the Catacombs. The day crawled by as it rained and we waited for QUATRE HEURES, and I still managed to get a pretty substantial sunburn. Then we got into the tunnels under the city full of millions of human skeletons which was mad creepy but definitely really cool (except for the fact it was about 70 and humid down there).

Flash photography was forbidden.

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Then Nancy left to try to go to Hotel d’Invalides, and Deena and I walked to the Jardins du Luxembourg (SO PREETTTYY) which quickly became one of my favorite spots in the city. It had statues of ONLY women– French queens and influential French women (sadly not Eleanor of Aquitaine though). Tres cool. We walked through the Latin Quarter and met up with Nancy, and ate some foodstuffs served by a really rude French lady (when in France!) and walked over to the Eiffel Tower, where crowds had begun to gather– there are no official fireworks in Paris, but the Eiffel Tower sparkles on the hour every hour in the winter , so this night was no different. We did a lot of posing as Nancy struggled with some nasty food poisoning. At midnight, we shared a group hug at the base of the Eiffel Tower while eating Nutella-drizzled churros. It was quite the night.

#SparkleTime

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In the morning, I went back to the Luxembourg Gardens, did some reading and drank some expensive hot chocolate. We met up a final time in the afternoon and ate some tasty tasty crepes (mine was egg and cheese :)), walked around the Montmartre Christmas markets, then we- went to the metro Trocadero stop to go to the Christmas markets over there (last day!), I bought some final souvenirs before we said goodbye.

I was over it.

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In the morning I said goodbye to Paris as I headed to Orly airport, after which I went to London, and because British Airways wasn’t flying to Boston because of the storm, I was rerouted to Montreal, where I spent the night trying to to adjust to the time zone and relishing being an adult (first time in a hotel by myself). My flight wasn’t until the evening, so I sat around, packed again, and hung out at the crowded airport (everyone trying to get home). I luckily hopped on an earlier flight, and before I knew it, I was back in America.

So there’s good news and bad news. They’re the same. My adventure has come to an end, and this marks my second to last post. See you soon.

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Sitting and Eating and Speaking German

I did want to post about my trip to Dortmund, but time has been running away from me! As of now I’m fully packed (err, take that as you will) for Paris, and I will be on the bus in 6 hours. Crazy crazy. I just I’ll just do a highlights reel of Western Germany!

First I stayed with Friederike, a German and French teacher that my mom hosted when I was in college. I’d never met her before, but she was kind and welcoming and really spent her weekend showing me around! We went to Christmas markets in Dortmund (home of the biggest Christmas tree in Europe!), Bochum, and in Cologne. She and her boyfriend (also a teacher, also named Freddie) showed me the Cologne Cathedral, took me out for some meals, and spent some time with some cool teacher buddies.

Europe’s biggest Christmas tree from above (you can see the stands at the market below)

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This Cathedral only took 500 years to build!
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Modern stained glass

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Former Graftonians united in Essen!

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One night, we went to dinner in Essen (which means eating, coincidentally) to the apartment of Florian, another teacher my mom hosted, at the same time as Friedi. He and his wife made us some delicious Chinese food and we ate cheese and chocolate and did a lot of talking. It was a really fun, jam-packed weekend. Maybe that’s how I’ve been able to write about it so fast, by just cramming in the action words like we filled our days with activities.

On Monday, I switched houses, going to spend time with the parents of the girls I hosted in high school, Lara and Lena. I hosted them different years, so I’d never seen them together, even though they’re twins! They also have both moved out, living in apartments with their respective boyfriends, so I got a lot of time with the parents, though luckily I did get to see them here and there.

While in Dortmund, I got to experience the magic of a German Christmas (lasting 4 days!), a lot of eating (mostly cake and potatoes for me!), a lot of reading (finished The Night Circus and Twilight in just a few days), and of course, some sightseeing. Lara and her boyfriend Michael took me to a giant hill made of coal waste to see all over Bochum, a neighboring city. We also went to the Essen Christmas market, Christmas Eve service at their church, and to a lovely show at the planetarium! Of course, there has been a lot of sitting and eating and speaking German (and a little English too, thankfully). There was even an evening where Lara brought over her bunnies! Tonight’s party is eating leftovers and singing songs– I’m pretty excited, even though I have to leave in the middle of it to catch my bus. It has been a really nice Christmas, and I can totally imagine coming back here for it in a few years. So many people I know, and all so warm and welcoming.

From left: Lara, Lena, Oma, me, Helga at Christmas Eve dinner

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Me and Daisy and Sam! So precious.

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With that speedy blog, I leave you to your relaxing and recovering and say have a happy new year! When you hear from me next, I’ll have been to Paris and likely be back in the good ol’ US of A!

And Then My Stomach Burst

God I just want to tell everyone everything but not actually write a post. That may be a bad sign.

Things. All of the things. I guess I’ll number them. The things I remember since my last post. You may be able to tell I’m rather tired.

1) I went to Tivoli with Amanda and Gabrielle last Wednesday, to see the Christmas markets and the amazing decorations. As with any time you go to Tivoli, we were not disappointed. We saw reindeer, drank some gløgg (hot spiced red wine) and ate some æbleskiver (think spherical pancake) with strawberry jam and confectioner’s sugar. It was a good time, and I bought some small souvenirs for some people back home.

The entrance to Tivoli

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Hotel and giant white peacock. There were live, real peacocks just strolling the park, too.

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Carousel in the Russian-themed area

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THE WORST PRIZE EVER (or maybe the best one?)

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Gløgg og æbleskiver

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More holiday cuteness

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year at the most magical place on Earth

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2) Thursday was Thanksgiving, but since my core course final was from 4:30-6:30pm, there was no chance of even making anything special for dinner. But I did skype with my Dad, Harry, and Nicole (Harry’s gf) from my Dad’s house in Mass. It was really nice to see them, hear about their Thanksgivings and talk about stuff a little. Harry’s moving (has moved, now) to the Boston area, which he’s really pumped about. And I taught my dad how to say “gløgg is good” which is very easy “gløgg er godt.”

3) On Saturday, we did Thanksgiving at my house. I got up and started to cook– cranberry sauce, cranberry relish, apple sauce, and apple crisp. Then I cleaned my room and waited for Becky and Bonnie to arrive from the city. They did, and we had a hyggeligt time making mashed potatoes, roasted green beans, and butternut squash latkes (for me, baby’s first latke cooking experience, for them, baby’s first latke eating experience). Becky also brought a brussels sprouts and apples dish, which was nommy. We even had a lot of extra time and oranges, so we made what I’ll call a bittersweet orange compote, and chocolate cake with chocolate ganache. Gabrielle came and we made some incredible stuffing, before sitting down to  dinner at 6:35. It was a perfectly planned and executed meal if I do say so myself. I love Thanksgiving a lot and it made me feel so happy to have that holiday. I was seriously beaming all night and then my stomach burst from food and wine and like 4 hours of talking. The group of the four of us also went for a very dark walk in the Slotspark, which was a little creepy (bats abound and Becky told me that 90% of bats carry rabies. Ha! Now that fact is on you to struggle with). And then I got them on the train, came back, ran the dishwasher, wiped down the counters, and went to bed. It seems that the cleanup impressed the host fam even more than the food did. What can I say? My parents raised me right. (But the food was pretty damn good).

Latkes and Cranberry relish

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Green beans, brussels sprouts, and stuffing

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An unfortunate light fixture (seriously, one step to the right would have solved this problem) but over all a cute pic of my and my short friends

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I realize I have NEVER BEFORE posted a pic with the host fam. That’s because this is the first one I’ve taken.

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Dessert (tastier than it looks)

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4) This movie happened with my class, designing communication campaigns. The process of making it was much too embarrassing for those involved to write about here, but we had a good time. I did next to nothing but am still really proud of how it came out. I’m the featured disembodied hand writing at the end. Wait. I actually can’t post it here until it’s on YouTube. Check in next week for the updated version!

While we were not working on the project, we played a lot of games with this whiteboard, including one where you stand against it and the two others write speech bubbles. Then you make a face having never read the bubbles. Then you take a picture. This one is incredibly me. (besides the incorrect grammar)

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5) Uhhh… I bought a bunch of souvenirs after a trip to the fabric store for my mama turned into a trip to the fabric store for me. That’s right, my mom sent me into a fabric store and expected me not to fall in love with yarn and beautiful, beautiful fabric. Not likely. Unfortunately, out of my relatively small reader-base, and there is an even smaller gifting-base. Stuff is pricey pricey pricey here, and I still need to finance another month!

6) Speaking of which, my ticker on the right tells me my time left in Europe is no longer at months, we’re at days!! It would actually make more sense to do weeks next, but whatever. On December 15th, I’m headed to Berlin for 5 days, then on the 20th, I’ll go west to Dortmund for Christmas, to spend with former host-sisters Lara and Lena, and their parents, as well as a teacher my mom hosted, Friederike! I’m really excited for that part of the trip. Then I’ll go on the 27th to my FINAL DESTINATION: PARIS and spend New Year’s there, hopefully living it up by myself, with my friend Nancy from DIS, and with new buddies from the hostel (just speculating). At the very least I’ll see the Louvre and walk by the Seine (swooning as we speak). Then home on January 2nd– Paris to London, London to Boston, Boston to Grafton. This trip is what’s keeping me going right now through an emotional finals season, the horrors of packing (haven’t happened yet), and a lot of homesickness. As much as I have love love loved seeing things and experiencing and living it up, there are few things I look forward to more than hugging my parents, seeing my cats, and baking cookies.

This post feels like it needs this:

Love, Eleanor

P.S. I wrote this post in about 20 minutes. If that’s not something to be proud of, I don’t know what is.