Vols, Trains, et Automobiles
Bonjour, bonjour, bonjour mes amies ! I would just like to start off by saying that two days back in Strasbourg is hardly enough time to recuperate after a long voyage. However, I may add that this voyage was the longest one I have taken since arriving in France and may also have been the most eventful. Not only did we conquer the main attractions of Paris in less than four days, but we survived our first adventure in Spain! For those of you who may have forgotten, the five of us went to Zaragoza, the fifth largest city in Spain to visit our dear friend Javier, who of course we know thanks to our lovely month in Tours. But to start from the beginning, I would like to compare this long vacation to the movie “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” with John Candy and Steve Martin. Not only did we use all modes of transportation in one week, but we also had no idea what to expect when we signed up for the grand tour.
Starting with the train, we set off for Paris Friday afternoon with ONE back pack for an entire week full of clothes. I don’t know how I did it, but after realizing that we don’t actually have to have a new ensemble every day, I settled with multiple layers. We arrived in Paris Friday night and settled into our apartment with Pizza, a couch, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and good company! In the next three days, we hit all the main sites and attractions which included le Sacre Cœur, Montmartre, La Sainte Chapelle, Le musée d’Orsay, le Louvre, Moulin Rouge, l’Arc de triomphe, La Tour Eiffel, and of course le champs elysee! The best part of this was that we got to enter all the museums FREE! (Ok, so technically we’re supposed to be FRENCH students who live in France, but I think a Visa should suffice). We just got used to the phrase “Oui, nous sommes francais!”Even though this was my second trip to Paris, it was my first time visiting the Musee d’Orsay where I rediscovered and fell in love with French impressionism! C’est joli, non? The best part of the apartment was that we were also able to cook all our own dinners! This was a blessing and a curse. Our first night, we attempted to make Spaghetti Bolognaise. Considering we had only one small stove, no spices, and the minor detail that we accidentally bought tomato paste and not tomato SAUCE, our pasta dish turned into a lovely beef and noodle tomato soup…It was an applauded effort. The great part about cooking our own meals was that we didn’t feel so guilty when we spent money on extra “treats”. Now, if anyone has ever been to Paris, you may have heard of a chocolate shop called “Angelina’s” which supposedly makes the best hot chocolate in France. My mother introduced this place to me when we first visited France, and I felt obligated to share this with my four American friends. We even invited our Holy Cross foreign language assistant who is currently studying in Paris. After waiting in line for about 55 minutes, we finally entered through the golden doors, smelled the lovely aroma of hot cocoa seeping out of every room, and settled into the tea room, where we each ordered a small cup of hot chocolate. It wasn’t until we received the bill, that we realized this cup cost us a grand total of 7, 90 Euro per person. Essentially, we paid more than 11 dollars for a cup of hot chocolate, but it was without a doubt the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted in my life. When in Paris!
So, after visiting our favorite sites, and Kelia overcoming her fear of heights (I have to add that I am very proud of her for going all the way to the top of the Eiffel tower and for climbing l’arc de triomphe), we left Paris on a high note, ready to conquer the city of Zaragoza. This involved part 2 of transportation: our 12, 50 Euro flight on Ryan air. While this airport was extremely small and only allowed enough room for one small body and one tiny carry on, we managed to mount the plane and arrive safely on Spanish territory! Should we have been concerned that we didn’t even have to go through customs? Perhaps…yet, we took the bus and finally reached Javier’s house! At this point, we were on Spanish time! (This involved sleeping until noon, lunch at 3pm, sightseeing during the night, dinner at 11pm, and going to bed when the sun rose the next morning) Noteworthy highlights: Grandma’s home Spanish cooking, scary movies in Spanish, Halloween festivities (yes, we were the perfect portrayal of the spice girls), grocery shopping with Barbara in a Spanish supermarket, and of course Laser Tag! We even had time to enter inside the beautiful basilica in Zaragoza, which might have been one of the prettiest churches I’ve ever visited. I am even beginning to easily differentiate among Spanish, French, and Italian architecture! So, after three days of being the motley family of six, it was time to go our separate ways and head back to Strasbourg…and so we commence the bus ride. I have driven to Florida many times in my lifetime, but I never expected to take the exact same route on a different continent. When we bought a bus ticket back home, we were expecting the trip to be 11 hours; yet, when we arrived in Spain, we realized that 11:30 was am, not pm, and that this bus trip would be a grand total of 21 hours! Hey, we took the scenic route! During our trip, we conquered fears of heights, overcame car sickness, learned how to get by with several words of Spanish, and made it back to Strasbourg in one piece, but extremely sleep-deprived. At least in this rendition we arrived before Thanksgiving! On a brighter note, the Christmas tree in Strasbourg is now up in the center of Place Kleber, ready to be decorated! Imagine the Christmas tree in Rockefeller center, only bigger. The Christmas market is so close that I can smell the pine needles! Tata for now!
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