a college student's five month quest to see europe and soak in la vie française

a college student's five month quest to see europe and soak in la vie française

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

fontevraud

another excursion, another rainy day... i'm beginning to believe it's impossible for our group to experience good weather in our travels. this fifth excursion was to the abbey of fontevraud, considered revolutionary for its placement of monks and nuns in the same establishment. napoleon I turned the abbey into a prison during his reign, though today it is a purely historic site.
a crucifix constructed in the fourteenth century. think about how old that is!
the rooftop of the kitchen at the abbey, rife with chimneys.
the ceiling of the kitchen from the interior.
pretty architecture...
...pretty landscaping.
one of several lovely courtyards at the abbey.
les égouts (the sewers) of the abbey.
murals of religious life at the abbey. would you look at those ceilings?
the light-filled eighteenth century church.
isn't it incredible?
another courtyard at the abbey. i love the gridlike hedges!
the convergence of the loire and the vienne.
my host brother, paul, ready for his cotillion dance and me in the process of getting ready for carl's birthday party.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

switzerland

i had such a great time with my brother, grayson, and my boyfriend, michael, in switzerland this weekend. interlaken was so beautiful: huge mountains, turquoise water, and hang gliding!
view from the casino in interlaken.
grayson and i.
look at that water!
grayson and michael.

grayson and i waiting for our turn to run off the mountain.
and we're off!
ed and i cruising above the mountainside.
more hokey poses. check out our flight:
video
it was so much fun!
i survived!
proof for the insurance company?
brief pit stop in london before grayson had to fly home.
goofing around at the monument to the great fire.
model shot.
for our little brother, camden!

Monday, March 15, 2010

normandy

our excursion to normandy was a long haul: early wake-ups, hours spent on a freezing bus, cranky professors yelling at us to speak only in french. there were definitely parts of the trip that i would have done differently if i'd been traveling by myself but the moments of the trip that went right made all the others worth it. saint malo and mont saint michel were beautiful but it was the american cemetery at normandy that really took my breath away. the second we set foot in the area, which is territory owned by the united states, we could all tell we had left france for a moment. i can't put my finger on exactly what it was — the layout of the museum? the bathroom stalls wide enough for obese americans? — but there was an immediate lift in spirits among the group. without further ado, some highlights of our trip:
the fortified village of saint malo.
view from behind the walls.
hanging out on the fortress. from left to right: carl, annie, denise, maika, and valerie.
mont saint michel from afar.
courtyard at mont saint michel.
monastery at mont saint michel.
stained glass windows in the cathedral at bayeux.
remnants from d-day on the beach at normandy.
entering the american cemetery.
a handful of the 9,000 crosses in the cemetery.
it felt like no angle could capture the number of white crosses. they just went on and on.
and on and on.
an unknown soldier.
pretty trees overlooking the american cemetery.
the altered landscape at pointe du hoc, where bomb craters offer unsettling proof of the battle that occurred here.
german bunker.
view from pointe du hoc.
kids playing in bomb craters. this should provide an idea of scale... the craters were huge.
the german cemetery. the gravestones (each of the squares on the ground — the five crosses are just statues) were engraved with the soldiers' dates of birth (unlike the american cemetery) and the number of 17-, 18-, and 19-year-old soldiers killed was truly disturbing.
le musée de la paix... interesting way to conclude our weekend of studying the second world war.
the gallery of nobel peace prize winners.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

words of the day

près
adverb meaning "near" or "close"

proche
adjective meaning "nearby"

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

amsterdam

let me start off by saying that amsterdam was unlike any other place i've ever seen. people were so friendly (particularly delightful coming, as i was, from france) and more than willing to speak [flawless] english to help out a couple of lost american tourists.

we ate primarily italian food (again a refreshing change!) and soaked in the city at our own pace. i think we saw a good number of the major spots considering we were only there for two days: an afternoon at the van gogh museum (michael is such a good sport!), multiple walks in the cheery vondelpark, a canal cruise through the city, and even a tour of the red light district on our last night (no pictures allowed — i'm sorry!).

there is definitely more to amsterdam than legalized marijuana and naked girls in windows (though there was plenty of that too!). we loved that everyone seemed to bike everywhere, circumstances that made for some hilariously close calls with we pedestrians. save for the chilly temperatures and the guttural harshness of the dutch language, it's definitely a city i can't wait to go back to someday!
yummy restaurant for lunch on our first day. isn't the lighting cool?
michael lives on leeuwarden road in connecticut... perhaps this is the dutch translation?
peering into the windows of what i'm certain is the world's prettiest flower shop. we walked past it every day and night!
the view from our balcony.
interesting architectural details on our street.
a keyhole-shaped doorway?
we're such tourists. hey, it was the first time i've eaten truly american food since i've been here!
the view from the back of the boat cruise. it was freezing outside so i don't have nearly as many pictures as i would have liked.
pretty buildings.
more pretty buildings.
long lines at the anne frank house.
only in amsterdam... a parking garage for bicycles.
the site of the world's first stock exchange.
pretty hotel on the canal.
an afternoon stroll in the vondelpark.
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