Marseille & Aix-en-Provence: the fast version

So you might know that I spent November of 2015 in Marseille, France. Since then I’ve done nothing but sing praises for the south of France. Everything there is a little bit brighter–mainly because, unlike in Paris, the sun actually shines there. Instead of my normal post where I ramble forever about how gorgeous everything was, I’m going to hit my hard and fast favs of this little region.  Continue reading Marseille & Aix-en-Provence: the fast version

French: A Language And A Way Of Life

 

Bonjour! Parlez-vous français? Ouais, moi aussi! J’aime les chatons, aimez-vous les chatons?

I could probably keep going for three more minutes talking about cats or the weather before scrambling for my pocket dictionary. I’ve been taking French for around a year and a half, starting in my sophomore year of college. My university, like most, requires three semesters of a foreign language.

Continue reading French: A Language And A Way Of Life

What You Learn Without A Camera In A Different Country

I’ve been incredibly blessed to travel quite a lot in the past few years, and in a few weeks I’m going to set off again to Switzerland. Most times I’ve been able to take my handy dandy Canon 60D with me. This past summer I wasn’t able to, so I had to get creative when it came to memory making. Of course, all phones these days have some pretty nice cameras on them so I was still able to capture some pretty buildings and sunsets. I was also able to experience the countries differently than before. My face wasn’t always constantly behind a lens; it was in the sun or in the moonlight or singing along with a band. I learned more about how to pronounce ‘Je voudrais steak at des frites” and less about ISO numbers. I focused first on eating my food, not taking pictures of it. There is a lot more to culture than the way a country looks, and I was lucky enough to learn that this past summer.

I did of course take some photos on my phone, so please enjoy them.

Maastricht

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Typical transportation in Maastricht

I traveled to Maastricht in May of 2013 and it was a breath-taking trip. It’s amazing how the culture can change in only an hour long plane ride. The top three things I learned there were to (1) not be afraid to walk on the grass. There was so much green everywhere, and sometimes I wasn’t sure if i was supposed to walk on the lawn or follow the path. Then I saw lots of people running and biking over the grass, so I learn it was okay. (2) They plant a tree when they get a new queen. I didn’t quite understand this tradition, but it seemed to be a specific type of tree that was planted and had a dainty little gate around it. (3) There were roman baths here. I was walking through a square and I saw different colored tiles on the ground. The family I was visiting there explained to me that there used to be roman baths in that area. Instead of preserving them by not building over them, the builders of the town decided to remember the baths differently. they outlined them in different colored tiles. Now that I knew, I started seeing them everywhere! Interesting!

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A peaceful scene in Maastricht
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One of the many cafes in Maastricht
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The sunsetting on a beautiful street in Maastricht
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A quiet holland street
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Lighting Candles in a cathedral

 

Zermatt

During the winter of 2012, I was able to learn to ski. So the first on my list of the top three things I learned while in Zermatt was (1) to ski, and that when you’re skiing you should look forward to where you are going. This was helped by me being able to look at the giant moutons around me. (2) I also learned that some ski villages don’t allow cars! We had to park our van and then get on a little elctric trolly to go up to the ski resort. This made the snow super beautiful and stay white! (3) The villagers who were there skied EVERYWHERE. Outside of every restaurant I saw little places for people to stick their skis or ski boots. So cool!

London

London, such a great city. It’s super amazing how it can be filled with such amazing history and also be so modern. When I was here, I was with my family. First lesson learned, when you’re traveling with a group of people, don’t be selfish. Maybe you don’t want to go to the London Tower but your group does, just be selfless and go with them. Then try and see if you can do something you really want to do afterwards. The second lesson is that you should do your research about where you are going. Look up the old antique bookstores, the statues that you want to see, the bus routes. If you do your research, it’ll be a much smoother trip. Lastly, and possibly most important, your plans will most likely go wrong. Something will go wrong. You have a group of six but you can only find taxis for five people. There is a event happening in the garden you wanted to take pictures in. You have to be flexible. I cannot stress that enough.

Belgium

Belgium was another amazing country. It is one of my favorite countries I’ve ever been to, and by that time I had been to a few. There were so many huge buildings there that looking nothing like buildings I had seen before! You can sit there pinning the pictures on Pinterest of places and think they are beautiful, but thats very different then being right underneath them. I found myself overwhelmed to take super gorgeous pictures, but (1) don’t pressure yourself to take the kinds of pictures you see everywhere else. Try taking things from a different angle or of everyday objects that are slightly quirky. The photo of the yellow bike against the door I almost didn’t take. Now, it’s my favorite photo I’ve ever taken. (2) Try to learn about the history of where you’re going. I didn’t know anything about Belgium and it’s history so when I was there I asked as many questions as possible. You should also always (3) look for unique things in each city you go to, find out what makes each city special.

Paris

Ah! Paris! The city of lights! I am so excited to return here. The first time I visited the city it was after a week of being in Italy, which was after a couple months of being in Switzerland. I was tired and I let that affect my trip. I’m so happy I was able to go back a second time, where I did not let a second go to waste. The first travel lesson I learned here is to take advantage of every moment you have in the city, even if that means waking up early to go to Louvre. Go see the art. It’s worth it the sleep loss. The second is to be adventurous! You don’t have to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, you can instead go to the grocery store and buy supplies for a picnic in the gardens outside the Louvre. You’ll have your own unique memory that you can’t just google pictures of. Third lesson: If you only have a few days in a city and they offer a bus tour, DO IT. My step mom gave me this advice before a friend of mine when on the city on our own and it was great. The bus takes you to all the monuments, you can get on an off as you choose, and if there is a bus stop by your hotel then you can take the scenic route home instead of the metro. Be careful though, the buses usually stop running around 7 pm so have a plan to get back if you are going to be out later than that.

Rome

Rome, the eternal city. This city was the first time I felt overwhelmed by the history. I remember being astonished when the tour guide told me that the stones we walked on were so old the apostles had walked on them. I just took a moment and thought. Having tour guides were really great for when we went to the museums. I didn’t know much about art history then, so it was really great having someone to explain to me why Michelangelo used so much blue paint. My dad and I were on this trip together, and before we ordered food he would look up how to order in Italian. We usually butchered the words or forgot them, but the local waiters seemed to appreciate our effort.