Tuesday, June 5, 2012

À bientôt...

Hello everyone. As I am writing probably the last post on the blog, I'd like to thank Dr. Donovan for putting on this trip for all of us. She has worked harder than any of us could even imagine just to insure that we learn about Paris and have a great time. By now, we've all gone our separate ways. Some have gone home, and others have decided to continue our time away from home. Whenever we return, it is important to remember that we are no longer the same person as before we left. Living in another culture changes one's perspective of everything. We learned to live in the modest sized apartments and navigate the métro (subway) system. We experienced different foods (duck is delicious!), shopped at different stores, and ate at different restaurants. All of these things together will be forever etched in our minds and forever change who we are. Don't be scared, we're still the ones you loved before, but more cultured and cognizant of the world instead of just America. It's a big world out there, and I recommend that everyone has our experiences at some point in their lives. To all those at home, see you soon!

Chris Kurensky
Current Location: Lyon, France

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Last Friday we went to four chateaux (castles). Our excursion to the chateaux in the Loire River valley was one of my favorite days of our trip. We caught an early train to Tours and made our way to the vans. First we saw Clos Lucé, the home of Leonardo da Vinci. One of the rooms we visited in the chateau was his bedroom, and they also had an exhibit of models of his inventions. The park next to the chateau was full of larger versions of his inventions, including a catapult, a "helicopter," paddle boats, and many more. Loved the interactive features of the park. Next we went to Amboise. The majority of the chateau has been destroyed, and little is left. I really enjoyed the gardens there and the view of the river. The chateau is situated right in the town of Amboise, and we had lunch in a cafe after visiting the chateau. I had confit de canard avec frites (duck with fries). It was really good! Next we went to Chambord, a chateau with a renaissance architecture style. When we first walked in it smelled like a campfire inside...I was thinking, let's make some s'mores! It had a double helix staircase, which means two people can walk up the stair case without seeing each other.  The last chateau that we went to was Chenonceau. I liked this one the best out of all that we saw because it rests over a river where it reflects in the water and because it has some nice Italian-style gardens. I really enjoyed seeing the French countryside and the small towns through which we drove to get to the chateaux. We went back to Tours and had a nice dinner. Afterwards they gave us some tutti fruti candy. We arrived in Paris at a late hour and we slept in the next day. I loved the chateaux! 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

May 31st - Going to Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur

J'adore Paris! Paris is amazing! I love our group. I'm having so much fun getting to know everyone. I adore my roommate Stephanie! At this very moment she is making us a lovely Salmon dinner. Paris is definitely an incredibly enchanting city. I will never forget this trip and all the people I'm traveling with. It definitely has been an amazing experience so far. I'm in heaven. I'm sick, but I'm still enjoying myself. I hope that soon I will get better so that I can continue to have fun. Anyways, today we went to Montmartre and visited the Sacre Coeur. I actually enjoyed the outside of the Sacre Coeur more than the inside. Outside of the building there were musicians. My favorite was a man playing the harp. He played so beautifully. There were also people dressed up like statues and they were quite artistic and very neat. Colin and I also walked below and there was a lovely fountain area there. Everything is just so amazing. I just cannot even try to explain it. It's indescribable. We learned in our readings that the word Montmartre means the "mountain of the martyr." We also learned that the outside of the Sacre Coeur is amazingly white and stays that way because it is constantly giving off calcite. When we saw the Sacre Coeur from the Centre Beaubourg it really was magnificently white and did stand out from the other buildings and structures in Paris. We also had a nice "menu" lunch, which came with an appetizer/starter, and main course and a dessert. One student tried the force-feed goose liver. I would never. I guess he liked it. I could go on and on talking about today and this week, but I just don't have the time. Paris keeps me very busy. Anyways, tonight after dinner Stephanie and I are going to go with the boys to get some snails. Dinners ready! I gotta go eat now. What a GREAT DAY!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

28 May, 2012 -- Centre Pompidou, l'Orangerie, & l'Arc

Lots of walking today! We started off our day by taking the Metro to the Centre Pompidou, a modern art museum. There were some really amazing exhibits there and a big escalator to ride. :) It was a very interesting place! After Centre Pompidou, we split up for lunch and then met up to take the Metro to l'Orangerie. This museum is famous for Monet's "Water Lilies." I think everyone was suprised at how big the paintings were; they covered eight walls and two rooms. Not sure about everyone else, but I love Monet's work! We then to the Metro to the Champs Élysées, where l'Arc de Triomphe is located. We walked by all the expensive stores on Champs élysées (Louis Vuitton, etc.). When we got to the Arc, there were 234 steps to get to the top!it was a long climb, but the view was spectacular! We could see all of Paris; a 360 degree view. Totally worth all those stairs. We ended the day by relaxing at the apartments, resting up for the Eiffel Tower tomorrow! Ciao, Michelle

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday, May 27th- Le Conciergerie, Saint-Chapelle, Notre Dame

Today was a fast-paced day. We started off the day with class, as usual, and headed down to Ile de la Cité (the island in the middle of the Seine river).  Here we went to the Conciergerie which is a prison that held people of the royal family, such as Louis XVI and Marie Antionette before they were executed via guillotine. We saw were Marie Antionette was held as well as how daily life was for the prisoners.
Next we walked a short way to the Saint-Chapelle. This is a beautiful church that has breathtakingly tall stained glass windows all around the building. I took a ton of pictures to show to my family, but I know it will not be the same as standing in the church in person.
The last planned stop of the day was at the Notre Dame.  This is one of the most famous churches in the world and is known for it's architecture and its stained glass windows. Victor Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris takes place here.
The group ate together at a small Creperie before we the group went its seperate ways. Some went to visit a memorial while others went souvenir shopping along le rue Pont Neuf.
A tout a l'heure!

The Louvre

Yesterday we visited the world-renowned Louvre. It's an incredibly vast museum with multiple floors and branches. We didn't see all of it, but we got to see the Mona Lisa and got our picture taken in front of the Aphrodite statue. Then we had a group spaghetti dinner prepared by Dr. Donovan with a fruit tarte for dessert. It was delicious!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday, May 25-- Versailles

This morning we bought RER tickets and headed over to Versailles. Such a gorgeous place! We toured the castle and the grounds, and even got to feed bread to some catfish (quite hilarious)! We didn't get back until around 8:00 (France time) and just sat down to make some supper. Was a really fun day, in all! We head to the Louvre tomorrow morning. Ta ta for now! -Michelle