Although I'm actually home now.
And just letting you know that I started writing this while I was still in France, and then I kept drafting it until I caught up to where I was, which never happened, so now I am finally committing and finishing what I started.
OH and I will do a seperate post to document my European purchases :)
The plane trip was absolutely the worst, I got about 3 hours sleep, and the novelty of having a little screen in front of you to watch movies wore off after the first 7 hour flight. Although I did play a fair bit of Tetris against Ashlee, until we both realised that our tetris skills are possibly the worst that Malaysian airlines have ever encountered.
We arrived in Paris at about 5.30 in the morning, and got to our hotel around an hour later. It wasn't that cold in the metro, but as soon as we got out onto the street, the wind hit us. It was still black outside, and the streets of Paris were absolutely everything I expected them to be. Every building, every lamp-post, even the roads are so beautiful and detailed. Our hotel room was pretty small, but it just looked so French and I loved it. I was sharing with Ashlee, Lisa and Amma, and we had a very little 5th floor balcony with a beautiful beautiful view. We met with the group downstairs in the foyer at about 8.30, then went to the bakery across the road and ate chocolate croissants.
Then we waked down the road to Jardin de Luxembourg (excuse my spelling) which was covered in snow. I HAD NEVER SEEN SNOW BEFORE so that was very exciting.
We went to the Pantheon, which was around the corner from our hotel, then walked the 15 minutes to Notre Dame. It was incredible, and what else was incredible was the amount of gypsies. EVERYWHERE. In the afternoon, we could do whatever we wanted, so Ashlee and Lisa and I bought baguettes and ate them on our balcony, before going shopping. By ourselves. In Paris.
Day 2 we went to the Louvre, which was stunning, but at risk of sounding juvenile, I think we were there for too long, and all the paintings started to look the same. And Mona Lisa was amazing, don't get me wrong, but I honestly don't think it deserves all the hype. None of what I saw was my kind of art, I guess. I was excited to find a little Picasso though.
We walked through the park in the snow, and we found a carosel!
It was seriously one of the most surrel, breathtakingly bautiful moments of my life.
How often do you ride carosels in Paris, surrounded by snow? Then we walked down the Champs Elysee, then climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomph. French streets are so crazy. I am so used to Melbourne's grid system. But I was able to walk around the city without assistance, which made me feel very very very mature.
On Day 3 we went to Montemarte and Sacre Cour, which was really really stunning. You have to dodge all the people wanting to paint your portrait though, much like the gypsies.
And we found a two-storey carosel! It wasn't quite as fun as the one we rode on the previous day, however it was still very beautiful. Then we went to Gallerie Lafiette (excuse my spelling), which really is the most beautiful department store in the world. Despite its' beauty, it was overheated and overcrowded. We found the basement though, and it was EXACTLY like Melbourne's Myer Basement, caravan and all. I bought a vintage silk scarf, so I am now able to say I bought vintage in Paris. Yeeeehawww
We visited Versailles on Day 4, and a fair bit of it was closed, including the gardens, due to maintainence. It was a similar story to the Louvre; although it was beautiful, the rooms that were open all started to look the same.
Then, drumroll, we went to the EIFFEL TOWER.
We had a group booking for sunset, but we could only go to the second level as the top one was closed. It didn't matter though, because we were still incredibely high up, and the view was the most spectacular thing I have ever seen. And when the sky got dark, my god, it was so beautiful I could've cried.
Day 5 we had the morning free to do whatever we liked. My friends and I worked out the bus route to take up from the Pantheon to the Place de la Concorde, so we could spend some more time on the Champs Elysee. We were not brave enough to ride the Metro alone, it's very dark and confusing. So we did some quality shopping, and I managed to finish off almost all of my present buying. Then we all caught the train to Arras, where our host families live. We were all a bit panicky, as we weren't sure how good our families would be at English, and communication barriers are nothing but awkward. Everyone was nervous, but no one more so than me, because I was in a strange situation with my Frenchie. The girl Eulalie who came to stay with me as part of the exchange in March of 2008 was a border at her school, so I would be staying with another family during the week, with a girl, Estelle, who I had never met.
I don't know what I was nervous about. Estelle is exactly like me, but French. Sarcastic as all get out, I had so much fun with her, and we got along like a house on fire. And her family are adorable.
The next day was Friday, so I had to take my luggage to school as I would be going to Eulalie's for the weekend. School was fun, it didn't take me long to get comfortable, and I adore strangers (in the least creepy way possible). Despite our complains in regards to everyone in the common room constantly staring at us Australians, I think we all secretly liked the attention.
Estelle, her friends and I went to a bar after school (that was our 'thing' on Wednesdays and Fridays), just incase I hadn't been feeling mature enough for the past week.
The weekend was good fun, Eulalie's family were wonderful. We did some shopping, and they took me to watch this France play Italy in a sport that I like to call "Crazy Hockey on Rollerblades". France won, although I found myself accidentally cheering for Italy on many occasions, because they were all undeniably good looking. Anywho!
I won't go into detail about the next week of school, because we went on many boring excursions, and I bought some lovely things that I will tell you about in my next post. I loved being at the school though, I made the most amazing friends, and by the end of the week I had my own little crew of boizzz. Hah!
On Monday, the week after, all us Australians caught the train to London. It only takes two hours under the English Channel, which I found incredible, seeings as I can't even get to another state in 2 hours in Melbourne. But I'd had this feeling for a long long time that London and I would just click, and I was right.
We were staying at a backpackers right in the heart of Picadilly Circus, and it was amazing. I found London quite similar to Melbourne, especially fashion wise (see next post). And it wasn't too cold there... keeping in mind that by this stage we were accustomed to 4 degrees and below.
On our way to the London Eye that night, we spotted a busker, so Ali and I worked up the courage to ask him to play some Kooks for us. It was beautiful, British accents are orgasmic, no joke. Like the guy wasn't bad looking, but that voice! Amazing. I wish all boys had an English accent.
I loved staying at a backpackers! Met this really fun local, discussed shopping, Bloc Party and Skins with him, then we gave him his first ever taste of vegemite.
I also had to bail from a group of sleazey drunk French men down the hall who tried to convince me to come out with them. As creepy as they were, it was possibly the funniest thing ever, and so flattering.
The next day we went to London Tower, which is actually a castle, very deceptive really. We also walked on London Bridge, which NEVER ACTUALLY FELL DOWN. I learnt alot! Although I feared I was becoming "token dumb comment girl" of the trip (I was already "token person wearing a beret in Paris" and "token person on the ground in every photo"). Then we had the entire afternoon to do whatever we wanted, so my friends and I caught the bus (yes, it was double decker) to Oxford Street, and I went mental.
Wednesday wasn't that great, thanks to the rain. We went to Buckingham palace, then London Museum, and my boots were filling with water :(
But that night, we had the best meal of the trip, then we went to see Chicago! In London's West End!! It was incredible, I'm such a musical theatre girl, was definately one of the highlights of the trip. Three nights in London was nowhere near long enough.
Thursday morning we had free, so a few of us CAUGHT THE TUBE BY OURSELVES to Harrods. I bought a teddy in a doorman's suit, then introduced him to Paddington Bear, who I'd bought the day before.
That night, we caught the train back to Arras to spend our third last night with our "families".
Friday was ok, another excursion, would've much rather been at school though.
That night, we had a dinner with all of the families at the school, and after that, a small group of Frenchies and Australians were planning on going nightclubbing! And somehow, in the 2 hours of dinner, every single Australian managed to convince their Frenchies + parents to let them come too!
The club wasn't really that great, shit dj and many greasey guys, but it's just the concept of going clubbing in France that everyone is really jealous of :)
The next night Estelle, Marina, Grace and I went out for dinner, our last night in France.
Easily the most incredible, surreal 3 weeks of my life, an adventure I'll never ever forget.