Whew. Um, sorry about the 3-week-long siesta I just took from blogging. After everything went belly-up in London, I wasn’t quite feeling the whole “update everyone on every second of my life” thing, and so I conveniently forgot about my blog for a bit. Also, about 3 days after I got back, I was hit with the Parisian version of the swine flu, and was out of commission for at least a week. Basically, I’m way behind. My perpetual tendency to live my entire life on facebook means that pretty much everyone knows what happened – and if you don’t, it’s not a story worth recounting. The important thing, though, is that I’m alive now, doing well, and ready to enjoy my last week (aah!) and a half in paris. For those of you who like consistency, though, here’s the mass email-update I sent out to my family and friends last sunday (the 10th) catching them up on everything that happened in London and beyond. A blog on Normandy and the week before it will be coming soon, too. I hope you have some coffee and a comfy seat ready, because this is a beastly one. But it’s a good update, and it’s worth it, and it’s apparently Heather’s favorite…which is a high compliment coming from one of my toughest critics. Anyway, more to come soon…and I promise it won’t be in the same overly positive tone I use with my parents 🙂
Until then, though, here’s what I’ve been doing for the last 3 weeks. Enjoy!
Hi! I’m so sorry I’ve completely dropped off the face of the planet for awhile. Things got crazy, and then I got sick, and then mom and dad came into town…needless to say, I didn’t have much computer time there for a few weeks. But I’m back now, and it’s probably time for a decent update. This will be huge, so brace yourselves.
I sent my last email on Sunday, two weeks ago. It’s now Tuesday the 9th. The rest of that week was mostly spent preparing for London, doing little things around Paris, packing and resting! I went to a few museums, spent some time at Sacre Coeur (now my favorite part of Paris – the big church at the top of the hill in Montmarte), and generally prepared myself for a big weekend.
I’m assuming everyone now knows what happened in London, so I won’t talk about that…at this point I would be happy to never talk about it again. The first two days, though, were really enjoyable. We went on the London Eye at sunset and I took TONS of incredible pictures – the views are just stellar. It’s really worth the trip if you ever go to London. Friday, we went to Tate Modern – the huge modern art gallery in London. The benefit of UK museums is that they’re almost all free, so you can pop in and out of them without having to worry about costs – it’s a great way to get a broad spectrum of experiences. In any case, I loved all of the modern art (and I kept thinking about how much my dad would REEEEALLY love it…he is SUCH a fan of “weird” paintings) and we spent awhile taking pictures and looking around. We met up with Katie, Adrianna, Ryan and Robert (friends from Paris) who were also in London that night, and had drinks and met locals. One of my fondest memories of the trip by far.
Saturday was spent dealing with the whole mess so I didn’t do much, but we did see an IMAX at the science museum, and looked around a bit afterward. I have to say, even though I’m not particularly well-versed in science and engineering, that it was one of my favorite museums I’ve ever been to. They had an exhibit where phrases were streamed live from the internet – so emails being sent, facebook chats, blogs, etc could all be sent directly to this big screen and reposted there. It was funny to see the things that people were sending – even inappropriate things! – at that very moment. They also had a massive aviation exhibit that I nearly had to be dragged out of. I like planes…what can I say?
I was alone on Sunday and had all day before my train left, and I figured it was going to be a miserable day. I forced myself to get up, though, and ended up having one of the best days I’ve had on this trip so far. I packed a bag and set out to entertain myself, ending up in Trafalgar square. I wasn’t ready to eat lunch yet, so I ducked into the National Gallery for a little while and ended up spending over an hour walking around, listening to my ipod, and enjoying the paintings. Photography isn’t allowed as so many of the paintings are old – they had a number of Michelangelos that I loved – and it was oddly nice to put my camera away and appreciate everything directly. I’m usually not a huge fan of art, but I really enjoyed these – and being able to read the description boxes (in English!) helped a lot too.
I was planning to spend the afternoon in Trafalgar square before my 6PM train, but I was sitting there eating my mcdonalds (don’t judge me) when I realized how silly it was to waste the whole afternoon. Thus, in true Peggy fashion, with less than 4 hours until my train left, I walked to the station and bought a ticket to Greenwich – half an hour’s train ride away. I was homesick and reminiscing about the time we spent there at the end of our first London trip – 13 years ago – where I sat on the statue at the top of the observatory, wrote in my journal, and took pictures. The trains were having works done that Sunday, so I assumed I was going to end up missing my train back to Paris and really be in a mess. My traveler’s luck is perpetual, though, and I managed to make it (with a two-minute window to get from the ticket booth to the train!) onto the last direct train to Greenwich. I rode out there expecting that I’d get off the train and immediately see the observatory…I was wrong. In fact, the train drops you off right in the middle of this sketchy little town with no tall hills in sight. After wandering around for 15 minutes, I finally asked directions, and hiked the extra 15 minutes out to the park. Once you get into the park, you have to walk across the whole flat park, and then hike up this absolutely massive hill to get to the observatory at the top. Is it just me, or were things much easier when we were 7?! I had a time crunch, though, so I sprinted up the hill and arrived, panting and exhausted, at the top. The views were absolutely worth it, and so was the sense of personal accomplishment for getting myself all the way out there with essentially no help. After wandering around lost for a few minutes, I found the Prime Meridian and a sweet girl from New York took my picture standing on the line – just like the one that Mom took of me, Dad and Keith all those years ago. For those who don’t know, Greenwich is famous because the Prime Meridian – the 0 degree longitude line dividing the Eastern and Western Hemispheres – runs through the middle. The observatory is the official spot where the line is marked, and some (like my adorably obnoxious little brother) like to hike up there so they can jump back and forth from the Eastern to Western hemispheres. I have to admit, I made a little hop over the line and muttered “eastern hemisphere! western hemisphere!” to myself, under my breath. But only once 🙂
After speedwalking faster than I’ve ever moved in my life, I somehow managed to make it back to the station, to London, back to the hotel to pick up my bag, to St. Pancras, and on a train to Paris with time to spare. Although it was the longest train ride of my life (especially the part where we got STUCK IN THE CHANNEL TUNNEL FOR 20 MINUTES…lots of fun considering my fear of water and tight spaces!), the abundance beer in the dining carriage helped, and I was more than thrilled to be back in my bed at st.john’s by that evening.
I was back home in Paris and ready to tackle a huge week of touring and boy-hating when I got horribly, horribly sick. It was Tuesday night when I started to feel off, and by Wednesday morning I was in full-blown sick mode. What the doctor originally diagnosed as a severe throat infection later turned out to be a nasty case of the flu. Needless to say, I spent the remainder of the week in bed with a 102 degree fever, chills, and a horribly stuffy nose. French drugs are great, though, and they did manage to knock me out for almost 24 hours at a time – all of the rest and orange juice I drank probably contributed hugely to my uncharacteristically speedy recovery.
The illness, however, did prevent me from going to Barcelona with the group as I’d originally planned. I was hoping to feel better (when we first thought it was a curable infection), but was even worse on Thursday when everyone left, so I elected to stay at home and rest. It actually worked out incredibly well…I managed to get sick over our long break weekend, so I didn’t miss any class. Plus, Laurie and Andreas (my cousins) had come in from Scotland for the weekend, and since I wasn’t in Barcelona on Friday night I got to spend the whole evening with them – SO nice, as I rarely get to see them. Mom and Dad came in early Saturday, and rather than catching a 3AM flight back to Paris as I’d originally planned, I got a good night’s sleep the night before and got to spend all day touring around with them (which I will talk about in a minute). Plus, the group almost got stuck in Barcelona – apparently the bus to the airport is almost impossibly far out of the city, and very hard to find. I can’t imagine what would have happened if I’d tried to do that on my own at 2 in the morning! So while I’m never happy to be sick, this was well-timed and gave me some very much-needed time with my parents.
Mom and dad got in on Saturday after a slight train fiasco, and we immediately went and had lunch and then went to Notre Dame at Mom’s request. It was unseasonably hot for Paris – over 80 degrees!!! – and everyone was roasting. But the air conditioning inside the church made it nice and cool, and I rested in the pews while mom and dad walked around and saw things. I didn’t want to slow them down, and since I’ve been a few times before, I enjoyed the opportunity to sit and appreciate the place. It’s one of my favorite churches, and sitting in a pew appreciating the peace and stillness is an experience everyone should have.
Anyway, we were all desperate for a rest after that, so we went back to the hotel, showered, and got dressed for dinner. We went off a friend’s recommendation, to a steak place off the Champs-Elysees. You’re given a large portion of steak cooked to order and served with their special green sauce, and then tons of french fries. It was delicious, and just what a little anemic like myself was craving. Dad was exhausted and overheated so he went back to the hotel, and then Mom, Laurie, Andreas and myself went to see the Eiffel Tower at night (since Mom had never been to Paris and wanted to see it up close). It really never gets old, and I always appreciate an opportunity to gawk at the massive structure. I took mom back to her hotel after a couple thousand pictures, dropped her off, enjoyed the air conditioning for a minute, and then met up with the girls for a few quick drinks at Moose, our favorite Canadian bar. I was falling asleep in my Midori sour by 1AM, so I headed back while they went out for a long night of dancing. 8 hours of sleep later, I was a happy, happy girl.
Sunday I wasn’t feeling so hot, so we had a slow day. We met up with Jeannie, Dad’s old friend from high school who lives with her husband and daughters in Paris. We had lunch and walked around the Champs-Elysees, since Mom wanted to see the Arc du Triomphe and the obelisk at Concorde. After lunch, we headed over to the other side of the Champs where Laurie and Andreas were picking up their bus to the airport to head back home. We drank coffee and tea and ate crepes and enjoyed the last bit of time together…plus it was chilly outside!! After they’d left, I took mom and dad up to Montmarte to see Sacre Coeur – my favorite spot in Paris, half for the beautiful church and largely for the incredible views. Dad especially enjoyed all of the smoking teenagers and sketchy artists selling cheap souvenirs. I had class in the morning, so we made it an early night.
Mom and Dad left Monday after a quick lunch together, and I napped and ran errands that day. A group of girls was going to see the next Sex and the City movie, but I opted to stay home and get things done. Today, we went to the Musee D’Orsay – probably my new favorite. It’s famous for its impressionistic works – Monet, Degas, Manet, van Gogh, Delacroix…the list goes on and on. I like it most, though, for the old train station it’s housed in. The museum used to be a Gare – large train station where international trains come in – and the high, open arched ceiling is a really fabulous compliment to all of the works. We saw some of Monet’s water lilies (the most famous are in the L’Orangerie, which is on the list for this week) and Degas’ paintings of dancers – though his most famous is currently being refurbished.
Whew, so there’s a massive update. Sorry for being so long-winded, but as you can tell, a lot has happened!!! We go to Normandy this weekend (and are planning to watch Saving Private Ryan today for a bit of background), so I’m sure I’ll have a lot to say afterward. I hope you’re all doing wonderfully!! Keep up the emails!!
Love you all.