Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Struggle


I'd like to take this time to publicly admit that I took the entire month of October for granted. Now that classes have started back up for me again, I remember what it is like to be stressed and overworked and under-motivated.

Let's see... Last week was pretty good. Wednesday and Thursday I had my Global Leadership class, and I loved every second of it. The professor was passionate and he kept things interesting. I appreciate that, especially when I have to sit in his class for 6 hours a day. He gave a crazy group project assignment, but I think we'll do just fine. My group has already planned 3 meeting days, so we'll get stuff done. We don't meet with this class again until December 18, unfortunately.

Friday I had the final session to a class we started at the beginning of September. We had to present our findings of a survey we did. The presentation went really well. (Although, the survey wasn't so hot... let's just say we learned a lot about the importance of wording the questions correctly.) She said she was proud of us for realizing and admitting our mistakes, so +1 for my team!

Since we got back from Paris on Tuesday and I had class the rest of the week, Saturday was reserved for laundry and shopping. Can I just tell you something about the laundry situation? I have been behind on my laundry for at least two months. You see, I have to walk to the laundromat and I can only carry 2 loads comfortably. (Clothes are heavy.) Unfortunately, I've got about 4 loads worth of dirty clothes in my hamper at any given time. So I've been juggling which clothes I want to wear and which clothes can wait another week to be washed. (Some have been in there since mid-September. I know, I'm terrible.)

Anyway, there's a simple solution to this (first-world) problem. Make two trips to the laundromat. Seriously Sarah, you are an able-bodied young adult-- you should be entirely capable of handling this. And you know what? I had every intention of making a second trip on Sunday. However, intentions mean absolutely nothing when nothing gets done.

Sunday morning I was awoken by the wailing of an alarm clock from across the hall at 8:30am. No, that's not that early, but this was the first day I was allowing myself a little extra sleep in more than a week. (Quit judging me.) Sometimes the girl across the hall just leaves and forgets to turn off her alarm beforehand, so I get to listen to it until it stops wailing at around 10:30am. I was very unhappy about this development, so I turned on the Les Miserables soundtrack to drown out the alarm. At this point though, I was awake-- there was no going back to a dreamy slumber for me.

This sounds like the perfect setup for a very productive day! I could get out of bed, get dressed, and go finish my laundry. I could finally get caught up! That's not what I did. I opened Netflix and watched The Help. (Because I love that movie and it makes me cry every time and sometimes crying is a good thing.) I ended up staying in bed until around noon. (I'll admit, I was ashamed, but I do think I needed a lazy morning to myself.)

I didn't start this story expecting it to be this long, but it is what it is. The rest of Sunday was spent writing, working on travel plans, reading, and working my way through The Big Bang Theory. (You're asking why I didn't just go to the laundromat that afternoon? It was raining and I just wasn't emotionally/mentally prepared to face that.)

I had class again Monday and Tuesday. This one was Marketing Management. I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as Global Leadership. Our professor is very nice-- she's a lovely woman, but her teaching style is the most frustrating thing. It's so hard to sit through her class. She teaches very slowly and she's hard to listen to. The information isn't all boring, but the way she presents it just isn't that great. Thankfully, we don't have to go back to that class until December 8.

I have some very exciting news this week! My dad and sisters are coming to France this Saturday to spend Thanksgiving week with me! I'm sooooooo excited to see them! They arrive in Paris Saturday morning, so I'm meeting them at the airport and we're going to spend two days in Paris before coming back to Poitiers.

I had no idea the amount of work that goes into planning a week long trip for four people in Europe. (Lizette has always been in charge and I let her tell me what to book when she needs it. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lizette, you do good work!) It's an incredible task to book hotels and train tickets and bus tickets. You really have to think through every leg of the journey to make sure all of your bases are covered. I started working on this several weeks ago and got really stressed about it. I finished planning the first four days they'll be here, but then I left for Italy and then Paris, and I never got around to planning the rest of the trip.

When I'm faced with something I'm worried or stressed about, I tend to try to put it off as long as I can. (It's a character flaw I'm trying to work on.) Last night, I sat down to work on this at 7:30pm and got so immersed in what I was doing, I didn't even look at the clock again until 10:00pm. When I finally saw the time, I realized I had been hunched over my laptop for who knows how long. I sat up straight and every muscle in my back protested at the movement. I went to get some water and decided that I deserved candy for all of my hard work, so I ran downstairs to the vending machine for a Kit-Kat.

I did get it all done though! Looking at train schedules and comparing hotels is exhausting. I was a nervous mess sitting there. (Leg bouncing, hands shaking, intermittently cursing at my computer, etc.) Now I only have a few details to work out, plus gathering all the directions so we can get to places without studying a map. I'll add that to today's to-do list!

The next few days will be mostly spent preparing for their arrival. I can't wait to tell you about how it went with them here. That'll be the topic for the blog two weeks from now. Thanks for reading my ramblings about inconsequential happenings in my life.

Je t'embrasse,


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Paris, mon ami!

Bonjour, ami!

After more than 2 months of living in France, I finally made a trip to Paris to actually enjoy Paris!

Up until Saturday, I had taken the train to and from Paris numerous times, but each time Paris was just a stop on the way to our final destination. This time, we got to stay in Paris and experience some of the things she has to offer.

Before I tell you about that, I'll start with where I left off in last week's blog. Between our Italy and Paris trips, we had 3 days to relax/mentally prepare for another trip/do laundry. I spent much of that time on Netflix. (Currently in Season 3 of The Big Bang Theory.) I did the bare minimal amount of laundry (sweaters and jeans) and the minimal amount of grocery shopping (fruit and microwave meals). I just couldn't be bothered to do anything really productive.

Of course, now that I've returned, I'm feeling the repercussions of those minimal actions. I now have even fewer clean clothes and no food! Easy fix, right? Wrong-- I actually have three days of class this week! Yay for a Saturday full of chores!

We left Poitiers bright and early Saturday morning (6:20 am) so that we would have a full 3 days in Paris. The train ride is only 2 hours, so we were there by 8:30, and got settled in our accommodation by 9:30. However, that morning I woke up with a raging headache and a stuffy nose, and all the way to Paris I felt like I was going to puke all over the place. (This put me in an extremely bad mood, that I took out on my travel mates-- sorry Joe.) When we got to the flat, I passed out on the couch while Joe and Lizette went to buy groceries. They brought back medicine and by noon, I was feeling up to getting out of the flat. (They're such good friends for putting up with me.)

We set out to see Musee d'Orsay-- a famous museum, although not as famous as the Louvre. We got in for free because we're residents of France, even though I left my passport in Poitiers. (All of that OFII stuff was worth it!) Orsay was really fantastic. They had a collection of Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh, and Monet. The museum itself is housed in a former train station, so the inside is quite beautiful with the tall ceilings.

After the museum, we went to Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris. It is quite a famous church and for good reason. It's beautiful both inside and out. Once we got inside, we walked the perimeter, then just sat for a while in the nave. (This has become our routine for churches. Sometimes we sit together, but more often we sit separately and just enjoy the beauty of the place we get to see.) I thoroughly enjoy churches.

Right behind the Notre Dame is the famous Lock Bridge, or Pont des Arts. Since it was close, we walked across it. There were so many locks on it. If you don't know what I'm talking about, here's a little background: The practice of placing locks, or lovelocks, on bridges began more than 100 years ago when two lovers would meet on a bridge. They were madly in love, but the man had to go to war and while away, fell in love with another woman. The woman never recovered from this heartbreak and eventually died. Girls would then go to the bridge where the lovers had met and place locks on the bridge and throw away the key so that their love could never be broken. The tradition did not start in Paris, but it very prominent on many of the bridges and has become something of a tourist attraction. (Although you can cross nearly any bridge today and undoubtedly find a lock on it.)

We returned to the flat that night and cooked dinner. It's so much cheaper, especially in Paris, to buy groceries and cook for yourself if you can. We reserved a flat off of Airbnb again and had much better results this time. We were very happy with our accommodations. Our host was in the south of France during our stay, so we had the entire flat to ourselves.

The next day, we went to the Musee du Louvre. You hear that it's impossible to see it all in only a day, and I can absolutely say that is true. It is monstrous. There is so much to see. We walked through quite a bit of it, but it felt like we walked miles and miles by the time we were done. We got there at about 10:00 and left at 3:00 or so. We didn't have lunch until right before we left, so we were hungry and worn out by then.

It is a really cool museum though. We spent most of our time in the Egyptian exhibit, simply because that's not something we get to see in the United States and we don't have plans to travel to Egypt any time soon. It was incredible. My favorite part was seeing all of the sarcophagi and the ancient writings. It's hard to imagine a civilization that existed so long ago, but so much has been found of what they did and how they lived. It was very fun to see.

I also saw the Mona Lisa! I was really, really excited when I finally arrived at the room she is displayed in. Although, maybe it was that I was tired and hungry, but when I saw her, I was mildly disappointed. Maybe it was just my mood that day, but I was not as impressed as I anticipated. I'll go back to see her and see how I feel then.

My only complaint about the Louvre should not come as a surprise, but somehow it surprised me. Wouldn't you think that the most famous, most visited museum in the world would have descriptions and explanations of the items on display in English?! Or is that just me? There was not a single thing in English. It was beyond frustrating.

After the Louvre, we returned to the flat for a nap before heading to see the Eiffel Tower at night. We all fell asleep quickly and didn't wake up until much later than we planned, so we just fixed dinner and stayed inside for the night. (I know, I know, we're lame.)

The next morning, we stepped outside and it was miserably cold and windy. Unfortunately, we had already done the museums (inside activities) and were planning to see a church, a cemetery, an arc, and a tower (outside activities). However, we pushed forward and went through with the planned activities.

Our first stop was Sacre-Coeur-- Sacred Heart Cathedral. It's on top of a hill that usually provides a stunning view of Paris, but it was foggy that morning, so I can't verify that. The church was amazing. The dome had a gold and blue tiled picture of Jesus with arms outstretched. As you might have guessed, we sat for a good long while before moving on.

From there, we went to Arc de Triomphe.  It was pretty cool, but what's really neat about it is that you can climb to the top and look out over Paris. It is a terribly long and winding set of stairs, but it was worth it once we got to the top. The Arc is situated in a roundabout that connects 12 different roads. Every direction you look is incredible. From the Arc, we caught our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. (Previously we had only seen it from the plane.)

We then climbed down and headed in the direction of the Tower. On the way, we stopped for a late lunch, then continued on. By now, it was much warmer and less windy than it had been, but still rather chilly. We finally got to the tower and it was so much bigger and more impressive than I had imagined it. I've only ever seen pictures of it from a distance, but standing under it, you really get a sense of the enormity of it. And the iron structure is so intricate and beautiful. It is quite enchanting. I'm glad they decided not to tear it down after the World's Fair. (It had a permit to stand for only 20 years, and was then to be dismantled by the City of Paris.)

We had some extra time that we hadn't planned on, so we went to see Moulin Rouge. Moulin Rouge is one of Lizette's favorite movies so she wanted to see the famous red windmill. The Montmartre Cemetery is very near there, so we walked over to see it. (We hadn't gone to the cemetery that morning because of the cold.) It was so awesome-- probably one of my favorite things we saw. It is packed with ornate tombs of all sizes. Montmartre began as a mass grave during the French Revolution, and was later turned into the cemetery it is today. It is below street level, with only one entrance, so when you enter, it's almost as if you've left the city completely. It is so serene and picturesque. There are tall trees and moss covered graves in every direction. I'm so glad we decided to stop here.

We returned to the Eiffel Tower that night to see it lit up and sparkling. The tower was even more magical at night. We bought some churos and chocolate and sat by the river to appreciate the night. The tower only sparkles every hour, so we had to wait nearly 50 minutes to see it. It was definitely worth it, though.

The next morning, we got up early to see the Parisian Catacombs. Upon our arrival, we discovered that it was closed that day because of the public holiday. Instead of that, we went to Jardin du Luxembourg. We didn't see a lot of it, but what we did see was very pretty. We walked through part of it where people were out with their kids, and playing tennis and basketball. It would be fun to live near a place that is so alive in the morning.

Our train left Paris that afternoon and we returned home happy and exhausted. From here on out, we have class nearly ever week, so we won't be doing the extensive traveling that we've done for most of October until now. As much as I have enjoyed it, I'm glad to be home for a while. I'll be happy to establish some sort of routine, no matter how temporary it may be.

Today, I had my first class since October 10. I was really dreading it, but once I was sitting in class, I realized how much I actually like going to school. We have a really great (American!) teacher this time. The class is Global Leadership, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I think my group for this project will be very fun and easy to work with, so I'm looking forward to that.

Until next week!

Je t'embrasse,

Here's the link to the pictures from this trip: click here. I didn't take nearly as many pictures this time :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014



Wow, Italy blew my mind. It was an amazing, educational, awe-inspiring trip. I didn’t know how much I wanted to see Italy until I was actually there. I was on the verge of tears several times simply because what I was seeing was so overwhelmingly beautiful, and to be there, seeing these things in real life, was just so awesome. The whole experience was nearly indescribable, but I’ll do my best here!

I told you last week that we started out the trip in Venice. Venice really was beautiful. Everything about our time in Venice was laid-back. While there are definitely things to see, they aren’t very many and the island isn’t that big, so there was no hurry to get anywhere, or catch any buses, or beat any crowds. (Although, it was very crowded— dang tourists!) 

Our hostel wasn’t actually in Venice, it was in a town on the mainland, so it took about 10 minutes to get to Venice each day. The hostel was kind of fun. It was like a campground, and we had our own three person bungalow. When we arrived in Venice, it was freezing cold. We didn’t pack for cold weather unfortunately (because when I think Italy, I think sunshine and warm weather), so we stayed in the room and watched a movie after we went out for pizza the first night.  

The food culture in Italy is fun— there are pizzerias everywhere and it’s really good pizza! We had pizza on several occasions, actually. Never have I ordered an entire pizza for myself before going to Italy, but there, it’s a very normal thing to eat a whole pizza for a meal. The pasta situation also must be commented on— yes, it was delicious. Better than pasta in America? Maybe. The lasagnas that I had were definitely better. (I had a purple vegetable lasagna at one point.) The spaghetti was yummy, but I wouldn’t say it was extraordinary or anything. I had tortellini with ham also, and it was good, but again, not mindblowingly amazing like you would expect. So, yeah, good pizza and pasta. Good job, Italy. 

Another food thing that the Italians do right is gelato. I think we stopped at a gelateria at least once a day. I had everything from coffee and rum flavors to plain chocolate and vanilla flavors. They're so yummy and the presentation in the shops is so appealing to me. (I'm a sucker for good advertising.) Another sweet that we couldn't get enough of, especially in Venice because it was so cold, was the hot chocolate. It was super thick and rich-- it was like drinking hot pudding. (They even provide a spoon.) Sooo good. 

So our first day in Venice we wandered away the first half of the day, and eventually stumbled upon Scuola Grande San Giovanni Evangelista de Venezia, which was an old school and church. They were beautiful. The floors are quite impressive in Italy. They love using marble everywhere, and the floors are oftentimes patterned with different colors of marble. 

With the exception of a few, the churches in Italy really didn’t do anything for me. Yes, they were (sometimes) beautiful on the inside, but the outsides left so much to be desired. Several of them I wouldn’t have even guessed they were churches just by looking at the outside of them. To me, the outside is nearly as important as the inside. And beyond this, I’m not a huge fan of mixing too many colored marbles. Italians LOVE marble. It’s everywhere. (In case you didn’t catch that earlier.) I just wasn’t as impressed with these churches. Even some of the churches we went to in Rome weren’t that great. 

Anyway, there’s really not a lot to report from Venice because we wandered and shopped. We did go on a Gondola ride, and that was fun. Our gondolier pointed out Marco Polo’s house and Casablanca’s house, so that was fun. Our second day, a friend of Lizette’s came to see her, so a real Italian showed us around a little. 

It was a good time in Venice, although now that the trip is over, we’ve come to the conclusion that we did this trip backwards. We really should have gone to Rome first because it was crazy exhausting, then we would have had downtime in Venice before going back home. Oh well, we learned. Next time we’ll plan a little better! (Slowly getting better at the whole traveling thing. We haven’t missed a train in like a month!) 

On to the good stuff! I don’t even know how I’ll begin to describe to you how wonderful it was to be in Rome. If you ever get the chance, please, please visit Rome. It is an amazing thing to be surrounded by landmarks that are not hundreds, but thousands of years old. It really put a few things into perspective for me. There is so much left of the ancient Romans, it’s not hard to imagine what their lives might have been like. 

I like to think about ancient people from time to time. Often, when we thing of ancient civilizations, we think of them as a whole, but in reality, they were people too. Each of the millions that have lived before us led their own interesting lives. They had feelings and relationships. They were real. I think it’s sometimes hard to wrap your head around that fact. And I bet when they were walking down Via Sacra, going about their business, they never imagined that a thousand years in the future there would still be people walking that road wondering about the lives that had once occupied ancient Rome. It’s mind boggling to me. I wish I could talk to them— ask about their days, ask who their favorite gladiator was, and the everyday stuff. 

Our first morning in Rome, we went to Vatican City to see what we could see. When we got there, we learned that it was closed because November 1 is All Saints Day. Instead of waiting until Monday to buy our tickets for everything, we went ahead and booked a tour with an agency. We still went inside the city and saw St. Peter’s Basilica from a distance, but we decided to save it all for Monday. 

We then went to the Roman Forum to see the ruins. Let me tell you how magical it is to walk out of the Colosseo subway station. As you’re riding up the escalator, you can catch little glimpses of the Colosseum and you walk out into the sunlight and it’s standing right in front of you in all of its glory. Lizette and I stood with jaws dropped. We didn’t say anything for several moments. The realization that I was actually seeing this place hit me so hard right then. My heart was pounding; I couldn’t breathe for a second. Then, I had to laugh and smile, and squeal a little, I was so, so excited to be there! Oh my goodness, I wish I could convey to you the excitement I was feeling! (I’m crying just writing about it.)

Of course, after the initial shock of seeing it for the first time, we started walking towards it. We found the line for the tickets and decided to go into the Roman Forum first. (The line was shorter over there than it was for the colosseum, but the ticket was good for 2 days at the Forum, the Palatine, and the Colosseum.) 

The Roman Forum is the remains of the city. It was the political, economic, religious, and commercial heart of Rome. There are columns standing from the temples of Venice, Vesta, and Saturn, as well as the Arco de Tito. We spent a several hours here— there’s so much to see!

After this, we planned on going to the Colosseum, but decided to see what the Palatine was all about first. The Palatine was where all of the rich people lived. Celebrities, political leaders, and wealthy members of society built their houses on Palatine hill right next to the Forum. It was really incredible. Many of buildings were still standing. There were massive courtyards and towers. It was a very beautiful area— it’s easy to imagine why the rich wanted to build there. 

By the time we finished at the Palatine, we were all famished, so food was our priority. The Colosseum closed at 3:30, so we decided to go back to it the next day so we could fully appreciate our time there instead of rushing through it. 

We found food and then walked through some more remains. We walked by a church and decided to go inside at about 5:30 or so. When we got inside, the nuns were bustling around like they were getting ready for something, so we checked the schedule, and there was a mass at 6! We decided to stick around for it, because, what’s a trip to Rome without going to mass in an old church? (And on All Saints Day!)

I’m so glad we stayed. I didn’t understand a word of it, but that didn’t make it any less beautiful. The nuns sang, and the priest did his thing. It only took about 45 minutes and there were probably 10 other people there, but it was perfect in its own way. We walked to the hostel that night completely content. 

The next morning, we set out for the Colosseum! (If you can’t tell, the Colosseum was without a doubt the highlight of the trip for me.) This time, we walked there and we first saw it from the street above ground level and it was no less amazing seeing it the second time. Again, we just stood and stared for a few minutes. 

We went down to go inside, and because it was Sunday, the tickets were free, so the line was outrageously long. Thankfully, since we had bought our tickets the day before, we got to bypass all those thousands of people waiting to get in. (I felt more than a little smug walking past them.) 

When we went inside, I just, wow, it took my breath away. One of the reasons the colosseum was so special to me is that one of my favorite book series, Mark of the Lion, by Francine Rivers, is set in ancient Rome and the Colosseum and gladiators play a huge part in the story line. I have read the series through probably 4 or 5 times, I love the characters so much. Another book I love, Roma, is a history (in story form) of Rome from its very beginnings. Reading these, I could always visualize the Colosseum in my mind because it’s such a well known structure, but to actually be there was (not to be too cheesy, but) a real dream come true. 

We entered on the ground level and were surrounded by the walls that would have held the seats for the people. There was a platform looking out over the arena where the gladiators would have fought, although the floor was gone, so we could see the rooms beneath the arena. We walked around the ground floor then went to the upper decks. 

Upstairs, there was a small museum and a bookshop that we walked through before we saw the arena again. When we went back outside, I stood at the railing with Lizette and we talked about how amazing it was to be there in that moment. Honestly, I was so happy right then. I could have stood at that railing for hours. We eventually left it to walk around the second level. It was so unreal to be there. 

We then made our way towards the Trevi Fountain. (Lizette and I had both wanted to see it since watching The Lizzie McGuire Movie when we were younger.) Unfortunately, it was under construction and the entire front of it was covered in scaffolding and there was no water in the basin. It was extremely disappointing. I didn’t even take a picture of the place, I was so frustrated by it. 

From there, we went to the Pantheon. It was a beautiful building. There was a street musician outside playing Sinatra’s My Way. We stood and listened for almost the entire song. Things like that really bring people together, I think. There was a large crowd gathered around and the people were singing. Beautiful street music makes me smile so hard. Everytime we walked by a man playing the accordion, my day got brighter. 

We went to another plaza and mass at another church, then went back to the hostel for another movie night. (We might be the lamest tourists ever when it comes to the night life.)

Monday arrived and with it came the excitement of finally getting to visit the Vatican! We met with our tour guide and she took us into the Vatical museums. Since we booked a tour, we got to bypass yet another line. (There were, I kid you not, thousands of people waiting to get into the Vatican. The line wrapped around the walls of the Vatican City for several blocks. We would have been waiting 3+ hours to get inside.) We went straight inside, and it was packed. The museum itself was pretty neat. We got to see Raphael’s The School of Athens. It was painted on a wall in a room that was extremely crowded. It’s a very famous piece because it features figures such as Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, Euclid, Ptolemy, and Raphael, who were all geniuses in their own time. It was beautiful. 

We didn’t get to see the entire museum because a) it’s huge and b) it was very crowded and c) our tour guide didn’t take us to all the places. At the end of the museum, though, we got to go inside the Sistine Chapel. The one that Michelangelo painted the ceiling of? Yes, that one. It came in second on the list of my favorite places in Rome. 

It was so, so crowded. The guards were telling people to move to center of the room before letting more people in. Even with all the bodies and hushed whispers and the guards herding the people, there was an awe that could be felt in the entire room. You walk in and look up and it’s just breathtaking. The ceiling is around 60 feet tall, and on the back wall is Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment taking up the entire space. The ceiling tells stories from Genesis, the most famous work being The Creation of Adam, right in the center. Talking and photography are not allowed in the Sistine Chapel, so people were standing with necks craned, trying to take everything in. There are just some places that grab hold of you and keep you stuck to your place and you can't help but hold your breath as you stare at the beauty that surrounds you. 

In the 80’s, the ceiling and walls were cleaned to reveal the vibrant colors that the chapel is famous for today. They really are as vibrant as the pictures show. Three of the walls and the entire ceiling is covered in beautiful paintings, so there is a lot to take in. On the right side, the walls tell stories from Jesus’s life and on the left, there are stories of Moses’s life. I’ll be honest and say that I only spared a glance or two for these. I was enamored with Michelangelo’s work. He didn’t even want to have anything to do with painting the chapel, but the Pope asked him to paint it and he couldn’t say no to the Pope and I’m so glad he didn’t. (When he finished the ceiling, he said he would never return to the chapel, but he did, 20 years later, because he was asked to paint the wall that holds The Last Judgment.) 

Unfortunately, we had to leave. I would have loved to just lay down in the middle of the room and study the ceiling for as long as I wanted, but the guards probably would have thrown me out. 

Our next stop was St. Peter’s Basilica. It’s free to go inside, but this just means another really long line. With our stickers from the tour guide, we were able to get in again without waiting in line. (That tour was probably the best purchase we made.) The basilica is monstrous. And I mentioned earlier that I didn’t like the mixed marble, but this place flowed well. There were different marbles everywhere, but it all went together so perfectly. There was an aisle down the center of the basilica, in front of the main doors that was roped off. Only the Pope himself is allowed to walk through the main doors and down that central aisle. It was a great end to our visit to Vatican City. 

We walked to Piazza del Popolo to see what it was all about. There, we went to a small Leonardo da Vinci museum. I actually thoroughly enjoyed it. They had built models of tons of the drawings from Da Vinci’s notebooks and explained what he thought they would do. It was interesting.

We ended the night very happy with our time spent in Rome, but not looking forward to the long day of travel ahead. We had to leave the hostel at 5:40 to catch a bus to take us to the airport. Then when we landed in Paris, we had to take another bus to get us to the train station, then took the train home. We arrived at 4:50, then had French class at 5:30. It was horrible to sit through, plus we had a test. Maybe we’ll learn to not arrive so close to class time, but then, maybe we won’t. It was just a really, really long day. 

We’ve been in France just a little over 2 months now. For those of you wondering if I ever go to school, the answer is no, not really. Well, kind of. French class every Tuesday. But no real classes for all of October, but ask me again mid-November and December and I’ll be sure to have had some form of class by then. And I just want to clarify that I’m not skipping class, I simply don’t have them that often. It’s a great system. 

I think that's all I have for you today. Italy treated us exceptionally well, but it's good to be back home and sleep in my own bed. Although every time I get back from a trip, I have so much laundry to do. And somehow I never have food when I get back. Now you know what I'm doing today!

I love you guys!

Je t'embrasse, 

Here's the link to the Venice and Rome photo album: