dimanche 15 juillet 2012

and my life passed away like as it were unto me a dream

So I am extremely behind in my blog seeing as I still haven't written about my last 3 or so weeks of being in Europe, and I've already been home about 3 weeks. Life is flying by. This whole trip feels like a long time ago.
After the program ended, Emily, Megan, Amanda, Rachel, and I all stayed in Nice for another 4 days so we had plenty of chances to hang out with these crazy french kids some more :)  We went night swimming a few times, we saw the Men in Black 3 in French, we went to some random beach and spent the day there. It was a party with no homework or studying allowed! hooray :) We also ate delicious gelato. But one of my favorite memories was when Emily and I were waiting to meet up with everyone for the movie, and this random man comes up and starts asking us if we believe in UFO's and all that jazz. But it's really difficult to follow the conversation because we didn't exactly cover this sort of vocabulary in class, but still super entertaining :)


 
I even rode my first motorcycle in France :) woohoo.

 and of course there were randomly trees to climb at the beach, so that happened.  But of course, these days of vacation couldn't last. (Vacation never does) So at 4:30 in the morning the 5 of us take a shuttle to the airport and say goodbye. Sad day.



That was the end of our adventure in France together, but that just meant it was the beginning of our party in England! :)  Just to prove how much we were partying, here's me eating an english scone. So delicious.  You can tell England was going to be exciting because it started with Amanda and I sitting at the airport, still not quite sure where we were staying, barely made it through customs, feeling pretty hungry, and eating a fruit-by-the-foot that I found in my bag.
"I feel like a hungry, homeless person." -me
"You are a hungry, homeless person." -Amanda
(Thanks for that, Amanada) :P

We took one of those semi-lame/extremely touristy-y double-decker bus tours.  Which I counted as seeing all the important parts of the city.  
 that took a while, and we also wandered around the city enjoying the sights and the accents.   We also decided to find our hostel that we were going to stay out and I walked out of there thinking "a really run down efy center" while amanda thought "oh my gosh we're gonna die!" (or something similar)




Our second day in England, Sue (the mom) gave us a tour around Stanford Le Hope and we saw this cute little park. We did this awesome little thing, I can't remember what it was called. but it was more exciting than normal because of the giant puddle running all the way under it, if you fell you'd make a big splash :)


 She dropped us off at an outdoor mall to look around after we ate lunch together, and these were the portion sizes. Ridiculous right?  I don't think this could have fed a 3rd world country, I think it was the size of a third world country!  But it was delicious. I think it was called a Mediterranean Pie.  Funny story about the we found a FREE BOOK SHOP (if you don't know what that means then read the name again, it's exactly as it sounds) which was a huge problem, because I had very little (/really no) extra space. But don't worry, I ended up walking out of there with only like 7 books or something...not a problem at all.  The problem was that Amanda went to do shopping while I stayed and looked around and the shop closed while I was there, so I looked like some homeless bum waiting for her.  And then she came back like an hour later, and we went to starbucks to do some more waiting (we were waiting for a call to come home)  and then starbucks closed, so we were again homeless bums. Amanda was standing about 10 feet from me trying to use Starbucks internet, so I was sitting on the floor with all the bags, reading my book (still) and then a random lady comes up and gives me a pamphlet about Jesus. She was sure that I was a hobo, I just know it.  So that was entertaining, and weird.  Our last day with the family was fun, we just spent time together, ordered Chinese take-out for dinner and ate a movie while chilling. These kids are so sweet, and I even got used to the dog constantly licking my feet.  
 


Here's Steve driving us to the train for the last time. I had to take a picture to prove that I actually rode in these backward cars! :P

Of course we started our time in London with a visit to King's Cross station, because what Harry Potter fan wouldn't?  Of course, we totally missed this place at first and ended up wandering around the station for a while speaking in fake british accents. But as we turned around, slightly heart broken and fairly disappointed, we saw a huge group of tourists gathered by the wall, and sure enough, there it was! We had found it! Our ticket to Hogwarts!  Obviously we didn't get on right then because, as you can see, our luggage was at the hostel. 
Plus we had to go see PHANTOM OF THE OPERA! that night, so I didn't want to miss that.

Here's our room, this is almost all of it. What isn't shown is the tiny shower to the left of the desk/sink thing.  Our room was so legit. (code for: we didn't even have drinking water)  


Our days in London were amazing. We'd spend the day time wandering around the city or exploring different parks and spend each night at a different musical. Seriously, who wouldn't love London if this was all you did? (except it was rather expensive) but the fact that Sherlock Holmes takes place here makes it even cooler to me.


Of course I found some more trees to climb because we spent so much time in gardens, so it was kind of like paradise. Plus it felt like Pride and Prejudice, wandering around London.   Although paddleboats have nothing to do with Pride and Prejudice, they were still way fun (and a surprising work out for my pathetic leg muscles)

 This hill is called Parliament Hill and it's in a cute little park called Hampstead's Heath.  (I fell in love with all these british names) it was so cool because it had such an amazing view of London!
 Our last day we took time to go to EvenSong at Westminster Abbey which was so cool, and made me want to reread the entire Redwall series. (if anyone has not read it, do it, do it right now, before you even finish this blog)  I took some more random pictures of Big Ben and London.  We also saw Les Mis and our final night we saw Wicked. All amazing musicals. I'm in love.  But of course, it couldn't last, and all too soon it was time for Amanda and I to pack up our bags. But our roommates weren't ready for us to leave, so our final night we stayed up until like 4:30 am telling scary stories and just talking. It was funny because I'd tell a scary story, and the four of them would be staring at me with fear in their eyes, and I'd get to the end or the really scary part and then Amanda would scream and the other girls would look at her in confusion, and then we would realize that they really weren't understanding the rest of the story. So then we would have to re-tell it and it wouldn't be as scary. but it was pretty funny :P   So again, Amanda and I left for the airport after getting about an hour of sleep. (Kind of like how I stayed up all night before flying to Paris, or on the flight from Nice to London, and now on the flight home.) I love sleeping on planes, it keeps me from doing otherwise embarrassing things, such as spilling cranberry apple juice all over my pants (of course that was a completely hypothetical situation of what might have happened had I been awake during a flight...)





THAT'S THE END OF EUROPE.
Sad day.

mercredi 6 juin 2012

A rainstorms the best time to climb into waterfalls because you're wet either way.

Thought I would start this off with an awesome picture of Nice because this is my life as of now and for the next week :)  Let's see...Monday.... I spent the night downstairs in my friends room and woke up barely before class. So I went to class looking like a bum, which was great! I totally couldn't do that when I lived in Vesinet because it took me 40 minutes (at least) just to get into town/class. Hooray for living in a hotel (thing) :D  After class some friends and I walked along the Promenade d'Anglais, which is about a 4 mile stretch of sea on one side and the city on the other. It was beautiful, and as we got closer and closer to Old Nice and the ruins of the castle there, the sky started getting darker.  The view was incredible from our vantage point at the top (as you can see)  But really, it was so cool.  Here's another one to prove my point. 
Sadly, my friend is the one who took all the pictures once the storm hit, so this is the last one I have for today, but the adventures definitely didn't end with the sunshine.  When we got to the top of the castle/ruins, the rain started coming down harder so some of the girls decided to take cover. But my friend Rachel and I decided to continue because nothing is better than a walk in the rain, right? :)  We climbed to the top and enjoyed the thunder, rain, and the view (don't worry Mom, it wasn't lightening)    After that we ended up discovering a waterfall (but not a super large one) and so rachel and I decided it would be a good idea to climb under it. As it turns out, it wasn't such a great idea, but it was very fun.  However, as the rain came down harder and harder and we were about a 30 minute walk from home, the fact that we were soaked didnt' really matter. After about 10 minutes you couldn't even tell that I had taken my shoes off for the waterfall because they were soaked from the downpour. Overall, quite the adventure I'd say.  The walk home was slightly cold, but mostly super cool because we got to watch the ocean, which was abandoned at this point, in the downpour.  Also while walking a car drove by and splashed us with a huge wave/puddle which was sort of gross because the water smelled bad, but was also kind of fun because it was like a movie.  Anyway, by the time we got home I was thoroughly soaked so I took a warm shower (my second of the day) and Heather and I got some hot chocolate (there's another one of those miracle hot chocolate vending machines in the lobby!) and started watching a movie in bed. It felt so good :) Except by that time the storm had passed and it was sunny again so it looked like we were just bumming in bed.  Anyway, it was fun.  At 7 we had FHE with our group, which was really just a spiritual thought and then a birthday party for one of the guys.  It was fun because I had an eating contest with my friend Bethan. Neither of us were exactly sure what the rules were, so we just sort of kneeled across the ping-pong table outside and started at each other while eating.  The best part was that people from the inside couldn't see me, so it looked like she was eating by herself outside (and occasionally talking and laughing alone too) :D  After that we had a dance party in my room, and for some reason all my friends seemed surprised that I knew almost every word to Fergalicious.  That night my friends and I decided to go for a night swim in the ocean and it was the most magical thing ever. Mostly because we got to watch the moon rise over the water while playing in the waves and convincing each other that we didn't have to worry about sharks. (I decided that sharks probably think that white girls who can't dance aren't appetizing enough to eat, because I've been safe so far!) sadly, I forgot to bring my camera (honestly I just wasn't expecting to need it) but the ocean looked so beautiful that I wish I had a picture of it. Sad day. Seriously, there was a line of moonlight reflecting off the water and it was a full moon and just so beautiful. Hopefully I'll get a picture another night.  Anyway, after that we all bought hot chocolate and ate it in this pretty white terrace place (2nd cup of hot chocolate :)  then I took a shower (3rd times the charm) and then bed time!


Tuesday...today was one of those chill at the beach kind of days.  My friends and I probably sat next to this gorgeous water 'studying' and swimming for about 3 hours and it was so much fun.  At one point it was just Rachel and I (The girl in the photo) playing in the waves, and they were all playful and all of the sudden this huge mammoth wave comes and attacks us when our backs were turned.  I glanced over my shoulder to talk to Rachel and see this wave that was taller than me coming for us. It was super funny and it flipped us all over the water.  I was laughing so hard I'm pretty sure I got my salt intake for the week taken care of.  But seriously, it was so much fun.  
Around 4 we decided we should actually do something somewhat productive, and by that I mean something for class, but by that I mean just walk around Old Nice. So we did that for a few hours too. Nothing too exciting happened there except I found a crepe stand with speculoos (crepes are not nearly as common here as Paris) Hm. the most exciting thing I did after returning home was finally finishing The Secret World of Arrietty with Heather. It was so good :)  Oh and this is a random picture of me because I was impressed with how the salt water made my hair somewhat wavey. Seriuosly, why does it never look like this after going to the lake? 


Today. Really not a lot of excitement to share (Nice is pretty chill actually)  I went to class, went grocery shopping (I eat at least 2 mangoes a day here!), hard core cleaned our apartment, went to this Russian church (which was closed so this was actually all I saw) and now I'm trying to be productive.  You can see how that's working out. (well technically since I'm supposed to blog about the places I visit I guess you could loosely consider this homework....)  :)  But I am caught up in my journal, and now my blog. All that's really left is to actually study for my final.  Sadly, that doesn't sound nearly as fun as watching a movie and swimming in the ocean again. or even as fun as eating dinner. If only I really was on vacation-abroad instead of a study-abroad.  Well the bright side is, after Friday, I will be! :)



It's crazy to think that my program ends on Saturday morning and that people are going home. I'm glad that I'm staying in Nice for another couple of days. that means I can literally bum on the beach all day (I even bought sunblock) and not feel bad about not studying or doing homework. How great will that be? And then potentially I could be in Ireland and London for a week after that. So many adventures before I return home to join my family.  Also, I'm slightly jealous that David is home now and will get to hold Daniel.  But also, this could potentially be the first time I'm abroad and he's not.  :) hehehe

dimanche 3 juin 2012

You could potentially age a year in the time it takes to read this really long post (especially you Whitney!)


Friday:   ahh today was such a wonderful day. Seriously, potentially my favorite day since coming out here. The reason it was so great was because the weather was wonderful and we spent the day at Versailles. However, this wasn't the usual castle-audio-guide tour that we normally do, today was purely a day for enjoying the gardens!  It took us a while to make it to Versaille, but once we did the fun really began :)  Luckily the gardens were free, so we just walked around and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. But the best part was when we decided to rent bikes and go biking through the gardens. Seriously, so much fun and it just felt so good.  I tried my best to take pictures while riding my bike, but I'm sadly not as good at one-handed biking as I hoped, and I almost died multiple times. okay, that's an exaggeration, but I did almost run off the trail almost every time I took a picture of people. Oh well, it was still way fun and I never did fall. So that's something to be proud of.  It was such a wonderful time, but sadly an hour was about 5 hours too short. However, it was nice while it lasted and after we returned the bikes we bought some delicious fruity-ice cream/gelato (maybe) anyway, it was so good. I got mango flavor and raspberry and it was delicious! Normally all I get is chocolate, but this was delicious, and it didn't even make me need to drink water!  So refreshing!   After the bike rides Emily and Megan went home, but Brittany, Kellie, Rachel, Heather, Ashley and I sat by one of the ponds/lakes(?) and put our feet in the water. It was so wonderful.  Soon after Kellie and Brittany left but the four of us sat there for at least an hour.  It was so nice just chilling there with my body so hot but my feet nice and cold and just writing in my journal while enjoying the beautiful scenery. Seriously, if only life was always that chill.  We even had a little bit of excitement when this huge fish and his gang tried to eat our feet. Seriously, at one point when none of us were paying attention and Rachel's feet were in the water (I think they liked her toes better because they were painted blue)  one of the fish just appeared out of the bottom of the water out of nowhere with his mouth open ready to chomp her toe off! It was so intense, felt like Jaws. Except Kellie yelled and warned Rachel and she pulled her foot out literally a second or two before the fish got her.  Man, that was a close one.   Anyway, we went home around 5 or 5:30 but Ashley and I didn't make it back to our house until almost 7 pm.  Living in Vesinet is great, but it is kind of far from everywhere. That's okay though, if I didn't live there, I'm pretty sure I would have never gone to visit the country.  Hm, I don't really remember what I did that night. I feel like  I didn't do anything too exciting, anyway, obviously nothing that needs to be blogged about.










Saturday: Another incredible day, made even more incredible by the fact that it was my last day of class at Paris!  So awesome, right? :)  This morning I went to my 'oral exam' which was really like a 5 minute conversation in French with my professor, so easy. I loved it.  After that I spent some time trying to plan when to meet with Andrew because he was in Paris today and it was his birthday. But it's incredibly hard to plan things without a phone, turns out. Anyway, I sent him a message telling him to meet me at 5 and then I headed off with my friends to go to an open air market. We were super excited about it, and then we made it there and realized it was the same as the flea market that we had gone to a couple of weeks ago. Oh well, it was still really fun and I found some more things there, so I guess it was a success.  Then Emily, Megan, and I went to McDonalds (I know, why go when we're in France) but we couldn't find a boulangerie to buy some bread, so I caved. Anyway, it was pretty fun because I ordered my first Happy Meal in I don't even know how many years, and it came with a cool French children's book, so 4 euro well spent, I say. Except I don't know if it was worth running into the weird French Ronald McDonald, but it was good to see that no matter what country you are in, he's still scary. Some things just never change.

 After buying lunch we met up with Heather and Rachel and went to the Bois, that huge park I'm pretty sure I mentioned earlier (a different post). We ate lunch at the park and literally just walked around for hours.  Honestly, we were trying to find the big lake in the middle of the park so we could ride on the rowboats, but by the time we found them (an hour or 2 later...this park was huge!) I didn't have time (because I needed to meet up with Andrew)  So we ended up just chilling by the water again, which was still pretty fun.  (I'll ride a boat [row or paddle] on the lake another time, I'll add it to the bucketlist)  Anyway, I went to the place I was supposed to meet up with Andrew at, hoping that he would be there (because honestly I had no way to know if he would even read it before we had to meet up) so..he wasn't there and I didn't get to meet up with him. So I went back to the institute building and sent him another message and then we went to my friends house in Paris and freshened up. By then we were starving so we decided to just go to sushi for dinner anyway, even though we were originally going for Andrew's birthday :P
oh well, we went and it was delicious even if they didn't give me any eel sauce.  Still loved it.  Luckily, Andrew called my friends cell phone, so we planned to meet up at the Eiffel Tower around 10 or so, we were just playing it by ear and planning on texting when we both finished our plans. By 10 we were finally ready to head over to the Tower (finished dinner and everything) but I still hadn't heard from him, so I texted him. By 10:30 we had arrived and still nothing, so I called him only to find out that he had been waiting for me for like 40 minutes there. For whatever reason, he received my texts, but I didn't receive any of his, so that was great (not)  Anyway, it was super sad because after 10:30 they don't allow you to go to the top of the Tower any more, so we didn't get to do as planned. (heartbroken) but it was fun because I did get to watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle with Andrew.
 It was weird because I felt like I was in Provo again talking to him, but then we were hanging out at the Eiffel Tower.  Crazy, huh? Except sort of awkward because my friends decided that because I was meeting one of my guy friends at the Eiffel Tower that we needed to kiss. So when I finally met up with Andrew they kept trying to leave me behind.  But obviously, that wasn't even the plan at all, so Andrew and I just kept trying to not get lost, and he didn't even have any idea what was going on and he's like 'why do your friends keep leaving you behind?' Like I was going to answer that.  Anyway, it was way fun getting to see him and watch the tower together, but we didn't have a lot of time together. As soon as the tower stopped sparkling, my friends were in a huge hurry to book it home so I told him to come to church tomorrow and then we ran to the metro. It was already 11:15 by the time we made it to the metro, and we had to go to our friends house to pick up our stuff, and then make it all the way back to Vesinet/Chatou Croissy by 1am when the metro closed. But the first metro was closed for an unknown reason, so we wandered around (following the other lost people) until we made it to the other metro stop.  However, we stood around for about 20 minutes waiting for a metro, with nothing happening. We knew something was going on because the same announcement kept repeating every couple of minutes at the metro stop but I couldn't make out much. Eventually we figured out that there had been an accident with the metro, which is why it was held up. We didn't know much else, but we decided to walk around and find another stop to take that might actually be working.
 It was funny because I thought it was kind of an adventure, wandering around looking for a metro, trying to figure out if we can make it home before the metro closes. (I know when Mom reads this she will freak out but honestly it was an adventure)  By the time we found another metro we knew for sure that we weren't going to make it to both places, so the girls offered to bring our bags to us to church tomorrow. Super nice of them, except for the fact that the keys to my house were in my bag.  However, the problem was solved (in a way) when we figured that we wouldn't even be able to make it to our houses before the metro closed. So we ended up staying with our friends who lived in Paris.  Luckily their host mom was gone and they lived in the city.  So we all had a giant sleepover at their house. I slept on the floor :) (Adventure is out there!)  However, on the metro to their house we had another weird metro encounter.  It's past midnight at this point and we're all kind of tired and out of it and I look back and see this random black sheet in the metro and I was like "Rachel, has that sheet always been there?" "What sheet?" as she looks back, a head pops up over the metro and starts doing a weird dance puppet show thing.  So odd. Luckily ours was the next stop.










 (Oh and this was us having a fifteen second dance party on the metro because we were ALL ALONE. That never happens. so we thought we would celebrate by dancing and taking pictures.

Sunday: Downside, I felt really gross from being outside almost all day, and then sleeping in my clothes (or underclothes) but then putting the same clothes on Sunday morning.  I might have skipped church and gone home to clean up and sleep but I had just told Andrew to meet me at church.  So I decided to at least go to sacrament meeting, because I had to show him the way anyway and it was my last Sunday in Paris.  So I met up with him and his friend Allison to go to church (still feeling super gross-I mean, come on, no shower, the same dress...probably too much detail for a public blog) Anyway, it was almost like fate was against me, because we get to church and I'm ready for sacrament meeting, and it turns out today is ward conference or something so we had 2 hours of talks and what not and then sacrament at the end.  It's like they knew that I was planning on leaving early!  Needless to say, I ended up staying the whole time instead of leaving early. And because it was my last day I figured I should hang out with Andrew and Allison, so instead of going home immediately and showering and packing, I hung out in Paris with them.  Pretty much we spent like 2-3 hours next to the Seine just talking. It was way fun.  However, I was ready to go home when we said goodbye around four.  I fell asleep on the metro reading my book.  But this was more than the normal doze that I normally do, because I was so out that I wasn't even hearing the voice announce the different stops;...result: I completely slept through my stop. I bet no one saw that one coming!  Yah...I woke up super hot and sweaty just chilling by myself on the metro at the end of the line, and it wasn't even moving anymore, just sitting there.  I was like..."well, I've never been here before." Luckily I got off and looked around and realized that in about 10 minutes it would take the same route back into Paris, so I just sat back down and rode back to my stop. But the whole time I'm sitting on the metro, sweating like none other and just wishing that I had gotten off the first time so I could already be home. 
By the time I finally did wander home it's past 5 pm and Nannick is like "oh hey Laura, where have you been." So I pretty much tell her the story of my life for the past day and she acts all grandmotherly and sympathetic and feeds me some cheese thing. It was delicious (oh I forgot to mention that I hadn't eaten for like 20 hours at that point, which is why she fed me food)  Anyway, tonight was our last dinner with Nannick which was really sad, but exciting too just to start another portion of our trip.  It was fun, talking with her like usual. I'm going to miss those meals, and all of her corrections, and funny stories. She's such a sweet old, lady. We're going to be penpals!   Also, it was sort of raining while we ate dinner, and she knew that I loved to go be barefoot in the rain (because last time it stormed I went and danced in the backyard) so she and I walked around the backyard together. It was so fun. Plus, Ashley said that from behind it looked like I was walking with Bilbo Baggins, so that's pretty much the coolest thing ever, right? :)  But after dinner, the main thing I did was pack up my room. Kind of sad, but like I said. A new beginning, right?


Monday: We had to be at the Hotel de Ville in Chatou-Croissy by 8:45 this morning for the bus to pick up all of us suburb people, and it was so cute because all the (host) parents stayed until the bus came so they could wave goodbye as we drove away. And it was super cute watching all the parents meet and mingle, and talk about their children. Honestly, I felt like an elementary school child again. Nannick was so cute, I'm going to miss her! I should thank David for teaching me my best french phrase "sache que je t'aime et que tu me manques deja." (translation: "know that I love you and miss you already.") because Nannick just loved it whenever I said that to her. I even wrote it on a piece of paper and held it up to the window as we were about to drive away for her to read.  And that was the end of my time in the little town of Vesinet and Paris!  But the bus trip was actually really fun.  For a while I stayed up and talked to Emily and Megan, but honestly, staying awake on moving vehicles is impossible for me. So I fell asleep eventually. But it was such an amazing day.  The first stop of the day was Bayeux which was super epic because I totally learned about this in my civilization class The Pen and the Sword.  We had an audio guide which told us the story of the Bayeux tapestry while we looked at it and it was actually super epic. Seriously, my favorite thing so far.

But the good day didn't end there, because after that we went to Omaha Beach, which was actually the code name for Normandy beach in WWII (I think) and we visited this memorial. It was amazing how the timing worked out, because I didn't even realize it was Memorial Day until we were there. Crazy, huh?   It was super sad, but moving, and amazing too.  It was weird reading about the war because it was what, roughly 70 years ago? and compared to all the other castles and history we've been learning, that's super recent.  And going to the beach was fun but sort of weird. I felt weird having fun their because of all the people who died there, it was like when you laugh in the chapel at church and you feel like you're not supposed to have fun in such an important place. But honestly, being at the beach was so amazing and the weather was great.  Right after that we went to the cliff where a bunch of our soldiers had scaled the wall and it was beautiful there. Seriously, it looked like Pride and Prejudice again, so it was hard to imagine what it must have looked like at that time. I mean, Pride and Prejudice (or Anne of Green Gables) when I looked out to sea and saw the cliffs, but when I turned around I saw  craters everywhere. Of course, the craters were all green and grassy now, but still craters.   After that we all went out to dinner and it was so yummy. Seriously, so much better than the food at the first 2 group restaurants we went to.  Plus I roomed with Rachel at the hotel (not the Rachel that I normally hang out with) so it was fun spending time with someone new at the hotel.    This bus ride is super fun so far, I'm liking it a lot. Plus, it's fun seeing how its bringing people in our group together.












Tuesday:  Sadly, I stayed up till 2 am reading Midnight Sun, because I'm still a hopeless reading addict, regardless of where I live. However, I was up and ready to go on time. Plus I loved the breakfast at the hotel, they have this dark chocolate hot chocolate that I drank 3 cups of and it was amazing. Seriously, what a way to start the day.  Then we drove for a couple of more hours. Honestly, I always have really great intentions to write in my journal, but when the bus gets going I'm out. (So now even though I'm almost caught up in my blogging, I still have so much journaling to do.....tomorrow!...right.)  Anyway, we started out at this really cool castle that used to be an island.  Now they have a road leading to it, but I think they are trying to make it into an island again.  It was super fun to explore and looked really great. We had to wait a while to begin, so I got impatient and climbed down the side of a wall and was walking around the shore, but then some of my friends started yelling "Laura, come back." so when I ran back and climbed back up, the teacher said something about there being quicksand down there...so that's good, ya know? You can never have too much quicksand to attack unsuspecting tourists, like myself. Luckily, when my shoes sunk a couple of inches into the mud/sand I figured it wasn't a good sign so I had already backed up and was walking on safer routes, but still, it was pretty funny (I guess it wouldn't have been so funny if I had you know, gotten eaten by quicksand, but I didn't!)  Anyway, it was a super epic castle, and the day was all foggy/misty so it looked even cooler.
 Plus then we drove to a town that's completely surrounded by this wall from back in the old days, for protection of course. So we walked around the wall and enjoyed the scenery but eventually everyone ended up down by the beach again. Even though this was more ocean-ish and gross than yesterday, with the seaweed and nasty things on the sand. But it was still super fun. :) Of course, in between these fun things we are doing is bus time, but I don't really write about that because I literally sleep almost every time I get into my seat. Kind of a problem, but kind of not I suppose. I'll go with not, since it's not going to change.  Anyway, dinner tonight was really good again, but I an't believe how quickly time passes here. It's generally almost 10 pm by the time we even get into our hotel rooms and then I feel like I have so much to do. Seriously, having this blog written really takes a load off, but I know writing in my journal will take even longer :P Oh well. I'm looking forward to breakfast tomorrow, but since it's a new hotel I have no idea what it will be like. Another adventure! Anyway, I better get to bed because it's almost 1 am and I'm super tired already. Tomorrow I will add pictures to this blog and actually post it online :)





Wednesday: Probably the coolest Laura day of the whole trip, seriously I think this day was catered for me!  We started out with a castle where there was this huge tapestry of the Book of Revelations. Sadly, I ended up with an audio guide in French, and I'm not yet at the point where I know all those random biblical terms and what not.  But it was really cool to look at. But again, I always prefer exploring the outsides of castles and gardens and what not. It was cool, I always like getting to walk along the ramparts.  After that I went to lunch with Heather, John, Emily, and Megan at the Creperie du Chateau and I had a really hard time deciding what to order, so I ordered the crepes that let the chef choose the topping and one of the ones he gave me was speculoos! It was a sign of the good day to come :)



After that we went to the Chateau et parc de langeais and it was really fun because 1) we didn't have a tour guide, so it was sort of like just getting to explore the castle and 2) it was raining and thundering, which just makes everything more epic!!!  When we finished the tour we had about 20 minutes to ourself, so I went and explored the grounds and it was super great because it was still raining.  I found a teeter-totter that I took a picture of with my friend, a cool knight cut-out thing that you can put your face in, and finally, and most epicly, a hUGE TREEHOUSE! Seriously, a dream come true. I love it. I want it. Someday, it shall be in my backyard.  Sadly, we didn't have much time, so we had to go back to the bus. But it started pouring on the walk back, so I still had the chance to play (/walk) in the rain, and I got soaked. It was great. I thought it was funny because we were eating at a nice restaurant tonight and we were all soaking wet, but then we ended up going to the hotel first so we all looked somewhat presentable...(sad). Anyway, dinner was delicious and started with this super addicting mango juice. Ahh...I love it. Except when they brought refills, it was just regular orange juice, but it looked the same, so I took a sip but then it was disappointing!  But anyway, the meal was delicious, but I don't have much to say about the hotel.
















Thursday: today was a bit of a doozy, we visited 3 castles. By that time, I didn't even feel like I was appreciating it, but the first one was really cool because it looked like a fairy tale castle. The second castle was really cool because it had a playground where I could swing and explore the gardens with Megan and Emily, and the final castle really wasn't that cool but it was interesting for another reason.  Right after we buy our tickets and are meeting up with our tour guide, I hear someone yelling my name, and I look over and I see Allison! Andrew's friend from UVU that I just met on Sunday, which means that Andrew was also around.  I ran into him a few minutes later and it was so funny. Seriously, why was I trying so hard to meet up with him on Saturday if I was just going to meet him at some random town in France. What are the chances that we'd be at the same castle, at the exact same time, at that random town (especially when I thought he was supposed to be in Paris this week?) haha so random.


































Friday: Today is our last day of the bus trip, kind of sad, but also exciting because we're going to Nice. THE BEACH! so excited! BEEEAAACCCCCHHHHHH. I'm finally going to wear the swimsuit Mom bought me for my birthday! Hooray. The only downside is that we have to fly their, so I don't really want to have to deal with that. Today we started out with a castle which I thought was going to be cooler than it actually was. It was the castle where Jeanne d'Arc rallied the troops to go put the king (one of the Charles) on the throne. Epic, but the guide didn't even say anything about her. Sad day.  After that we explored another castle, which was fun because it was without a guide. So really I just walked around trying to find any doors that weren't locked, and I climbed to the top and took pictures. And then I got ice cream with some friends, so it was fun.  Then we had a 3 hour bus ride back to Paris, which I slept the entire time. And now I'm chilling in my hotel room with some friends. I really need to make my bag about 10 pounds lighter than it is (or I'll be charged 12 euros a kilo tomorrow) but I don't want to. So it might be time to watch the Swan Princess. And hopefully I'll get pictures on here eventually.  Audios friends!
Also, it's June now! I'll be home in 19 days. That's crazy to think about. I've been here so long. Loving it.

 Saturday:Today was such a great day. :) Well at least once we got past all the craziness at the airport and trying to make it to Nice. But once we got here it was so amazing. Really, it's gorgeous here.  The first thing I did after getting somewhat settled was grocery shopping. However that turned into buying a lunch and eating it at the beach, because it's so beautiful. And that sort of turned into swimming in the beach, with our clothes on. But the water was so blue and clear (and salty) it was impossible to resist. Seriously, I was swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. Legit, right? That place is full of dreams, clear water, salt, and great white sharks.
Sadly, because we decided to swim in our clothes, we also ended up grocery shopping in our clothes, which naturally resulted in getting lost in our wet clothes carrying huge sacks of groceries (naturally, I've been in a new city for at least 2 hours so I'm obligated to get lost. Hooray for my sense of direction. It never fails me. At least when it comes to getting lost...maybe from now on I should recognize my instincts, and then do the opposite...) Anyway, after about 30 minutes my wet blue jeans were incredibly uncomfortable but luckily we made it home soon and I took a shower (smelling like a fish isn't too pleasant)  the rest of the night was taken up with moving in, putting away food, eating, returning to the beach again, and going on adventures with Rachel that included possibly setting off the alarm in an attempt to find the roof but really the alarm had nothing to do with us...Good times.

Sunday: Rachel and I woke up at 5:50 to watch the sunrise, but as we sat outside, watching the sky get lighter and not seeing any rising, we realized that maybe we weren't looking in quite the right direction. So we're going to try again once we have a better vantage point and a compass. Hooray!

Church today was really awesome. I felt like the ward in Nice really enjoyed having us there. The sunday school teacher tried really hard to speak slowly so we all could understand, and it worked! we did :)  And there was a cute guy. Hooray. Not that I talked to him (no, he wasn't asian)  In sacrament I decided to sit with some random french family instead of the rest of the BYU students because I wanted to make friends. It was fun because it was sort of like sitting with my family. Plus it was mother's day so it was fun getting to hear the primary sing. Also it was testimony day and a couple of kids from the program shared their testimonies. I was super impressed because that would have been scary!
After church we went to a Matisse museum, which was this red building. It was pretty cool, but I honestly enjoyed the Chagall museum more. His use of colors really caught my attention and it wasn't boring like a lot of the others (they start to get repetitive)  This is a picture of one of Chagall's works, and the other is a picture of Nice that I snapped while wandering around the city (when we were looking for the second museum)  Anyway, besides doing homework, writing in my journal, spending forever on this blog, talking to my family, and eating dinner, I haven't gotten anything done....okay that's a pretty good list. But now it's already somehow 11:30 so I should get off my friends computer and go to bed.

So, I would apologize for the fact that this is ridiculously long (I've written about 9 days here!) but I'm assuming that if you are reading this then it's because you want to, not because you have to.  So no apologies for anyone!