April 10th, 2014

Abandonment, Ice Cream, and Avatar

I have never been one for extravagant spring break plans. Usually, they consist of coming home from college and preceding to engorge myself with all the food in the house while watching Netflix for the whole week. So, when I realized I was going to be spending my break this year not fighting Mother Nature and her apoplectic blizzards but traversing across Europe, I wasn’t quite sure how to handle myself. Overall, there were ups, there were downs, laughter, and an inordinate amount of bread (as if anything else could be expected).

We started off our trip in the City of Romance, Paris mon vieux ami, where I attempted to use my 4 years of French knowledge to navigate, only to realize that my lack of ability to form coherent sentences isn’t simply restricted to English. Word for the wise, Paris isn’t a city easily tackled in two days and the weather channel is a liar. What was expected to be a wet weekend of soggy shoes and frizzy hair turned into lovely days of sun and a ridiculous amount of walking. Naturally we saw all the sites that are usually pasted on the cover of a travel guide (Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Versailles, etc). All of which were made more enjoyable by my roommate who’s knowledge of French history is more extensive than any history class I have yet taken, especially when it comes to the French Revolution and Napoleon (she about had a heart attack when we went to Les Invalides to see his tomb). This same roommate has also sparked a daily and insatiable need for ice cream and Paris was no exception to our addiction. The blueberry and raspberry combination that graced my taste buds almost brought me to tears and its deliciousness is only rivaled with the lavender and violet duo from Nice. France has raised the bar on the dessert game and now everything else I try is sub par at best.

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The Mona Lisa was definitely not the best part of the Louvre. I stumbled upon my favorite mannerist paintings called the Four Seasons representing winter, spring, summer, and fall.

We left Paris to head to the south of France, which proved to be in adventure in more ways than one. First of all, traveling by high speed train through the French countryside proved to be one of the most memorable experiences of the semester. The sun shone on the rolling green hills while I stared out the window listening to my classical music playlist. Classy? Check. Kind of nerdy? Double check. Am I abashed? Absolutely not. However, the peacefulness I acquired on the train ride shattered when I stepped into the station. At first glance, I noticed my roommates were not on the train platform. After walking around the entire station, I realized my roommates weren’t in Avignon at all. Commence panic. I’m ashamed to say that my first thought was something along the lines of, “I bet they slept through our stop”. Eventually, thanks to my good friends Facebook and wi- fi, we were reunited (cue Peaches and Herb). There was laughter, tears, and I was pretty happy to see them, too.

The sunny afternoon we spent in Avignon turned out to be perfectly lovely (despite the violent gusts of wind that made a good hair day impossible) once we got ourselves together. Compared to Paris, the South of France’s quaint and peaceful atmosphere provided a much needed relief from the hustle and bustle of every other European city I’ve been too. French people mull about, carrying on with their French lives with an air of ease that made me wish I could live my life in such a way. Nice, however, made me feel as if I had to rethink my view on life. As my mother can attest, I was the girl who despised the beach and everything for which it stood. The sun, the heat, the water, the sand… I would rather stay inside the air conditioned hotel room reading Harry Potter than spend two hours outside on the oceanfront. Or outside in general. I arrived to Nice with the same mentality, thinking one short day would be plenty in an area renowned for it’s Mediterranean coast and vacation spot. Upon waking up and walking outside the our hotel door I was hit with the realization that I was dead wrong. My feeble words are unable to describe the blue of the sea under a cloudless sky or the waterfall on top of the panoramic hill, which overlooked the whole city and its rocky beach. Perhaps 65- 70 degree weather is what I need to enjoy the outdoors but nevertheless, my heart was torn when we left Nice and the South of France behind for our next destination, Spain.

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They say a picture is worth 1,000 words so I hope this one will do in explaining the perfection and beauty of Nice.

When I think of Barcelona the first thing that pops into my head is usually David Tennant as the brand new 10th Doctor going, “Hello! Hmm… new teeth… that’s weird… anyway. Where was I? Oh, that’s right! Barcelona!” (I should probably mention he was talking about the planet, not the city). After a week it’s safe to say that Doctor Who is no longer my primary thought when this Spanish city is mentioned. Now, I think of Gaud√≠, the genius architect who’s crowning achievement (La Sagrada Familia) is still under construction after 130 years, or the Vespas that lined every street for blocks, and my two crazy roommates who got in the Mediterranean in 60 degree weather. Also, fun fact, there’s a bridge in Barcelona that you’re supposed to walk under backwards while making a wish, which supposedly will come true (I’m starting to think this is poppycock since Benedict Cumberbatch has yet to show up on my doorstep with a ring and a marriage proposal). The five days we spent in Spain was the longest we’d spent in one city so naturally this means naps were a daily occurrence. For me, however, I brought my laptop on spring break under the impression I was going to do work, but instead I watched the last half of season one and the entirety of season two of Avatar: the Last Airbender while my roommates recuperated from our hectic days of sightseeing. This situation gives you, dear reader, a look into my priorities. My favorite meals during this week consisted of visiting La Boqueria market everyday and wandering through the numerous stands of brightly colored fruits, smoothies, meat pies, fresh seafood, legs of ham, and trying to control the urge to buy seven of everything each time we stopped at a station. In an attempt to be adventurous I also tried a whole mini squid from my roommate’s seafood paella, although looking at it on the fork gave me the willies. Conclusion, swallowing tiny squid tentacles is a mental feat as well as physical and there’s a reason I don’t regularly consume small creatures.

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La Sagrada Familia, although still being worked on, is already massive and I can only imagine what it will look like when it is finally finished.

I doubt my spring next year (or the year after that, or the year after that) will be quite as exciting as the one I just experienced but I am hopeful for the future. All I desire is to return to Nice and lie on the rocks and listen to waves of the sea against the shore and feel the cool breeze. Now back to the wonderful city of Prague, which I love and dearly missed.

 

 

 

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