Sunday, September 2, 2012

c'est la vie!

hello from europe!

i am so lucky to be able to move over here for three months for school! i seriously couldn't be happier! and i couldn't do it without my amazing parents and everyone who has supported me!

well i've been trying to post this since we got here but the internet has been really off and on! but we finally met up with the group on tuesday, but rachael and i were traveling around france for a few days before. i wish i could tell you it was perfect and went as smoothly as a vacation should, but sadly i can't. let me just fill you in on what has happened to us the past few days.

thursday: it was a crazy day trying to finish up my last few things before leaving! i still hadn't packed and had tons of work to do around the house for my dad before i could leave. naturally i ended up staying up all night getting ready.

friday: saying goodbye. i knew it was coming eventually but i never expected it to be so hard. watching poor caroline cry all night thursday and all morning on friday broke my heart. and to hear that it kept going all through the weekend broke my heart even more. she had even texted my mom from her friend's birthday party saying "mom i can't even have fun cause i'm too sad thinking about kenz." tender, right? and it sucked saying bye to kenny knowing i wouldn't be able to see him or be in his arms for three months. needless to say, it was a morning of tears for everyone. first came the 7:00 flight to atlanta. it went by fast and once we got there we grabbed some food then waited for our flight to paris. we got on our next flight and rachael took an ambien before we even took off. little did she know our flight was about to be delayed an hour. so she was in and out of sleep and was pretty confused by what was happening. i managed to fall asleep for about 6 hours and the next morning we woke up in the beautiful city!

saturday: we arrived in paris at about 6:00am. we were planning on being to our hotel by 8:00. oh boy were we wrong. so it started with us being led to what we thought was the line to go through customs. we finally got to the front of it and realized we were in line for security to go back on a plane. so we got out of line and went to find the real customs line. we finally found it and waited in line again. we got to the front and the security guard looked at our passports and sent us on our way. he didn't stamp them though and we were a little nervous this would end with us being thrown in jail or getting deported for illegally being in the country. so we found a police officer who escorted us back through the line and got our passports stamped for us. then came finding our bags. we looked on the screen and didn't see our flight so we decided to go down to baggage claim and ask. they told us where to go, but by the time we got there, the belt had stopped and we looked around and saw that our bags were at the top of what seemed to be a mountain (we were just being dramatic, it was at the top of the baggage carousel). we had to climb up and grab our huge bags and pull them down then we were finally on our way. after what had to be at least a half hour walk with over 200 pounds of luggage each, we got to the train. we bought our metro passes and went to get on the train. as we were trying to get through the gate, it kept rejecting our tickets. little did we know we had to have a separate ticket to get into the city. so we went back out, bought tickets, and were finally headed towards the city.

we transferred from the train to the metro and when we got to our stop, we got off and went towards the exit only to find there was not an escalator or an elevator. only a couple huge flights of stairs. we were already so exhausted from carrying and lifting our bags and this seriously was our worst nightmare. we started to try to pull all our bags up the stairs but failed miserable. everyone was staring at us and we were about to give up when two french men came up and offered to carry our bags up the stairs. we were super sketched out but at that point we decided we'd rather be taken than carry our bags any further. they turned out to be very nice though and when we got to the top of the stairs, we said thank you and went on our way. we got outside of the station and decided we should ask for directions to the hotel.

we found a police officer and asked and he told us where to go. we started walking in the direction he told us to go. we felt a little lost so decided to ask another police officer along the way. she didn't speak english and had no clue what we were talking about. we got to another and she didn't speak english either, nor did she know where we were supposed to go. so we just decided to keep walking and see where it took us. after asking a restaurant owner where to go, we finally found the hotel and had never been so relieved in our lives. our hands and feet were covered in blisters by this point and our muscles were so sore. we checked in and went to the room and relaxed for a little bit. by this point it was almost noon. remember how i said we'd be there by 8:00? yeah well what was supposed to be a two hour journey ended up taking almost six. we relaxed for a few minutes and took quick showers then were back out on our way to see the city! not before rachael dropped her mascara in the toilet though. thank goodness for kristel making her being a sewing kit because she made a fishing pole out of it to get the mascara out! once that was taken care of, we were finally on our way!

we walked to the champs elysees and grabbed some lunch then wandered around the streets of saint germain and saint michel. we continued to get lost a few more times and we were so exhausted and decided to head back to the hotel. we really wanted to ride bikes back so we tried to rent them. well of course with our luck, the machines wouldn't take our cards. we tried at least three machines multiple times and none of them worked. so we walked back to the metro and rode it back to what we thought was the closest stop to our hotel. wrong again. we ended up walking around lost for a while before we made it back two and a half hours later. we rested for a little bit again then headed out to the eiffel tower. i will never get sick of seeing it sparkle. seriously there is nothing that compares to the beauty of the eiffel tower at night sparkling in the sky. i could stay there forever. we took a cruise along the seine which was super cool! we got to see all the major sights in paris by boat which i think everyone should do at some point! it was super cold though and started raining - oh i forgot to mention it is fall in paris. leaves on the ground, cool air, it was beautiful. so night time on the river was pretty much freezing. after staying at the eiffel tower for a while, we decided to head back to the hotel. we stopped at the lover's bridge by the notre dame and hooked padlocks to the bridge with all our initials (mine, kenny's, rachael's, and carson's). there had to be thousands of locks on there so it was really cool to see!! we were finally on our way to the hotel and can you guess what happened next? if you guessed that we got lost again, ding ding ding you're right! we were out on the sketchy streets of paris at 1:00AM just trying to find the closest metro. after getting off at the wrong stop and getting lost in the streets again, we finally made it home around 2:30. we went to bed for a few short hours before getting up for our next adventure.

sunday: after going to bed around 3:00 or 3:30, we woke up at 5:30 to catch our train to marseille. after everything that happened the day before, we decided it would probably be best to take a shuttle to the train station rather than try to deal with all the walking and the metro again. the train ride was about four hours and went through the beautiful countryside of france. we got to marseille, checked into our hotel (which thankfully was right next to the metro stop this time!), and went to get something for lunch!  all the food was so fresh and delicious! we made our way to the beach where we laid in the sand for a few hours and relaxed. we got back to the hotel then went and wandered around the town and got some dinner then went to bed.

monday: we woke up early today after getting our first decently long night of sleep (six hours still isn't enough though) and went to the notre dame de la garde. it was so pretty and had the most beautiful view of the ocean and the whole town.

we hurried back to our hotel and grabbed our bags then headed to the train station to catch our next train. did you think our bad luck stopped in paris? oh no. of course there wasn't an escalator going down to the metro, only going up. so what do you think we did? if you guessed that we looked like fools again, you are right. in fact, we must have looked absolutely ridiculous because we basically had security escorts all the way to the train station. they literally carried our bags down the stairs, walked them to the train, carried them on the train, carried them up the first set of stairs, then sent us on our way when we got to the escalators. such a joke but hey, at least we didn't have to carry our bags for a while! we got on our train to nice and the bad luck continued. there was a group of four young men who kept staring at us and staring at our bags and we could tell they were talking about us. we were super worried about it so we moved closer to our bags which unfortunately happened to be closer to them as well. we could hear that they were definitely talking about us in french and when they tried to talk to us, we played dumb. maybe a little too dumb though. they tried talking to us in at least five languages and we acted like we didnt speak any of them. how many languages could we possibly speak? duh. we are so dumb. but as we went to get off the train finally, they tried to help us with our bags but we just let them get out and we waited for a security guard before we got off the train. we saw them outside the train station so instead of trying to deal with the metro, we got another taxi. we made it to our hotel and we were supposed to go directly to a nearby town called grasse where we were going to make perfume. we got some directions and headed out but missed the first bus then didn't have the right euros for the second. so we walked back to the hotel and told the lady at the front desk but she was able to help us get it booked for the next morning right in nice! since we had some free time, we went down to the beach which we were surprised to find out was a rock beach. very cool, but not very comfortable for napping. somehow we still managed to fall asleep for a few hours though! when we woke up, we went and grabbed some dinner then went back to the hotel and went to bed.

tuesday: we woke up early and thought we'd stop by the post office on the way to the perfumery. well, it wasn't open yet so we decided to go get some macaroons while we waited! it was my first time trying them and they were absolutely delicious! my favorite was the rose flavor. so yummy!! we went back to the post office and tried to use a machine but it wouldn't take our credit cards, so after spending all that time trying to get it to work, we went and waited in line to talk to a real person. we got our stamps and mailed out our postcards. unfortunately by this time, it was already 9:45 and our appointment was at 10:00 but we didn't really know where we were going. we followed the directions we were given but must have made a wrong turn somewhere and ended up at a market. it was super cool, but not what we were trying to see, nor did we have time to see it! after wandering around for a half hour asking people where to go and getting all sorts of wrong directions, we finally made it to the perfumery a half hour late. they didn't think they were going to be able to fit us in, but they managed to and boy am i so glad they did! it was so cool to be able to make our own perfume and learn about how it's made! there are three different types of scents that go into a single perfume: a top note, a heart note, and a base note. the top note is what you smell for only a few minutes. the heart note is what you smell for a few hours. the base note is what you smell when someone walks past you. we were given at least a hundred scents to smell and if we liked them, we wrote them down in the appropriate category based on the color of their bottle which corresponded to the type of note it was. then the lady matched them together and had us smell each part of the perfume alone then all together! we got to put each scent into our bottle and take home a bottle of our own perfume! i can't wait to use it! right when we got back to the hotel, we jumped in a taxi and headed off to the airport to catch our flight to rome. we got to the airport and checked in then went and waited at the gate. it came time to board our plane and after carrying our super heavy carry-on bags up the stairs to the plane, the flight attendant told us we were only allowed to have one carry-on bag. well, we each had three. luckily she checked one of the bags for us and let us keep the rest. we got to rome and took the train into the main termini station then took a cab to our hotel where we were meeting our group.

it is so great to finally be here and know we are going to be settled in for longer than a day. we've seen so much of rome already and i'm so excited to see even more then go to siena and get things started for real!!! i was convinced that i was going to come back so fat - yeah well i'm pretty sure i've lost weight. all the walking and the lack of food has proven to be great to prevent the weight gain problem! the hotel food is just not cutting it but anytime we go out for lunch, the food is delicious! so hopefully it will be more like that in siena! i can't wait to get there!

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