Posted by: Meghan | May 4, 2010

I can’t believe…

I can’t believe:

it’s May 4 (Dad gets here in 2 days- crazy!!).

I’m almost (finally) done with my internship.

how cold and yucky Paris has been  the last few days.

I’m going to be home in 11 days.

Basically, the last few weeks have seriously flown.  I’ve fit in a lot of the things I wanted to do- I’ve done plenty of traveling, been to a bajillion museums, churches and monuments, been bored at my internship, read books and newspapers in French, watched French movies, eaten copious amounts of pastries, walked what feels like a million miles, enjoyed gorgeous gardens- and I can’t believe it’s May already!

However, that’s not to say I’m not glad it’s almost over.  I’m very glad to see Dad in 2 days (and Mom, Brady and Abby in less than 2 weeks), and I’m excited for Geneva, Venice and Rome (although it doesn’t look like we’re going to have the best weather.

This picture, from Giverny, remains me of a time a mere two weeks ago when it was gorgeous.  Alas, now it is in the 40s or 50s every day. Paris does not like me.

I think I took almost this exact picture (although maybe it was less crooked!) when I went to Giverny 3 years ago.

Some pictures from around Paris:

Well, I really need to get back to packing and working on my presentation for Thursday.  Hope you’re all having a warmer May so far than I am!

This is probably my last post before going home, since Dad arrives on Thursday and we leave on Saturday.  Thank you for reading- I’ve really enjoyed sharing my trip with all of you and I hope you’ve enjoyed following along.

Can’t wait to see you all this summer!

A plus tard! (until later)

Posted by: Meghan | April 26, 2010

Lovely weather

Paris has been absolutely, wonderfully gorgeous these last few days.  Yesterday (Saturday), I walked so much- probably around 5 or 6 miles (this is how I manage to eat so many pastries and not weigh 250 lbs by now).  I started out the day by visiting two churches I hadn’t seen yet- Saint Sulpice, which is the biggest church in Paris, and Saint Germain des Près, which is the oldest.  After reading in the gorgeous Luxembourg gardens and walking around some more, I met Dana and Sara and we walked along the Canal St Martin, which is a very popular Parisian hang out spot.

I can’t believe that it’s April 25th- it almost doesn’t seem possible.  It’s so bittersweet- I am ready for home- my family, familiar food, English- but Paris is becoming more charming by the day, and I feel like I still haven’t experienced everything I could or should, even with as much as I’ve done.

Anyway, I took some video yesterday of street performers right in St Germain des Près (the church gives its name to the surrounding neighborhood), and because the wonderful street musicians make me so often feel like I really am in Paris, I thought you might like it.

Posted by: Meghan | April 22, 2010

A few pictures and some lists…

So I stole a few pictures of off Facebook that other people (mostly Dana and Lauren) had posted that I didn’t happen to have, so I’m posting them here, along with some lists. (I also realized that I didn’t have many pictures from when Lauren was here for spring break up!)

Leaning Tower of Pisa- yes, I’m definitely holding it up.  (Also- it’s really not that big…I mean it’s tall, but not as tall as I expected.

This is from Spring Break- that’s Lauren on the left, and Nivi on the right- Nivi was visiting from Geneva while Lauren was here, so we had a nice little reunion! (Also, don’t you love the black coat, colorful scarf combination?)

Yes, we are at the Louvre, pretending to be Winged Victory.

List! (I have become even more of a list maker since coming here- to-do lists, favorites lists, food to try lists, etc…it’s kind of ridiculous.)

Favorite Things about Paris

1. Baguettes

2. Maccarons

3. Notre Dame all lit up at night

4. The Shakespeare Bookstore (it’s an English bookstore right near Notre Dame and it is adorable and has a reading room upstairs stocked with a bazillion books that you can just sit and read…I have literally been there 5 or 6 times (although I have yet to buy a book there!))

5. La ligne 14 (this is a line of the metro- it goes super fast because it’s automated and has a long way between stops- it allows me to get from Dana’s house to mine in under 30 minutes instead of the 45-50 it would take otherwise)

6. Luxembourg Gardens

7. The Seine and its bridges

8. The names of Metro Stops- they have such cool stories

9. This guy who sings off key at St Lazare metro station- he’s really terrible, but he seems to enjoy himself, and for some reason he just makes me smile.

10. The Musée d’Orsay- this is the Impressionist museum- enough said.

A café we had dinner at across from Notre Dame on Lauren’s last night in Paris

In London, saying hello to Honest Abe.

Our attempt at the Beatles crossing Abbey Road picture- all I can say is, it’s hard to avoid the traffic, and I had bare feet as I was Paul, and it was darn cold!

This is me at Paul McCartney’s house…he wasn’t home.

Well, it’s officially 2 weeks until the end of my internship and until Dad arrives- and I can’t believe how fast the last few weeks have flown.  I’m definitely still missing home, but I also want to make the most of the little time I have left.  I think on Saturday I’m going to go to the Victor Hugo museum and perhaps some other things I have yet to cross off my list.

Last weekend, Dana, Sara (she’s above in the picture crossing Abbey Road-second from the front) and I went to Giverny, Monet’s house and gardens.  It’s a ways from the train station, so you can either take a bus or bike, and we of course chose to bike!  It was a gorgeous day, and Giverny was lovely- probably even more beautiful than I remembered.

Tomorrow, I’m having dinner with just my host mother, since the rest of my host family is gone for the week, so that should be fun- my French is going to get quite a workout tomorrow night!

Hope you’re all well- can’t believe it’s already April 22nd!

Posted by: Meghan | April 16, 2010

Copenhagen, Strasbourg, and homesickness

Dana and I went to Strasbourg last weekend, and it was simply wonderful!  We rented bikes on Saturday afternoon and rode all around the city.  Strasbourg is in Alsace, which is right on the border of Germany (there were several wars and times it went back and forth between France and Germany in the past), and there’s a lot of German influence.

We had some traditional Alsacien food- tarte flambee for lunch on Saturday, which is kind of like a very thin pizza with no tomato sauce, but with cheese, vegetables and/or meat.  Quite delicious.  On Sunday for lunch  we had spatzel (which is actually pronounced schpetzel) apparently, which is a traditonal German pasta- also delicious.

(I’m starting to get a little tired of cathedrals…)

We went to an open air book market, biked to the botanical gardens and took a boat tour.  (Dana was sick this weekend- she still is a little sick- and we had gotten up early to get the train, so she fell asleep on the boat tour.)

Back to Easter weekend in Copenhagen-

We took a canal tour on Saturday, right after I arrived.  Unfortunately the Little Mermaid statue that usually sits in the harbor was not there- it left a few days earlier for an International Expo in China (and it’s the first time it’s ever left! Just my luck!) We walked around the city a lot on Saturday, climbed up the church I mentioned in my last post, and visited Freetown Christiana, which is a section of Copenhagen that has declared itself independent of the Danish government.  It used to be a lot wilder than it is, with drugs and violence, but know it’s just sort of a little hippie commune that attracts a lot of tourists.

We saw this weird looking bike on our walk on Saturday afternoon.

On Easter morning, some of Elizabeth’s friends from her Danish class hosted an Easter brunch, and they had everyone bring traditional Easter foods from their countries (the 3 guys that hosted it were Polish.)  So on Easter I had Polish sausage and bread, Swiss rolls, an Austrian coffeecake/breakfast bread, Russian pancakes and of course, eggs.  So much food!  It was a lot of fun, and definitely delicious.  The girl from Austria, Claudia, was from Innsbruck, and she was very surprised that I had heard of it- and thought it was weird that I knew it because of the Olympics, since they were in the 60s and 70s- little does she know how much I love the Olympics!

We happened upon this store while walking to the cemetery. (I have no idea (neither did Elizabeth) why they used the name Tim).

Monday morning (France has the Monday after Easter off), Elizabeth took me to the cemetery in Copenhagen, which was really beautiful.  Hans Christian Andersen, Kierkegaard and Niels Bohr are all buried there.

A few things about Denmark- they all speak English really, really well.  And they’re really very friendly- I had several people smile at me on the street, just because, which really never happens in Paris.  Also- everyone bikes, and everyone pushes their babies around in these giant strollers that look like bassinets on wheels.

It’s a little hard to see, but this is “The Sports Bar” in the Copenhagen airport, which as you may be able to see on the bottom the sign, means the Bruins, Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots- again, no idea why they chose Boston teams- but I like the idea!

I’m mostly down with my traveling until the very end- I’m planning on taking a few day trips over the next few weeks- to Giverny and Mont Saint Michel, but no big overnight journeys.  I can’t believe it’s so close to being over- Dad will get here on May 6, which is exactly 3 weeks from tomorrow- crazy!  To be honest, I’m kind of glad- homesickness is definitely setting in.  They warned us at the beginning of the program that after a few weeks, we’d reach a saturation point and just be tired of French and France- and I really didn’t reach that point earlier.  Now, however, I just want an English newspaper (which I could find, but they’re expensive), a bagel, and a shower that doesn’t involve a nozzle I have to hold.  I guess I’m lucky that this didn’t happen earlier (although there are a few things I’ve been missing all along- Cheerios! Peanut butter!), and it’s really not that bad, especially knowing that I’ll be home in a little over four weeks.  Also, Dana’s mother was so sweet and when she sent Dana chunky peanut butter, she sent me some creamy!  So that’s going to be a big part of my diet for the next few weeks!  Also, I know that missing things now means I will enjoy them even more when I get back (and that doesn’t even take in to account missing all of you!)

P.S. I wrote this a few days ago, and since then have received my Easter package from Mom- and let me just say, Girl Scout cookies do wonders for homesickness!

Posted by: Meghan | April 8, 2010

Busy busy busy!

So the last week and a half has been quite busy!  My friend Cristina came to visit from Madrid, I went to Copenhagen (Happy Easter everyone!) and I had my 1,500 word internship report due Tuesday morning.

I’m hoping to have time to post a longer entry very soon, with lots of pictures from Copenhagen (one of my favorite places in Europe so far), but I thought I’d put up at least a few Copenhagen pictures, as well as pictures from the park near my work, where I eat lunch every day.

I think I took this picture right before we got on the boat for a canal tour, which was a lot of fun.

Lots of canals!  This is Nuhavn, which means new harbor (I think!)

Denmark is obviously not super famous for their pastries- but they do have danishes! (which they call Spandauer)  I had two while  I was there- both very very good.

There’s a church that you can climb up, and get a beautiful view of Copenhagen.  As you can see in the below picture, there’s a golden stair case on the outside of the spire that you climb up.  It got kind of windy when we were up there and I got a little nervous!

Copenhagen has several castles right in the center of the city.  It was raining when I took this picture, which I think kind of makes the castle look mysterious.

This is the park near my internship. It’s been absolutely beautiful lately- flowers blooming, ducks in the pond, green grass- it’s so nice to go there for lunch.

This part of the park- the giant rocky “island” surrounded by water- is my favorite- it’s so incongruous- not something you expect to see in the middle of Paris, even if it is in a really big park.

And last, but not least, I leave you with a picture of the Eiffel Tower in spring. (Well the trees are almost blooming!)

Posted by: Meghan | March 28, 2010

More spring break pictures!

The bridge in the background is the Millenium Bridge over the Thames and the domed building is St. Paul’s.

Big Ben!  Which, if you didn’t know (I certainly didn’t) is right next to Westminster Abbey!  I had no idea they were so close to each other.

Buckingham Palace- one of the first things I saw when arriving in London- our hostel was about a 15 minute walk away.  We happened to arrive just as they were doing the changing of the guard- we watched for a little bit and then left, because it was super crowded and hard to see.

This is on the top of the Duomo in Florence. It was a long hike up to the top (463 steps!) but totally worth it for the view.  You also get a close-up view of the painted ceiling- below.

Dana and I- again on top of the Duomo.

Santa Croce- one of the many churches in Florence.

This arch was in a little park near our hotel in Lucca.  Not sure how old this particular arch is, but it’s very possible that it’s been there since Roman times- the ramparts around the town are that old.

So, I’m two weeks into my internship, and it’s going pretty well.  It was definitely a bit of an adjustment at first- everyone is very nice, but it’s a very small office (5 employees) and everyone sort of keeps to themselves.  French office environments are definitely very different form America!  I’m doing a lot of translating from French to English, which I’m finding that I’m enjoying and I’m pretty good at it! I’m not a huge fan of sitting at a computer all day, but I’m learning so much from this experience about where I want to work in the future and gaining lots of experience.  One really nice thing- my office is right near this beautiful park, where I get to go and eat lunch every day. ( Here’s a link to a picture: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:Parc_des_Buttes-Chaumont_2.jpg )

I’m pretty busy for the next few weeks- in fact, for the rest of the time I’m here, pretty much (I can’t believe I’ve been here 11 weeks!)  This coming weekend I’m going to Copenhagen, and the weekend after that, Dana and I are going to Strasbourg (which I always confuse with Salzburg, Austria, in my head- but Strasbourg’s in France!)  I’m also working on my internship report, which I need to do to get academic credit- and I just don’t want to do it!  (Although once I finish it, I’ll be done with academic work until September!)

Grammy and Grampa- I got your Easter card the other day- thank you so much!  I have no idea why the other one took over a month and this one took 3 days!

Hope you’re all enjoying the spring- I know I sure am!

Posted by: Meghan | March 20, 2010

Food!

So it has become something of a joke, especially between Dana and I, about how much I love the food here.  What can I say?  The food is, quite simply, the best I’ve ever tasted. The pasta in Italy- seriously the best I’ve ever eaten.  I’ve been taking pictures of some of the things I eat, and here are some of my pictures from spring break!

Saturday the 6th, the first day of spring break, was the day Lauren arrived.  One of the first things we did was go to the Eiffel Tower, and after, we went to this boulangerie nearby that Dana and I love (it’s also right near our school, which is why we know it.)  This place has the best pain au chocolat aux amandes, which is basically a pastry with chocolate and almond paste- and it’s heavenly.  This time though, I got hot chocolate- it was quite a cold day!  Anyway, this hot chocolate was no Angelina’s, but it was definitely delicious!

Saturday night we went to Creposuk, which was the creperie that we went to the first week with BU.  They have amazing galettes, which are basically buckwheat crepes stuffed with all kinds of delicious things!  Mine above had cheese, tuna and an egg on top- yum!

On Sunday, we went to dinner at this famous restaurant, Chartier.  It’s essentially famous for having delicious food at super low (for Paris) prices.  We didn’t get there until almost 9:00 and didn’t leave until a little after 11- we were the last ones in the restaurant!  Anyway, the above soup was amazing- garlicky, mildly salty, and only 1,80 euros (the French use commas and periods in the reverse way we do for numbers).

For dessert, Dana got blackberry sorbet- I had a bite, and it was delicious! Dana may not be able to eat ice cream (she’s allergic to milk) but with sorbet like this, it doesn’t seem so bad!

For dessert, both Jen and I got gateau aux delices- we didn’t know what it was, only that it had chocolate.  Gateau aux delices means, essentially, “delightful cake”- and it was truly delightful- moist and chocolaty and there was some sort of creamy sauce on the side.  It was a good dinner.

My first day in London, Sarah took Lauren and I to this wonderful vegetarian restaurant in Covent Garden, called Food for Thought.  There’s a main dish, a quiche, a salad and a dessert and you can get various combinations for around 7 pounds (which is quite cheap for London!) I got the main dish (which was gnocchi that day) and a salad.  It was delicious and nutritious- something I didn’t necessarily get a lot of the rest of spring break!

Our first day in Florence, we got gelato after lunch.  Both Dana and I had guidebooks, and both of them recommended this place as perhaps the best in the historic center.  I got tiramisu and chocolate, and it was absolutely delicious- creamy and rich and amazing.

Ravioli with butter and sage sauce at the place we went to dinner  in Florence.  Some of the best pasta I’ve ever had- it was fresh and had just enough butter and spices.

This was dessert that night in Florence- chocolate profiteroles (cream puffs).  A perfect finish to a perfect meal.

Now that I’ve made myself hungry, it’s time for me to go to a baking class with Dana and learn how to make croissants!

Posted by: Meghan | March 17, 2010

Spring Break!

Well, I have returned from spring break!  I had an amazing time, in Paris with Lauren and Dana, in London and in Italy.  I ate so much amazing food (mostly in Italy) and got to see a show in London (Billy Elliot- same day tickets!) and just basically had a blast.  I’m glad to be back in Paris, but I’m also glad that I get to go back to Italy in May.

We walked past the Globe theater when we visited the Tate Modern Art Museum.  It’s right on the banks of the Thames, surrounded by all the more modern looking buildings.

The Rosetta Stone at the British museum.

Sarah and I on my last day in London in Trafalgar Square.  When we were there on Tuesday (my first day there) we saw a guy training a falcon.

Florence!  That’s the Ponte Vecchio on the right side of the bridge.  Not the best picture- I think Dana has some better ones that I’ll steal later!
Florence was definitely the most frustrating part of the trip- it was an absolutely beautiful city, and I loved it,  but we had planned to go to the Uffizi, (which has tons of Renaissance art by Botticelli, Raphael, Michelangelo….) and it ended up being closed, because of a national strike.  (We knew strikes were common beforehand, but we thought they just affected the trains- but apparently since it’s a national museum, it’s closed too.)

Despite that frustration, Florence was beautiful! Above is a picture of the hills around Florence, taken while we were climbing up to the Piazza Michelangelo, which gives you a great view of Florence.  I’ll post more pictures later- now on to Lucca!

Lucca is a small little town about 1 1/2 from Florence by train.  It is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.  The above picture was taken from on top of the Tower Guinigi, which gives an amazing view of the town and surrounding countryside.

Lucca’s historic center is surrounded by an old fortress wall, which has been converted into a park, allowing you to walk around the whole town.  We had a wonderful day in Lucca, just walking around and enjoying the sunshine!

Well, I’ve got to get to my internship!  I’ll update soon with more pictures and more about my internship!

Posted by: Meghan | March 5, 2010

It’s warming up…

So, the last two weeks have been a little crazy, with final papers and exams, an oral presentation, my internship interview and preparations for spring break.  Thankfully though, after taking my final exams today, spring break is finally here!

The above photo was taken at the top of the towers of Notre Dame.  I walked up it last weekend when my friend Elizabeth was here from Copenhagen (she’s the one I’m going to visit over Easter).  Elizabeth was supposed to arrive last Thursday night, but then because of an air traffic control strike in Paris, she didn’t get here until Friday night. That actually ended up being kind of helpful, since I spent pretty much all of Friday evening to work on my political science paper.  Elizabeth, Dana, Jen, Arjona, Sara (Elizabeth’s friend who’s also here in Paris) and I spent most of Saturday showing Elizabeth Paris.  It was a really nice day- sunny and pretty warm.

We went to Angelina’s, a famous tea salon near the Louvre and all got hot chocolate to go.  I am not exaggerating when I say that this was probably the best hot  chocolate I’ve ever tasted.  It basically tasted like melted chocolate, only slightly less thick- heaven!

On Monday afternoon, I met up with Elizabeth after class, and we went on a boat ride on the Seine.  It was a lot of fun and interesting to see Paris from a different angle.  We lasted about a half hour outside on the top, but for the second half we went inside- it was too cold!

Tuesday morning, I went to the Paris catacombs with Elizabeth, Dana and Jen.  I had class at noon, so we met up at the catacombs at 10.

The catacombs seemed like they never ended.  It was honestly pretty creepy just walking through the tunnels, but once we got to all the bones, it was much more eery.  It’s kind of astonishing how many thousands of bones there are- and how neatly they’re stacked.  It’s kind of unsettling, and almost feels disrespectful to see them all there.

I know it’s dark- but you can’t use flash in the areas with the bones!

I had my second internship interview yesterday with Robin des Bois, which was one of the first French environmental organizations.  It’s a really small office, with only 5 people- I only met 2 of them yesterday, but they were both very nice. I think they had pretty much decided they would take me before I even got there, and so I’m starting next Monday, the 15th! I’ll mostly be doing research, some translations, writing some articles, that sort of thing.

But before I start that, I have spring break!  My friend Lauren is getting in from Boston tomorrow morning, and so I’m staying here with her in Paris until Tuesday morning.  On Tuesday morning we’re heading to London, where we’ll stay for 2 days. Then on Thursday I’m heading to Florence! I’m so excited- but at the same time, I really cannot believe that it’s spring break already.  Next Sunday, I will have been here for 9 weeks, which is half the total time I’ll be in Europe (including the week I’m traveling at the end).  Part of me feels like I’ve been here forever, but when I really think about it, it feels like I got here last week.

I had dinner with my host family last night, and my host father told me he thinks my French has gotten better! I could tell I was understanding French, both written and oral, better, and I knew it was easier for me to write, but it’s much harder for me to tell how my speaking is.  So it’s really nice to have someone be able to hear me doing better!

I’m going to go clean out some papers from this semester I don’t need anymore and get ready for spring break.  Until next time!

Posted by: Meghan | February 23, 2010

Fontainebleau

Last Friday, Dana and I went to Fontainebleau, which is probably the second most famous/historic chateau in France (after Versailles of course). It was one of my favorite day trips so far- the chateau was gorgeous, it was sunny and warm, and we had amazing macaroons at a bakery on our way back!

A bunch of the French monarchy, including Louis XIV and Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette lived here, as did Napoleon.  Napoleon actually said his goodbye, when he was exiled to Elba, from the steps of Fontainebleau.

I don’t remember what room this is…there were so many.  In some ways, I found Fontainebleau more impressive than Versailles- but I also got to see more of it.  Versailles is much more enormous, but I got to see many more rooms in Fontainebleau.

This is the grand ballroom.  When we walked in, recorded music started playing- we were really surprised!  We realized pretty quickly that it was a motion sensor, but at first we were taken aback.

The extensive grounds of Fontainebleau…there are about 4 different fountains, ponds, a grand canal, a couple of gardens…it’s pretty impressive, and it’s even more beautiful when things are actually in bloom.

On our walk back to the train station, we stopped and got macaroons.  French macaroons aren’t like American ones, with coconut- instead, they’re kind of like a light, chewy cookie sandwich with cream in the middle.  (Much better than the American ones, in my opinion.)  Basically heaven.

I got an e-mail today from the people who place us in our internships- they wanted to know if I’d be interested in working with an environmental organization (apparently they have one in mind that they think I might like), and I told them I would, so hopefully something will work out!

The next few weeks are going to be a little crazy- I have to have an oral presentation ready for Friday morning (for a practice run), and I have a paper due Monday (both are for poli sci class.)  My friend Elizabeth is coming from Copenhagen this Thursday until next Wednesday, so of course I want to see her as much as possible.  And then next Friday, the 6th is finals (yay!!)- and starting that day, I’m going to have a friend coming from Geneva (although she’ll only be here till Sunday) and one from Boston (who’s visiting her cousin, but I’m going to try to see her), and on Saturday my friend Lauren is coming from Boston.  And then the traveling, to London and Florence, starts.  It’s going to be a little crazy, but I can’t complain! (Except for my exams…those I can, and will, complain about).

When spring break is over, I will have been here for nine weeks, which is exactly half the time I’m going to be here total- kind of hard to believe, especially since I know the next two and a half weeks are going to fly by!

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