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"I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things." --Antoine de St-Exupery

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Halfway Done?

Hard to believe, but it's true. Today marks the exact middle of my trip. 9 weeks in, 9 week to go. I think I'm in a good place right now though when I think about being halfway done. I'm not feeling terribly sad that I only have 9 weeks left and I'm not feeling like I'm ready to go home sooner. I'm excited to go home and see everyone, but I'm also excited for everything that's coming before. I think that's a good place to be.

As I said in my last post, midterms happened last week. They went pretty well, but I'm still glad their over. Not nearly as hard as Madison exams where you have 150 pages of a book to basically memorize, but it's all in Spanish, which makes the 60 pages or so a little more difficult to solidify in my mind. I think my Spanish overall has been getting better but not as much as I thought it would. Still time to fix that though.

After exams, a group of five of us celebrated by going to Paris!! To start, you definitely need more than 48 hours in that city. It is amazing. We got there on Friday and after settling into our hostel, we went straight to the Louvre (for free too!). We saw the Mona Lisa, some of Michelangelo's work, and a lot of new pieces that I really enjoyed.

Then we went to the Eiffel Tower to see it at night, even though it was raining. The best word I can find to define that night: enchanting. I didn't expect it to be as impressive as it was. I've seen x number of pictures of the Eiffel Tower so I guess I thought I'd seen all there was to see of it? I'm not sure. All I can say is that I was wrong. It was amazing. We grabbed some nutella-banana crepes and hung out taking pictures for probably close to an hour. This is in tie for the number one moment of Paris.

Delicious crepe.

The next day, after navigating the metro, we went to the Arc de Triomphe and saw the Opera Garnier (Phantom of the Opera). Then to the Musee de L'Orangerie, which is what the Eiffel Tower is tied for first place for the best moment in Paris. The museum has two oval rooms that are two different scenes painted by Monet, "The Water Lilies". One is full of his famous water lilies and the other includes weeping willows. However, before you enter to the rooms, you go through a white room that has nothing in it and was designed by Monet as a decompression space between "the city's agitation" and his work. I love Monet and walking in there was an amazing feeling. The way he created this peaceful environment was completely unexpected and great. We were there for about an hour. There was more art downstairs as well that we were able to see. But those rooms are another new happy place to go to when feeling stressed, that's for sure. 


After that, we headed to the Notre Dame. Another breathtaking place. There is so much history there that you just get this overwhelming feeling when you walk in. Even sitting outside eating our croque monsieurs was amazing. Unfortunatley we didn't go up the towers. It was very cold (in the 40s) and we were not dressed appropriately and the line was very long. Guess I'll have to save that for the next trip :)
My friend Rosie (who is studying in Paris!) and I

Then we walked around for a bit, stopping for more crepes, and went to Shakespeare and Company which is a bookstore that housed writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemmingway back in the day. We then went to the Montmartre area and saw the Sacre Coeur which is another beautiful basilica. Right outside it was a great view of the city.
That night we went to a nice dinner with my friend Rosie from Madison who is studying in Paris. We had also gotten to see another friend of mine who is studying there as well on Friday. Rosie then showed us the Moulin Rouge, Hotel de Dieu, the Bastille Prision, and another wonderful crepe stand. The next morning we ended our trip with another visit to the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately we had to leave before the lift was open to go to the top, but I guess that will be another thing to look forward to next time :)
Au revoir/Hasta luego!!

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