Friday, October 29, 2010


With my bit of a break from classes it's been a whirlwind couple of weeks of traveling!

This week I had Wednesday and Thursday off from class so I decided to hop a train and head down to Lyon for a little trip. I arrived Wednesday around noon and checked into my hostel, and received a room with this view from my window:

I was pleasantly surprised! After stashing my backpack I went to the reception desk and asked for advice on a walk to take to show me the city on my limited time frame, and she drew me a route to take. It was a lovely walk, and took me through the city and through the major town squares and such.

However from what I had read online I felt like the walk was rather lacking some of the major points of interest in Lyon, so I stopped in to the tourist office. There they gave me a few additional ideas that lead me through exactly what I wanted to see.

First I went to the old town center and experienced a few of the various traboules. A traboule is a type of passageway that is primarily associated with Lyon. To steal a bit from Wikipedia (because I haven't done that in a while), "The layout of Vieux Lyon is such that there are very few connecting streets running perpendicular to the river. The traboules allowed workmen and craftsmen to transport clothes and other textiles through the city while remaining sheltered from inclement weather." The passageways are really interesting and I loved exploring them.

After that I decided to search out a few of the famous Lyon street murals. I wasn't quite sure what I was looking for or what to expect, but when I found them I was blown away. They were so so impressive.

After that I wandered through the streets (okay and played in a few more traboules) before climbing up to the Fourvière basilica to watch the sun set over the city. 

After that I headed to the Gallo-Roman ruins (more specifically two well-preserved theatres from the Roman city of Lugdunum). I made it 15 minutes before they closed, and though I seriously contemplated jumping the gate to explore after-hours I decided it was probably best not to get arrested in Lyon, so I went back to my hostel to eat a bit of dinner and go to bed. I woke up early the next morning and went back to the ruins to explore for a bit before catching my train.

It was a very interesting experience. I find something very intriguing about walking through structures that have so much history behind them. I loved walking through the ruins in Rome three years ago, and that's one of the reasons I was so excited to see these.

After that I headed to the train station because there was a strike (shocker!) and I wanted to make sure I was able to get home. I got home no problem, and here I am! I will post all of my pictures on my website soon, in the meantime I leave you with this little fellow:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Return from Marseille and the Weekend

I last updated on Tuesday after arriving in Marseille....

I awoke Wednesday and decided to explore the city with a few key spots in mind. I first walked along the coastline from my hostel to Vieux Port, a walk that was a couple of hours long, but well worth the legwork.

I arrived at the port just in time to hop on a boat to the Fioul Islands just off of the coast.

While there I spent the better part of the day hiking the Ile de Pomegues, one of the islands.

On the island there were numerous historical buildings, I believe all of which formerly were military related. At the end of the island (the furthest point from the mainland) there was an entire complex of abandoned buildings that I walked through. It was really interesting and very neat, though a bit scary wandering through abandoned buildings alone when I hadn't seen another human being on the island at all during my hour and a half of hiking.

This island was also, I might mention, the WINDIEST PLACE ON EARTH. It was like a tornado. Inside of a hurricane. Being beat up by another tornado. All taking place inside of a giant wind tunnel.

It was so windy that it blew my sunglasses right off of my face and down a cliff. And I of course had to climb down the cliff in order to take a picture of this.

Climbing back up was another story. Imagine wind so strong that it's nearly impossible to stand up straight on level ground. Now imagine climbing up a rocky cliff in this wind. Now imagine realizing halfway up that the reason you are going through this struggle is because upon your sunglasses being blown right off of your very own face you ran down to take a picture without thinking about how you would get back up said cliff.... Yep.

Anyways, after hiking the islands I returned to the mainland where I wandered around the old area of the city before heading over to the Notre Dame de la Garde, a church that sits on top of a hill overlooking the city. It was really very interesting and quite beautiful

After that I started my return walk to my hostel, getting home just as it was turning dark. I woke up Thursday and decided to leave things to chance because of the train strikes. I was going to go to the train station and hop on the first train going to either Lyon, Nice, or home to Paris.

I got to the train station and there was a train leaving for Paris in 3 minutes, and from the looks of the departure board nothing going to either of the three places for quite a long time after that, so I hopped the train and headed home.

Saturday was my birthday, and a group of us went out for dinner at a very tasty Mexican food restaurant.

And then went out for a couple of beers. All in all it was a very lovely week, and I think I might try to take another little trip around France soon!

(If you want to see more pictures from my trip go to .... there are some very beautiful pictures from all three cities!)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Well, I am now in Marseille! A marathon of three different cities in three days! Barcelona is unfortunately not going to happen right now, so I decided to make my way back towards Paris. I'll probably spend tomorrow (Wednesday) in Marseille and head back to Paris Thursday night... I'm debating trying to squeeze in one more city between Marseille and Paris just for the day on my way back, but I'm not sure yet.

I'll keep you updated!

Typing on a French keyboard is really throwing me off! haha

Stranded in Carcassonne

I am stranded in Carcassonne, France because of the train strikes. It's a bit disappointing because I was really looking forward to going to Barcelona, but I suppose things could be worse.....

 I'm going to stay here tonight and try to go to Barcelona tomorrow again, and if I'm not able to then I'm just going to head back home to Paris. No sense getting stranded, I will just save my money and perhaps be able to go to Barcelona in January!

Lots of love to back home!

Monday, October 18, 2010

In Montpellier!


I am writing this from an internet cafe near the train station in Montpellier. I arrived here yesterday afternoon and spent the afternoon and evening wandering around and getting lost in the older portion of the city. It was very beautiful and interesting.

I'm supposed to be heading to Carcassonne from here, but the train strikes are making it difficult. There were supposed to be trains at 10:43, 10:55, and 11:00am, but those were all cancelled and the next one is at 2:29pm. So I am going to wander around the city a little bit longer with the extra time I now have. I also think I am going to head home on Saturday instead of Sunday just so I can make sure I am able to get to my class on Monday morning and don't end up stranded anywhere. We will see :)

I will update soon. Miss you all!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Stopping the Procrastination!

So, I've been meaning to update my blog for a long time. I really have. But every time I think about updating it, I think about how long it's been and how much updating I have to catch up on, so I put it off because I don't really feel like spending that much time writing a blog update. And then more time passes. And then I start thinking again that I really need to update my blog, but then I start thinking about how long it's been since I updated my blog and how much updating I have to catch up on, and so I procrastinate again because I really don't feel like spending that much time writing a blog update.... It's a vicious cycle.

In order to overcome this vicious cycle, I am going to give a short, concise update.

* Last week Thursday I had no classes so I wandered around the Latin Quarter for a while, I visited Shakespeare & Co (a famous English-language bookstore) and St. Sulpice. Both places were very very neat, for very different reasons of course.

* Last week Friday a group of us from Negocia went to the steps in front of Sacre Coeur and drank wine and ate cheese and chocolate, and in general had a very fun evening.

* Last week Saturday we spent the day wandering around the 16th arrondissement and then went to the Montmartre wine festival.

* Last week Sunday a few of us did a self-guided walking tour through the Latin Quarter, which was fun. I've wandered through the area before, but it's nice to have a bit of information and history of what you are looking at and walking through, it makes it more interesting.

* This week was quite busy with classes, but we did manage to go out to celebrate Janina's birthday, which was a lot of fun.

Next week I lucked out with scheduling and don't have classes, so I am leaving tomorrow morning to visit the south of France and a bit of Spain. Hopefully. With all of the train strikes going on in France I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to.

Now that I've caught everything up to date though I can stop the vicious cycle of procrastination, so I will let you all know what happens :)

Lots of love to back home!!

(If you want to see more pictures from any of the things I've mentioned, visit the website my brother made for me at .... I will be keeping that updated with photos, and have retroactively added all of the photos from the time I arrived in France)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Website

Bonjour! (Bonsoir here, it is late!)
My wonderful big brother created a website for me so I can upload all of my pictures online. I will still be updating my blog, but it is just a bit faster for me to quickly upload photos en masse so I will probably be updating the photos a little more frequently than my blog. So if you really would like to follow my journey feel free to check out the site (there's a link back to this blog too):
So much has been going on the past few days, so I will update this blog soon, it's just a bit too late for such a massive update right now!
Lots of love back home!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Nuit Blanche

Saturday night was Nuit Blanche here in Paris, and it was absolutely amazing. I am going to steal a description from Wikipedia...

"Nuit Blanche (literally White Night, All-Nighter or Sleepless Night in French) is an annual all-night or night-time arts festival... A Nuit Blanche will typically have museums, private and public art galleries, and other cultural institutions open and free of charge, with the centre of the city itself being turned into a de facto art gallery, providing space for art installations, performances (music, film, dance, performance art), themed social gatherings, and other activities."

There were over 100 different exhibitions - installations, performances, videos, etc - all around Paris, many of which were open until 6 or 7 am. I went with two friends at around 9pm, then they got tired and went home at around 1:30, and I stayed until around 3:30 before finally getting tired too and heading home. I had no idea what the event was or how huge it was when we first went to check it out - if I had known I would have taken a nap during the day and stayed all night! As it was, I had an amazing time and it was very fascinating. There were some odd things, fun things, beautiful things.... so many different artistic visions all spread out within the beautiful context of Paris. It was wonderful.

The city was divided into three sections - ouest, centre, est (west, center, east). We started out on the west, the section with the fewest exhibits and went through that area first. A lot of the things there were very.... I'll say surreal.

The top left was a video installation, it was the first place we stopped, so I still wasn't completely sure what the event was about.

The top right was a video. It was interesting, in the sense that I did not understand at all what the meaning was behind it. It actually made me feel slightly uncomfortable, so if that's what the artist's aim was, he succeeded.

The bottom left exhibit actually was not the large statue you see on the left, but the chandelier on the right. The chandelier was being turned on and off rapidly and with varying timing. It was very disorienting, which I think was the purpose, and rather interesting.

The bottom right was an exhibit you could only see from the outside, it was an empty flat with chandeliers inside swinging back and forth. It was creepy and unsettling, but rather interesting as well.

Above is the outside of the Hôtel de Ville, it says "love differences" in a number of different languages. A lovely message if I do say so myself.

Next was the Notre Dame. It was beautiful to see the inside at night. There was organ music playing and at the front there was a very subtle light show. You can see the light in the picture on the right above - it would get slightly brighter and slightly dimmer very slowly. It was beautiful.

We then crossed the Pont Saint-Louis and saw the above installation on the bridge. It was really cool, there was music playing (kind of techno/electronic type music), and the blocks would change colors and the light would change intensity and there would be different patterns... It was a really fun, energetic installation.

Next we saw the installation video above. It was four large screens with videos of wild horses and their environment. It was really neat because this was actually outside - it would have still been interesting inside, but I think being outside really added something to the experience.

The church above was next door, and was open for Nuit Blanche so we went in and enjoyed a bit of music and the wonderful environment. After this I parted ways with my friends so they could go to bed and ventured off on my own.

First, there was a dinosaur and an elephant, like you would find in a museum, outside in a courtyard.

Then I found these two different things that you see above. I'm not even sure if it they were part of Nuit Blanche. They weren't on the map, and I suppose someone could have just been building a fort, and there could have been a horrible accident, but other people were taking pictures as well so I assumed they were exhibits.

Next I went to an installation with 300 clock-radios. When I originally saw it on the map I thought it was going to be a bit cheesy, but it actually ended up being quite powerful. It was presented very well and it was very interesting. The picture on the left above is how you experienced the exhibit - in pitch black darkness with only the light of the clocks. The picture on the right above was a picture taken with the flash on (don't judge me everyone was doing it).

The next stop was quite interesting as well. This was a projection video that was outside on a small back street. There was sound along with the projection, and it actually took up the majority of the block. It was really interesting, and having it in that setting was very neat.

The next place I went was to a performance in a church. Above is a picture that I took, but it can't even come close to capturing the experience. There was a woman singing along with a man playing a saxophone and a man playing the drums. At the same time there was a light projected all over the church, and on the light was something that looked like different liquids moving and being smeared around. It really was an experience that is hard to describe, it was very very interesting.

Two of the last things I saw both incorporated video of the crowd. The picture on the left is a very odd, large... I'll say statue. It was rotating around on a pedestal and had a camera on the front that would project what it saw out of the back of it. The picture on the right was a fun exhibit. The crowd was reflected on the screens, but only about two seconds of video captured probably every ten seconds. Each time a new video was added it was put in front of the old video, so it was this layered reflection of the crowd. If that explanation even makes sense! It was fun, a lot of people were being goofy and enjoying the exhibit.

I wandered around a bit more after that and then decided to head home because I was tired. There were a few metros and special buses running for Nuit Blanche, so I took a metro and then a night bus (an experience in and of itself) and got home around 4am and headed to sleep. All in all it was an amazing night!