Two-and-a-half weeks after my last post, I suppose I ought to wrap up this blog. Ran from Barcelona straight up to the mountains in Southern California to be a counselor at UCLA Unicamp.
I was immediately faced with the juxtaposition of traipsing around Europe with historical monuments and boulangeries versus cabin life in freezing weather with under-served kids from Los Angeles, and I loved every second of it. There were definitely tough days with campers that made for a roller-coaster week, but I wouldn’t change any of it.
Camp really is something special, that’s for sure.
Always a fresh dose of perspective.
But I digress: this summer in Europe was everything I was hoping for and more. A necessary change from the regular, a language and culture I knew nothing about. I learned more French than I thought possible, and learned way more about myself than I thought I would. One thing I decided for certain is that I want to travel and live somewhere else in the relatively near future - after undergrad or after that, as soon as I can figure out a way to make that work financially of course. We’ll see.
In any case, this is the end of my blog for now, at least until there is some other notable change in my geographical location. Thanks to my parents for making these experiences possible, and thanks to you for reading! Home finally, even if it’s only for a week before I go back to LA.
Four days worth of Barcelona in one blog post! Barcelona has been so fun, and really quite hilarious. I have forgotten most of my Spanish and keep speaking French to everyone, whoops. But anyhow, pictures tell more than words!
We got from Paris to Barcelona on an overnight train with beds. Pretty cool to fall asleep in France and wake up in Spain!
We live on the top floor of our hostel. It involves many flights of stairs and no elevator. Probably good, after all them baguettes in Paris.
This is a great picture because it shows our hostel room, Yoongi doing the Waka-Waka dance, Natalie intently watching the video, and me feeling questionable about the whole situation. Sounds about right!
We went to the Picasso museum (free admission on the first Sunday of the month!), which was really cool but I don’t have pictures from it. Afterward, we walked along the Barcelona harbor. Blue blue blue water!
We went on a walkng tour of Barcelona and met a million Australians, who are now our great friends. Jimmy, Billy, pink-hatted man, the whole lot.
We learned that pretty much everything in Barcelona was built for the 1992 Olympics. The city is therefore full of various random statues, like this one of a lion next to the Chris Columbus pole.
Our few days in Barcelona have been filled with a lot of mid-day drinking: free beers, 50cent beers, 1€ sangria, what else are we supposed to do? Once, I fell asleep for a bit in the middle of a round. Hahah whoops.
Nom nom authentic Spanish paella for dinner mmm
With the whole Spain-won-the-World-Cup thing, there is so much soccer propaganda everywhere. “This is our year, this will be our era”.
Went on a bar crawl at night, which was really quite funny. New friends from Netherlands, England, Denmark, and a girl from Austria who works at Mozart’s house. Which I found very amusing. Ended up at a club that played winning music and I met a new bud from Denmark who said to me “Maaaan, I will always remember girl with brown hair and… brown skin.” Apparently I have gotten quite tan over these past few weeks.
Spent the next day on a bike tour of the city!
I got to ride a cute yellow beach cruiser with flowers on it. And a bell!
We biked to La Sagrada Familia, the famous Gaudi church that is absolutely nuts - melting rocks and what not. It has been under construction for over 110 years and is predicted to fall down before they ever finish it. Excellent!
Last JPOTD, ever, in front of La Sagrada Familia. End of an era!
Biking in front of Spain’s knock-off version of the Arc de Triomphe. Paris is still the best, haha.
After making a bike tour pit stop for some 1€ gold wine, our bike tour got significantly funnier. This is Billy the Australian, explaining to us some facts about the fountain of Saint Natalie. I also may or may not have fallen off my bike a few minutes later. And I consider myself a good biker, hahah.
Spent our last day in Europe on the beach!
Barcelona beaches are beautiful! It was kind of windy, but you can see the W Building in the back.
Can’t go to Spain and not have churros and chocolate - thick, pudding-like hot chocolate of course. Doesn’t count unless you feel sick after.
Spent our night making paella and sangria. This pan was the biggest pan I have ever seen in my life. Soooo good.
Such a good time in Barcelona, I can’t believe we’re leaving already. Flying home tomorrow, though I will only be there for 12 hours before I go down to LA for camp. So excited for camp, but so sad to leave Europe. This has easily been the best summer ever, to be continued at camp.
This pretty much sums it up - blurrily walking through the narrow streets of Barcelona. Blurry but happy!
We leave Paris tomorrow! Off to Barcelona, but I am not at all ready to leave - I’ve grown so fond of our lives here in France. The big historical landmarks are important, but it’s really the little things about living here that I’m going to miss the most.
1) Adventures trying to get home late at night after the metro closes- long walks, 4AM infinite horse parades, characters on the bus, walking uphill on Avenue des Gobelins, passing the baby statue.
2) JPOTD. You may have noticed that Natalie and I are in mid-air in many pictures. France is not particularly bouncy, but we were just attempting to take one jumping picture each day. JPOTD, as it were.
3) The sun not setting til 10 every day!
4) Yelling “NON, MERCI” at the mass amounts of unwanted soliciters - rose sellers on Rue de Lappe, or randos yelling “COME HOME WITH ME” on the street. Quite a useful phrase, along with “Va te faire foutre” which Jill successfully used once, haha.
5) Good Meat, the “restaurant” across from where we live.
6) Quotable quotes all the time, by everyone. But especially ones by Neil: “An elephant is like, a bunch of horses put together”, or ”Helloooo, Mr. Warthog!”, or of course ”Whoa! Talk about meat!”
7) Hearing “No Woman, No Cry” played everywhere - by musicians at the Eiffel Tower, at bars, at the Bastille Day ball.
8) Amazing professors and fun classes - I learned wayyyy more French than I thought I was going to, and thoroughly enjoyed learning about Louis XIV, NapIII, and nerdy Pasteur as well in history class as well. Sarah, Leslie, Neil, Nelly, and Pamela are all winners.
9) Watching MTV France and Disney Channel France in our room. Hahah extremely educational, actually.
10) The outdoor markets with good fruit and interesting characters.
11) Boulangeries on every corner with good bread and sandwiches and éclairs. And crêpe stands.
12) Shants, and the songs involved. Re: everybody shants now
13) Situations like Moustachio and the 6:30AM metro or getting trapped in an apartment entrance, desperately trying to find the “porte” button with cell phone light… only in Paris, seriously.
14) Watching World Cup games over Kir Cassis or dishsoap Leffes.
16) All our favorite places: The Hideout, Melocotón (Stellas and the cave), Corcoran’s (laser light Irish pub), L’île de Crète for poulet frite, and the Humé Boulangerie. I’m going to miss these.
17) The wine fund and all of its bad investments.
18) Photographs with Chuck Norris doing whatever he wants to do.
19) The enigma of my life: the fact that I cannot find that bar off of Mouffetard from that Tuesday. Door with wooden winding staircase to underground. I will return someday and locate it.
20) "List of Things"
21) Citadines breakfast. And mints.
22) Morning runs by myself, watching Paris wake up - people setting up markets, walking their dogs, buying baguettes. Perfect.
23) The metro lines that we frequent the most - taking the 7 to Place Monge for Mouffetard, or the 5 to Bastille. Or playing my favorite game, “get off at a random stop and see what happens”. And knowing that Ivry/Villejuif will bring you home.
24) Meeting people in the funniest of ways - old men clapping, winners on the street who convince you not to go home just yet, or funny boys yelling about sharks while swimming.
25) Funny broken English spoken by our new French friends, made even better when imitated at a later time. Like Jill’s perfect impression of “Yuko is my friend, but Yoongi is my WIFE!”
26) Picnics - at various jardins, at the Seine, in the Place d’Italie donut. Fromage, pain, and Carrefour vin.
27) Ching ching-ing, with eye contact of course.
28) Superb friends who are always down for everything, but will also write a song about Sweet Clouds in my Mouth as we walk to the metro. Couldn’t have asked for better buds to share this time in Paris with.
29) Being stunned by how beautiful Paris is on a daily basis - no matter how cliché it is, it’s true. Looking out on the Seine or just walking anywhere - the French really do know how to appreciate beauty in life.
Thanks, Paris - it’s been fun. I’ll be back!
Off to Barcelona - time to see if I remember any Spanish, haha.
After putting it off for all these weeks, we finally went up to the top of the Eiffel Tower on our penultimate night in Paris. Besides the massive hoards of tourists everywhere, it was really an stunning view of the city. See amazing pictures by Katie below!
You can see the tiny picnic-ers all over the grass.
Yup. Gorgeous sunset over the city.
We watched the tower sparkle while on it - seizure inducing but still cool.
Two finals done with, one final tomorrow left before our last picnic and last night in Paris. So sad to be leaving - time literally flew by. But we’re going to Barcelona, and then I am going back to LA for Unicamp, so I’m stoked for those. Not sure I can get myself to leave Paris, though…
The metro system in Paris is easily one of my favorite parts of the city. We bought Passe Navigo Decouverte's to be able to ride the metro anytime, and it is the most worthwhile purchase ever. The metro covers all of Paris and then some, and you can get literally anywhere easily. California, your public transportation systems need to catch up!
Recently, between classes, I have been taking the metro to a random stop that I have never heard of before just to see what’s there. It’s my strange but fun way of discovering parts of Paris that I haven’t explored. Comparing different areas of Paris is fascinating, and you find all kinds of eclectic art, stores, architecture, and people. I think what I’m going to miss the most about Paris is finding hidden treasures in it!
Fact: European men wear man-capris, AKA manpris. Natalie introduced the name “shants” (shorts+pants) a few weeks ago, and it has since become an ongoing game to point out extreme pairs of shants. Sometimes, songs in which the word “shants” replaces the word “dance” are sung in celebration of finding said shants. A few winning examples:
I Hope You Shants
Shants-ing in the Moonlight
Save the Last Shants For Me
Though of course my favorite manpris song is this post’s title, to be sung in the correct sing-songy voice: EVERYBODY SHANTS NOW!
Today was the best day ever in the history of days. We spent the day at Giverny, where Claude Monet lived and painted bridges and water lilies. It was a magical day, despite initial setbacks:
This was a class trip so we had lunch planned for us, but somehow our reservations got lost. To tide us over as they made lunch for 40 people, they just started serving us bottles and bottles of wine and champagne. None of us had eaten anything so they are a smart restaurant, haha.
French food + Katie’s camera = excellence.
Everyone was having a jolly time, but for various reasons I think I experienced the happiest moment of my life. These two photographs document that exact moment. It’s all downhill from here, haha.
They then sent the forty of us wine-filled students out to explore Monet’s house and gardens. It was absolutely beautiful, and so serene - this is definitely somewhere I want to return again in my lifetime.
Hahah it looks like Jill is the hapa medium between Natalie and I.
The Japanese Bridge. See if you can spot the difference between this famous painting and the photograph below.
The water lilies are stunning.
Best day ever! Thanks, Monet.
Started the day at Marche aux Puces de la Porte de Clingancourt, the most amazing flea market I have ever been to. No pictures from it, but imagine the most quaint and perfect space in the world full of antiques and cute French people and their dogs. Hahah, I have no better way to explain it, but it is magical.
Afterward, we went to the final race of the Tour de France on Champs-Élysées! Which sounds a lot more exciting than it really was - in reality, we stood packed shoulder to shoulder in a crowd for three hours and then finally watched the bikers zoom by in three seconds. Hahah, but it was still cool to be in Paris for it, even if I know nothing about the Tour.
They were so fast! Seriously, a blur.
I learned that wearing the yellow jersey is the winner at the time? Hahah it is Contador, I think. Yoongi sitting next to me confirms.
Finished the night off with L’as du Fallafel, the best falafel ever. It is in Le Marais (the Jewish / gay district) and it is well worth all the talk about it. We ate it while watching a random man dance around with fire. A beautiful end to an amazing weekend! Can’t believe we’re leaving soon.
Saturday was an excellent day. Before our full day, we stopped at Paul for breakfast and I learned a fun fact:
France does indeed make normal-sized palmiers! Re: Face Palmier
Anyhow, then we went down to the Catacombs, which was really cool and also really, really creepy. Underneath Paris there are literally millions of bones of dead bodies just hanging out in a giant dark maze. Besides the ceiling dripping everywhere, it was really cool.
Real skulls! And femurs!
Terrified, clearly. But actually it was a combination of really scary and really amazing. FYI: They check your bags for bones as you leave so you can’t just take a femur with you for the road.
We then went all the way over to Sacré Coeur. This is one of those places that I really don’t know much about, but it is really pretty!
My questionable facial expression shows you approximately how much I know about the building behind me.
On top of Paris, literally!
We climbed to the top of the tower for a 360 view of all of Paris. I’ve decided that I will never get sick of looking at Paris from high places.
This makes me laugh because it is the same as the above picture, but with our faces in it.
Continued the day with viande fondue, complete with our célibataire friend again. And then went to Moulin Rouge:
Fact: the two jumping girls are not in the movie.