safe and sound

{This is a post I wrote directly after I returned from Paris. I have a good excuse for not posting for so long this time!}

Hello world.
Here I am, returned safe and sound from three chilly, wonderful days in Paris. Paris, you may have heard, is a big place, so I’m going to post all my photos event by event.

On the first day, after we arrived in Paris, we took a bus tour of the city seeing things like the Paris opera hall (a big thing with me), Notre Dame and the Champs Élysées. Afterwards we went to the hostel where we stayed for three nights, and left again not long afterwards to spend the evening in some small seedy corner of the city whose name I have forgotten. Rest assured it was lovely. We had dinner there (plus escargots) and spent some time exploring the backstreets.

The second day we spent a pitifully short time at the Louvre, then took the metro to the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately we couldn’t climb it because of the ice and snow, but we were there all the same, proven by the Eiffel Tower-shaped pasta I bought. We had lunch near the Centre Pompidou, a modern art museum, and explored the streets a little. I also bought postcards, of course.
That night we had some free time at the Champs Élysées where I did some shopping and had dinner at a great Italian restaurant with some great people. Mmm, lasagna.

On the third morning we went to Montmartre where we visited the Sacre Cœur and bought lots of souvenirs. We had lunch near the Moulin Rouge, where I bought a beautiful pair of boots and an awesome T-shirt, then took the metro back to the Centre Pompidou and spent a couple of hours there. I couldn’t get into the gallery because I didn’t have ID on me, so I spent a while looking at their fantastic gallery shop (hello, French contemporary art home deco) then went up to the cafe and had coffee with a couple of frankly fantastic people I met there.
Afterwards we went to Saint Michel and saw Notre Dame (for ten minutes, and only the outside – who goes to Notre Dame and doesn’t go inside?!), then I spent the evening with those two fantastic people walking around the shopping district being crazy. We three had dinner at this amazing American 50’s diner we found (bagels, burgers and milkshakes) and I bought an ‘I heart Paris’ T-shirt (well, duh).
After helping get the many drunk exchange students back to the hostel (about 70% of them; another blog post to come) and getting patted down for alcohol we finally got some sleep.

Next morning we got up at six and took the bus to the airport. One of the fantastic people I met and I took trains back to our host families for the next five months, while the others got on the plane back to Australia.
I had lunch and wrapped all the presents I bought in Paris (attention, family!).

{Well, that’s about it. The reason I haven’t posted for a month is that I left my Australian adapter in the hostel room. So I’ve been without my computer at all for over four weeks – which has not been easy, I tell you. Anyway, I haven’t been able to transfer my photos from my *brand spankin’ new camera*, but they should be up in the next couple of days when my new adapter arrives.}

More to come,
elly xx.

first snow

Apologies for not writing more often – it’s been difficult to find motivation these past few weeks. Basically, these are the things that have happened in the past month:

  1. I changed host families. I won’t go into detail about that; suffice to say our personalities didn’t really match up in the end, which caused some pretty serious problems. I now live with a family who I think fit much better with me – a single unemployed mother with two children still living at home and three who live not far away.
  2. I moved to the other side of the country. Well, the middle to be exact. The family I am now living with live in Chalais, a lovely little village somewhere between Bordeaux and Angouleme. They own a house in the middle of town, five minutes’ walk from the supermarket and a couple more to the primary school which I now attend.
  3. Christmas. But you probably know that already. I spent it with the new host family, and it was pretty good. I got chocolate (thank you, Santa).
  4. The End of the World. Or lack of. Damn. Maybe I shouldn’t have sold the house to pay for that fancy bunker. I wonder how much tinned beans are worth on the open market these days?
  5. Snow. YES, snow. Hence the sudden blogging enthusiasm. I went to bed last night thinking how cool it would be if it snowed the next morning, and lo and behold, I awoke to that magical frosty loveliness that is snow. It fell overnight, and actually stuck around for most of the day, meaning that school was cancelled (yay!). Unfortunately we didn’t actually see it falling, but I have been assured there will be more to come in late January to February, and perhaps we’ll be lucky enough to get another few days off from school to enjoy winter’s kisses. I’m pretty stoked, as you may have guessed.

Well, that’s a basic overview of my current situation. The house here doesn’t have internet connection, but luckily there’s a delightful little English café just down the road with free wi-fi – they also happen to serve tea and homemade cake (or scones with jam and cream, if they take your fancy). I should also say something about their rooms full of handmade children’s clothing (dinosaur costumes, princess dresses, crusader outfits and flowery toddler aprons – oh my), handmade jewellery, second hand clothing, odd antiques and curios, a small library of English books and handmade English clotted cream fudge. They also have an assortment of other random bits and pieces, and all are lovely. The people who work there are all really kind and always up for a chat when I need some English. Basically, it’s a little island of (relative) normality in this sea of foreign language and culture.

Mentally I’m doing well. I was flagging a bit with the other family but moving has really turned things around. I’ve been enjoying the ability to understand the work we do at school (I’m a couple of years below my actual grade) and actually being talked to at home. I have long conversations with my host mother and sister, and we have a lot in common. I haven’t been missing Australia, despite weekly conversations with family members and friends; I’ll write more about that next week.
Physically it’s a little different. Yes, I have gained weight – which isn’t surprising seeing as I’m in France. Artisanal bakeries on every second corner and a country-wide horror of eating lightly, I would not advise a long stay in this country if you’re looking to lose weight. If not, prepare yourself. You’re gonna have a great time.

I’m looking forward to spending three days in Paris this weekend – which also means I have almost reached the halfway point of my stay here. Five months by February, and still going strong. I also bought a camera today so there should be many pictures next week. Brace yourselves.

I have to go finish packing my suitcase now. One of my new years’ resolutions was to write here more often, which I suppose I’ve almost failed at. I’ll do my best from now on.

bisous xx