Random pictures of small villages along the Ionian Sea in Greece… There are a few shots of Athens thrown in here along with the ancient ruins of Delphi. This post is unorganized and random, but I am short on time and I am currently in Israel with bad internet connection. Stay tuned for an upcoming post detailing my time spent in Greece 🙂
In-between planning overnight trips for au pairs in the Paris area, I decided to plan simple day trips to surrounding cities and attractions. Since I live in Rouen, I thought it would be a great idea to show the girls where I spend most of my time in France!
Rouen is the historic capital of Upper Normandy France and is about an hour and a half away from Paris by train. It is a beautiful medieval city with classic old timber buildings, and also the sight of where Saint Joan of Arc (Jeanne D’Arc) was infamously burned at the stake in 1431. Taking a walk down one of the many cobblestone streets in Rouen will easily make you feel as if you are living in the past. It reminds me of the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast! There are many attractions to see here. Museums, churches, great shopping, and markets can be found around every corner!
I made an event page on Facebook and sixteen au pairs came to Rouen this past Saturday. I was excited and relieved that there was such a great turn out because it had been snowing the day before and it was FREEZING! It was a great group of girls from all different nationalities. American, Canadian, British, Chinese, Spanish, Norwegian, Austrian, German, Brazilian, and Estonian are the ones that I can remember. I know I am forgetting one or two.
We met at the train station in Rouen at noon, and then ventured off into the cold to begin our tour.
Outside the Joan of Arc Tower
The picture above is the exact location where Joan of arc was burned to death in 1431 because she refused to say her visions from god were a lie. She is considered a true heroin in France for her devotion to the fight against the English who were trying to maintain control of Rouen and the rest of Normandy. She died at only 19 years old. Years later she was canonized as a Saint.
We found a church that was converted into an iron museum! It was very cool inside!
Felt like a queen sitting on this medieval chair haha 🙂
Jewelry and hairpieces dating back hundreds of years! I wish I could have tried them on!
These METAL corsets were so tiny, they looked like it would fit a five year old, but it was meant for grown adults. Doesn’t look very comfortable now does it…
Our final stop was at an art museum in Rouen
All in all, it was a great day! I hope the au pairs enjoyed themselves as much as I did showing them around 🙂
After spending Christmas in Paris, I went back to London with my best friend to celebrate New Years! I was so excited to finally be there. Out of all the places in the world, London was the one place I have always wanted to visit, even more so than Paris! I remember being eight years old and watching The Parent Trap (the one with Lindsay Lohan) for the first time. The movie is about twin girls who never met because their parents’ divorced and the father took Hallie to live with him in California, and the mother took Annie to live with her in London. Then the twins meet by chance at the same summer camp years later, and then switch places. After watching this, I just knew instantly that I belonged in London. I loved everything about it in that movie. Since I am a twin, I would joke with my sister Rachel saying that she is the California twin, and I am the London twin because Rachel has always longed to live in sunny California, while I on the other hand prefer to live a life of luxury in a big exciting European city! Like in the movie, Rachel and I went to summer camp when we were eleven and attempted to pretend that we did not know each other. I of course tried to pull off a horrible British accent that I had been practicing for years. Let’s just say we were not that convincing, and the truth soon emerged.
Jess and I took the bus from Paris to London, the Friday after Christmas. We were hungover and sleep deprived from the night before, and to make matters worse, it was a nine hour bus ride. The bus had assigned seating, and Jess had the window seat, and I was seated in-between her and the isle. On the left side of the isle, there were two more seats. A young guy was sitting across from me, and the seat next to him had yet to be occupied. The bus was starting to fill up, and this girl made an extravagant entrance onto the bus. Dressed in a fur coat, oversized sunglasses, jewelry, and huge bag, she was definitely a distraction. Ironically, her seat was in our row, and she quickly struck up a conversation with the young guy sitting next to her. She was very loud, overbearing, and pretty obnoxious. Me and Jess gave each other “the look”. (you know that look that good friends give each other, that needs no words or explaining, because we already know what we are thinking?). We pretty much hated her instantly. I could tell by her accent that she was American, so I asked her. She said “yea well kind of. I mean I live in Paris, but I am moving to London. I am from Los Angeles, but I was in Philly for a while… blah blah blah blah blah”. The young guy then said he was from Italy. Jessa (her name) then shouted “OH MY GOD I AM ITALIAN”. She goes on and on about her italian heritage. Literally no one else on the bus is talking, and all you hear is Jessa talk about her outlandish stories. The Italian guy “Andrea” (on-drey-uh) was forced to endure this for the remainder of the bus ride. This girl was telling stories of how she is a free lance tattoo artist and almost tattooed Kate Moss. Then she goes on to say how she moved to Paris for her ex-boyfriend, and has been unemployed since February. We find out that her father is Irish and she has Irish citizenship and an Irish passport (…but I thought she was Italian right?) She talked about her days as a drug addict. And do not even get me started on how she mentioned she got so drunk on a plane once that she started making out with the stranger next to her. Jess and I couldn’t help but overhear. It was actually starting to get really entertaining. I wasn’t sure if I loved her or hated her at this point. Jessa talked to Jess and I on occasion, but her full attention was on Andrea, who mentioned more than once, that he did in fact have a girlfriend. This did not stop Jessa in the slightest from turning him into her next victim. As hours passed by, she started to get cozier with Andrea. He brought his laptop with him, and was watching movies. Since she was sitting right next to him, she watched as well. Jess suddenly nudges me and tells me to look at them. Jessa has her legs literally on his lap. Then she tells Andrea that she is tired, and asks if its ok for her to lean her head on his shoulders so she can sleep. I found this really odd, considering the fact that first of all, she just met him, secondly he is not single, and above all she had a window seat! So it didn’t even make sense because she could have simply rested on the window. Andrea obliged to her request, and Jessa soon fell asleep, but not for long. At this point we are almost in London. Jess and I never slept because how could we, when we appeared to be right in the middle of some bad soap opera. Right before we get off the bus, we look over at Jessa and Andrea, and they are full on making out! We could not believe it! Jessa and Andrea then exchanged numbers and added each other on facebook. I am sure Andrea’s girlfriend will be so pleased with this. We arrived at Victoria Coach Station, hopped off the bus, and I tried to say goodbye to these two “love birds”, but they were so into each other, they did not even notice me or Jess. We could have cared less at that point. We were just trying to be polite. That whole ordeal was definitely an interesting start to my week in London!
We got back to Jess’s host family’s house late, and fell asleep. After the week we had in France, rest was the only thing on our minds. We decided to take it easy till New Years Eve. We went to house parties in London, and of course got pretty drunk. However, Jess took it to a whole new level. I warned her, and told her not to buy that apple vodka, but she insisted! Jess pretty much doesn’t remember anything from that night, and I think she is better off not knowing! Looking back, it was hilarious. At the time, not so much. But I won’t go into detail, so I can save her the embarressment 🙂
New Years Photos
I always save the best for last! Here is Jess with face paint all over her. She woke up the next morning, and did not even know she had it on her face until she looked in the mirror!
The most cliche London picture you can take!
I was attempting to take a picture of Jess, and this kid jumps into the photo, overhears us talking, and then screams “YOU’RE AMERICAN?! I FUCKING LOVE YOU!”. And then he ran off with his friends. It was so funny!
A horrid photo of me standing in front of my future residence
St. James Park with the London Eye in the background
Tower of London
I love London. Paris may be more beautiful, but I love the British people. They are so kind, and fun. Their posh British accents are definitely a major plus ;). I absolutely plan on coming back one day soon, because there is so much to see and do there, and one week is just way too short! I would really love to live in London permanently. Maybe years from now that will become a reality 🙂
Less than two months ago I decided it would be a great idea to plan a weekend trip somewhere for the au pairs in the Paris area. My friends and I chose Brussels because of its location and affordable bus transportation. I soon made a Facebook event and any au pair interested in going could join. I assumed only a few girls would end up coming, but I was so surprised that 17 au pairs booked the trip! I was nervous at first because I was responsible for this trip, and if it went wrong then it would be all my fault!
I am SO BEYOND relieved that the trip turned out to be a success and was one of the most fun weekends I have ever had! The fact that it was my birthday this past Saturday, made it even better! It was by far the best birthday ever 🙂
^ All the au pairs and some friends before going out in Brussels for my birthday
The mega bus had two possible times to arrive in Brussels from Paris. The first bus was scheduled to arrive at 4:30 am on Saturday. The second bus was scheduled to arrive at 3 pm (15 h) Saturday afternoon. We all had hoped to take the first bus so we would have more time to spend in Brussels, but it quickly sold out so half the girls were booked on the first bus, and the other half on the second.
^ The first group of au pairs in the historic Grand Place in Brussels
I was on the first bus with seven other au pairs. We left Paris Friday night at 11:30 pm (23:30 h). We all attempted to sleep on the bus. Some of us managed to fall asleep, however I can never seem to fall asleep when traveling anywhere, whether its in a plane, car, or bus. So I ended up not sleeping at all! We arrived in Brussels at 3:30 in the morning (an hour earlier than planned). The hostel we booked did not open till 7:30 am, so we ended up doing some early sightseeing and wondering around the streets. Surprisingly a lot of people were still out and about enjoying the nightlife. We joked that we should just go into a bar and join them! Realistically we knew that would be a bad idea so we went to a Mcdonalds instead and stayed there till 5 am. Since it was impossible to fall asleep at that rate me and most of the girls decided to get coffees there. It was also good because Mcdonalds had free wifi and everyone who knows me, knows I am addicted to the internet and social media 🙂
The hostel we stayed at was Auberge de Jeunesse “Jacques Brel”. I chose this hostel for everyone to stay at because of its great reviews, good prices, and good location (having a bar was a major plus!). It was also one of the few hostels in Belgium that accepted groups and did not require a minimum stay of two nights!
^ This hostel was very nice. I would recommend it to anyone, and if I ever go to Brussels again I would definitely stay here!
^ In front of the Atonium. It is a famous monument in Brussels that was built for the World Fair in 1958. It is not really my cup of tea, but many people think it is one of the top sights worth visiting in this city!
Brussels is known for chocolate, waffles, fries, and beer. This was obviously at the top of our to do list! Once it was time for lunch, we unanimously decided on finding some waffles! We found a restaurant that served them and they were definitely the best waffles I have ever had!
^ Valerie (an au pair from Mexico) is posing for the camera with her Belgium waffle and hot chocolate.
At this point, the second group of au pairs were about to arrive and meet us back at the hostel. Before we headed back, the first group and I stopped at a bar to try some authentic Belgium Beer!
Apple, raspberry, and peach Belgium beer! We are such typical girls and got the fruit flavors 🙂
I actually hate beer with a passion, but these were so delicious! I could definitely have another one right now 🙂
I headed back to the hostel with the first group of au pairs so we could meet up with the second group. We were so tired! the fact that we didn’t sleep, made it really difficult for us to stay awake. Once the second group arrived, I helped them check in and I assigned them to their rooms. I gathered everyone together and we decided that the first group was going to go back to our rooms to rest for a few hours while the second group explored Brussels. Then we would all meet up at 9 pm to go out at night for my birthday!
I shared a room with my good friends from Rouen, Anita and Viki. They were so sweet and gave me presents! It was so thoughtful of them!
^ Opening presents… so exciting 🙂
After everyone settled in and the second group went off to go sightseeing, I was finally able to catch a few hours of MUCH NEEDED sleep!
^ Some of the girls from the second group exploring Brussels in the early evening
Before I knew it, it was time to get ready and go out on the town! We decided to go to one area near the Grand Place in Brussels where there is a series of bars all within walking distance. We met up in the hostel lobby and then headed out!
^ Some of the au pairs and I in the hostel before leaving for the bars
We started out at this one bar that was not that crowded. It was really cool because the bar was downstairs, and then there was an upstairs with some seating and a small dance area. There were only a few people upstairs at the time, so when our group of over 20 friends walked in, we quickly filled up the room and it was like our very own private party! Everyone ordered drinks and it was ridiculously fun!
After a couple hours there we decided to go to a club nearby. It was packed with such a good crowd! We met so many nice and interesting people!
^ We had a lot of tequila shots… lol
We were out all night. It was insane! Once again most of us had very little sleep. The next day we woke up, got free breakfast at the hostel, packed our things, and then explored Brussels for the last few hours we had left there. We were all EXTREMELY hungover, and were on a mission to find chocolate, and french fries!
^ some of us in the morning before we left
^ This isn’t the best picture of us, but we found a “friterie” (a place that specializes in making fries). They were hands down the best french fries I have ever had! It was also exactly what we needed for our hangovers!
^ Just me in front of a pretty cobblestone street in Brussels
Everyone had such an amazing time! I wish we could have stayed longer. I love Brussels and would love to go back again. Because this trip was so successful, I definitely am going to plan many more in the future 🙂