Au Pair Day Trip: Rouen

Tags

, , , , ,

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.

72571_10151354540246077_1723636974_n

Outside the Joan of Arc Tower

549964_10151354539916077_402074469_n

423975_10151354577481077_188651466_n

304118_10151354572976077_1594708449_n537410_10151354575346077_414572177_n

270799_10151354574341077_1846682343_n

296890_10151354554021077_2132724332_n

 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.

24442_10151354553481077_1367056333_nThe famous Rue du Gros Horloge

156330_10151354549171077_269502338_nIn front of Rouen Cathedral

553509_10151354548161077_1205038788_n

553045_10151354549996077_2031183263_n397563_10151354552691077_714545354_n385302_10151354552461077_924443311_n

543942_10151354542631077_953249214_n

We found a church that was converted into an iron museum! It was very cool inside!

582734_10151354567206077_1935125779_n

265037_10151354565906077_432650751_n

Felt like a queen sitting on this medieval chair haha 🙂

487162_10151354570546077_34513938_n

64631_10151354568736077_792278819_n

Jewelry and hairpieces dating back hundreds of years! I wish I could have tried them on!

74329_10151354567631077_1381627221_n

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…

22112_10151354563271077_1955550409_nEverything is Iron!

376406_10151354571481077_1353197116_nAu Pairs learning about the museum 🙂

553660_10151354545466077_545732178_nMore sightseeing in the snow 🙂

156308_10151354547571077_1787154213_n

550396_10151354546296077_1202384379_nTook a picture in front of a cafe, and a man behind us is waving to the camera haha!

230772_10151354557301077_68138924_nStopped at a cafe for lunch 🙂

75017_10151354555786077_1462848382_nThis au pair is hesitant to try escargot (snails) for the first time

734099_10151354555281077_190204527_nUnlike everyone that ordered normal meals, I had ice cream for lunch like always 🙂

553413_10151354557136077_1111155150_n

427985_10151354541151077_1503581334_n

Our final stop was at an art museum in Rouen

32156_10151354542351077_648945103_n

263997_10151354581711077_17724469_nImpressionist paintings of Rouen

550008_10151354579781077_108633522_n

578436_10151354583386077_1562612372_n^ Claude Monet paintings. Claude Monet frequented Rouen and painted many of its famous landmarks including Rouen Cathedral, which he painted five or six times!

554268_10151354579261077_751532760_nI was tempted to play the piano lol

397494_10151354579571077_979389702_n… and the harp 🙂

230643_10151354539686077_1786020674_n

All in all, it was a great day! I hope the au pairs enjoyed themselves as much as I did showing them around 🙂

Une histoire d’une fille

Tags

, , , , ,

“This is a story about a girl who escaped her past to start her future. She had longed for adventure, love, and happiness. A constant day dreamer, her thoughts were always in the clouds; a visionary by day, and star-gazer by night. For if it wasn’t for her dreams, then she would have no hope. Without hope, there would be no chance at life. So this unhappy and unloved girl worked hard and saved every penny to escape her miserable home. Where will she go? What will she do? She will go to Paris of course, the city of love! So full of excitement and beauty. There she will finally live a life worth living. She dared to take a chance. She dared to be independent. She dared to take what the world had to offer her. She arrived in Paris alone, but did not feel alone. This girl had accomplished the impossible. She escaped the torment she had endured for so long. She was finally free. A new start. No more judgement. No more sadness. Or so she wished to believe. She soon fell in love, and the girl thought to herself, so this is what true happiness feels like? But it was not to last long. The girl then became ill. Realizing she was incurable, her memories from long ago began to resurface. As she lay dying with tears streaming down her face, she could not help but smile. She had discovered true adventure, love, and happiness, even if only for a brief moment in her young life.”

Image

New Years in London

Tags

, , , ,

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

Image

Image

Our coats were stolen that night 😦 second coat i lost in less than 6 weeks. First in Brussels, and now in London! ImageImageImageImageImage

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 rest of the week, we just did typical touristy sightseeing. I pretty much just have pictures of myself in front of landmarks. yawn. boring. sorry 🙂  

Image

The most cliche London picture you can take!

Image

Image

3818_10151332587046077_1787567035_n

Me: Do you like your job? Guard: No… not really… no.  Image

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!

ImageImage

A horrid photo of me standing in front of my future residence

Image

Annoying the guardsImage

St. James Park with the London Eye in the background

Image

Tower of London

ImageImage

Tower Bridge!

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 🙂

Christmas in Paris

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Looking back, I would have never guessed that I would have spent the holidays in two amazing cities! What a difference this year was from last year! Last Christmas was utter chaos that I will not even begin to talk about, and instead of celebrating 2012 in typical American fashion, last year my best friend Jess and I closed the restaurant we worked at.

Since we are both in Europe this year, our initial plan was to head to Italy for our vacation, but of course a series of unfortunate events prohibited us financially from making this a reality. So we decided that on our meager au pair budget, Jess would first visit me in Paris during Christmas, and then I would go back with her to London the following week for New Years.

Image

Another Eiffel Tower picture, but this one is at night! In the evening at every hour the Eiffel Tower sparkles for five minutes. It was very beautiful to see in life.

Jess arrived in Paris late Sunday night before Christmas. We spent three nights in Paris and two nights in Rouen. The first night she arrived, we were both exhausted so we went to a really good Japanese restaurant on my street for sushi. As tempting as it seemed at the time, we resisted the urge to drink so we could wake up early the following day and have the energy to do some sightseeing!

Image

First stop Monday morning was the Christmas Markets on the Champs-Elysees! Feeling a little tired on the metro, we grabbed some coffee, but soon afterward we came across a vendor selling hot wine. Obviously we had to get it! It is such a festive drink and perfect for a cold winter day in Europe. It is seriously delicious and cheap! Which makes it even better. I wish it was sold year round.

Monday was our shopping day. I took Jess to the stores on the Champs-Elysees first. I really am not that fond of this street. Actually I kind of despise it. It is like Times Square in New York. Crowded, Overrated, and full of obnoxious tourists. I prefer shopping on Rue Rivoli. We went there next because Jess was in search of a New Years dress. Afterwards we went to the famous department stores, Printemps and Galleries Lafayette. Jess was totally tempted to buy this pair of really cute cat eye Chloe sunglasses at Printemps. She almost did, but at almost 300 euros she realized that it was probably a bad investment for some plastic!

Image

Tree at one of the entrances to Printemps

Image

View from the top of the roof at Printemps! Amazing right?

Image

Jesca on the Printemps roof. Galleries Lafayette allows you on the roof as well I believe.

Image

Huge Christmas Tree inside Galleries Lafayette 🙂

After a day of stressful shopping, we went back to the flat and rested for a bit before getting ready to go out for Christmas Eve. Our plan was to meet up with two of our au pair friends and find any bar that was open. Not that difficult right? WRONG! Seriously more places are closed on Christmas Eve than Christmas day in Paris, which I found rather strange.

Image

Jesca and moi in the metro on Christmas Eve

So my friend Val finds a bar on the internet that is allegedly open. Jess and I decided to venture out on our own to find this Irish pub, but for some reason could not find it even though we had pretty good directions. Almost everything was closed apart from some restaurants serving dinner (The French eat dinner after 8 pm and anyone who has been to a classic French dinner knows that it is at least a 2 hour ordeal). We asked some Parisians where this bar was, and they all kept saying it was nearby. We looked like two dumb American girls walking around in circles!

Image

While lost, we ended up on Rue Princesse. Obviously I had to take a photo with the street sign since im a princess 🙂

After this photo was taken, these guys approached us and just started a conversation. They couldn’t speak any English, and I speak very bad French. What they were saying was surprisingly basic enough for me to understand. They were also in search of a bar that was open and said they are sure they can find one. So Jess and I followed them because we just love setting ourselves up to get TAKEN (ever see that movie with Liam Neeson?… ha). The guys kept telling us that the bar was straight ahead and we would be there soon. Meanwhile they kept trying to talk to Jess in French who only knows about two words (bonjour and merci). We were walking for about a good 15-20 minutes and there was still no open bar in sight. I saw the metro in the distance, and as we approached it I told the guys that we were leaving. Typical of the male species, they tried to convince us not to go, and told us they would buy bottles of wine and that Jess and I could drink back at their place. I was like uhm no? And then we ran down the metro stairs and shouted Au Revoir!

Once in the metro station, I started to get hungry. I needed chocolate! So I went to get a snickers bar out of the vending machine, and when I reached in to grab it, I pretty much decapitated my finger somehow! My middle finger was gushing blood. I thought I was going to die from blood loss. It was serious. Well not really. I was fine, but it was just rather unattractive and inconvenient. Neither Jess nor I had any type of band aid or tissue so I had to resort to wrapping the snickers wrapper around my finger! Talk about embarrassing!

Image

Jesca looking beautious on the metro!

So we get on the metro finally and it is pretty empty. The few people there were dressed up really nice. I noticed a friendly looking family sitting near us and I thought I would ask if they knew any bars that were open tonight. I politely said something along the lines of “excusez-moi, savez-vous si les bars sont ouverts maintenant?” I am not sure how accurate this is but I am pretty positive I wasn’t far off from asking the right thing. The family burst out in laughter and said no! I wasn’t sure if they were laughing at my horrible American accent or if they were laughing because they were on their way to Midnight mass like good christians, and here we were in search of getting drunk. I guess I will never know.

Anyways, our stop came up, and Jess and I hopped off the metro, followed by three French guys. They overheard my horrible French on the metro, and told us they were also looking for a bar to go to. One of them saw my finger still wrapped in the snickers wrapper and kindly offered me a tissue. We agreed to search together for any bars.

Our options were limited, but we did find places that were actually open in this section of Paris! We settled for a casual bar. I am not a club person and I do prefer bars, but this bar was too casual. Not many people were there, and it was more of a sit-down-type of bar than a be-social-and-meet-new-people kind of place. I get bored quite easily in these type of settings but the guys we met were pretty funny and entertaining so it wasn’t bad at all.

Image

My au pair friend Val from Mexico arrived shortly after with another Mexican au pair named Karime. I had a couple glasses of wine, and then the French guys as well as us, unanimously agreed to find a better place!

Image

Au Pairs in front of the Arc De Triomphe

The guys recommended we find a club on the Champs-Elysees. This is so not my scene but desperate times call for desperate measures. We finally found a club that unfortunately had a 20 euro entrance fee. At this rate, I didn’t even care because I just wanted to seek shelter. It was cold and at least 1 am at this point. We walked in, and hip hop and r&b from the early 2000s was playing. It was dark with red furniture, and extremely crowded with mutants. It was like a freak show. It didn’t help that the floor was sticky from spilled drinks, and for some odd reason jolly ranchers were on the floor and kept getting stuck to my shoes. We all just thought to ourselves, it is Christmas in Paris… might as well drink!

Image

Me and Val at the club… pretty self explanatory.

All seven of us partied till the club closed at a little past 5 am. We said goodbye to the French guys and us girls waited for the metro to reopen. Jess and I passed out as soon as we got back to the flat.

It was early afternoon of Christmas Day. Our hangovers were so horrific that Jess and I felt like we got hit by a bus. It was already getting late and we didn’t want to waste our day away hugging a toilet bowl. So we showered, put on our Christmas dresses and headed to Montmarte! It is the 18th arrondissement in Paris and one of my favorite areas.

ImageImage

We made it to Montmartre a little past 4 pm as the sun was setting. It is very hilly, and full of cobblestone streets lined with cafes and cute shops.

Image

Sacre Coeur Eglise! This church has been in a number of films including the French film “Amelie”. We went inside, but we were not allowed to take photos. Such a pity because it was absolutely beautiful!

Image

Jess managed to sneak one photo of the inside of the church. She’s such a rebel.

Image

Image

The church was surrounded by another Christmas market. Vendors were lined up one after the other selling food, sweets, jewelry, clothes, and of course hot wine! Round two? Yes please!

It was now getting late so Jess and I went to a nearby restaurant. I decided to be a little brave and order a “traditional” french meal. Along with the coq au vin I ordered ESCARGOT as an appetizer.

Image

Snails do not look too appetizing do they? To be honest, they were so drenched in butter and garlic, that’s all I could taste. Jess was too afraid to even attempt to eat one!

After dinner, Jess really wanted to see the Moulin Rouge. It was walking distance so I was like sure, why not. We have to get a picture in front of the windmill! So we are walking, and like usual I am being a speed walker, and am way in front of Jess leaving her to fend for herself in a foreign country that doesn’t speak English. I am just such a bad friend sometimes… oops. It was only around 9 pm, but I guess that wasn’t too early for the creeps to start lurking around the sex district. So this sketch car pulled up to Jess and started saying things to her in French. She yelled for me, I told the guys to leave us alone, and then we decided to cut our trip short and just hop on the metro back to the flat. So we never got to see the Moulin Rouge, but I think we are better off going during the day.

Image

Last day in Paris at the Notre Dame!

The day after Christmas we did some more sightseeing and the both of us stupidly forgot to charge our cameras so we took barely any photos. We took the train back to Rouen that afternoon.

Image

Jesca in front of Le Gros Horloge in Rouen

I was so glad Jess was able to spend a couple days in Rouen to see where I live most of the time in France. It is a really fun city! We went out Thursday night and had a blast! I always end up having more fun in Rouen than Paris. The people here are really friendly. We woke up extremely early that Friday, packed our things, and dashed off to London! I will make a separate post about London because I am out of time, and am speed writing to the point where I am no longer making sense. So expect an update soon! To be continued…

My best friend visited me in Paris!

Tags

, , , , ,

 

My best friend Jess finally visited me this weekend! She has been an au pair in London since early September and this is definitely the longest I have gone without seeing her! We have been best friends for over ten years and are inseparable! We are practically sisters! I am so glad she could escape to Paris for a quick weekend trip 🙂

Image^ Me and Jess in front of the Eiffel Tower

Jess arrived late Friday night and had to leave early Sunday morning, so we only had a short amount of time to explore Paris. The first night my friends Anita and Viki joined us and we just went to a casual bar to grab a drink. Jess was exhausted from the nine hour bus ride (the mega bus takes forever but it is cheap)!

480964_10151276750276077_876759805_n^ Jess, Me, Anita, and Viki… We are all doing the classic “Chinese” pose with the peace sign. It is one of many of Viki’s signature poses hahaha 🙂

252337_10151276752771077_496870001_n^ Jess caught me on camera yelling because the bartender mimicked my American accent. I cancelled my drink order and we left. So rude! I was mad at the time, but looking back I can’t help but laugh!

67764_10151276753971077_1329304918_nAfter the bar we grabbed a late night snack at a Kebab place nearby. It wasn’t the best but it was one of the few places still open!

486310_10151276754256077_2139852778_nSince i was still starving to death, I decided to get some chocolate from the vending machine, and BOTH of my chocolate bars got stuck. What are the odds!

248254_10152346168890294_1437565238_nThe next day involved sightseeing of course! I love this photo we took of the Eiffel Tower!

I tried to show Jess as much as I could, but there is just so much to see in Paris and we only had a day. Our first stop was obviously the Eiffel Tower. We also went to the Arc De Triomphe, and Champs-Elysées 🙂

Along the way we of course were hounded by vendors trying to sell tourist items and also draw character pictures of us. Jess and I have passed these type of artists thousands of times, and we have always wanted to get it done but never have. This time we randomly decided to when one guy asked. We wish we had looked more closely at his previous work before obliging…

320630_10152341150065294_1314524650_n

^ The picture looks nothing like either of us!!! Waste of money. At least we didn’t pay full price, but still! We were so mad!

After that catastrophe we conveniently stumbled upon a vendor that sold hot wine. That was just what we needed!

380958_10152346169530294_1631207818_n^ Jess is clearly extremely excited for her wine. It was perfect for such a cold day. I swear we got drunk after one drink. Probably because we only had fruit for breakfast and it was well into the afternoon by then.

67891_10152346169935294_845272512_n^ I am just obsessed with flowers and these were so pretty i had to post 🙂

73837_10152346171240294_776142320_n^ Jess in front of the Arc de Triomphe

By this time we were really hungry so we grabbed a bite to eat at a sushi restaurant. After that we randomly found a store that sold American food products! Saying we were happy was an understatement. Jess and I have been deprived of basic American treats for far too long!

154627_10152346173400294_1407449648_n

^ We found a bag of mini Reeses! It cost 10 euros for a bag that would cost about 2 euros in the States but it was so worth it. Reeses are more valuable than diamonds over here!

Of course we binged and ate the entire bag of Reeses in one sitting. We have just been deprived for way too long. We rested for a bit and then went out to some bars/clubs. We met up with a couple other au pairs for a bit and then ventured off on our own. We met some really fun and cool people! I unfortunately do not have any good photos to post from the second night. Everywhere was just too crowded!

61952_10152346168485294_839947746_n

I wish the trip could have been longer because there is so much more I want Jess to see. I cannot wait for her to visit again over Christmas break so she can really enjoy Paris!

Take a Chance

Tags

, , ,

 

Over three months ago, I boarded a plane to Paris. I cannot believe how much my life has changed, and also how much I have changed. My whole perspective on how I see the world is different. There are so many opportunities out there, and I must take every chance I can to pursue the life I have always wanted. I still have many struggles to overcome, but for once the positives are starting to outweigh the negatives in my life. Everyone take a chance to see the world. Be independent, explore, and go on adventures! Who cares how outrageous it might sound. It is possible! Without ambition you have nothing in life. I took a risk and it changed my life. So what are you waiting for?

ImageI thought I should add a picture to this boring post. So here is a picture taken this past weekend in Paris 🙂

Au Pair Weekend Trip: Brussels (and my birthday)

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

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 🙂

Image

^ 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.

Image

^ 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!

Image

^ This hostel was very nice. I would recommend it to anyone, and if I ever go to Brussels again I would definitely stay here!

Image

^ 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!

Image

^ 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!

Image

Belgium Beer!

Image

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!

Image

^ 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!

Image

^ 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!

Image

^ 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!

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

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!

Image

Image

Image

^ 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!

Image

^ some of us in the morning before we left

Image

^ 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!

 ^ Friterie ❤

Image

^ Just me in front of a pretty cobblestone street in Brussels

Image

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 🙂

Friends and Social Life in France

Tags

, , , ,

I arrived in France exactly two months from today. I cannot believe I have already been here this long! I have been VERY busy between work and school. I am so happy to have made many friends already 🙂 In Rouen I met two girls from the university. One is a Chinese student named Viki, and the other is an au pair and student like me. Her name is Anita and she is from Austria. We already share a close bond because we are all each other has in France! We have so much in common, and love to socialize and go out on the town on weekends. It is SO much fun. Everyone in Rouen is very welcoming. Even with the language barrier, it is easy to make friends here.

Image

Viki, me, and Anita in Paris

Besides my friends in Rouen, I also have connected with many au pairs in the Paris area. I love meeting other au pairs because like myself, we are all so excited to meet new people and explore new places! We even have a trip to Brussels Belgium planned for my birthday weekend. It is already booked, and as of right now there are at least 14 of us going! We are staying in a really fun hostel in a great location. We are going to see all the main tourist attractions, eat Belgium waffles and chocolate of course, and then check out the night life 🙂

Image

 International au pairs! Nationalities: Mexican, Chinese, American, Austrian, British, Mexican

This photo was taken of about half of the girls that went to the meet up I scheduled in Paris. I arranged the meet up to give everyone information on the trip to Brussels, and to plan and book it. We met at a Starbucks. Once the meeting was over we decided to walk around Paris. It was a beautiful day and actually very warm!

Image

 We saw a fashion shoot taking place! The models and outfits were beautiful. It was so cool to see!

Image

 I would love to work on these type of fashion shoots!

Image

Le Pont (bridge) de l’Archevêché

Image

This bridge is typically referred to as “The Love Bridge” because of the tradition for couples in love to take a lock, write their names on it, attach it to the chain links, and then throw the key into the seine. This is supposed to symbolize their everlasting love. This is just another reason why Paris is known as the city of love! The au pairs and I all laughed about how we are going to come back here before the end of the year with our future French boyfriends 😉

Image

You can never have too many pictures of the Eiffel Tower!

Image

Me and Anita taking another cliche picture. We are such tourists 🙂

Image

In front of the Arc De Triomphe

Image

^ Café Gourmand… it is a very popular item served at most cafes. it includes a coffee and three mini desserts. It is just the right amount to satisfy your sweet tooth 🙂

It was Viki’s birthday this past week and we celebrated back in Rouen

Image

Anita and I bought her the most delicious chocolate mouse cake from one of the best chocolate shops 🙂

Image

It looked so beautiful, we did not even want to cut it because it was like ruining art… but OH MY GOD it was heaven ❤

Image

The birthday girl cutting her cake 🙂

Image

Au pairs Irene (Italian) and Anita (Austrian) enjoying the party food!

Image

Viki and I on the beautiful Rue de Gros Horloge. We are walking to a local pub. we had an awesome time once again!

Well this is all I have time to write for now. It is kind of an unorganized post, but it is a much requested update! I plan on posting about Rouen and its culture and history soon 🙂