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 🙂
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 🙂
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)!
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…
^ 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!
^ 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.
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!
^ 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!
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!
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 🙂
I am officially going to France for eleven months to be an au pair! With this amazing opportunity I thought, why not document it all by making a blog? This way I can update my friends and family on my adventures and also keep a journal of my experiences for myself to look back on!
Okay so here is a little bit about the host family. After months of searching I finally found the perfect family. I am so happy they chose me because they were by far my favorite! The family consists of the mom, dad, and three little girls ages seven, five, and two. They are so adorable and i cannot wait to meet all of them! I would go into more detail about their names and occupations and so on but I want to respect their privacy.
I will be living in a city called Rouen in the Upper Normandy region of France. It is about a little over an hour away from Paris. It is a beautiful historic city dating back to medieval times. It is where Joan of Arc was infamously burned at the stake in the 15th century. There are so many things to see and do there from museums and galleries to shopping and sightseeing! I doubt I will ever be bored! I will also be taking french classes at the University of Rouen so I am bound to make friends fast.
My schedule is great because I get to spend quality time with the children and help the family with their daily routines, but I still have time for myself to pursue my dreams on the side. The girls go to school from September to June just like they do here in the United States. Classes are held Monday through Friday except for Wednesdays they have off. How cool is that? I would have loved to only have to go to school four days a week instead of five. So every morning during the week (except Wednesdays) I wake up at 7 am and help the girls get ready for school and have breakfast. The mom then takes them to school and the parents go to work. I am free till 4:15 when I have to pick the girls up besides on Wednesdays when I have the girls all day. I am taking french classes a couple times a week when the girls are at school. Besides that I can adventure around town. When I pick the girls up from school I help them with their homework, give them a snack, and play with them. Later in the evening before dinner, I make sure they are bathed and ready for bed. The parents come home around 8 pm and I help with dinner and then the girls go to bed. I have off on weekends which is really nice because I can spend my days off traveling! The family has an apartment in Paris I can stay in on weekends. I see myself spending almost all my weekends there exploring the wonders of this beautiful city!
Its crazy to think that this time next year I will be in France. I am leaving the last week of August so I have a lot of planning to do before then! I am so excited to learn about the French culture. It is going to be such an eye-opening experience. Not only will I vastly improve my french skills, but I will be learning new things every day! I am a current college student and a full time waitress. Every penny I earn will be saved for my year in France! I am a very ambitious person and I have so many ideas and goals I want to pursue while in Europe. By working hard now I will only get closer to accomplishing all of my dreams!