Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Oh how the days fly by..

Salut tout le monde!

So wow, already a week has gone by like that since I've got back from my Bus Trip.
This pass week I mostly spent it on my final presentation to my Rotary club for well, it was tonight. I didn't think it would take so long but when you have to look at.. oh I believe I have close to 2000 photos, figure out which ones to pick, fit it onto a page and make sure it's not too long so that they don't get bored during my presentation.. well it takes a while. I also had a Rotary weekend this pass week; we had a conference the Saturday at a sweet little town called Pont-Audemer because they were changing district gouvernors, then we slept over at another town called Vernon because the Sunday we were treated to a day trip to Paris! We left quite early in the morning, we took the metro to another train station to drop off our luggage, then we went to this famous cemetary, (it has like Chopin's grave in it for example.. I don't like cemetaries so I went in for about 10 minutes and then sat outside with some other people who felt the same as I did until the rest were done looking), toured around Paris by foot, then we went to Montemarte to have lunch at a cool restaurant called the Indiana and then we had some free time to tour around Montemarte.
For everyone who doesn't know Montemarte, it is a sector in Paris of beauty. First off there is also the Sacre-Coeur; a giant cathedral that I have seen before at night (when it was all light up) and during the day is is just as breathtaking. Then when you walk up farther (oh yeah, Montemarte is way on top of a hill, so you have to walk hundreds of steps to get up there) there is a square of painters who display there work (and will do portraits) and lots of little boutiques and restaurants. I have already been there twice so with some friends we went to the Moulin-Rouge area and looked around there.
After, we returned to the train station and said our final goodbyes; it was the last time we would see each other because everyone will be slowly leaving after that weekend, but I ended up staying another four hours with one of my best friends in my district. We had free metro passes for the day so we just went all over Paris and looked around. Then we went back to the train station so I could head back to my town.
Tonight I had my Rotary presentation; Geez I was so nervous! Everyone said I did alright though. I got a Normandy card and a cookbook full of Normandy recipes as a gift, it was very sweet. On the 1st of July there will be another meeting (it'll be the day my club changes presidents) and they said they'd do a lil' something for me which is nice.

Well, I'm off to bed.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

My Bus Trip

Salut tout le monde!

Last night I got back after spending 12 days in Europe. I'll give you a brief description on how amazing it is, but I don't think I will be able to tell you all in words of how incredible this trip actually was.

Day 1: I woke up like a normal day of school, packed my lunch and got ready, and then took the school bus with my suitcase. When I arrived in Bernay, instead of walking the rest of the way to my school, I went to the train station instead. I then met up with another exchange student who arrived from another city and we took the train together to Paris. We met up with the other exchange students from my district and we all took the metro to the other train station (did you know that Paris has four train stations? One for each direction: Paris Gare-du-Nord for destinations in the north sector, Paris-Saint-Lazare for destinations in the west sector [this is where I arrived], Montparnasse [which is where all the students taking the Bus Trip {or EUROTOUR} had to meet up] for destinations in the south sector and Paris-Lyon for destinations in the east sector). We then all got on the bus and had a guided tour on the bus of Paris. We stopped at one moment to take pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower. We then visited Le Louvre by walking in the gardens and taking pictures in front of it.


And then after we headed to Reims for the evening. We ate at the hotel and then after we walked to the church and sat in front of it for a coupld hours to talk. We returned after to the hotel and that was the end of Day 1.

Day 2 -  After waking up and having breakfast, we took the bus to Strasbourg; a city right on the edge of the border of Germany. What a sweet little town! We had some free time to eat (I went with a friend of mine to get a falafel [for anyone who doesn't know what it is, it is a vegetarian meatball wrap and can be found in Canada because I eat them back in Canada myself] and it was very good!) and look around. I went into some souvenir shops and toured around the market they had that morning. I bought a pin for my vest their at the market for 50 cents; the pin is of France with an F in the center of it attached to Germany with a D in the center of it by two shaking hands. The carton it was attached to explains how it symbolizes the peace between France and Germany. We slept that night in Strasbourg and after eating we got to go beside the river and play music and dance.

Day 3 - We finally left France territory and arrived at Nuremberg, Germany. A brief history on this city: It is here where Hitler made the "Laws of Nuremberg" which were all made toward the Jewish people. We got to go within the walls of where Hitler first spoke to the Germans of these laws (and anybody who wasn't there watched it from their TVs or heard it from their radios). We then had some time to walk around and tour the city by going to it's downtown area. We slept there the night at a hotel right beside the metro; I know you're thinking that must of been terrible but I actually really liked it. I liked hearing the trains come and go and think or where those people are travelling and why. Plus the hotel was built so that the noise wasn't loud at all so it wasn't disturbing. We stayed inside the hotel that night so I just visited people's rooms and chatted into the early morning.

Day 4 - After breakfast, we got on the bus and drove to Prague, which is the capital city in the Czech Republic. We had a tour when we arrived on the one side of the bridge; which was called the old village. There was many cute small boutiques and art shops which I enjoyed looking through and discovering new things. I ended up buying two pins for my vest; one was a little russian doll and the other a miny box of matches. We then returned to the hotel and this time had our passports checked before we were allowed to go to our rooms. Since we were in the capital, we weren't allowed to leave the hotel that night so we stayed downstairs and just talked together.

Day 5 - Still in Prague, we had another guided tour on the other side of the bridge; which is the downtown area. I ate lunch with two of my friends in a restaurant. All three of us ordered a Czech meal; Goulash soup with bread. In other restaurants, it was served on a plate with bread dumplings. For us however, it was served in a bowl made out of bread. Yes, it is true. It was so delicious. For anyone who doesn't know what Goulash is, it is a meat stew with spices and chunks of potatoes. We then had the entire afternoon to explore Prague. I bought a shirt for 8 euros and just went into shops with my other friends as they searched for clothes, shoes and souvenirs. At the end of the day we walked back to the bus by the river so that we could get back to our hotel. It was gorgeous with the sun and everything. At the hotel we talked until the early morning again.

Day 6 - So, the real schedule for the day was to leave early in the morning, have lunch in Vienna, Austria, have four hours of free time and then a guided tour for an hour and a half before we had to go to our hotel for the evening. Now what really happened: One of the girls on our Bus Trip went down for breakfast with her purse (which happened to contain all her money, credit cards and passport) and while she was serving herself from the buffet, she left her purse unguarded at her table. You could imagined what followed. So, while she was at the police station filling out the documents for her stolen passport, the rest of us had to stay on the bus for three and a half hours watching a movie in a parking lot waiting for her. It's too bad it happened because we ended up not getting any free time by the time we arrived in Vienna and out guided tour was cut to only an hour. We still got to take the Ferris Wheel to see all of Vienna but we didn't get to explore the fair or anything. I still managed to buy a treat before we had to leave on the bus to the hotel; it is pretty much a giant cream puff about 30 cm long and 8 cm wide. We stayed at Vienna for the night inside the hotel but there was a bar on the top floor so all the students went up there to play pool, dance and talk until the early morning.

Day 7 - We quitted Austria and then headed to Italy. We spent the most part of the day in the bus but once when we arrived at our hotel, (which was situated in a town called Lido Di Jesolo; a touristic summer spot including a beach and a street full of shops, gelato shops and pizzerias) I went walking in the downtown area and then I went to the beach. We were all joking around, playing in the water and later with the other Canadian on the Bus Trip (who is actually from my district back home in Canada) went walking off on the beach looking for shells (she's in the picture with me.) I also bought my pin; it is a venetian mask. They use them for when they do their carnavals. We had supper that night and then after we went to a restaurant and ordered gelatos! I got one that is very famous: Spagetti gelato. It's vanilla ice cream with a special strawberry sauce topped with fresh strawberry slices (yumm!). After the others went to a discotheque and I went back to the hotel (I didn't feel like dancing with random strangers that night). 

Day 8 - We woke up and took a boat to one of Italy's most known cities. Yes, we went to Venise. The city of beauty. This city took my breath away, I will do everything in my power to go back to it and walk it's streets again. We arrived just before lunch, had a guided tour for an hour, and then my friends and I bought 2 euro pizza in one of the hidden streets of Venise. I could tell you this, it was THE BEST 2 euro pizza I have ever had in my life. We all met up after so we could be divided into groups of 6 and take a ride in a canal boat for thirty minutes. I felt so rich haha! After, we had free time in which we just explored Venise. At one point we found this bookshop where there was just rooms and rooms ful of unorganized books. Then we would go into shops where there was venetian masks professionally done (costing about 200 euros or more!) Out of the entire Bus Trip, it was my favourite city. It was so hard to leave it at the end of the day. We went back to Lido Di Jesolo to sleep at the same hotel for the night.

Day 9 - We finally left our sweet Lido behind and travelled to another one of Italy's well known cities. We arrived in Milan just in time for lunch. My Canadian friend and I went to a restaurant and ordered pasta! I really want to try the ravioli in Italy so I ordered just that. And I must say, it was just as good as I thought it would be! We then found an ice cream place and out of all the times that I tried Italian ice cream, that day in Milan was the best. Everyone who asked to try a bit agreed with me. We then had our guided tour and after we had free time to explore Milan a bit. Since Milan is the city of fashion, I decided I had to buy something there. So, I found a new pair of shoes that I have been wanting for a while for 10 euros and decided to get them. I also got to see the famous cathedral in Milan and go inside it. We then took the bus to the outskirts of Milan to find our hotel for the evening. After supper, one of my friends had the movie "Midnight in Paris' on her laptop and we watched it together with some other people.

Day 10 - We left to head back to my country; France. After taking the tunnel through Mont Blanc, we arrived at Chamonix. When we arrived, my brother (who is also taking an exchange with the same organisation as I am) was there to meet me. We had lunch together at Subway (the first time I've had Subway since I've left Canada) and then he waited for me as I took a little train up the mountain (about 1903 km) to see "la mer de glace' (the frozen river). After, I took the train down and met up with my brother again to explore the cute little village. We slept at Chamonix that night.

Day 11 - We left early in the morning for Geneva, Switzerland. We arrived before lunch and had a guided tour in the ONU. Our tour guide was really intelligent and gave lots of interesting information that a lot of us didn't know about. After the tour, we had time to eat (I had another falafel) and then we left towards Dijon to sleep there for the evening.  
Day 12 - Our last and final day. We left for Paris and stopped at a road stop to have lunch together one last time. It was a really emotional day; we had to say goodbye to the people we got so close to over the last 12 days and I had to also say goodbye to people I have been with this entire year for they were leaving this week to return to their country. I cried a lot, hugged a lot, and now I will just have to hold onto the memories and remember the moments.
And that is the end of my bus trip. In about 21 days, I will be taking the plane back to Canada. I'll write a new post soon (if I don't get to busy!)

Bisous <3 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

An exchange already almost over...

Salut tout le monde (Hey everyone!),

Mais... so it's been a while... haha... let's say at least 5 months? I'm sorry everyone who reads my blog for not posting sooner. But now you must think: If I was posting every single day, that would mean I was not living my exchange but instead living my life on the internet. That means that I have been using my time very well by living out my exchange to the fullest. So um.. here's to you mom:
Let's see, last time I posted it was December 16th. That would mean before Christmas. I can start there.
I spent Christmas with my first host family's family. We ate a hugggggeeee supper; and not only did I eat wayy too much but it started at eight o'clock and we finished dessert at 2:30 a.m.
I then went to the Alps for a week with a couple from my Rotary club. I was at 'Les Gets', a little touristic village with all the houses, appartements and hotels made of real logs, covered in snow and surrounded by mountains made for skiing. I got to go with another exchange student named Amy (from Austrilia) and I think it made the trip even better because I had someone my age to talk to and ski with.
After we have New Year's.. I can't say I did anything too extra-ordinary. There was a big meal and a dance but it was with people 30 plus years older with me.. I was the only teenager.
The week after, I changed host families. I was then living with a married couple who's kids were already moved out and living elsewhere (the son at Saumur; a city not far from Paris and the daughter at Geneva; finishing her last year of university). I was now living at Beaumontel, a tiny community just above a tiny town calledd Beaumont-Le-Roger. I would take the bus there to get to school and would be dropped off at the same spot, and I would then take a walk through the cliche downtown to the old abbey that has practically nothing left standing and every surface still there were covered with signatures of people who had been there; some dating back to the 17th century. I would then continue on through a tiny forest and then I would pass a house that was built for the Duchess's daughter but was now vacant (for she had passed away). Then about three minutes after I'd arrive at my host family's house.
With this host family I got to go to Paris for the first time the week after I arrived into this host family. I got to walk along les Champs-Elysees, go up the Eiffel Tower, ride les Bateaux-Mouches and visit Montemarte. I got to see many things in passing (including l'Arc de Triomphe and la Grande et Petite Palais) as well.
I also got to go to Saumur so that we could visit there son, and one of the most enjoyable things that I got to do was eat in a cave (at Saumur, they are very well known for there caves where the store wine or make mushrooms) because they had built a restaurant within it. Everything was baked in front of you by a wood stove. It was really cool!
I also got to go Versailles, Honfleur, Deauville, Lisieux... and many other cities in France.
In Febuary I had the chance to go to Belgium for four days and see Bruxelles and Brugges. It was done very quickly and I didn't get too see much, but I really enjoyed it and wanted to go back.
At one point we had a Carnaval at school; taken from the Latinos. The French dress up for the day, and I decided I would be the French stereotype; French beret, mustache and goatee, blue and white striped shirt, baguette, pointed shoes and an empty box of cheese.
I got to see some plays during the year; both in French and English. And I also got to go to the movies quite a bit; the movies were always in French (even the Avengers).
One weekend, Rotary hosted an event at Annecy; a city in the Alps, for all the Rotary exchange students (about 430 students overall) so we could meet each other and visit the city. It was there that I got to see my brother after 7 months. It was really special, getting to talk to him after so long and compare our exchanges.
Right before Easter, I changed host families again to my last and final host family. This family is young with three daughters; Charlotte (born the day before me), Juliette (13 years old) and Lucie (11 years old). It was really nice being able to celebrate Easter with a family that still hunts for chocolate eggs in the backyard like mine :)
Not long after, my parents and Cassia arrived in Bernay. We ate at a creperie, talked, saw Juno Beach, had dinner one night with my host family, then later on we left for Belgium.
I got to see both my dad's and mom's side of the family. It was really nice and I am really happy I got to see my family after so long. It was hard seeing them leave but it was comforting knowing I would be seeing them sooner then before.
I got to then go en Provence (a region in France, including famous cities such as Marseilles, Arres..) to a city called Istres. It was so nice to FINALLY have some sun after so much rain and dampness.
Then I went to an amusement park with my host family (one of the best in the world) where the entire park is made up of many little villages; each one of a different time period. There were shows at every village and each were spectacular!

And that brings us roughly back to today.

This Thursday will be my last day of school and then the next day I will leave for my Bus Trip! I'll post after it's done and tell you all about my incredible 12 days in Europe!

Bisous <3