i could teach you how to speak my language, rosetta stone

It was so good to see family in London! Pete, Sal, and I had a great time wandering around the Portobello Road Markets, the National Portrait Gallery, Covent Garden, and a Lebanese Deli I’d been wanting to try.  It was crazy being in London with them.  Thursday morning I took the Eurostar (Chunnel) to Paris and then realized I had to switch train stations to catch my next train.  So, I proceeded to attempt to use my French from 4 years ago, and asked for directions, understood directions, and made it without any major mishaps to this other station–this was a feat for me, in case you didn’t catch that.  I saw the Sacre Coeur from a distances, and kind of wanted to just stay in ol Paris for round two.  But I moved on and hopped on a non-stop TGV to Strasbourg where I met good ol Olive.  It’s always crazy when visits like these actually work out.  We took a tram and a little walk through the rainy town and had some traditional dessert I forgot the name of which was delicious, and then went by her class center where I read while she had class.  Then we headed on home to her host family’s house.  I was a little concerned about meeting the famous “Nou-Nou” who “has a really good heart” but is sometimes a little gruff according to Olivo. But the Nou was very nice and we dropped our stuff and headed off to the program Thanksgiving dinner on which I barged in on.  It was a great affair with lots of good interesting food and a giant delicious turkey.  Then there were performances by the program participants–everything from piano to singing to guitar to belly dancing?  It was hilarious.  All of the performers were very talented.  I enjoyed meeting some of the other host families and other students from all around the US.  Then we proceeded to spend the rest of the evening at this club called Retro.  It was very backwards to the usual Thanksgiving, but it was still fun and definitely interesting.  I had to explain to a guy on the train that today was “our” Thanksgiving!  He didn’t really care.

Friday we woke up late and walked into town in the freezing snow.  We toured around the beautiful cathedral and then walked through different districts and got excited about the lights and markets being prepared.  Then we wandered over to the modern art museum which to our surprise ended up being fabulous and warm!  Then we wandered over to the beautiful Petite France for a yummy Alsacian dinner–very German influenced. On the way home after being entirely engrossed in all the lights and displays, we stopped at Olive’s favorite little cafe for a Biere de Noel which was delicious and fun.  It reminded me of Open Eye in Carrboro. Mm.

view of European Parliament, close to Olive's house

inside of Strasbourg Cathedral

petite france!

Saturday we planned on going to a “spa” in Germany, but extenuating circumstances prevented us from doing so. That is, we slept in late, I didn’t have a real bathing suit, half of the spa is naked, it took a tram, bus, and train to get there, it was going to be a 40 Euro trip, and we’re tired of sight-seeing. So instead we slept in again, and then ate the delicious breakfast Nou-Nou left, and then wandered through all of the Christmas market stalls enjoying hot wine (vin chaud!), crepes, tarte flambee, waffles with nutella, etc along the way.  Then we met one of Olive’s friends and we all went ice skating outside near the cathedral.  I sucked as usual and they were both pros.  But they kindly dragged me (literally) around the ice like a little kid, and it was a blast.  It helped us warm up too.  Ice skating outside is infinitely better than inside.  We then wandered over to Place du Kleber where we saw the Christmas tree lighting and a little kid’s choir which was fun.  Afterwards we met up with some of Olive’s friends and all went out for Italian which was delicious.  Of course the service is bad and they get mad at you for only ordering water, but it’s Europe. I won’t miss that. Any way then we wandered through all the lights and decorations again and made our way back, me stuffing my face so full of a crepe with nutella, I couldn’t speak.  Yummm.

my fave street

me & olive ice skating

market stalls!

All in all, it was a fabulous weekend full of memories from high school, mesmerizing Christmas experiences, very French experiences, and new people which is always a joy.

This week brings lots of work?? But also a performance by a pantomime, a Christmas candlelit walk through Dennis Sever’s house in the East End, Kew Gardens, and much more…I’m going to miss it here.

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