Meet me in Paris! (And Lyon and Barcelona)

25 Oct

Quick apology for the brief hiatus I have taken from my little Spanish blog. Didn’t mean to abandon anyone (sorry Mom!) but two weeks of solid traveling followed by a full week of midterms left me exhausted and in need of a recovery weekend but, now that I am back from the dead, here is my blog!

Not only has the fall of 2011 graced travel upon myself, but many people I know. Numerous friends are in various European countries as well as Australia (that’s right, shout out to you Taylor!) and in my opinion; nothing beats having a friendly face to greet you in a foreign land. And so, my first international trip began with a face I know well.

I met my boyfriend, David, in Paris for a long wonderful, yet rainy weekend. The trip was full of grandeur, touristy landmarks representing the rich history that is Paris. This being my second time to Paris, the first with my cousin Jenny as the wonderful tour guide, I was able to take in the city a bit more and appreciate the Parisian culture (even if they are a bit snobby.)

Notre Dame de Paris

Landing in Paris for the first time is overwhelming. People are speaking French, and if you are anything like me without an ounce of knowledge of the sexiest language alive, nod and say “Mer(cchhhkkaa)ci!) like you are clearing your throat, while you begin to feel like a lost puppy and a map that has more little landmark symbols than you’ve ever seen before, including not one but two Arc de Triomphs, is shoved into your hands and you think only one thing: shit.

This time; however, I was not stunned by the little symbols on the map demanding attention but rather was eager to see the landmarks again, without the glazed eyes of a shocked tourist. Step by step we began to conquer the city. First was a trip to the Louvre (for anyone who cares, is free to students with a passport on Fridays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.), which is another overwhelming experience in itself. I think they say it would take days to see the museum in full, but knowing the time it takes me to process fine, antique art, it would take weeks.

So we found our way to the Mona Lisa. Check! And yes, her eyes still follow you even if she has met you prior (possibly more?) A few more gorgeous paintings, such as the Veronese (The Wedding Feast), sculptures including my favorite the Winged Victory of Samothrace, and a couple mummies, which gave me more of a creepy feeling than an appreciative one, I’ll be honest.

The Louvre

The Louvre at Night

We walked under the Arc de Triomph the following brisk, fall day through the Jardin de Tulleries and onto the Eiffel Tower, where we got some obligatory yet unique photos, to say the least. The Notre Dame was soon to follow with swoons over the magnificent stained glass and the picking out of our favorite gargoyles. All of this was intermingled (of course) with crepes, kebabs, and copious amounts of baguettes.

Autumn in Paris is breathtaking. So breathtaking, I was left coughing for most of it. (Although the croaky voice did seem to help with the “merci’s”) My newly found Spanish body did not adjust well to the cold, rainy atmosphere. And my version of being a tourist, walking everywhere with the exception of a few metro rides, only wore me down further. Thankfully, I was in good company that made me comforting food, and I won’t lie, the French wine seemed to help quite a bit too.

A backstreet in Paris

An early morning train took us to David’s study abroad city of choice: Lyon, (pronounced Lyonnggghhh, I do not know how people speak French!) France. I was amazed at how France and Spain seemed to conglomerate in this Southern French city. The architecture was that of France, yet the colors those of Spain. It was as though Pablo Picasso himself came through and painted Jean Nouvel’s buildings (ok, maybe not quite, but you get the picture.)

The Quay along the Rhone River

The city was much brighter than Paris, and warmer both in temperature and in greetings. I welcomed both with open arms. I learned that the people in Lyon are not Parisian, only Parisians are Parisians. This means that smiles were returned and conversations sprung up instantaneously, which I met with more smiles and turned the attention to David to answer any questions or comments.

And I thought trying to understand Spanish was bad.

I felt like a woman living in the late 18th century, Pride and Prejudice era, only speaking when spoken to but not even adequate enough to do that. A lost puppy look on my face, I hoped the interrogator would not place his glance on me again and quickly asked David to fill me in on what was just said. Oh, what it would be to be multilingual.

Lyon is not touristy. With this said, it has a deep history and we were able to appreciate it by visiting the Grand Theatre and the Odeon, both old Roman theatres that were renovated and are currently used as amphitheatres. The Opera Hall, located in the city centre, is also a site to be seen yet has been “modernized” if you will, with a contemporary top hat. I think I would prefer it to be bald.

The Grand Theatre

Lyon's Opera House - Renovated

After one more night with delicious food and an early morning run to the train station, I bid adieu to France and made my way back to Sevilla.

The night following my return, I departed for Barcelona, which I flew through the day before, (oh the incessant demands of classes) this time to meet my cousin Corrinne and friend Sarah.

Barcelona, Barcelona, Barcelona.

Beautiful to say the least, the city is huge and infamous for pick pocketing. As I grasped my purse, a sigh of relief came with the knowledge that I could speak Spanish here! People understand me, kinda, sorta, a little bit… No more Charlotte Lucas for me! That is, until they spoke. Catalán, the dialect spoken in Barcelona, is vastly different from any Spanish I know. Don’t get me wrong, my Spanish still got us around, but I usually had to ask the front desk to switch to English (thankfully, they know that too) to talk to me because I do not understand Catalán. I; however, do not feel bad about this misunderstanding as my señora said she does not know an ounce of Catalán and if a Spaniard cannot decipher the dialect, then you cannot expect me to.

We saw beaches, the Catedral, the Olympic Stadium (and some metal man receiving a medal), Plaça d’Espanya, and the most unique architecture I have ever placed eyes on thanks to Frederic W. Goudy. One of my favorite stops of the trip; however, was to La Boqueria. This large market was located directly behind our hotel and quickly found a place in my heart. Fruit, vegetables, cheese, hanging pig legs, all were to be found at this hodgepodge of food commerce. I could have spent days sampling a myriad of Mediterranean cuisine, but alas naps were calling our names as Corrinne and Sarah fell right into the Spanish trap that I did: siestas.

Gowdy

La Boqueria Fruit

Mediterranean Fruit in La Boqueria

I was lucky enough to relish in a bit of luxury traveling this trip. Sleeping in every morning in a big, comfortable hotel bed, traveling by taxi and tour bus and enjoying tapas and sangria for every meal meant indulgence for me. All thanks to my generous cousin, of course. With the exception of one possibly haunted night in our hotel, I slept the best I have during my time abroad, which was necessary before my midterms but Barcelona, I’ll be back and next time with some Catalán in me.

Who am I kidding? One dialect is enough.

And now, few more pictures for your liking…

Paris, France

The Louvre

The Leaning Tour Eiffel

The Arc de Triomph

The Arc de Triomph

Jardin de Tulleries

The Notre Dame de Paris - Entrance

Lyon, France

The Streets of Lyon

Rustic Door in Lyon (with the doorknob in THE MIDDLE of the door!

Un Boulangerie

Some more Roman Ruins in Lyon

Fountain in Lyon

Reason #72 why Lyon is beautiful

Barcelona, Spain

Plaça de Espanya

Olympic Stadium and Weird Metal Athlete

Eggs at La Boqueria

Pig legs hanging in the market

Fresh Fruit Smoothies at La Boqueria

Fresh Fruit Smoothies at La Boqueria

And finally, the beach!

And finally, the beach!

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One Response to “Meet me in Paris! (And Lyon and Barcelona)”

  1. Sallie Rowe October 25, 2011 at 2:33 am #

    What a trip! What great photos, Linds! Looks like you’re having quite the once in a lifetime experience, aren’t you?
    Love your descriptions of your travels.

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