Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Roland Garros and The French Open

Finally, we made it to the French Open!! It was a little of a hit and miss getting the logistics down at first, but we did it. Now, I am not a huge tennis fiend, but I do love watching the pure talent that these athletes display. I have a special appreciation for tennis because it is just one of those sports that I was never the best at. A lot of my friends and especially my family are great at it, but me... I struggle somewhat. Struggle may be the understatement. I usually end up lobbing it full force over the 20 foot nets. These athletes would do nothing of the sort. Serving in excess of 100 miles and hour and quickly moving after those fast paced balls is something I wish I could do. When we first arrived at Roland Garros, all of the girls immediately went to the "Boutique". There, the people working behind the carter started singing the "Hokey Pokey" in French with the huge tennis balls! Mom and Dan, if you are reading this, I may have a surprise for you two when I get back! Then we immediately headed to the frozen yogurt stand (of course). I've been noticing a pattern of shopping and then getting some sort of dessert as a daily occurrence, and I am in no way complaining. We finally arrived at one of the stadiums to watch a mixed doubles game. It was between Petrova/J.Murray and Makarova/Soares. Petrova is one of the top 10 females and Murray is the brother of a top 5 male player, according to Nicole. She was definitely the most knowledgeable about the different players and the whole sport in general. It was a really neat and unique experience, and one that I am glad we got to enjoy for the day.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Normandie Weekend

I am making sure that this blog post goes up tonight because I feel that this week will be another world-wind and I want to make sure I don't leave out details from this amazing weekend in France. I think we may be headed to the French Open tomorrow, let's hope! After attempting to watch long videos on D-day and 1066, we headed off to Normandie (Normandy) on a bus early Friday morning. 4 hours and an Americano coffee later, we arrived at the first stop, Caen-Normandie Memorial. It was filled with WWII items and history. The interior of the museum was very neat, with pieces of old walls placed within, showing some of the damage done to structures and the graffiti written on the walls. This is also where the famous "Non-violence" statue of a knotted gun is, positioned right outside of the museum behind an array of different flags. After the museum, we headed to Omaha Beach, known for the date of June 6, 1944. It is a beautiful beach, but very eerie. No one is really "playing" on the sand, but rather taking the time to reflect in silence or by strolling down the once blood red beaches to remember the lives lost and the unimaginable bravery displayed by every man that stepped foot on that very place. After climbing back up the steep hills that lead down to the beach, we visited the American cemetery. It is hard to describe in words the shock that you feel when you see how many graves are located there. There is no seeing the end, only white crosses that go on forever. There are some graves that belong to the unknown, and a large amount of men were taken back to their homes by request of their family. It was beautifully designed, and a place where they can truly be respected. Finally, as far as WWII sites go, we visited Point du Hoc, which sits on a very steep cliff on the ocean. It is littered with large craters, twisted wires, and dark, deep shelters. This is where you see the lasting effects of war on a landscape. Our "surprise" for the day was to visit an orchard that is known for their calvados and apple cider (essentially similar to an apple-flavored wine). The calvados was strong, but sweet, and the apple cider and apple juice we tasted was refreshing. I ended up buying a bottle of the cider, which is in a pretty blue bottle and the traditional wire covered cork. Finally, it was time to go to our hotel and eat a long awaited meal in Normandie. At Cafe Bois Charbon, I ordered the Salade Terre et Mer, which was sauteed mushrooms, bacon, smoked salmon, and foie gras (fattened duck liver). This was the first time I have tried it, and it was not too bad. Definitely different, but I decided taking some risks in food while here is the right thing to do. I also had a sample of escargot, which turned out to be better than I remembered. We also ordered red wine to go with the rest of the meal, which involved Confit de Canard (duck with potatoes), and Moulleux ay Chocolat (chocolate cake). I was so full from our meal that I practically rolled myself back to the hotel. After a nice sleep but then waking up to a piercing phone ring, we headed to the British cemetery, which contained very different headstones from the American cemetery. The inscriptions and seeing the young ages of soldiers brought me to tears. There was also a large structure across the main cemetery that commemorated the 1,807 soldiers who have no known grave. This Bayeux (pronounced Bayou) War Cemetery is the largest commonwealth cemetery, and contains soldiers from not just Britain, but Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Poland, etc... We then went to the Musee Memorial 1944 Bataille de Normandie. It provided very similar information to the other museums, but it also had tanks and other vehicles used out on display. We managed to get a picture with one of the tanks outside, and then headed to see the very old history of Normandie, which involved the war of 1066. Inside this next museum contained the Tapisserie de Bayeux, a 70 meter long tapestry that depicted the story of the battle of 1066, or the Battle of Hastings which was the Norman conquest England. The artwork is almost 1000 years old, being done during the High Middle Ages. We finally headed back to Paris, and got ready for an amazing night out. We returned to the Irish Pub on St.Denis, and walked into a bar packed full of futbol loving men watching the Barcelona- Manchester United game. After a 3-1 win by Barcelona and being jammed packed in a sea of foreign men (some not too fresh smelling), we finally found an area to dance in the basement. It had the strobe lights and DJ and everything that we had been looking for, rather than just sitting and enjoying a beer. Everyone was out, and I think everyone can say they had one of the best nights on the town thus far.

Nonstop Tourist

The past few days have become somewhat of a blur for me. Due to the unfortunate internet that our dorm has provided, I was unable to update my blog, and I feel that the past fews days have completely packed! On Tuesday, a few of the girls decided that Luxembourg gardens, museum, and palace would be a good place to sight see. Well, it ended up that the temporary artist who was on display at the museum had just finished the day before, so unfortunately we could not go into the museum. The Palace is where, I read, France houses their Senate. So, there were guards surrounding and we decided that viewing the gardens and enjoying the very quiet sitting area in front of the palace would be a good idea. It was amazing the amount of people in the area and the lack of noise. In America, I feel that I would barely be able to hear myself talking. After the gardens, we gave into our banane et nutella crepe craving, and found the best creperie we have had, a long ways down a small off-beat road. The crepes and nutella in this city is why I know I will gain some weight. It is almost impossible to turn down the food here though. I have not had one bad thing. I believe the rest of the night was calm, since the next day we knew that it would also be a long day. After classes, we headed out again to Notre Dame, the Patheon, and just walk around the area as a large group. Dr. Lessl lead the way, since it was actually his classes "outing" that we were tagging along for. I wish I knew more of Paris' history and the meanings behind many of the Catholic symbols strewn throughout. I am a Catholic, but trying to remember all of those Sunday school and church lessons has proved difficult. The night started off early, right after the tour actually at "Australian Bar". We also found the Irish Pub that is now a spot we will seem to be going to often. Happy hour got the best of most of us, but we headed on the metro back to St. John's to clean up after a long day of touring and get ready for the fun that was about to happen. The night involved falling down wooden steps, singing in the typical loud American fashion, and then closing the night downstairs with Brie and Park playing during the open Mic night. One of the most memorable songs had to be "Wagon Wheel", since no one knew a whole verse but somehow we managed to twang our voices enough so it still seemed like we knew what we were saying. The next day involved lots of WWII and the Battle of 1066 movies, since we were traveling to Normandy for the weekend.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Kilts = nothing else

Today was the first day of classes, and actually turned into a really event packed day. Classes only last for about 2 hours, and end around noon which works out well since the whole day is still available for travel and tourism. I really wanted to visit the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore that is located right next to Notre Dame. So in one day, I was able to see both, and it was only about a short 15 minute walk or so from St. John's. Shakespeare and Co. is full of books in English, stacked from floor to ceiling. They have two levels as well, the first being books for sale and the second floor containing a sitting area and piano where you could sit and read all of the very old books they have on display. Unfortunately you can't purchase the books on the second floor, but it is very neat to see them and think of the types of struggling writers that used to pass through this area. After purchasing a book that questioned who really wrote Shakespeare's works and getting it stamped with the store's seal, we headed to Notre Dame. We didn't enter the crypt, towers, or treasury since it did cost some Euros, but it is on my list for things to do before I leave. We headed back, not getting lost again fortunately, and then headed to dinner that ISA had arranged for us. It included salad, Coke (which is very good here), wine, chicken/rice, and some sort of pudding. It was very good (and free for us!). After, we all headed to search for the bars and pubs in the Notre Dame/Louvre area. We ended up finding one, which immediately started playing Britney Spears when we entered. The drinks here are so expensive. I told one person there that we paid $1 a drink in Athens, and he laughed in my face. A liquor drink was 5 Euros, which would equal about $7.50 in America, and that was the Monday special. The bar continued to play American music, and then 4 guys from a Rugby team came in. They had small saucers around their necks, and they told me they had just completed a 42-bar red wine shot "marathon". They also went to show me that they didn't wear underwear under their long kilts. Onewas so nice as to take a pic with me and prove it. There were two English men, one from Scotland, and another from Ireland. After leaving the bar, we started using the map to navigate our way back. We still wanted to dance though, so we ran into another club with no cover that we saw. When we walked in it was completely dark, and looked somewhat like a strip club with green laser light dots going crazy. We tried to find the "toilets" and they were 5 stories up. The waitress there was not too excited with us, so we headed back out trying to find our way around Paris at 1 am. We also found a Rue de Christine on the way back. I have NEVER seen anything with my name on it, so that was pretty neat and rare for me. After finally making it home, we got ready to crash, but not until photos from the night were up and Jason HAD to show us "Kendall on racist field trip" video on youtube. If you haven't watched it, I strongly recommend doing so. We were laughing so loudly that the security guard ran up and started yelling at us in French. Whoops. Tomorrow has a lot to live up to.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Classes already?

So, I know that I am supposed to be studying abroad in Paris, but that is pretty much the last thing on my mind. I plan on shopping, eating, and soaking up the culture. I want to gain the full experience and live the Parisian lifestyle. The food, wine, freedom that people have, and the relaxed lifestyle that is very apparent. But, there are classes that I must take if I want to live the rest of the 6 weeks here. So, I am writing this post to avoid reading for these classes. It is not much, just an article or two a day. But after you have already graduated, have a job in place, and are thinking much more about the amazing city you live in, it is really hard to find any ounce of motivation. Today was Sunday in Paris, which is very relaxed. Many of the bakeries, cafes, and less-tourist flocked areas are closed. All of the clothing stores are closed today around us. There are a few little restaurants and the grocery store. So for dinner, instead of the usual bakery pizza or sandwich followed by a pastry, I went for the crackers and brie cheese with some fruit. Delicious! Why does everything taste better in Paris? Well, less preservatives for one, which makes everything much more fresh! You will not see the same fruit or vegetables sitting out in the store the next day. Everything is either sold or gotten rid of each day. I literally think I could live just off of the fruit here. Earlier, we went to the Arc de Triomphe and visited some of the stores in the area. It is a hub for tourists. The H&M is one of the largest. I visited the Nike Paris store so I could buy some socks and a performance shirt. I actually went running today and passed by the Eiffel Tower during it. Probably the most memorable run I have had besides the one where I ran under the UGA arches for the first time (Yes, first time I walked through the arches I was actually running). Also, at the Arc de Triomphe area, which is in an area called Champs-Elysees, we visited an apparently "famous" bakery called Paul, where I snapped a photo before they yelled at me for doing so. There were also street performers and of course we had to get a photo in front of the arc. It was also the first day we really understood and got to use the metro. Success for the day!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My first French Kiss

It was another day of miles upon miles of walking. We still have yet to actually plan a day, which always turns out interesting. We woke up late, but were determined to meet up with friends at the Louvre in the afternoon. After walking in an hour long loop in the somewhat wrong direction, we ended up getting lunch at a small bakery with sandwiches and pastries, then finally walking the correct way. We didn't actually tour the Louvre today, but just took some pictures in the area. It is massive, more than you can imagine. The buildings tower over you and are all masked with beautiful architecture. We headed back quickly to our dorms, and decided that tonight we wanted to go out and see a little more of the city after dark. After more getting lost, having too big a group, and not really knowing what to do, a small group of us discovered a small bar in the 5 District. The people were wonderful! The bartender and waiter loved us, and the music was live and in English/French, which was really neat. They were playing clarinet, oboe, and the piano I believe. We even spotted that Ray Charles had been a patron of this tiny little place, after spotting a photo of him with the owner. We witnessed some parties going on in the building above us, and even a practically naked man painting his ceiling at midnight. It was all very relaxing, and we really got to enjoy the vibe of Parisian life. After finishing our glasses of wine, we headed back home, but not before saying "Bonne nuit" to our new friends and receiving our first French kisses from the waiter on both cheeks. We all were giddy about our "first French kiss" and headed home, ready to enjoy some of the shopping and more tourism that we will be doing tomorrow.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Today was a day of firsts in Paris. We started off the day with our first breakfast at St. John's University. Of course, it included a French Baguette slice, and then cereal. Except in France, I believe that they use whole, room temperature milk. It was very odd, and me being someone who is not the biggest milk drinker to begin with found it not the best I have ever had. My roommate and I then passed out until about noon (still a little jet lagged) and then we were off for the day! We toured some of the stores that the area has to offer, as well as visit the offices of the people who were guiding our trip. This involved a trip on the Metro, the underground transportation of Paris which is notorious for gypsies and pick pocket-ers. I was finally able to buy a converter and blow dryer too! They are small things, but essential for me! Another first today was the tasting of crepes. I decided to go with the Nutella and bananas flavor, and it was one of the best things I have ever tasted! The man made it on the spot for us in his little hut. It had a slightly crunchy exterior, and the inside was gooey and with so much flavor and aroma there was no one that could have denied eating all of it.With dinner later that night at Cafe un Metro, I also had my first glass of Parisian wine. The cheapest one they had at the cafe was one of the best red wines that I have had. I can't wait to bring back lots of bottles for everyone to enjoy! I ended up having salmon for dinner, perfectly cooked of course, and then we headed to the Eiffel tower for the last first of the day. My roommate Jennifer and I got completely lost. We wandered around the city for about an hour and a half, trying to find the tower and the group that we had left because we decided that they were walking a little too slow for our taste. After a valiant effort to find the tower by ourselves, we ran into two Americans with maps who pointed us in the proper direction, which we were not previously headed in. So around 10:30 pm, we found our group sitting on the large lawn in front of the tower, introducing themselves and sharing fun facts with each other. A half a bottle later and finally seeing the Eiffel Tower's hourly light show, the cold and fatigue was setting in, so a group of us girls, a little influenced by the wine and the long day, headed back to St. John's. Jennifer and I led the way after getting lost in and then knowing some of the ways around the city. It is starting to become a little familiar, and hopefully it will be after the lengthy six weeks ahead.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Un jour à Paris

Finally I have arrived in Paris! We arrived in Paris at 7am, meaning 1 am Atlanta. Jet lag has been somewhat of a struggle, but knowing that there is an amazing city to explore has kept me awake for the most part. My roommate and I passed out right before lunch time. We were supposed to be in the cafeteria at 12:15, but didn't wake up until a half hour later. We rushed down, still in a half stupor and suffering from the jet lag. After lunch though and a quick orientation, a group of us went around the street that we live off of. We are staying at a place called St. John's. It is a Catholic school in the US, and this is their Paris campus that UGA rents from them during the summer. We quickly learned how hard it is to be in a different country when you don't know the language. It has been intimidating interacting with locals. Some are nice, but others just yell words to us in French that we can tell aren't the kindest. Hopefully by the end of all of this we will be able to interact better with locals, but as of now we are having a difficult time. The structures and the shops that are in Paris, or just the small part we have seen so far, are all beautiful!There are so many bakeries and fruit/vegetable shops, with obviously extremely fresh products wherever we go. So far, we have only managed to taste one of the chocolatiers, but it was all amazing! I tried what is called an Opera, and it tasted like a glorified Tiramisu bar. Later today we are taking a bus tour of the city, and this weekend will be the real exploration!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Last few days in the states

Ok, so I may just be writing this post to avoid studying. I have a final tomorrow for my Independent Learning class that I have been taking for the past year. I should have finished it months ago, but, nothing I can do to change that now. Saying these past few months have been crazy is a complete understatement. They have been some of the most memorable. I graduated from the University of Georgia this weekend, having the whole school graduation on Friday and then the business school graduation on Saturday. Family was in town, and it was so stressful making sure I was prepared for the big days along with coordinating all of the fam. I also, of course, had to make sure that I made it out for my last weekend in Athens for a while. Being that I was going all day and night Friday definitely made sitting through graduation on Saturday tiresome. I kept trying not to nod off through the ceremony, since every student was called, walked across the stage, and received a "diploma" which actually contained a photo of Brooks Hall, the main business school building.

With all of the craziness and friends and family that I got to enjoy it made the weekend truly memorable. It hasn't quite hit me yet that I will never have this same composition and group of people in my life again. One of my roommates left yesterday, and still I haven't cried all weekend. For those of you who know me well, I cry a lot and so easily (it is usually because I am laughing though), so this indifference is so strange to me. I think I just haven't had the time to sit and think about everything. I am so ready to get to Paris and take it all in.

Also with the massive amounts of socializing I did this weekend, I tended to reject getting many miles on my sneakers. I ran for about an hour this morning and it was pretty rough. I have decided that one of the things I plan to do while in Paris is begin training for another half marathon, and eventually getting back to the states and training for a marathon. Within a year, I will do a marathon as long as my body decides not to break down in the process first. I may be a little injury prone. Haha. If anyone would like to suggest ones to sign up for, I am completely willing to register now! I have two more days left here, and can't wait to meet everyone on my trip and finally have a little more stability in my life again.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Small victories are the ones that you need to remember to get you through the week. This weekend was Terrapin's Twilight Criterium, a bike race that has a course encompassing Athens' downtown area. Well, the first event on Saturday was a 5K race. I went into it thinking that I just wanted to finish. I had logged few miles on my legs that week, and my shoes had been killing me. There are still bruises all over my calves from my shoes being worn and still running with them. Well, once I got into the race, as usual, my competitive nature exploded. I ended up finishing in 23:15, a personal record. I beat my PR by about a minute and a half too, which I completely did not expect. My next goal is to break 23. I think it will happen soon if I actually start training.