Paris Through My Eyes

9 07 2012

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4 juillet 2012

I feel as though I have concurred Paris, as I look back on the last six days. There are so many places I wanted to visit and I ended up seeing far more. Paris is an amazing city with great diversity. This is the busiest city I have ever been to by far. I knew it would be pack with people from my first experience at the train station. Packed like sardines into a very hot and smelly metro cart, not the most enjoyable experience.

The first place I visited was the Eiffel Tower and it exceeded my exceptions. My journey continued on to a cruise down the Seine River, Versailles, Montmartre, Le Louvre, Luxembourg Park, wine tasting, and many monuments along the way. I feel I have concurred my goal, of being independent and figuring out a city in a foreign country. I also am very proud that I mastered the metro system, that was the biggest challenge in Paris.

Through my eyes on my European adventure in Paris I would say it is very stereotypical. The stereotype that Paris is the city of love is definitely true. I always thought people just said it, but it actually really describes this city. Their culture is a lot more accepting to PDA of all ages! It’s strange, because when people say goodbye to their loved ones, they say goodbye in the way that seems like they will never see them again. When I was at the train station, I looked out the window of my cart and would see family members standing outside waving to their loved one as the train pulled out of the station. I thought it was so bizarre and at the same time so sweet. I know in America it is difficult these days to do that at the airport, but we still don’t show our love and appreciation for people as much as we should. Not saying we need as much PDA as Paris though!

The next stereotype is the French smell. Let me tell you this is Extremely true!Walking through the subway it always smelt like sewer and urination. Then every time I road the metro I felt like I was standing in a hot box of B.O. , shower was always needed ASAP!

French cruise is very hit or miss depending on what you prefer. Our cafeteria cuisines where not my favorite. Very bland with minimal flavors, bread and cheese was always a consistent option though. France doesn’t however have delicious desserts! Macrons are what they are famous for and they are indeed the most delicious treat I have ever had. On the last day in Paris I was able to try a crêpe and it was the best treat after dinner.
Overall my time in Paris was well spent. I saw so many places and was able to engage in the French culture. This city is one you could come back to many times and I hope in my future I will be able to.

Au revoir Paris!!
A benoît!
Kyle Ashley

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Paris Lifestyle

4 07 2012

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3 juillet 2012

Today was dedicated to living the French lifestyle, mainly because I need a day of rest and relaxation. I woke up well rested for the first time since being in Europe. My friends and I decided after visiting Luxembourg park yesterday that we should have a French picnic! (photo above).

I sat enjoying a baguette and macrons by the pond. The pond was filled with many children and their mini sailboats. Each sailboat was different, usually representing a country except America, and roamed about with the ducks. It reminded me of the movie “Stewart Little.” (photo below).

In the evening I headed to the north end of town for a wine taste class! During my study abroad program we had a class on French cuisines. In this class we also learned about French wine and how important it is to their culture. France is the number one producer of wine with 110,000 vineyards! California is the number one producer in America and doesn’t even come close having only 3,000 vineyards. You may also be surprised to know even though the majority of French people drink a glass a day, the average amount they spend on a bottle is only 3,61€!

The wine connoisseur this evening said a lot of the same things my French professor taught me, which is reassuring. However, this class also taught me the proper way to check and drink a good glass of wine, couldn’t do that in my actual class. He said it is all about three senses: sight, smell, and of course taste. For the special tests he taught me, you will just have to take a wine class yourself! (picture below).

The last event of the day was walking along the Seine river toward the Eiffel Tower. There are many famous monuments and cruises in the river to look at along the way. As much as walking all day can be exhausting there is so much more to see than taking the metro, as convenient as it may be. (picture below).

I had heard it is amazing to see the Eiffel Toward at night and now I know why. Every hour, on the hour, it twinkles in the night sky. This twinkle is not like your basic Christmas lights, but more like a bunch of mini strobe lights. It was mesmerizing to see and a great way to end my French day. (picture below).

Bonne Nuit,
Kyle Ashley

P.S. happy 4th of July!!
P.P.S. I am off to London bright and early tomorrow!

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Paris by Foot

3 07 2012

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Today I spent the day walking around the beautiful city of Paris. The sun was shining and the temperature was just right. The first stop of the morning was to La Fayettie. This department store is massive with six floors! It is also the second most visited attraction in Paris having 100,000 people visiting it day; first most visited is the Musee du Louvre. It was a bit overwhelming with so many shoppers, but it is all about the experience shopping there.

Next I saw the Arc de Triomphe Etoile (photo above) before walking down the Champs Elysées. It is a beautiful arc, but not much else to do but look at it. At the park in front of the Louvre we sat at pond to relax. After all the waking I have been doing the last few days, it was finally nice sit, relax, and people watch. It’s interesting, because everyone in France people watches and everywhere is set up for it. As you walk down the streets, all of the cafés and restaurants face all of their chairs toward the street.

In the afternoon I finally got to walk over the “Locket” Bridge. There were many people putting locks on and throwing the keys into the river, while musicians sat and played music. I was amazed at how many locks covered the bridge and I wish I knew how and when the tradition originally started. (photo of the “love in Paris” lock below).

Walking down smaller streets of Paris I’m amazed at how different every part of town is. The small streets are very quaint with little restaurants, shops, and bakeries. I pasted a pistachio, chocolate, and macron store and was drawn into each one. I had not had a macron until Paris and boy was I missing out! Each one is a different mouth watering flavor! I had to purchased a small box, which is now all eaten. I wish they would last as souvenirs, but unfortunately they just wouldn’t taste as good. (photo of macaroons below).

Palais du Luxembourg and Jardin du Luxembourg was the final visit of the day. I walked into the park and there were grandparents with their grandchildren playing chess, you just don’t see this anymore unless in the movies. Off in the distance there were people playing tennis, basketball, and rugby. Where others just sat and relaxed by the pond or had a picnic on the grass. People in France relax and take every moment of every day in. Being here really opens my eyes to the differences in American and European lifestyles. (photo below of the Palais du Luxembourg).

Tomorrows activity is wine tasting and visiting the Eiffel Tower at night!
Bonnie Nuit,
Kyle Ashley

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Eiffel Tower

2 07 2012

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29 juin 2012

Bonjour Paris!!!

This morning I packed up my suitcase, loaded the bus, and departed for Paris! Ever since I was younger, one of the destinations on my bucket list was to go to the Eiffel Tower. Today, I can finally cross that off!

Once my class arrived at the Eiffel Tower, we headed straight to the line. We were told it wouldn’t take too long, but we ended up standing in line for an hour and a half. The vast amount of people provided us with entertaining ‘people watching’ opportunities. Once we made it up the elevator, onto the second floor, I looked out upon the beautiful city of Paris. On each side of the Eiffel Tower you look out onto a completely different view of the city. There is no building even close to as tall, so you really get a bird’s eye view of the entire city.

In the evening we took a cruise on the river. Our entire class got all dressed up for one last hurrah. The weather was perfect as we sat on the roof of the cruise; the only spot you should sit on the cruise. As we passed by Notre Dame the sun was just setting, making for a beautiful site. Seeing the city from the river allows you to see the many unique bridges of Paris. The coolest bridge was the “Locket” Bridget. The entire bridge is covered with locks that people put on the bridge and then throw the key into the river; a very cool tradition. Viewing Paris from the cruise did give me a completely different view of the city and I suggest doing it!

Tomorrow off to Versailles!
Bonne Nuit!
Kyle Ashley

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Versailles & Montmartre

2 07 2012

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30 juin 2012

I don’t even know where to begin! Today I went to Versailles and it was by far my favorite visit and now my favorite city in France. As we approached the Palace of Versailles where the reign of Louis The Fourteenth, followed by many others, lived. The outside of the palace is surrounded by massive gold gates and is a city in of itself. I have never been to a museum that is still completely furnished and detailed from floor to ceiling! Every room I stepped into my mouth dropped. The lavish ceiling paintings are like nothing I have ever seen or could ever imagine. There is so much history through every single room it is hard to take it all in at once.

After I walked through The Palace of Versailles, I went to the “back yard” to walk through the Gardens of Versailles. The gardens were just as lavish and detailed as the inside of the palace! It was amazing how much thought and detail they have put into everything from the trees, grass, and ponds. In most of the ponds there was usually a sculpture, but two stood out the most. The longest pond had many row boats and along the side there were bleachers, I assume for races. The pond that caught my attention the most had a water show that went along with the music. It was an enjoyable afternoon in the gardens and I wish I would have the time to go back and spend more time there!

In the evening my class went to Montmartre. This part of Paris is way up on the hill. This is another area where you can look out at the vast city from a birds-eye view. Montmartre is a little village in itself. This village is where most famous artists have started there work and where many aspiring artists start. As I walked through and around the square, there were many people getting their portrait done from one of the many different artists. I, however, ended up finding an canvas painting of Paris that I couldn’t get my eye off of and for a great price!

On our way back to our hostel we stopped by Moulin Rouge and walked the streets near bye. This part of Paris is by far the most “unique” area of France I have been so far. The streets are very dirty and it is not the most welcoming. There haven’t been too many areas that I felt uncomfortable, or worried about being pickpocketed until I walked down these streets. At least we had our professor with us!

Then it was time for the final goodbyes 😦 . Many of the people in my class headed home in the morning. It is crazy to think that many of them I will probably never see again in my life but experienced an adventure of a lifetime with. I said my goodbyes to Dr.Agostini and thanked him for all he did the last month. I have him to thank for providing an enjoyable study abroad experience and teaching me so much about European culture.

Merci Dr. Agostini!
Kyle Ashley

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Le Louvre

2 07 2012

1 juillet 2012

This morning I woke up bright and early with two of my friends to head to Le Louvre! We had heard on Sundays it is free, so as broke college students, we took full opportunity of going today.

Once we arrived from taking the subway, which we have now mastered thanks to “Mademoiselle,” we saw the line. The very long line! We kept walking back to see where we could enter and it went back forever! I really didn’t think we would ever make it in, but it was at least a moving line that took about an hour. The distraction of taking pictures with the pyramid also helped :).

Once inside the Louvre, it was overwhelming figuring out where to even begin. There is so much history in this one museum it is impossible to see it in one day. I walked through the galleries in awe of everything around me. My favorite piece was, of course, the Mona Lisa. I remember learning so much about this painting, that it is so cool to finally see it. I also was amazed to see that it is a lot smaller than I envisioned and was behind a bullet proof case, no one is going to run off with it. My favorite section by far was the apartments of Napoleon. This “apartment” was completely covered in gold! It is hard to imagine that such a lavish lifestyle existed!

In the afternoon we enjoyed the many parks along the Champs-Élysées. There were hundreds of people enjoying the sun, playing in the park, and enjoying their picnics. Once we got closer to the shops there were thousands of people roaming the sidewalks. I finished off my day of walking with a dessert from Haagen Daz!

Currently my body, especially feet, are extremely sore and tired. I need to rest up for my last nine days in Europe!

Bonne Nuit,
Kyle Ashley

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Le Mont St. Michael

29 06 2012

28 juin 2012

Today, I visited Le Mont Saint Michael Cathedral. It is built on a massive rock surrounded by a village and a body of water. It dates back to 708 and continued being built and renovated until 1874. This beautiful monument has managed to avoid being destructed by war, natural disasters, and age.

My business class and I had a tour of Mont Saint Michael, but getting to it was not fun. This cathedral is built on a massive rock and there are two ways to get there, bus or boat. It is unique because when the tide is high you can only arrive by boat, and when it is low the best way is by bus. Today the tide was low, but the weather was HOT! Once we got there, our challenge was climbing the stairs to the top and none of us were dressed appropriately for hot and humid weather. It was almost as hot and sticky as Monaco.

Once I cooled down I was able to enjoy the architecture of this historic building and the village surrounding it. An interesting fact is that Disney princess castles and the castle at Disney World are based after Le Mont Saint Michael!

Tonight is the last night in our cozy, cottage-like hostel and tomorrow we finally head to Paris!!

Au revoir Normandy!
Kyle Ashley








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