April 19, 2016

Spring Break Notes from Abby- Studying Abroad in London ~

Spring Break!

by abbyabroad
I have traveled to London, Paris, Tours & Nice! The University of Manchester allows students a 3 week Easter Break  Amanda , Kathleen & I traveled to London  to explore Bath & Stonehenge through an organized trip through our program.  It rained all day (surprise), but the Roman baths were truly gorgeous! Easter Sunday I  met up with my cousin Bryana and get lunch at CHIPOTLE!  After lunch the Oxford vs. Cambridge boat race! People aren't lying about going through  4 seasons in one day in London. Before getting on the tube, nice and sunny. Getting off the tube, skies  dark and hailing -  wind was insane!  All part of the experience, right? It was  great spending the day with my cousin during Easter.
That Monday Amanda & I took off on our 9 hour Megabus adventure to Paris! When booking our ticket I remember thinking "oh 9 hours, we can do it..we're saving so much money..it can't be THAT bad..". Fortunately, it wasn't THAT bad, but very long. We arrived at the bus station around 7pm and made our way  to the train station to meet Manon. [Back story, Amanda came to France 2 years ago during an exchange through her school & stayed with a sweet family in Tours. Their oldest daughter lives in Paris and she was kind enough to let us stay with her for the 5 days we were in Paris!]. She was  the sweetest person, so welcoming & hospitable and guided us to her flat that night where we stayed up talking and telling her all about our plans. No problem sleeping!
While in Paris we visited the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Catacombs, Palace of Versailles, Sacre-Couer, the Louvre, Musee D'Orsay, Le Marais, Champs de mars, and of course a million bakeries. When visiting Paris, make a pitstop at Laduree (the famous macaroon shop from Gossip Girl). This was my first time trying a macaroon, and I was not dissapointed. My favorite day here was Friday. When we awoke  Manon made us crepes  ( better than any crepe shop).  Manon, Amanda & I were going to spend the day at the Palace of Versailles. 3) The weather was BEAUTIFUL that day-and we finally had sunshine! 4) We ended the night back at Manons' with  a wine & cheese night. She bought multiple cheeses  to taste (fun fact-try spreading cheese on bread and adding jam to it!  quite tasty). My experience in Paris was unforgettable.  We saw  famous monuments, tried  amazing food, and were surrounded by  lovely company. -Off to the next stop-Tours!
Tours is where Amanda's French exchange family lives, in Northern France, south of Paris. When she came last, she  spent 10 days here and really got to know the family and  the town. We stayed with Agathe ( our age) and her parents, Bruno & Sophie! This family  was SO kind and welcoming. They had breakfast waiting for us upon arrival and  constantly wanting to hear about our experiences and travels. We spent the weekend exploring, meeting with old friends, and visited a castle! Thankfully, the weather in Tours that weekend was gorgeous ( nice change from rain). It was so different being in a not so 'touristy' place, because not that many people in the town & in shops knew English; which is understandable since French is the main language. Luckily Agathe is fluent in French & English so she was able to translate for us! But it was cool being exposed to that & trying to interact and communicate with people whose first language isn't English. Another observation were the meals. When we sat down for lunch one day and finished the first course, I remember thinking "okay time to clean up the dishes", but no, the food kept coming out. They break up their meals into 4 courses instead of eating it all at once like we typically do. I really like that concept because it gives everyone a chance to enjoy their food & the company. The main food group in France is definitely BREAD. Breakfast, lunch & dinner was bread, bread & more bread! I think I've turned into a loaf by now. 
Next stop, Nice! I was  looking forward to Nice because I knew  there would be sunshine. Our two good friends from Manchester, Kane & Oscar, were meeting us here! Stepping off of the train you felt the warm sunshine and cool breeze on your face. Amanda & I had no room in our luggage- we had to wear 3 layers of clothing, so it was a pretty hot trek up to our AirBnB. We met up with the boys and spent our first night exploring, grabbing dinner in Old Towne & sitting on the beach. The next day we hiked up to Castle Hill, where breathtaking views overlooked the city. It was a gorgeous day as well, with not a cloud in the sky. The whole next day was spent laying out at the beach which was absolutely wonderful. The beaches here are different than America - they have rocks instead of sand.   Our last day we took a train to Monaco which is known as "the playground of the rich", Now I totally understand why.  On every corner there were either Maserati or yachts. Let's just say my new goal is to retire here one day. Having a few days to relax in Nice and hangout with friends was the perfect way to end my Spring Break!- so many good memories.

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