Monday, February 14, 2011

Planes, Trains, & Automobiles.

I really do mean to update this more often however everyday here flies by like you would not believe. I dread getting out of my warm, cozy bed and going to class like every other college student and all of a sudden I am back in my bed to sleep for the night. It is unreal sometimes.
Last weekend (Feb 4-6th) I visited Monfalcone, Italy with Tessa to stay with her aunt and uncle. We took a train from Florence to Monfalcone in about 4 hours. Her uncle and cousin picked us up from the train station and took us to her aunts house where she had lunch waiting for us. When I say lunch I really mean a 4 course dinner that makes you not want to eat for days following. Tessa's aunt Silvana is one of the most generous people I have ever met, she is right up there with my grandma Judy. This women did not start eating until everyone had their food and anything else they could have wanted. She then scarfed down her food to be done first so that she could clear the table and bring you a fresh dish for the next course. Once again I ate my body mass in food in a matter of 3 days. This is becoming a trend, maybe I should not eat during the week and just eat on the weekends and A: I will save money, B: I will not gain 4857 pounds! =]
When I say I visited her family in Italy I mean they are full on Italian, none of them spoke much English. However, that was half of the fun. I could tell what they were talking about most of the time by hearing a few key words that I have learned. The times where I did not understand what they were saying I just turned to the T.V that was always on and realized great this is in Italian too, I'm screwed. It was a good experience and it was like I was doing Italian homework and studying all weekend just by being there. The rest of the weekend we hung out with her family, we visited the Mediterranean Sea on Friday and then on Saturday her uncle took us to Trieste, a beautiful costal town in the North East tip of Italy. It was a very relaxing weekend and a nice change of scenery from the city of Florence.
The week following was very chill, nothing too exciting happened during the week, I went to class and studied for a test I had. However, there was a chocolate fest that ran from Sunday-Saturday, so naturally we stopped there almost everyday on the way to class. I normally got cappuccino on the way to class, and the last day we were here while it was going on I had the best chocolate covered strawberries and bananas on a stick. It was pretty much like eating heaven. Being the wonderful/caring/nice daughter I am, I purchased a few truffles for my mother (who comes in 18 days) and they are waiting in the fridge for her arrival. Now the question will be, how many will actually remain?
This brings me to Thursday, the day that started the most amazing weekend of my life. All week it was so hard waiting for this moment to come. A place that I have had a picture on my wall of since I was in middle school. The place they call the "city of love" and the "city of lights", it was both of those and much much more. Paris is my new favorite city of anywhere I have ever been. If you know me you are aware of my obsession with New York City, and I am afraid to say I think I liked Paris even more. While we were there I just felt this sense of belonging and pride that I have not experienced before.
A group of 7 of us left on Thursday, Feb 10 at 3 p.m from Florence train station. This is where the blog title comes into play. We took a train from Florence to Pisa, another train from Pisa central to Pisa Airport, a plane to the outskirts of Paris, an hour bus ride into the city, and 3 subways before we reached our hostel. We arrived at 12:30 a.m after 9 hours of traveling. It was worse that coming from the US to Italy in January. We were all so hungry when we arrived that we ate at the first place we saw, which was a burger stand. I know you are all thinking, "she is in Paris, France how can she be eating a burger?!" I will tell you, that was the best burger and fries I have ever had. I am not sure if it was because my level of hunger or if was just really good, we will never know. We stated at a hostel called OOPS! and it exceeded my expectations by far when I thought of the word hostel. There were 7 girls in my group so we had 3 bunk beds and one extra mattress on the floor. The beds were not the most comfortable mattresses to sleep on but I was so tired every night that it did not phase me in the least bit. Another nice thing about having our own room was that we could leave our stuff there during the day and not have to lug our backpacks around. Again for those of you know who know me, yes I Meghan Elizabeth Hawsman packed in a backpack to PARIS for 3 days! You all would be so proud of me. This is coming from the person packs for a weekend in a suitcase and still does not have enough room. I think I am turning a new leaf. Another great thing about the hostel was the free breakfast every morning. There were croissants, cereal, coffee and juice. I am sure I paid for in the 88 euro I paid for the 3 nights but it was nice not to shell out any extra cash in the morning.
The first day we were there we went to Pere Lachaise Cemetery. This place was absolutely enormous. It extended for a good mile back and at least a 1/2 mile wide. There are individuals such as Oscar Wilde, James Morrison, and the composer Chopin buried there. It was amazing to see all of the old tombstones and to see how intricate some of the designs were. The weather was gorgeous, it was 62 and sunny blue skies. I walked around the for most of the day with my coat off which was fantastic. It was one of those spring days where even the worst frown could be turned upside down! After we went to the cemetery we stopped at a bakery and I had the best raison croissant of my entire life, okay it was the first time I have ever had one but the buttery crust literally melted in your mouth as you ate it. We then decided to head toward the Arc De Triomphe. This famous Peresian landmark like many of the others looked a lot closed on the map then it actually was. I think we ended up walking a little over a mile to get there. We walked a lot all weekend, which was good to counteract all that I was eating. Once we arrived we took photos of course and just relished in the moment. We then walked under the street to go inside of the arc. From this point you could see the tip of the Eiffel Tower so naturally we walked there next. Once again it looked a lot closer than it actually was. The walk there was totally worth every step. Every street we walked on we got closer and closer to the tower. You were able to see it pretty far away but once I got closer to it, it really hit me that I was in Paris. The Eiffel Tower is nothing like I imagined it to be. It was a lot bigger than I pictured. It was almost intimidating being that close to such an iconic symbol. I don't think I have ever taken as many pictures of something as I did of the tower. It would have been impossible to not take any pictures. At one point I had to put my camera away just so I could live in the moment and take every feeling in. After the Eiffel Tower we ate lunch at this little sandwich shop down the street that was very tasty. We then hoped on the subway (which was very convenient and easy to navigate) towards the Louvre. After 6 p.m students under the age of 25 for in for free so we were a little early and spent time looking in a few shops in the area. We then made our way to the museum. I am not a huge fan of art but it was pretty cool to see the Mona Lisa in person, she is a lot smaller than I thought she would be, and be a part of the history that corresponds with the art that is housed in the Louvre. The outside of the building was awesome with the glass triangles as the main architectural focus. After the museum we made it outside just in time to see the Eiffel Tower light up and sparkle. And I didn't think it could look any prettier, well it did. We walked down this set of cement stairs not knowing where it led and ended up right on the Siene river, which we sat down and dangled our feet over the water's edge watching all the dinner boats go by and staring in awe at the tower from a few miles away. After that we were all hungry again (go figure) so we hopped on the subway back towards our hostel and ate at a Spanish restaurant right down the street. **Dad don't read this** I had the best beer ever at dinner, they made it in the restaurant so naturally I had to try some! After dinner we had to try the famous crepes we saw on every corner. We didn't want any typical crepe so we asked the receptionist at the hostel were the best one in the area was and he gave us directions to one that was about a 15 minuet walk away. I would have walked 4 hours for this crepe place it was amazing. I have a Nutella and banana crepe and it was so good! I could eat those every hour on the hour for the rest of my life.
On Saturday morning we woke up and headed for Notre Dame. I was a little upset I did not see Quasimoto swinging from the bell tower. The church was beautiful inside and out. For sure one of those places that you have to go to once in your lifetime. After the church we went to the Pompidou Modern Art museum. This is more my style of art. The pictures that don't make sense to everyone and that are up for interpretation for each individual. It was also amazing to stand inches in front of something painted by Picasso. After this museum we went shopping in this really dingy, crowded, hot underground mall. That lasted all of an hour before we were so irritated that we wanted to leave. Then the next mission was to the Longchamp store. This was my mission the whole trip of Paris, I was going to buy another Longchamp bag because they are made in Paris and thought it would be really cool to have one from there. We realized that we were pretty far from the store but decided to walk there anyway. When I say far we were at address 20 and the address of the store was 404, that is a lot of city blocks. After stopping at a store to buy my brother the best present in the whole entire world (you will have to wait until May to find out what it is) we started to haul ass to the store. Kate and I got pretty far ahead of the group because it was getting late and I wanted to make sure I got there before it closed. We finally reached the store and it was gleaming with radiant light around the bags in the window that of course said "BUY ME BUY ME", that seems so happen to me a lot in Europe. This is where I would like to end this story with I bought the cutest bag of my entire life. Nope, as soon as I went to open the door then man behind the glass locked the door and waved his hand in a cruel "we are closed" motion. This broke my heart. I waited all weekend to go to this store and and was within reach and they were closed. The workers were walking out and I asked "what time do you open tomorrow" and she said "we open at 10:30 a.m on MONDAY", this was not going to work seeing that we left Sunday to return to Florence. So like a two year old a shed a few tears, not because I didn't get the bag, but because the only thing that I wanted to do in Paris was a fail. After a second of defeat I remembered where I was and all was good again. It was totally cured by riding the ferris wheel at night and overlooking the whole entire city of lights. That was spectacular, and the best 10 euro I have ever spent! 
Sunday was the saddest day, I had to wake up and leave my new favorite city. It was rainy and gloomy outside which was a perfect fit for the mood I was in. Again I realized that I was going home to Italy and not Ohio so my mood was once again lifted. We hung out for a while got another crepe (the man recognized me from the two previous days I visited his stand and knew what I wanted before I ordered). We then made our way to the subway so we could ride the bus to the airport to be able to catch the two trains we needed to be on in order to return to Florence. Another full day of traveling. All in all it was 100% worth the 9 hours I spent sitting on my behind. 
After reading this I think it is safe to say I am in love with Paris, I know 3 words in French and am determined to live there one day. 
For all of those that my mom has not texted/called/e-mailed/facebooked this too, I am going to the Royal Wedding in April with Ashlee!! More details to come later, but I wanted to tell everyone because a little part of me died when she asked me to go. My two goals when I came to Europe: attend the Royal Wedding and meet George Clooney. I can check one of the list, now it is time to check the other off as well. 

I will write soon!!

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