Saturday, March 5, 2016
So it’s been about 3 and a half months since I last posted…oops! I do love writing, but I guess the lack of posts translates into me actually doing more things so that’s kind of cool. Let’s see how quickly and hopefully cleverly I can catch you all up on what’s been happening. (Not that I need to, because probably only my mom will read this. She screenshots every snap chat ever including videos so she already knows everything you’re about to read, but whatever I’m going to go for it anyways. No guarantees on the wit.)
Towards the end of November I met up with Emy (see Stockholm post) and her friend in London! We did many classic tourist things such as visiting Covent Garden and Neil’s Yard and walking around the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace. Some other highlights included seeing my friend Brooks from FSU. He’s currently attending LSE and took us to an LSE party that was super fun! He also told us about this lovely place called Beigels that serves bagels all night long and I ate so many bagels and it was just wonderful. We went two nights in a row and I also bought a Challah there that is currently sitting in my freezer waiting for the next time I crave Challah French Toast. We also visited the Broadway Market in Hackney and I got to meet up with one of my best friends from Seminar Camp, Aaqib, in Hyde Park! They had a really cute winter carnival going on and ironically we ended up going to a German beer garden. The food was also another highlight. Here I typically eat just German food, so it was nice to branch out and have Lebanese food and Thai food and of course some fancy pastries. I bought plenty of Cadbury to take back (yes mom, 3 months later and I’m still hoarding my last bar) and was quite grateful for all of the sunshine and friends.
At the end of November is of course one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving! My host family, knowing it was my first Thanksgiving without my family, let me make a huge Thanksgiving dinner for everyone! They invited some of their friends and my Seminar Staff, Marek, came, as well as Felipe as he was visiting me for the weekend. The spread was complete with sweet potatoes, green beans, mashed potatoes, chicken (turkey is harder to get here and I’m a pescatarian so I don’t care anyways), pumpkin cake, peanut butter pie, cornbread, cranberries (hunted through 3 supermarkets to find those) and more. I enjoyed leftover cake for breakfast for days. Felipe and I also went to one of the Christmas Markets in Hamburg, visited the art museum where my host mom works, and went out with one of his friends. We also made it to the Fischmarkt at 6:30 a.m. woohoo!
At the beginning of December I went to a weekend-long CISV meeting in Hamburg. I met some really cool people and had a fun time, but overall it wasn’t anything super crazy/special for me. It’s really neat to see how CISV operates in another country, but it’s also okay for me to not do CISV at the moment. Living with an awesome CISV family is cool enough for me J Speaking of their awesomeness, my host dad actually made a Hanukkiyah with the kids so I could celebrate Hanukkah! I taught all of the kids how to play Dreidel and we still play it even though Hanukkah is long over.
In the middle of December I went back to Italy to see Felipe. We did a day trip to Verona where we visited Juliet’s house, walked over lots of pretty bridges, went to NYT recommended coffee and sweet shops, and once again saw buildings older than our countries. And of course we found another Arc d’Triomphe. The following weekend, my friend Nina from Seminar came to visit. We watched the German Phantom of the Opera 2 (Love Never Dies) and it was definitely the most beautiful production I have ever seen in terms of costume and stage design since of course I didn’t exactly understand too much of it. Nina and I had a fun time enjoying Franzbrotchen and I can’t wait to see her in Munich in a couple weeks!
Finally, the moment I had been waiting for came. My Padre was coming to Europe to see me!!! We had the best week together and I’m so happy and grateful he got to come and see what I do here! The fotos are on the faceybooky so you can check them out there, but I’ll go ahead and tell you the highlights. We decided to meet in Danmark because my dad loved it when he went thirty years ago and also Kristian, who stayed with us on a CISV program years ago, lives there.
I took the train to Copenhagen to meet him at the airport and greeted him with a hot pink “Padre” sign and chocolate chip cookies. We hung out at Kristian’s farm where he grew up and camped out in the living room together. We did rainy Copenhagen shopping and ate Middle Eastern style vegetarian food on our first day there, and then on the second day we did a boat tour and went to the Jewish Museum. Kristian made us a really yummy dinner one night and the next night we got to meet all of his family at a Christmas-style dinner! I “found the almond” (really I’m the youngest so they kind of gave it to me) in the rice dessert and so I got rewarded with a Marzipan pig. I gave Kristian the butt of the pig. Kristian then drove us to Germany. We took the ferry over, stopped at the famous Lubeck Christmas Market and then headed on down to Hamburg. Kristian stayed with us for a night and we all had dinner with my host family and then he drove back to Danmark.
Then it was Christmas woo! Everyone dressed up and so naturally Padre and I wore our matching Costco flannel. We went for a walk so I could show him the town and then we got back in time for Christmas afternoon desserts! Then we all opened presents as we sat around the beautiful tree with real candles. Because yes, even when there are 5 tiny kids, you can light real candles on a tree because if for some reason they get burned, they learned a lesson and it’ll never happen again. I got lots of socks for Christmas yay! And also the “house shoes” aka awesome wool slippers that are currently on my feet. After Christmas festivities, Padre and I went to Berlin for a night. We saw the Jewish Museum designed by the same architect as the Danish one, as well as the Berlin Wall, Parliament, Brandenburg Gate, Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and so much more. On Padre’s last day here we finally actually saw Hamburg where we went to the Fischmarkt, saw the best view of the city from my host grandparents’ apartment, did an Alster boat tour, and Padre had wiener schnitzel. What a wonderful week! Mom can you come too? I even got to go with Padre all the way to his gate and say goodbye as he got on the plane. Because right after that I took a plane to Italy!
I went back to Italy to see, to see Fe…wait for it lipe! (I’ve also clearly watched too much How I Met Your Mother lately because that was not legen…dary). I stayed until shortly after New Years and it was wonderful! We hung out with his family, ate really good food, went back to Lake Como, toured a parmesan cheese factory in Parma, went to a cute little ski town called Cervinia, and so much more! Felipe came back to Hamburg in January then I went back in February and we saw Torino. I drank their classic drink, Al Bicerin, and we went to the world-renowned Egyptian museum there. Now Felipe is back in Brasil so no more Italy trips for awhile. But I mean who can complain when you see where I went next?
Paris!!! I LOVED Paris. Now even though I’m only a little French I like that little French bit (shout out to Cartier-Bresson) and I love when I can tell my waitress my name the French (aka proper) way. London was cool too, but let’s be real if I want to go hear some English in a kick-ass city it’ll always be NYC. Paris was completely different and beautiful in it’s own way. I garnered a huge appreciation for ceilings from all of these magnificent buildings (which yes, look quite bleak often from the outside but are quite nice and warmly lit inside) and the many museums and restaurants we entered.
Paris was also super fun because I met up with an old CISV friend, Chris, from the USA! He has a fit bit and we logged almost 30,000 steps a day. Woohoo! (P.S. Chris I swear I have Achilles tendonitis from all those steps). We both arrived early Friday morning and hit the ground running. We had lunch and coffee at Paul’s then went to the Louvre! Of course we saw the Mona Lisa, and yes, it does feel like she looks at you as you walk. Then we had the most wonderful hot chocolate of my life at Angelina’s. I also had this really yummy dessert that looks way too red but tasted like a combo between ice cream and panna cotta. Then we walked along the Promenade Plantee, a walkway for which the High Line in NYC was modeled after. We also saw Bastille and the Republique Plaza, met up with Chris’s CISV friend for a bit, and then had dinner at PNY Burger.
Saturday morning we started early to go to Versailles! The palace was absolutely incredible. You could spend days trying to get to know it, just like the Louvre. Then we headed back to the city to see the Sacre Coeur and Notre Dame. Yes, I pretended to be a Hunchback while standing outside in the pouring rain. Following that, we enjoyed the famous Berthillion ice cream. I had speculous (cookie butter) and salted caramel with cream and chocolate and meringues! (Hence need for 30,000 steps). Chris also was able to make us a reservation at a nice little restaurant, La Coincidence, for dinner. We had the most wonderful food and I enjoyed the cartoon decorations though they still won’t beat the New Yorker cartoons. Then we went to the Arc d’Triomphe to look out over the city. After, we bought macarons at the Laduree on Champs Elysees and went to the Eiffel Tower! I love how it glitters once an hour.
Sunday morning we started off by going to a local market, Marché des Enfants Rouges. It has some world famous Moroccan food, Le Traiteur Marocain, and we loved it! Then we headed down to the Jewish quarter where I enjoyed seeing the familiar Hebrew and buying Challah from the famous La Boutique Jaune de Sacha Finkelsztajn. Afterwards we headed over to the Musee d'Orsay. We tried to go into the catacombs, but as the line was too long, we saw a cemetery and then went to the top of the Montparnasse Tower. From there we rested our legs a bit and did a sunset boat tour along the Seine. Then we went to the Pompidou museum and ended our journeys by eating fondue at Les Fondus de la Raclette. Overall, Paris was magical. I would love to see it again sometime but for now I look forward to other adventures!
Other fun, random things:
- I discovered chick peas and pearl couscous at the Arabic market and am quite happy about it.
- I found the blender in the pantry and have been making smoothies and hummus.
- I made a friend. She’s another Au Pair from the USA who already graduated university and we both used to teach swimming lessons.
- I walk a dog now about once a week. Her name is Maggie (like the dog I had as a child) and she’s super sweet and looks like Lola but white!
- I can build fires in the Swedish oven we use to help heat the house.
- I got my first inhaler. I don’t actually have asthma, but I’ve been metaphorically hacking up a lung and taking a bit of Albuterol every day really helps!
- I still don’t know what I’m doing with my life but I’ve realized I’ll always be a bit confused and that I’ll somehow keep figuring out the next step.
- It’s my birthday in a few days and my best friend is coming to visit woohoo!!!
P.S. Mom I’m secretly very grateful that you screenshot everything I send you because I can go through your phone when I get back and have a good ole time remembering everything J
~ Pics coming soon ~