Well I’m home. I flew out of Amsterdam this morning after 3 great days in Holland. I’m exhausted and though I wish the trip had been longer, as you can see by the increasing spelling and grammatical errors in my posts, I am quite out of stamina. For my first trip, 2 weeks was just about right. I learned a lot and though I would have liked to spend more time in some places, the trip was perfectly planned. I’ll definitely be traveling again! It’s nice to be in familiar surroundings and get a change of clothes but I think I’m already suffering backpack withdrawal!
Paris is a beautiful city and I was already quite charmed with it by the the time I reached Montmartre for a walking tour on my last night in the city. But Montmartre is something all it’s own. I was raining again when I stepped out of the metro station and it was colder than the night before. I decided I was not quite as tough this evening so dug into my bag for my huge plastic camping poncho. I realize I looked like a walking garbage bag and quite silly to the locals but I was dry and therefore fairly warm. I was in the neighborhood to try out a “free” walking tour from Sandeman’s and hoped that I would not be the only one. It turned out that the word free draws many people, even in the rain and the group was split into 2 groups of about 15 or so. In my group I discovered a man and woman who had been on the previous night’s bike tour and, being in a bit of a better mood, I enjoyed the company. Now one must realize that I am a theatre student as well as the daughter of an art teacher so to be in the neighborhood of the Moulin Rouge and also artists such as Picasso and Van Gogh was a neat experience. The guide was fantastic and told great stories and histories about the places we stopped. I have pictures of the house where Van Gogh lived with his brother Theo during his “blue period” and saw the window of the apartment containing “The Blue Room”. I also saw “Rue de L’Abreuvoir” “La Maison Rose”, “Au Lapin Agile”, “Le Bateau Lavoir” and other haunts of well known artists. The Scare-Coeur Basilica tops this lovely hill with its narrow winding streets of brick and stone and though it is relatively new, it is unique and impressive in its architecture and absolutely breathtaking inside. The atmosphere is quiet, reverent, and weighted with emotion; a very moving experience if you allow it. By the end of the tour the rain had cleared and the evening was rather nice. I was disappointed the walk was over because I had enjoyed the place so much. Some streets were quiet and contemplative and others were full of cafes and shops and people. I think it’s a little sad that it has lost much of its bohemian charm to tourism and wealthy people but it remains a beautiful places tucked away just north of the main city of Paris. Read the rest of this entry »
One thing I have wanted to do all my life is visit the Netherlands. I was in Amsterdam today and that was nice but tomorrow I go to the place where my grandpa was born and grew up. I will be visiting Alkmaar, Holland. I am rather excited since, from what I have heard, there is still some old traditions there and I will be able to see some of my own family history. I am staying with the family of an exchange student my family had 4 years ago (I claim her as “sister” since neither of us has a biological sister) and they are excited to drive me to Alkmaar and take me to the addresses I got from my grandparents. I think it will be a fun day! But since it is late again and I must get up early I don’t have time to continue my adventures in Paris tonight. But I will finish…I just have to get the time to really detail one of the best nights of my trip! For now, I have to sleep.
Wow I just read the post I wrote last night. It actually makes more sense than I thought it would but it rambles a lot! I think I need to return to documenting the trip in order for the rest to start making sense. I don’t think I’ve talked about Paris at all actually. I was so tired when I got in and it was later than I wanted. Up until then I had been in places that spoke English primarily and now I was in France…scary! The French do not like to be delayed or stopped and they seem to not like to speak English. In America they would be considered quite rude but I think it is just their way. I wanted to take a Fat Tire bike tour in the morning but as I arrived in Paris I felt awful and I decided I probably had a sinus infection. I called mom and then I started taking some antibiotics that I had brought for “just in case”. Thank goodness for my doctor! So drugged up like crazy and felt literally like 800 times better the next morning. I decided not to push myself for the 11am bike tour but decided to head to Notre Dame and aim to catch the 3pm tour instead. And thus the Adventure began! Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been in a very strange mood today and I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps because I had to leave Paris and I feel like I left…unfinished. I’m quite tired and my day was not so great. It’s a bit exhausting to think about recounting all that has happened so I will leave that for my easy day tomorrow. Paris excited me in a similar way to my day on the Aran Islands in Ireland. It was different because it was a completely different experience but it was of similar degree. The difference in Paris was that I became more reflective and also the experience brought up some negative things. On Inismor it was a powerful, exhilarating thing that came from deep within and occasionally made me just laugh out loud. I felt free, independent, strong. In Paris, it was slow, deep, and reflective. I was experiencing a lot of loneliness but I was still happy and having a good time. Slowly, I began dealing with being alone and embracing a little bit of loneliness and finding the inner strength that I pretend to have. I can have it when I’m with people but I realized that it can grow to sustain me alone as well. And with that realization comes more appreciation and gratitude for the company of other people and a stronger confidence in myself. Now I’m not sure if that really makes any sense and I’m not sure it’s really all that is going on in my head and emotions but it’s way too late and I will probably have to edit this rambling in the morning.
Paris has been wonderful. A bit rushed and I haven’t had a lot of time to write but I promise I will update soon. Right now I have a lot of weird things going on in my head. I’ll admit I feel a little bit out of character for me but Paris has seemed to bring out some buried feelings both good and bad and I’m really not sure what to make of it. I wish I didn’t have to leave but I’m off to try to catch a train since I’m supposed to meet someone today and it would be rude of me to change plans so late if I can help it. Hopefully I haven’t waited too late. It’s raining and I have a strange feeling this day is not going to go as smoothly as I wish.
Well I’m back. I’m in Paris now but since I’m a day behind in my posts, let me catch up. Ok where did I leave off? Oh yeah, being shown around London by an Aussie. Well yesterday was my last day in London and I was looking forward to meeting up with my dad last night and bumming a real hotel room from him. I spent the morning at the Burough Market and had lunch there then headed to the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. I spent several hours there. I took an audio tour which was awesome and then I just walked around and finally I got to see the Crown Jewels. Wow I’ve never seen so many diamonds. I mean, so many gems it was hard to believe they were all real! I also went back to the globe for a bit and took a couple more pictures. Such a neat place. I decided to wrap up the day and head across town to the hotel where I was going to be meeting dad. They let me check in and I went and took a long, hot shower. It was sooooo nice! I slept well which is more than I can say about the night before. But last night and all day today my allergies have been getting worse despite a couple of different pills. I think I might have a sinus infection. Yay me. Anyway, this morning I saw the changing of the gaurd…well…kinda. There were a LOT of people there. Then I wandered to Westminster and saw Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, etc. I finally headed to the Eurostar station to head out of town. However, I got a nasty surprise when I got there. I was unaware that student tickets and Eurail tickets were limited and there were hardly any tickets left at all for the day! Now I’m a grown up and if I had to I could have found somewhere to sleep. But I really wanted to get here because my time is slightly limited here. So I ended up paying a royal FORTUNE for a standard seat. Oh well, I got here and I feel like crap and I’m tired. Plus I never got any dinner. Anyway, here I am and I hope I feel better tomorrow because I’m going on a bike tour! Btw, really nice hostel in Paris, I’m liking it a lot. Check out the pictures I finally got on my computer to upload.
My allergies are killer today, it’s late and I’m quite tired. But I will recount some of what I have been up to. I saw Shakespeare yesterday “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, in the globe. (pause for moment of awe) It was amazing! 5 pounds for a standing ticket and worth every bit and more! I was quite close to the stage and it was awesome to be that close to the action. The actors were amazing and it’s the best Shakespeare I’ve ever heard. Just an absolutely fantastic experience…I didn’t even mind not sitting for a couple of hours. The weather was beautiful and afterward I just wandered back toward the hostel. On the way I stopped at a pub on the river for some dinner. Of course I never did end up eating there. I was sitting and there was a party of young business people next to me. An older gentleman was making fun of “drunk Americans” and asked if I knew any. Haha…yeah, I think I know a few Americans. That’s when he heard my accent of course. Turns out he was Australian and was with a group of people only one of which was actually British. So he invited me to join nd offered me champagne, which I couldn’t refuse. So I’m drinking free champagne with several Aussies, a South African, a couple of Americans, and a Brit. Then the older guy come back around and introduces me to this young Aussie and seems intent to hook me up. Well I did end up going to grab some dinner with him and getting a mini tour of the Westminster, Soho area by cab. So weird…being shown London by an Australian…
My computer is about to die so I will end for now and update about what I did today at a later time.
I arrived in London today after paying a little more for a flight than I wanted. Still not too bad though. My first impression of London is that I don’t really like it. It’s just a city; I could be in Chicago as much as I can tell. But I’m quite tired from not sleeping much last night so maybe tomorrow after I have had some sleep and I get out and see some cool things I will have a different opinion. The hostel is ok but probably my least favorite I’ve stayed in so far. The location can’t be beat though, right near London Bridge! There is a big soccer game going on so the bar is much too crowded for me to handle tonight. I put my laundry in upstairs and am washing most of my clothes for the first time on the trip; it will be nice to have clean pants again. Tomorrow I’ll be at the Globe, the real reason I came to London at all. I hope the weather is nice since I’ll be standing in the yard in true Shakespearean style. It will be nice to see some theatre plus it’s something I’m familiar with which will be nice. I like being alone and all but London is a really huge place. I guess I should find a map.