Category Archives: Study abroad

So You’re Studying Abroad in Europe…

Some Tips to Make the Most of Your Experience

1. Travel outside of the city you’re staying in. 

Whether if it’s going to a completely different country, or a city in the same country, make the most of your time in Europe. It’s very easy to get around in Europe by train or plane. Bianca and I bought a global train pass (expensive, but definitely worth it) to get around to four other countries and four other French cities. You’re young and  this is your chance to travel. Worry about the money later because Europe has many surprises you’ll never know about if you don’t go.

2. Expect to pay a lot of money EVERYWHERE. 

This even includes your sandwich for lunch. I even paid around 10 us dollars for a Pepsi you couldn’t even get a refill on once at a restaurant. If you want to save money, cook food at home and don’t buy every single souvenir you come across. Instead, buy practical things you will actually use, like a sweatshirt or a shot glass. You don’t need a snowglobe from every city you visit or 50 eiffel tower key chains.

3. But remember to use your student ID card from your foreign university.

If your university offers you an ID card, there are a lot of discounts for students everywhere. Most of these things are touristy things, such as museums or churches, but this also includes cheaper movies. I even got into Musee D’Orsay, Les Invalides, L’Orangerie, and Centre Pompidou for free because of my student ID card in Paris.

4. Everyone, and I mean everyone, will know you’re American. 

Okay, so we did trick like three people into thinking we were from Switzerland and Canada, but for the most part people immediately know you’re American. They may or may not be rude to you, but most of the time they are nice about it. What bugged me most is that every time I spoke French, they spoke back in English. So, if you’re worried about speaking the language, most Europeans know English. Also, please don’t dress/act too obviously American, some Europeans will be annoyed.

5. Pack Lightly. 

Bring enough clothes to last you a while, but you don’t have to go overboard. Gross, but I rewore many things without washing them. It’s just how it works. Many Parisians do not own dryers, so also be aware of that. Taking three days to dry your pants does suck. Carrying my suitcases were heavy enough (it’s two days later and my arms STILL hurt from dragging them in the metro). It’s okay to be an outfit repeater, Lizzie McGuire.

6. Master that public transportation.

For the first few days, don’t be afraid to ask how to get somewhere. However, the metro (at least in Paris) is SUPER easy to figure out only after a few days. Don’t be ashamed of carrying around a map either, it’s better to look super touristy than get lost. If you’re studying in Paris, make sure you buy a NaviGo pass to take you around all public transportation. It’s expensive, but worth it for the amount of times you will need to use the metro/tram/RER/bus.

7. Go to fun places, but also take time to learn the history of your country.

Bianca and I decided to take a whole day trip to the Normandy D Day beaches, which was something I’ve never done before. We learned so much about WW2, and had a blast while doing it. You’re not only here to do fun things like climb the Eiffel Tower, but learn about your country’s past, present, and future. Take your time to invest in your country’s rich history. Go beyond the norm (andy).

8. When doing touristy things, don’t rush them.

Take your time to admire the beauty of the church you’re sitting in. Buy an audio guide and learn the history. People watch a little. Bianca would play inspiring music as we would sit and observe places like the top of the Eiffel Tower. You need to make those moments count.

9. Don’t forget to take down time.

It’s okay to spend your Sunday sleeping all day after a busy week of school and sight seeing. Bianca and I were definitely guilty of this. You may feel guilty not doing anything, but it’s okay. You don’t want to get burnt out.

10. Also don’t forget to ACTUALLY do your homework.

The number one reason you came there is to learn, right? Okay, so that’s what you told your parents. But, you are spending a lot of money on tuition, so it’s important to keep up with school work.

11. Make friends from across the world

In my program, I met people from Taiwan to Canada to Sweden to Texas. Each and every person can teach you about THEIR culture. So not only are you learning about the country you’re studying in’s culture, you can learn about other cultures around the world. Our friend Dan told us more than I ever knew about Korea’s history. And we learned he’s a descendant of the Ming Dynasty.

12. Grab local magazines and newspapers and READ them. 

You’ll not only learn about local culture and events, but you can easily practice understanding the local language in a practical way. Plus, I thought I looked more Parisian on the metro while doing this…

12. Get used to not being on social media 24/7

Forget about your friends and their lives at home for a little while, as selfish as that seems. Catch up at night when you have WIFI, but don’t obsess over the fact you can’t tweet about the fact you thought you saw Joe Jonas in a boutique. You’re here to enjoy the experience, so don’t go and try to find that free WiFi at McDonalds every five blocks.

13. By the way, go to American restaurants like McDonald’s to see how they are different.

I HATE McDonalds in the US, but in Paris they had potato wedges and in London they have waffle fries. America, you’re really slacking here. Plus, it’s 10 times cheaper than other places.

14. But don’t forget to splurge and go to local restaurants. 

You should make time to figure out the best restaurants and bars in the area.

15. It may be worth it to get a guide book. 

We bought Rick Steve’s guide to Europe to help us get around. It gave us a base of what we should actually do, and if it was worth going there. Of course, you should TRY to do things not typically mentioned in touristic books such as drinking wine by the Eiffel Tower at night to going to a local movie theatre. Sometimes, the weird ideas are the most fun ideas.

16. When traveling, don’t be afraid of staying in hostels. 

They actually aren’t as scary as they seem, and many even have their own private rooms so they seem like hotels. The easiest way to book them is on either hostels.com or hostelworld.com, where people can rate them and you can pick the price you want to spend. They are actually pretty cool, because you can meet other people. Our hostel in London was awesome, it was a Youth Hostel and they gave us discounts on tourist attractions in London. Our hostel in Brussels was actually more of a hotel…for the price of a hostel. Plus, it had a bar in it, was brand new, and they helped us decide where to go out during the night and day. I mean we did kind of luck out with our last hostel in Geneva when we had to room with old grumpy ladies…

17. Be those tourists and go on the hop on hop off buses in bigger cities. 

Not only do you get transportation to the most touristic places, but you get commentary about the city you otherwise would have not learned. For example, in London I learned what building was used in Harry Potter as the Ministry of Magic.

18. It’s okay to take 1000’s of pictures

And post them all on FaceBook…hey your grandma wants to see them right? Just don’t get too caught up with capturing the perfect picture. Enjoy the memoment, yet again.

19If you’re a girl, you will get cat called at least once. 

On our way to a bar in Brussels, we were cat called 35 times. A lot of creepy guys try to hit on American girls, so just be careful and safe. Don’t walk alone and all the stuff like here in America, but be extra safe.

20Write a blog. Or at least keep a journal.

You want to remember this stuff! And, all your relatives do want to read what’s been going on in your life. Plus, you won’t have to repeat it 100x’s to everyone. Make sure you actually do it though… I’m still a little behind. Write down the weird details and stories. I know I’m still pissed I didn’t write about Italy in my last trip to Europe.

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SWITZERLAND!

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The next day, we had our 6 hour train ride (yes, we’re pretty used to this whole train thing now) to Geneva, Switzerland.  I’ve now officially been to more countries (US, Mexico, France, Spain, Italy, England, Belgium, Vatican City, Monaco, and Switzerland) than states (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Arizona, Florida, and Michigan for a day). I’m not including being in airports though (I’ve been to Germany’s airport, and also in DC, Texas, New York, Ohio, and other airports in the US and I’m about to land in Boston right now…which I could stay). I really think the US should have more passenger trains because it’s so easy to get around here. Life would be so much easier just taking a train to Milwaukee to go to Summerfest or to see Kelso. I slept the entire way there while B looked out at scenery and listened to music…for six hours straight. She still doesn’t know how she did that.  When we arrived, we had to switch our euros to swiss francs (okay Switzerland okay, too good for the Euro?) Basically, everything there was so expensive.

Geneva may  be the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. Our hostel was really close to Lake Geneva or Lac Leman in French.  The lake was the bluest blue, and was perfect with mountains surrounding it. It’s the definition of breathtaking. Don’t worry, Tony, Lake Shishebogama will forever be my favorite and the most beautiful lake in my mind (aka my lake where my cabin is).

That night, we really didn’t know what to do so we got food and found a beach volleyball tournament right next to the lake. I’ve never actually seen beach volleyball like that in person, so it was really cool. The next day we vowed to return to see the men play. After, we got back to our hostel and we shared our room with some older women. Three of which came back after we were in bed and made quite the noise. I didn’t care, but the other sole lady seemed to care. There m  was a music festival going on nearby so we heard maybe the weirdest French music ever. This included French rap and French heavy metal. I couldn’t stop laughing at it, really.

The next day, we were to have a tour of Geneva. Of course, we went to the wrong meeting place and missed the bus. We found the tour guide office though and got them to let us go the next day. This was totally a Nikki Bianca move, oops. Oh well, we had extra time to go to the Chillon Castle in Montreux. When we were walking, a police officer stopped to tell me that I needed to put on sunscreen because I was really burnt. Thank you, kind sir. After, we hopped on a train (that happened to be free, yay us!) that was an hour long on the shores of the lake.  Montreux had their Jazz Festival going on at the same time; so many tents were set up along the lake. Who needs Summerfest when you have this? Wycelf Jean was even playing that night, damn too bad we didn’t go. Green Day was playing the next day….tempting to go see them twice in Europe. I then ate my last crepe of my voyage (crying inside) and we headed on a boat ride to the castle.

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It is a must to someday take a boat on Lake Geneva guys. It’s beautiful. The castle is RIGHT on the lake. Like literally built on a rock on the lake. And then, there are mountains behind it and in front of it. Literally picture perfect. We first walked to a little beach next to castle and sat on rocks and took classic scenery pictures. After, we went inside the castle, and found wifi so I actually got to snapchat from a cool place in Europe. I can’t believe how American Teenager that sounds… The castle started out being just a fortress, but was added on over the years. This time, we didn’t splurge on an audio guide, but we found free videos to watch around the castle to learn more about its history. After our visit, we took the boat back to the train station where we headed back to Geneva. Back in Geneva, we decided to head to the English Gardens. Geneva is known as being a very green city, with twice as many trees as people. There, we bought some souvenirs, and also found the flower clock.

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Then, we watched some more beach volleyball. This time, it was men’s, to our luck. I’m officially men’s beach volleyball’s newest fan. I’m pretty sure B & I acted like fifth graders gawking over them…our bad. Oh, and I got my first cowboy hat. In Switzerland. Makes sense. Just reppin’ Amurica everywhere we go. It was free guys, don’t worry.

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Back at the hostel, we found new roommates. Who were old. Like old women. I don’t think they got the memo it was a YOUTH hostel. It was only 10 pm and they were passed out. One lady even groaned when I opened the door to get ready for bed. Sorry lady, it wasn’t even quiet hours yet. Anyways, when we got to bed, the crazy French bands were playing again. And one old lady just wasn’t having it. She got all mad and decided to shut the window, even though it was SUPER HOT in the room. So three minutes later, a different younger lady opened the window and the older lady had a HISSY FIT. It was hilarious hearing her get so upset in French though. She was like, “I HAVE TO WORK IN THE MORNING!” Okay, honey, you really shouldn’t stay in a youth hostel then. They may or may not be loud. Still, it was hilarious.

The next day, we made it to our tour on time! Yay us! We went on a bus tour of the city, and we got to see many international buildings, like the UN and the Red Cross (la Croix Rouge). Of course, since I learned about all these organizations in my international relations class, I kind of sorta flipped out. Sorry nerdy Nikki alert. The Red Cross was created in Geneva, so it was really awesome to actually see the headquarters building. After, we got on a train to see the old part of town, which included churches and pretty architecture. It wasn’t anything too spectacular, but still super pretty. It reminded me a lot of Brussels.

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After, Bianca and I got some food and watched…I’ll let you guess…even more beach volleyball! We headed to the beach on Lake Geneva, and we layed out for a while…until I had the strong urge to go jump off the swim raft. It really  made me miss my cabin. They then opened the jump towers. The tallest one was SUPER SUPER TALL. Like, a lot taller than you’d think. But, of course we had to do it. After a few minutes of debating, I jumped off of it. And yes, the fall was as long as it seemed. But, it was AWESOME. May have been one of the most fun things I’ve done here. I’m pretty sure it was the highest thing I’ve jumped off of. But don’t worry mom, a lifeguard was watching us. We made friends with a British girl who was too scared to jump off of the jump platforms, so we helped her jump in. There were these little British boys (who now live in France, so they would speak both languages) who were hilarious. They thought we were Austrailian and tried to scare us when we attempted to jump off. The best part was when they would jump, they would say, “HOOT HOOT BANANA!” super loud. No idea what that means, but I couldn’t stop laughing. After Bianca got hit on by a creepy older dude (he told her she was beautiful and classy, I think it was the cowboy hat), we left to go lay out some more. Which by the way I regret doing that because I got burnt. My legs hurt SO bad that night. Don’t you worry though, I’m fine now.  PS: We’ve gotten so many compliments on our cowboy hats that it’s hilarious. True American spirit I guess.

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When we went back to the hostel to pick up our bags, we accidentally got my converter stuck in the wall and had to leave it there…oopsie poopsie. We then got on the three hour train ride back to Paris. We didn’t have our keys anymore to our host mom’s apartment, so we couldn’t get in. We also didn’t know the code. So we tried calling “Caroline” over and over again. Then we called and texted her. No response yet…So Bianca decides to go into the parking area where someone had just opened the gate to see if there was a way in the back. Unfortunately, she got stuck in the gate…oopsie poopsie again. Of course that would only happen to us. Luckily, Caroline finally popped her head out of the window and led Bianca out and gave us the code to get in. I was in so much pain from my burns that I just crashed and decided to pack in the morning while Bianca packed as I slept our last night in Paris.

NICE!

The next day, we took a three-hour train to Nice (pronounced niece, not nice). It’s a city right on the Mediterranean Sea. Basically, it’s beautiful.

The first day, we checked into our hostel where they had upgraded us from a three-person room to our own personal room! Yay we didn’t have to share a room with creepers…but we did have to share a bed. I mean, ew Bianca smells.  The hostel was cute, and was 50 meters next to the sea. However, there were ants. Many ants. And it took us five years to find the place.

That first day, we took a little train tour (aka a mini trolley) that took us around town like true tourists. Almost missed it because we had to go get food like true Americans. Stuffing our faces while being a tourist. Anyways, it took us up a hill that lead to where the old castle once stood. I was disappointed to find out that the castle no longer existed…however we did get a great view of the city and the beach. After, we decided to head to Monaco! Yes, that is a country. It’s smaller than Madison…actually just a little bigger than Sun Prairie population wise. It’s the second smallest country in the world after Vatican City. Lucky for us, there was a bus from Nice to Monaco for only 1.50 each way. PERFECT! We got to Monaco, not knowing where we should have gotten off at, and found our way to Monte Carlo Casino. Of course, we went inside, where Bianca gambled. I didn’t have enough cash on me, but B played the slots with 10 euros. Hey Dad, I did find our double diamond slot machine we have at home! I could have mastered that one. While inside, a security guard yelled at me because I was looking at pictures on my camera and you’re not supposed to take pictures inside of it. No kind sir, I was not taking any pictures just looking at the picture I had just taken outside of the casino, I said of course in French. And of course he made fun of my French and continued to check my camera to see if I had any pictures on it. Ha, to his surprise I didn’t. Sucks to suck dude. Okay right now I’m watching Return of the Planet of the Apes on the airplane and this movie is intense so now I’m distracted.

Anyways, after we went to go find food which we couldn’t make up our mind because everything was so damn expensive. Yes, I did end up buying a 6 euro pepsi (which would have been like 9 dollars about in US dollars). Yep, this would have been 2 bucks in the United States…with free refills. Europe, y u so expensive?! However, I had great pizza so I was a happy camper.

We then headed up a gigantic hill, where I ran out of breath climbing it, to get to the palace. My verdict: definitely not as impressive as Buckingham Palace, but Prince Albert of Monaco must enjoy living in that mansion.  And of course, it had been my second time there so it just wasn’t as impressive. Then, we tried to catch a bus, to our luck it left right as we were coming. Greatttt, thank you. So we had to wait 20 minutes for another one which we were lucky to even get on it was so packed. And we had to stand for a little while. Normally, this would be okay but there was the fact that we were going up a mountain…so it was a little bit rocky.

That night, we sat on the beach and talked to some French people for like 2 hours…completely in French because they didn’t speak English very well. Yep, I’m kind of sort of proud of ourselves. Also, we convinced them we were from Switzerland for a while. Since this was July 3rd, it was perfect timing that fireworks went off on the beach nearby. As everyone was heading to Rhythm and Booms and I felt as though I was missing out on that, I got to see fireworks. On a beach. In France. I think that makes up for missing the fourth in America. Ps, how was the fourth and rhythm and booms in America everyone??

The next day, it was the fourth of July. So of course we had to celebrate! How? By lying on the beach. The entire day. I’m definitely okay with that. B sported her American flag shorts and I wore red, white and blue to attempt to be patriotic. Hey, there was a guy on the beach wearing American flag swim trunks. I was proud of him. The beach is made up of rocks, so you’d think that would be extremely uncomfortable. However, thanks to our hostel, we had the privilege of free towels to lie out on. And actually, the rocks were super comfortable and not as annoying as sand to lie on. At one point, a man was selling watermelons so of course we bought one. It was FANTASTIC. I feel like I haven’t had enough fruit here in France, except for bananas. So basically the entire day we napped and swam in the sea. Minus the salt water, I could have stayed in the sea all day. By the end of the day, I was an exact replica of a lobster, even though I used sunscreen. OOPS.  It was still worth it. That night, we attempted to go out for the fourth, but failed miserably. It’s cool we went back and slept.

PROVENCE!

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After we departed Bordeaux, we headed to my favorite place in the world (except for my cabin, of course), PROVENCE! Yes, it may be a little excessive to be going to the same place three times before you even turn 20, but southern France is so perfect, of course I had to go back.

After the 5 hour train ride, we eventually made it to our hotel in Avignon after a bus ride and a struggle to carry our luggage down the street. I mean, our hotel wasn’t that bad…just smelled a little bit. At least we had a nice balcony to look off of. Of course, us Americans hated the fact we could only get wifi downstairs so we would make frequent trips to go on the Internet. PS: WiFi is pronounced “Wee-Fee” in French. Just say it out loud. It’s funny.

Avignon is a city completely surrounded by a fortress wall that has been there for ages. So of course, I felt like some medieval princess. Okay probably more like a medieval peasant…According to Bianca that’s what I would be back in the middle ages. We first headed off to see the Pope’s Palace, aka where 13 (I believe) different popes used to live. Yeah, I have seen this palace three times…but it’s okay. We splurged on getting the audio guide for 2 euros, but actually the history nerd in me loved all the information about the palace. For one, it has been rebuilt and added onto so many times, depending on the pope’s preferences (or damage from war). Inside of the courtyard, they had it all set up for concerts, since their festival was coming up that week (unfortunately we missed it!) After we headed to the bridge near the palace, which is famous because it used to stretch many more miles than it now does for transportation. Basically, Bianca and I just sat at the end of it because we were tired and decided to throw rocks and sing on it. That works too.

After we may or may not have spent way too much money on pizza and crème brulee. At a restaurant with the slowest service I’ve ever witnessed. Good thing in France it’s not really customary to tip because that waiter wasn’t going to get any of my money. Apparently, waiters there aren’t exactly like back in the states. PS: Crème brulee may be the best thing I’ve ever have eaten ever. Of course, us old farts went back to the hotel and slept instead of doing anything else after that.

The next day, we had booked a “Grand Tour of Provence”, aka it was an all day tour in a mini-bus with just 5 other people and a private tour guide. We basically went all over Provence, and luckily to only one place I’ve already been to. So this blog may or may not be very long.

We first took a five minute stop at the first of many “view point” places. AKA: 1000’s of pictures of us in front of beautiful scenery. And yes, I will be posting these all on FaceBook, I’m sorry. All you could see for miles was vineyards. Vineyards. Oh yeah, and more vineyards. And of course, the random lavendine field.

Our first real stop was wine tasting! Yes, again. This time, the winery, Ogier, was much larger than in Bordeaux and you could easily tell it had more of a corporate feel than the first winery we went to. We learned about four different soils that different grapes can grow in, each producing its own unique flavor because of the difference in the density of soil. Also, farmers plant rose bushes by vineyards to see if the vines have diseases or not because if the rose has a disease, the vines will too. And again we relearned the process of how to make wine….may or may not be an expert now. They have super large containers of wine. We first started off seeing small barrels, to bigger barrels, to even bigger barrels, to the biggest of them all. The second largest barrel costs 20,000 dollars…and no I don’t’ mean with the wine in it. I’m talking about just the barrel. Our tour guide wasn’t even sure how much the largest barrels cost. Of course, after we tasted four different kinds of wine. Which Bianca ended up chugging her wine…typical college student. All the adults (okay, older people I guess we are adults…) on our tour were impressed, I’d say. Also, we claimed it was 5 o’clock somewhere (even though it was 10 in the morning…) and the Australian couple said, yeah it is in Australia! I may or may not have gotten buzzed off the wine at 10 a.m. It happens.

We then headed to the town of Orange, which had an old roman arch and an old roman theatre. Fun fact of the day: apparently, a French noble wanted to have orange carrots to make his dinner table more bright, so they inbred red and white carrots to create the now popular orange carrots. I still don’t know if our tour guide was BSing us on that one or not. PS: Technically the Marcus Amphitheatre is not actually an amphitheater, because it’s only one arch. An amphitheater goes all the way around. You’ve lied to me, Milwaukee, lied. Anyways, the old theatre was amazing. It’s been standing for thousands of years, even though many changes have been made to it. At one point, over 40 houses were even built inside of the theatre when the church ruled that plays were against Christian beliefs.

After, we took an hour drive (on which I passed out) to our next town, a small village in the mountains. This town was unique because every house was a red/orange/yellowish tone because all the rocks around this area were these colors. The tale is said that a woman from the village cheated on her husband with a man, so her husband got mad and killed the other man. He took out his heart, cooked it, and gave it to his wife. Without knowing that, she ate it. After she found out, she was so devastated she killed her self over a cliff in the town. Her blood is said to be the reason why all the rocks are red. Okay bizarre French tales.  Anyways, the view from the top of the village was spectacular so of course we took millions of pictures and also played inspirational music to make the scenery even prettier.

On our way to the next village, we took a quick stop to take some pictures in front of lavendine fields. Yes, I said Lavendine, not lavender. Lavender only grows up high in the mountains and only in Provence. Lavendine is basically the brother to lavender, and it has the same smelling purpose as  lavender. However, lavendine does not have any medical use. So, if you get anything lavender scented it is most likely actually made with lavendine.

The second village we visited was another small village built on top of the hills and it included an old castle. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go in the castle. However, we took many more scenery pics. And what would our day be without visiting some sort of church?! This one was brightly painted inside of it, but was very small.

After, we headed to the third village, Gorde, where we bought the best gelato ever. I tried the lavender flavor, and it ended up being fantastic. I’m definitely going to miss ice cream shops every five feet, but my wallet is going to love me a lot more with out them. When we took even MORE scenery pics, we even modeled for some people trying to take pictures of scenery (because we were in the way). I think they thought it was funny…

Finally, we headed to Pont du Garde, aka that huge aqueduct you always see in pictures. And yes, that was the third time I’ve been there and I’m not ashamed. Unfortunately, my camera ran out of battery at the same time my phone ran out of space…oops.

We were going to go out that night…but opted to stay in. Oh yea, before that we also ate mcdonalds. I swear I’ve never eaten this much McDonalds in my lifetime. In fact, I hate it in the states but they have potato wedges here so it’s better.

Bordeaux!!!

Currently writing this blog on my phone on the train to Avignon so you know this will test my fast texting skills and how much my fingers will cramp. On Saturday, we woke up bright and early at 430 to catch our 630 train. That may have been the earliest I’ve woken up in forever. It was so early my dad was still awake back home and talking to me on facebook. We took a 20 euro cab ride to the train station because the metros weren’t even open yet. Greaaaat.
Oddly, it was hard to say goodbye to paris even though I was super excited to travel. Paris had become my home this month, Stalingrad was OUR metro station, we even showed pride for our 19th arridonisement even if it was a little sketch. Anyways, we took the three hour train ride to Bordeaux which went by quickly. When we got to the train station, we asked a lady working there where our hotel was and she told us the bus to take. Well we couldn’t read her writing and got off on the wrong stop….so we walked a long ways back to the train station with all our luggage to realize our hotel wasn’t even a block away. Okay thanks lady we just wasted money on this bus and almost killed ourselves walking super far. Of course, this only happens to us.
At first, we were a little sketched out by the hotel we picked, but it turned out to be cute. We had our own private little pink room (which Bianca said it was bigger than her dorm room…). After chilling for an hour (we were tired okay!) we headed downtown to the tourist office to try to figure out what to see. We mastered the tram system, even though I missed the metro considering the metro is 100xs faster. We first walked to a little park with a Giant fountain so of course we took our touristic picture in front of it. Which, because there were less tourists in Bordeaux, our touristic pictures seemed kind of weird. After we spotted a super pretty river which we learned later that it connects with the Atlantic Ocean. And, it’s actually not polluted anymore because they closed the factories by it. Quite a nice change from the seine. We realized how adorable this city was…from the architecture to the people’s southerns accents to the great shopping. We then headed to catch the tour bus that took you on an hour tour around the city with commentary. Of course, Nikki had to pee and we missethe bus. No prob, we said, we will catch the next one in half an hour. Nope next one doesn’t leave for an hour and a half. Okay cool, well just walk around. We tried to go into the opera, but of course we awkwardly walked in and the guy said it was closed. Okay cool we will go to the church nearby. Nope also closed. Okay we will go to the palace…nope also closed for some event. Luckily, the church opened up so we got to see the inside of it. I swear I’ve Lost count of how many churches I’ve been into on this adventure. But each and very one of them have their own unique quirks about them.
After we ran back to go catch the bus. The ride was COLD anD WINDY since it was a double decker bus. But we learned a lot about the history of the town. When we got off we bought 10 dollar candy not knowing it would be thaaaat expensive. Oh well it was good. And I’ve spend 85% of my money here on food.
After, we headed to see ruins of an old amphitheater which was you know pretty cool. Then we decided to go down this giant shopping road ….literally thousands of people on the road bc it’s sales in France right now. Of course, I didn’t buy anything even though I saw all this stuff I did want to buy. Good job Nikki. What did we have for dinner that night ? Why of course McDonald’s. oops.
We went back to the hotel and crashed even tho it was only like 9. On our way back we attempted to communicate with these guys who ended up being Spanish and in all actuality our French wasn’t as bad as we thought they just didn’t speak French perfectly either.
The next day, we woke up kind of late, but we didn’t have to be downtown until 130 to go to our wine tasting tour! We first made a pit stop at st Katherine’s church…but of course the giant steeple was closing when we wanted to climb it. We ran into a basically giant rummage sale and Bianca found all these one tree hills DVDs. It took all the strength in her not to buy them even though it was a great deal…but they may have not worked. After, we went to the reflecting pool by the river. Basically it’s a giant place filled with like a cm of water deep and it it looks like you’re walking on water. FREAKIN AWESOME. And then, it fogs sometimes so it looks like you’re straight up in a scary movie. Freaking awesome.
On our bus tour, the lady talked in both French and English and so basically it was a repeat of all the information… So you know how to make wine is now stuck in my Brain. Also besides for the babies, we def were the youngest people on the tour. Oops. We first stopped in a medieval fortress/village. You don’t know how excited I was. These places are my favorite! We got to see maybe the. Most pretty view I’ve ever seen at the top of the village. You could see for miles of vineyards after vineyards. It was actually breathtaking. After, we got to head into the catacombs of the church of the village. Which to our surprise there was actually another church UNDERGROUND. It was carved out of rock…aka called a monolithic church being only made of one rock. And no, it wasn’t small. It’s the largest one In Europe. The sad thing was that the paintings had all disappeared on the walls bc people used the material as gun powder. Our tour guide then told us only 13% of France’s art history is still here after the French Revolution. Which, this really depresses me that humans decided to destroy history. The village was cute and typically medieval with a moat, fortress walls, little tiny shops. Basically, I was in love. This place would be perfect to take senior pictures in or something. After, we left to the wine chateaux! A lady greeted us at the chateaux and we began the tour. We first started at the wine vats in which the wine is created. Her wine takes two years to properly mature, and they were just about to bottle their 2011 wine the next day. This process is so much more complicated than you would think. We headed into a second room where she showed us the giant barrels where the wine ages and we finally headed to go taste the wine! The first wine we tasted was older, so it was stronger. Bianca and I preferred the second more fruitier wine. Nonetheless it was still better than any wine I’ve ever had! I mean considering last week we bought 5 euro wine this was great. After we returned we decided to go to a movie, so we picked the internship with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson . Yay our tickets were only 3.50 each…until we bought 16 euros worth of food. Typical. Hey we wanted popcorn okay! When we got in the theatre we realized the movie was probs dubbed in French and not in English like back in Paris…oops. And yes, yes it was in french. I was able to understand most things and the movie was great. There were just some things we didn’t understand. By the way, the French voices of Owen and Vince just aren’t as funny as the american. And also, there was so much product placement of miller lite. It realllly made me miss Wisco.

Final Week In Paris!

On Tuesday, we again suffered through another long day of classes. For lunch, I went to my fav chain restaurant here called Pomme de Pain (apple of the bread) with Alex and Shinae. They have the best potato wedges ever. I’m serious. Well so does McDonald’s. Shinae & I took picture of us “studying” so it looks like we actually did work this semester…..lol okay we actually did do work guys I swear.

Tuesday night, Bianca, Megan & I went to the Eiffel Tower for one last adventure there. Yes, we do know we’ve seen it one too many times, and our host mom makes fun of us for that. This time, however, we wanted to be classy and drink wine under it at night. So of course, we did it. We bought super cheap wine and giggled until it was time to go home (aka when the metro closes). Of course, before, we had to take the classic wine with the Eiffel tower pic before we left. And both Megan and Bianca French braided my hair….even more French we are I guess.

Unfortunately, we only made one of the metro lines. So we had to pay a 12 Euro cab to get home…oops. Seriously, the metro should just stay open all night. We did get to see the Arc de Triomphe at night though so I mean that was cool.

Wednesday, it was the last day of class with one of our teachers, Lucy, so we gave her a card and such to thank her. Basically, at this point I was getting super antsy during class because we were learning something I’ve went over 1000x’s. My teacher was super surprised I know all my verb conjugations yet my accent is TERRIBLE. Oops.

Wednesday was also the start of the huge “soldes” or sales in Paris. So, we attempted to go shopping…but there was just too many people. Also, all the cute clothes were not on sale. Somehow, we ended up eating at McDonalds (yeah I know I don’t even eat there at home…), however they also have FANTASTIC potato wedges there. Why we don’t have these in the US, I don’t know. US YOU SUCK. After, Martha & I went to go find the sleepy head Bianca who didn’t feel well that morning so went home to take a nap. We found our way back to Monmatre to see Sacre Coeur again (okay, sorry it’s just such a cool church and that neighborhood is awesome). Unfortunately for Meagan, she had metro problem after metro problem so she took almost an hour to find us. Okay Paris Metro, okay. In the mean time, I did a little bit of last minute souvenir shopping.

At the top of the hill where Sacre Coeur is situated, this man from another country asked for a picture with us after he found out we were American. And no, this is not the first time this has happened…lol awkward. The view from the top of that hill is actually breath taking. I honestly think it’s a more beautiful view that from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Plus, the church is breathtaking too.

After, of course Bianca and I decided to be even more American because she ate McDonalds and I ate SubWay. Which, by the way, the SubWay here just isn’t as good…they have one choice of cheese. Come on France, step up to Wisco’s level.

I actually fell asleep at seven that night…even though I planned on writing my blogs and packing. OOPS. Guess what time I woke up ? 7 a.m. Yep, a solid 12 hours of sleep. It was GREAT.

Thursday was our last long day of class (3 hours in the morning, 3 hours in the afternoon). For lunch, we had one last meal at Crouis, aka where you can get a whole meal for three euros. Basically a cafeteria for students. Unfortunately, they didn’t really have anything for vegetarians…but I did eat some mystery mashed potato/chickpea/I’m not really sure what it was dish.  The afternoon class was fun because we got to watch Paris, Je T’aime and read the mystery “novel” we wrote as a  class.

After, Lexi and I went to Chipotle! Something we’ve been meaning to do this whole trip…okay sorry I was missing my Mexican food okay? There’s nothing spicy over here. Yes, there is the one and only Chipotle in Paris and it was great. I ate a burrito the size of my face and the Irish man working the counter was making fun of my french. YOU’RE IRISH DUDE I COULD SAY THE SAME THING. Oh, and the thing he was making fun of me was trying to figure out the french word for burrito…which is burrito…lol okay.

That night, we headed out to find the restaurant/bar that everyone was at. In the metro some guy tripped me completely and totally obviously on purpose so I fell on Bianca. I seriously do not understand French guys at all. RUDE.

Anyways, we had the hardest time finding the bar, so we stopped to eat McDonalds. After 20 minutes of searching, we randomly ran into Lexi, of which we screamed in delight, and then eventually found the bar. We were there for about an hour, when we decided to go try and find a dance club. Which, we did end up finding but some of decided we were too tired and went home. Oh yeah, but before that we all had to pee so of course we ate McDonalds….I’m sorry I love their potatoes here.

Today, we received our certificates for our classes! Yay, with the 6 credits I received here, I am now technically a 19-year-old senior. Seriously so weird. Anyways, I passed the class with an equivalent of an American A for my grade, so that will be a great GPA booster thank God (after J202 last semester….) We watched another movie in class today, just simply called “Paris,” and said all our goodbyes to our friends from class.

Tonight, we’re going out to dinner with some of the girls to say our final goodbyes….warning I may or may not cry….

Tomorrow, Bianca and I head out to the south of France and Geneva…so I don’t think we will have much of internet connection but we will try.

LATER 🙂

French Stereotypes: Vrai ou Faux

AKA, true or false. Basically, I’ve noticed some stereotypes of French people are 100% on point…but others just aren’t true at all.

EVERY MAN HAS A MUSTACHE………Faux 

Unfortunately, most french men I’ve seen do not have the typical “French moustache.”

EVERYONE CARRIES AROUND BAGUETTES……100% Vrai

Yep, even I have caught on doing this stereotype. I mean who wouldn’t want walk down the street munching on bread? Bringing this idea to UW.

EVERYONE CARRIES AROUND BAGUETTES ON A BIKE…..Vrai

Okay, not everyone. But still, we’ve witnessed a few…

PEOPLE EAT TOO MUCH CHEESE HERE…..Vrai

Thank god, this one is 100% true. Good thing my two favorite places in the world are obsessed with cheese. I do, however, miss my cheddar cheese a lot.

EVERYONE WEARS BERETS……..faux

The only people I’ve ever seen wear berets are tourists. Just don’t do it.

PEOPLE ARE RUDE………….Vrai et faux

I can guarantee you 99% of the people on the metro are grumpy and may actually push you on the metro. Just stay calm and don’t look American. However, in other situations they are usually nice to you. 

FRENCH PEOPLE WILL KNOW YOU’RE AMERICAN……VRAI

Even when we speak perfect French to them, wear all black, and try to look as Parisian as possible…they somehow have a super power of knowing that we’re Americans. Except for the one crepe maker who thought we were Swedish…works too. I mean, it’s probably our pink and green raincoats that stand out….

WOMEN IN PARIS NEVER WEAR SHORTS…..VRAI

Very true, even in 85 degree weather, Parisian women rarely wear shorts. I personally think they are crazy. Although, I have seen a few younger women wearing shorts….even though most of them were wearing tights underneath. Also, everyone still wears winter coats even when its scorching out. Makes sense Paris…..you just don’t know the Wisconsin it’s 50 degrees lets wear shorts way.

SOMEONE WILL TRY TO PICKPOCKET YOU……VRAI

Just be careful on the metro and know not all Parisians are looking to take your money. If someone asks you to a sign a petition, just say “JE NE PARLE L’ANGLAIS!” Simple as that.

FRENCH PEOPLE SMELL……VRAI

Okay, not all French people smell. I will blame this mostly on the metro and those select few who decide not to use deodorant. I mean, you come off the metro smelling disgusting no matter how many showers you took before. But on a normal basis, the French do not smell.

ALL FRENCH PEOPLE EAT ARE FROGS AND SNAILS…..Faux

Change that with cheese and bread and you’d be correct. Ahem, Patrick…

EVERYONE WEARS STRIPED SHIRTS…. faux

Pretty sure that fashion went out long ago. However, EVERYONE wears black.

PEOPLE CAN’T DRIVE………vrai/faux

Definitely just depends on the driver. The moped drivers are, however, insane.

Meow Wittle Blog Post of My Journey on 24/6/13

Yesterday, I woke up at one…p.m. How does that even happen?! Oh well had to catch up on sleep…and then I woke up again at five after eating. I NEEDED NAPS OKAY?

Today, after suffering through 3 hours of correcting… I mean just going over… our French tests, I decided to do some random traveling of Paris, catching the sites that I’ve missed. But before that, yay, my French teacher told me my essay on my test was her favorite because it was funny and I had no conjugation mistakes. She seems to be very surprised I know my verb tenses so well, yet I can’t pronounce a single French word right…oops sorry I’ve learned passe compose 50000 times but we never practice pronunciation. Anyways, somehow ended up with an A+ on that test.

I first started my day by heading to Brandy Melville, aka the store I’ve been wanting to go to for ages but of course they’re aren’t any in Wisco. I first saw a shirt in the window that I wanted sososo bad, but couldn’t find it. It’s okay, I found a better one. Possibly the best shirt I now own. It’s just a black tank top that says….”You Can’t Sit With Us.” Yep, perfect! Although I could have probably bought the whole store, I decided to keep calm.

I next went to visit Saint Suplice church, aka the church in the Da Vinci Code. I just took a little time to sit and reflect. After, I decided I HAD to climb Notre Dame. I’ve been outside of it  and went inside of it, but never have I climbed it. So, after grabbing probably one of the most fantastic crepes I’ve had here, I waited in line to climb to the top. And yes, it was a 45 minute wait. And yes, it was windy and cold. But, compared to Wisco it was heaven….even though the wimpy other people in line were complaining. Don’t worry, I passed the time by finishing my homework! The dude standing next to me kept on saying French words so wrong that I wanted to correct him so bad. Even if my pronunciation is terrible his was just pitiful. During the wait, the same Hilary Duff song which I put in my last Europe Trip video on youtube from five years ago came on shuffle…which was super weird because I had played that song in the video at the same point as when we were at Notre Dame. After a lonnggg wait, I finally got to realize my dream of pretending to be Esmerelda, but one more obstacle stood in my way: TOO. MANY. DAMN. STEPS. Phew, I was out of breath. The view from the top was breathtaking. No, it isn’t any Eiffel Tower view, but it’s just the idea that I’m standing where my favorite movie growing up was based upon. And also the fact I was hanging out with my gargoyle frands. They seemed to like me. To get to the tippity-top, you had to awkwardly climb while people also descended in the same two foot wide spiral staircase…okay claustrophobia kicking in.

After realizing my dream of climbing Notre Dame, I ventured to find Centre Pompidou…aka the weird building in Paris with its tubing/plumbing on the outside of the building. Yay for being a student, I got to go into this museum for free. This museum solely houses modern art. And, of course I’m all for art, I consider myself an artist…or at least was….but man there were some really weird things in this museum. Some pieces you could even walk into! So many things filled the halls that it was too hard to keep track of them all. I still don’t understand how three blank white canvases count as art though…when there were some way more talented pieces in there. One of my faves was a painting of a scene in an Asian town, with each person smiling. Every person was colored a different tone in the rainbow, but different shades of that tone to define the person. It was beautiful. I also loved seeing the Piscaso paintings and a huge Andy Warhol painting. Overall, I’ve come to the conclusion I like the impressionists period better.

On my way home, a girl was walking her cat outside. Yes, you heard me, her cat. Without a leash. And it was following her…until it saw me. So naturally, since cats love me, it followed me into my apartment. OOPSIE SORRY I LOVE CATS.

Also, little yellow kitty surprised me today at home while big scary kitty scared Bianca. Cats are crazy.

NORMANDY: D Day Beaches

Saturday morning (the 22nd), after only four hours of sleep, B & I headed to the train station to discover the region of Normandy aka where D Day occurred during WW2. Yes, I am definitely a WW2 scholar/expert now after seeing a Winston Churchill museum, the War Rooms, the WW2 Museum inside Invalides, the WW2 Museum in Normandy and visiting the beaches with a comentary-guided trip. Seriously, just ask me. I think Mr. Riggins would be proud, what do you think my APUSHers?

Basically, we had to go to Normandy to fill our inner history nerd guilty pleasure…I mean APUS history was my favorite class in high school.  We grabbed our 7 euro starbucks (…..great I don’t even like Starbucks back home) and headed on the train…with 5 minutes to spare. Oddly enough, the train to Normandy (aka the first city, Caen) was 2 hours compared to the train to Brussels only being one. I mean that works too, I got to sleep a little.

When we arrived, we obviously couldn’t figure out the bus system in Caen, so we decided to take the expensive taxi like the lazy people we are. The museum, although amazing, was basically a more in-depth repeat of les invalides, of which we just saw in Paris the other day. Fine with me though, we got to learn even more about Normandy and D Day. And it just reinforces the random history I now have acquired about WW2. Of course, there was yet again the classic Hitler in front of the Eiffel Tower picture there just like at Les Invalides. I’m pretty sure I watched every single video they had in the museum…okay while tried. I also started out reading the French version of the history next to each picture until I got too lazy for even more French in France….

It was heart-wrenching to go through the part describing the Holocaust, however. I’ve never been to the Museum in DC, so some of the artifacts and facts were shocking to me.

After the museum, we quickly grabbed lunch which happened to be my fave chain restaurant here, “Pomme de Pain” aka apple of bread…that works I guess. Of course, yet again I got my classic cheese sandwich! Don’t worry, this time it was grilled. While in line, we ran into some people from our classes…awkward. How did we end up picking the same exact they came we will never know.

After hurriedly eating our sandwiches, or as Bianca puts it, “We’re such fat-asses,” we were the last to make it to sign in for the bus. Oops. Typical. Of course by fat-asses I just like to say we’re from Amurica and we like our food.

Our tour guide was a young French woman who could actually speak English almost perfectly. I mean, can you imagine memorizing all those random history facts you need to talk about for five hours on a tour….then memorize how to say that in a different language? Yeah, that’s some real talent right there.

We made friends with some Americans on the bus who were sitting next to us, as they all turned out to be going on the same train back to Paris. Bianca claims the 14-year-old guy totes had the hotts for her. Get it B.

Our first stop on the trip was Point du Hoch, or basically a stop on a cliff that used to be a German hidden bungalow. Definitely creepy to be walking on the same soil that was fought on so brutally 70 years earlier. There so many hidden bungalows, ditches, etc around the area that it was too hard to count. We got to go inside one with 9 rooms total, including a look-out room. Completely insane to imagine soldiers fighting, eating, and sleeping in the same place we were standing. Our guide told us the story how American soldiers had to climb the cliff in order to attack, but something went wrong so not very many of them actually made it over cliff. Unfortunately, it was cold and very windy on top of that cliff.

The second stop was one of the actual D Day beaches… I believe it was Omaha Beach. We first drove down it to catch the landscape of the beach, and what was behind the beach. There were still other bunkers hidden in between hills and homes behind the road. As much as I wanted to go swimming, it was far too cold to do such a thing on this beach. We took our typical beach pics, sorta touched the canal and ran back in the wind to catch up with our group.

After, we headed to the American Cemetery (which is technically american soil). Here over  9,000  soldiers were buried after the war, including 4 women (I think). America only has two cemeteries in Normandy compared to England which has around 19. This is because most of our deceased were sent back to America after the war. Most notable found here are the bodies of the Roosevelt brothers, of which only Teddy Roosevelt Jr actually died in the war. When I say the Roosevelt brothers, I mean the sons of Teddy Roosevelt the pres. The cemetery was beautiful, each cross made out of marble cascading into the ocean. There was also a beautiful monument and a reflection pool at the beginning of the cemetery. Behind the monument, there was a wall of missing in action soldier’s names, where I found one sole Francois. Buddy, if you’re out there, thank you Sir Francois for fighting for our country.

After the cemetery, we left to our last destination: to watch a movie on 9 screens! I was of course expecting that Imax thing where it goes all around your head and you get dizzy, but this was different because you were actually standing. It was an actually amazing 20 minute film, perfectly timed on each screen. What got me the most was a clip of a poor kitten during the war which flashed to a crying baby. They beautifully edited this movie. Bianca even shed some tears!

One of the dad’s on the trip decided to share a cab with us to the train station to save money, and being the dad he was (he also had teenage/college kids), he paid for our cab ride completely. Which, was so unbelievable nice of him, even if one of his daughters went to Ohio State…

I’m so glad we made the decision to do the Normandy D-Day tour. I feel like I am now a master of WW2, and I feel like this is what traveling is all about; learning. Yeah, sure it’s fun to see the sights, but the sights don’t actually matter unless you’ve learned something impacting about them.

Belgium: The land of beer, waffles, fries and chocolate.

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Bianca and I decided long ago to go to Bruxelles, Belgique (okay that’s Brussels, Belgium for you non-French speaking folks). Sometimes it’s hard for me to write these posts in English after I’ve been speaking/learning/doing homework all in French. I feel like I should write them in French…then again only like 5% of you would understand. ANYWAYS, we decided to go to Belgium a while ago. Which, I was pumped since I did an entire project on Belgium worth a whole class credit last year. You may say, Belgium? Why would you chose to go to Belgium? It’s so small? Well people, your thoughts are DUMB. It’s quite amazing.

Last week, our friends Lexi and Martha decided on a complete whim to join us on the trip. It was obviously the definition of YOLO (you only live once for you old people). Thank goodness there was still room at the hostel and the train for them.

Thursday night I unfortunately had to study for a test worth 25% of my grade instead of going out with the girls in Paris (which apparently was quite the adventure). It’s okay though, I needed to study and the test ended up being easy peasey. Yes people, I am actually doing school work here. I mean, I do get six credits for this. Which, on a complete side note, some people in this program are just here for fun. They don’t even get any credits. OKAY PEOPLE OKAY.

Anyways, after my test on Friday we departed to the train station. And oh don’t worry, before we left I had my classic all cheese baguette. Normal lunch. I’m pretty sure one of my favorite parts of this trip was the train ride. Bianca and I sat next to a family with a little 3-year-old boy. They were from Texas (but originally from India), and we started talking to them. Well mostly the kid. And his mom did play 20 questions with us. Anyways, the kid was a complete genius. He explained to us what a blackhole was….pretty sure I didn’t even know the earth was round at age three. Or as Bianca said, “Man when I was three, I was picking my nose and walking around like la la la!” However, my favorite part of the conversation was when I asked the kid if he liked Paris. He promptly responded with, “I like pineapples!” I mean, makes sense pineapples in Paris. He also told us he could speak three languages and tried to teach us Hindi. Didn’t really work…

The train ride was surprisingly super fast, just over an hour. Oops, I was going to sleep on the train/do my homework. We found our way from the metro to our hostel after a little bit of a struggle and asking everyone where we needed to go.  Our “hostel” just opened in May. Okay, it was so way more of a hotel than a hostel, with it being only 20 bucks a night it was basically the shit. Let me tell you, it was probably better than most hotels I’ve stayed at in the US. Oh and they booked us in the wrong room, so they switched us and felt sorry about it so they gave us each two free drink tokens. Okay, that works too.

That night, we wandered for a while to try and find some place to eat, but we decided on a little pizza place. Where I ate an entire pizza by myself. No shame at all. After, we of course had Belgian fries (you guys do know French fries were invented in Belgium not France, right?). Belgians have this thing where they like to put mayonnaise on their fries. You’d think that’d be disgusting, but it was AMAZING. Screw ketchup. Also may have found the best restaurant ever….

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Obviously great.

After, we got ready to head to Delirium, aka the biggest bar in the world. However, on our way to the bar we got cat called over 30 times. Not even exaggerating, we counted. Apparently you don’t wear dresses when you go out in Belgium, and we had to learn that the hard way…The bar itself was HUGE. There were separate bars for each type of drink, like a cocktail bar to a beer bar to even an abinsthe bar. Basically, it was amazing and Belgian beer is great. And for some reason raspberry beer is fantastic. Lexi & I tried a sex on the beach thanks to the good ol’ classic movie Sleepover. Looks amazing, too sweet.

The next day we ventured out to do our touristy ways. We bought a hop on hop off bus tour ticket and began our journey around Brussels. Brussels is beautiful by the way. It’s a larger city, but everything’s so clean and the architecture is amazing. We got off at one stop and saw our first of probably 5 churches of the day. I seriously wish churches in America looked like they do here. After, we ventured to find the Grand Place and Mannekin Pis but got distracted by a mini market selling random things. Bianca bought a dolphin ring because apparently, “I’m like a dolphin! My dad even wanted me to get a dolphin tattoo!” It’s a cute ring though.

On a side note, peeing in Europe usually sucks. Most of the time you have to pay like 50 cents to use people’s bathrooms. Like no, it’s a right to pee just let me. No wonder we always see guys just peeing on the side of the road causually. We had to pay to use a Quickburger (aka european version of McDonalds). For some reason, me and Lexi decided to eat Subway because it was cheaper, but okay Subway is like 1000x’s better in Belgium. They also have paprika Lays chips which were amazing. Don’t worry thought, we all had Belgium waffles earlier. YUM.

Finally, we found our way to the Grand Place, aka a HUGE square. Every other year in August, they cover the floor with thousands of flowers in a carpet design. There, we bought some souvenirs and Lexi bought 5 boxes of chocolate. Normal.

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After, we found ourselves in front of a pair of acrobats…and boy were they a strange pair. A total bro american guy from California with a stereotypical little french woman. I mean he was wearing American pants and she was wearing  a beret. Anyways, they were honestly probably the highlight of my day, well besides for a different even that happened that I will tell you about later. They were hilarious. The guy made  jokes all the time, like, “Everything’s better in Amurica” to making fun of a French accent. I don’t know, it was great. And we missed american boys. Of course we got a pic with them after they finished their performance.

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After, searched for  Mannekin Pis, aka a peeing boy statue that they change its clothes everyday. He has over 800 outfits. What a lucky dude. I expected him to be way bigger than he actually was. It was surprising such a small statue created such a commotion, but he was super funny. The story behind him is that he saved a town by peeing on a bomb or fire…it’s a disputed story.

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After, we rode the hop-on-hop-off bus again where we stopped for 20 minutes at their central station. Normally, I’d be super annoyed. However, five minutes in, all of a sudden a whole bunch of bicycles came riding by. Okay, cool a bicycle parade. We saw one of these in London! Nope…not just any bicycle parade it was a bicycle protest. Okay nope not just a bicycle protest it was a naked bicycle protest. So basically, all these guys started riding down the street completely naked. Of course we started bursting out laughing, we’ve never seen anything like that before. Could you imagine that happening in the states? But we were also pretty grossed out since most of the men were old. Still, hilarious. We ended up accidentally following them on the bus for a while, so we got a good entertainment out of that bus ride.

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Yeah… it actually happened.

We finished the bus ride by viewing different sites of Brussels, including the headquarters of the EU (which of course geeky Nikki geeked out about) and ended up in a beautiful park. That is, until a  man decided to change his pants/underwear right in front of us and 10 of his friends. Belgium and your nudists, I just don’t understand.

We were exhausted when we got back, so we ended up accidentally taking  what was supposed to be 30 minute nap turned into a 2 hour nap. After, we quickly got ready to go to a dance club called Celetica not too far away from our hotel. Though not as big as Delirium, it was so much fun. Bars are allowed to stay open until 4 there, instead of the lame 2 am (mostly) in Wisco. Basically we screamed and danced to American music while everyone around us realized we were Americans. I think most people thought we were crazy.

The next morning, we woke up (feelin’ great), and hopped back on the bus tour. Of course, Lexi forgot her bus ticket so we had to do some improvising. She held up a different receipt and the bus driver didn’t even noticed. She went on to do this four other times in the day and no one noticed.

We headed to the atominum, or this huge structure of an atom that you can go into. It was pretty awesome. And then after, we went to Mini-europe…aka a place of minuture exact replicas of buildings around Europe. So basically we went  to London, Paris, Pisa, Germany, and amsterdam all in one day. I’m okay with it. Sadly, they are tearing down mini-europe to put in a shopping mall later this year. I mean, to me this makes no sense. Who wouldn’t want to go see a miniature version of Europe?! There’s already too many malls in this world.

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We stopped at Quick where they had basically cheese curds….which they called, “Cheesey Balls”. Of course, I FREAKED. It was like I was back at home all safe and sound with my culvers cheese curds. They were a bit pricey, but so worth it. Definitely don’t compare to Wisco cheese curds, but close enough. Of course I’d end up writing a whole paragraph about cheese in this blog. I have a problem.

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Close enough

We finished our trip with a real belgian waffle. And boy, was that the best waffle I’ve ever had. Pretty sure I’m going to go live in Belgium just for the food…

Anyways, it was a great adventure with Bianca, Martha and Lexi and I’m so glad they got to come along and I got to make new friends 🙂

PS: Belgian chocolate is definitely as good as it seems. So is the beer.

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