Friday, September 27, 2013

My First Impressions of Paris

So, if you follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, or pretty much any other social networking site (which you should!), you'll know that I spent the past couple of days in Paris. It was my first time being there and I had a total blast. I did walk far enough that I thought it would be necessary to amputate my feet when I got home, but, all in all, the city made a very amazing first impression.

I did get the distinct impression that it wasn't exactly a city you should explore with your girl friends, especially since when bumped into a couple sucking face immediately upon exiting the train station!

Also, most of the negative impressions people paint of Paris weren't really true. No one ever sliced open my backpack or opened my backpack or tried to steal my backpack. And while Paris did smell distinctly of urine (probably because there are public bathrooms ANYWHERE!), it wasn't especially dirty and I never felt unsafe.

Definitely, definitely going again.

If you don't want to sift through the 100 pictures of the first half of our trip that I've put on Facebook, here are a select few of my first half faves:

Feel free to leave a comment here! I love to hear what everyone's up to! 

Let the Shenanigans Continue! 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Travel: Annecy, Wine Drinking, Mountain Climbing, and Cheese Tasting!

Hautecombe Abbaye in Aix-les-Bains

So, I've been quite lucky with my semester so far. After a 2-week intensive course, I'm currently on vacation for three weeks. As I write this, I'm about one week into my vacation and tomorrow Emily, Sam, Diana, Dana, Dayton, and myself will be hopping on a train to Paris. 

So, I thought I would catch up on my blog and let you know some of the stuff I've been doing during this first week off! 

Since for the majority of Chambéry, this week is the first week of class, everyone was able to ride the bus all week to any location for 1 euro! We took advantage of this by going to the beach a million times! (We also found a mall, a hellaciously overpriced McDonalds, and the closest thing a person could get to Wal-Mart in France).

About halfway through our first week off, we went to Aix-les-Bains which is on the other side of Lac du Bourget (the lake near Chambéry). There we took a boat to the other side of the lake to visit what may be one of my favorite historical locations that I've seen since coming to France: Hautecombe Abbaye. 

We couldn't take any pictures inside because even today, the abbey is used primarily as a place of prayer and is still inhabited by monks. 

Inside there were tombs dating back to the 1400's! Many of the Dukes and Duchesses of Savoie were buried there. 

Here are some pictures of Hautecombe Abbaye and of our boatride. 

(Credit for these first two pictures belongs to the lovely Diana Olsen)


Let the Shenanigans Continue, 
Lacey J

The Quaintest Town in France: Chambéry

It took me a while, but at the end of week three I'm pretty much settled into my apartment and I know my way around Chambéry.

I've had many epiphanies about my apartment, which I've had to figure out on my own. For example, I spent the first week taking freezing cold showers because I thought the "C" stood for "cold", when in fact it stood for "chaud" (hot in french). (Yes, I realize how stupid that was, but all the appliances in the apartment use "hot & cold" instead of "chaud & froid"). It also took me ages to figure out how to turn the lights on in the stairwell leading up to my apartment.

In any case, here's a little post about Chambéry.

Even though we'd been in Chambéry for two weeks, the school planned a tour of the town. However, we learned lots of history about the town, and it was in French, making it especially educational.

The church was easily one of my favorite fixtures in the town. It dates back to the 15th century and contains Europe's largest collection of trompe-l'œils. These are optical illusions that trick the eye into seeing something in three-dimensions. That's obviously very confusing, so the 2nd picture is an example from the church. The picture is not of 3-D architecture on the building's ceiling, but simply a 2-D painting


We climbed to the top of the Chateau in Chambéry

... and this was the amazing view below! 

 In the Chateau, there was a lot of really amazing Medieval and Renaissance paintings and sculptures. 

After we visited the Chateau, we stopped by the museum as well. I didn't take many photographs because I got really caught up in viewing everything, but I did take a picture of this painting of Mary Magdalene at the feet of Jesus. It was part of a huge mural, but I just thought she was so beautiful. 

On Saturday, we went to the market and it was quite the experience! Everything was significantly less expensive than at the supermarket and it all smelled and looked amazing! 

And after we went to the market, we packed up some food and went to the beach to lay in the sun. 

Let the Shenanigans Continue, 
Lacey J. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

My Study Abroad Room Tour!

Climbing the Alps

So much has happened since the last time I posted! To update, I've really settled in and gotten to know Chambery, I visited Lyon, I booked a trip to Paris, I visited my first French Discotheque and I climbed to the very top of a mountain in the Alps.

Lets just deal with the mountain for today.

We got up around seven and barely caught the bus to the mountain at 7:45. When we finally started hiking, it was practically a vertical climb for what seemed like miles! After hiking for about an hour and a half, I was thinking: "you know, this really isn't so bad. I'm sure we'll be there in a couple of minutes!" Little did I know that we were only about halfway up the mountain on our journey to the cross.

As I got more tired and the air got thinner, I was quite oddly positive about the whole thing. About 45 people were on the trip, but as we got nearer to the top, everyone started to get separated and I found myself alone on this mountain. This turned out to be quite a good thing as I was barely able to walk, let alone climb up rocks, so I ended up sacrificing most of my dignity by crawling up the rocks on my hands and knees. 

So little oxygen was reaching my brain, that at the time, this really didn't bother me.

It ended up taking us about 3 hours to reach the top, but when got there, everything was so amazing. The cross (Croix du Nivolet), which seems like a pin prick when I try to see it from my bedroom window, was as tall as the Statue of Liberty. I was so tired, I don't know whether I was more struck by the breathtaking views or the fact that I could finally stop walking!

Joking, of course! We stopped for a two hour lunch and I munched on a baguette at the top of a mountain. Next weekend, I'm considering the hike up Mont Blanc. It might be a bit tougher, but it would grant some pretty impressive bragging rights, so we'll see.

Until then, let the shenanigans continue! 

(P.S. feel free to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Bloglovin, and Facebook for more up to the moment play by plays of my french life!)

Friday, September 6, 2013

French Cheese, Wine and Lake Annecy

I know I fell off the grid for a couple days, but I had a very fun and relaxing day today, that will help me cope with my couple of tougher ones.

My week has been sort of rough, because (obviously) I'm in a completely different place which is really different from the US. Plus, I've been so incredibly busy! Here's a few home comforts I've been missing:
     1.) Cars
            The stereotype of France is that everyone walks everywhere. This really shouldn't be specifically a French stereotype, but a big city one. Sure, no one drives a car in Paris, but no one drives a car in New York or Chicago, either. Everyone in Chambery drives, except me. Obviously, I don't have a car here, so I have to walk everywhere and when you think walking two blocks is rough (as I once did), 30 minutes of uphill walking, will really do you in.

     2.) Screens
          There are no screens on the windows here. This seems irrelevant, but for someone who is as terrified of bugs as me, it is a huge life changer. If I want my room to cool off, I've got to open the windows. I've already killed, BY MYSELF: 1 bee, 2 beetles, and a spider.

      3.) Air Conditioning
            There's no air conditioning here and when its 88 degrees and you just walked uphill for thirty minutes, a/c becomes pretty freaking important.

     4.) Organization
             You never really realize how awesome and organized the US is until you visit somewhere else. When I signed up for College, I filled out an application and the school sent me one paper that had, in plain English, a list of everything I would need to finish signing up. Here, there is so much bureaucracy, that I have to fill out 3 papers for 4 different departments and when I go to turn something in, I find out that I wasn't told about needing a certain paper signed and delivered to a certain person and I need to pay 200 euros for this and 50 euros for that. All of this is in French, and can be exhausting!

HOWEVER, I had a marvelous day today! I went wine tasting in Chambery, swimming in Annecy with some British girls I met at school, and toured the very small Aillon-le-Jeune, where I tasted cheese at a Fromagerie (or a place where cheese is made). Here are some pictures from our awesome day.

First, Aillon-le-Jeune:

Here we toured the town and tasted cheese. The town was beautiful and very quaint. When I say this town was small, I mean incredibly small. They even sort of had "town pets" that were just really friendly and roamed around!

 At the beautiful town of Annecy:
Le Lac d'Annecy is the third largest lake in France and is known as "Europe's Cleanest Lake." The water was crystal clear and perfect! An amazing place I'll definitely go back to! My pictures could never do it justice, but here they are.


Lastly, we tasted wine that was made in Chambery! 

It's raining here tonight, so I'm just went to a little pizzeria and had an evening in to catch up with everyone at the end of my first week of classes. Tomorrow, we are going on a hike up Mont Blanc, so wish me luck!

Let the Shenanigans Continue!