So I’ve got a lot to catch up on, Norway will be it’s own post. I’m really relieved March is over and that I have 0 travel plans at the moment – except meeting Maria in Bratislava but that’s such an easy train ride that it’s fine. March was an exhausting. I spent the last 5 out of 6 weekends living out my backpack and trying to remember what currency I should be using.
Starting with Ireland – all I really have to say was that I wasn’t impressed with Dublin. Jena and I got there midway through Friday and left Monday morning. Americans celebrate St. Patrick’s Day harder and I’ve seen more green on Penn State Campus to celebrate. Not to mention IT WAS SO DANG COLD. Like seriously, so cold. We stood outside to watch the parade for a few hours but it just wasn’t worth it. We wanted to take a tour of the country side or go to Northern Ireland on Sunday but after watching the just insane amount of snow come down Saturday night while we were at the bar, it just wasn’t worth it. It was honestly the most miserable weather I’ve had anywhere in Europe. Also, so many things in Dublin were closed for either the weekend or the holiday that it felt like a ghost town when we weren’t on the main tourist street. Overall- not worth the money. Which was unfortunate as the cost of the holiday drove up the price of the trip considerably.
some pictures of the parade- the best part was wen some of the military groups brought dogs through. I have never seen such a strange and eclectic parade as I did this day. Strange things like flower pizzas and so many others that we couldn’t figure out what they were meant to be and so so so many american marching bands. after about the 6th marching band we were too cold to feel our legs and decided it was time to go sit in the bar for the day.
The famous Temple Bar and some streets lit up for the festivities.
A few of the sights to see. Honestly, I was too cold to care while I was there and I wasn’t really impressed. I would probably go back to Ireland to see the countryside in the few but Dublin was a complete miss for me. It would be fair to say it was the least favorite place I’ve been.
and lastly, food pictures.
Now for a much more interesting city – Paris. I was significantly less excited to go to Paris than Dublin but was much happier with the city. I had pictured Paris like the Disneyland of Europe – overcrowded, overrated, overhyped. I didn’t have much expectations other than to eat some pastries (because pastries, duh) and see the Eiffel Tower. I greatly enjoyed my time in this crowded city and also maybe perfected the art of using my camera timer for selfies.
I got in really late on Friday night – Actually Saturday morning. I had a super nice chat with my Airbnb host and then headed to bed. I drug myself out to pick up my ticket for the Louvre (it’s 15 euro to get in if you’re curious) and headed there first thing. It was a ridiculously long wait to pick up my ticket I prepaid for at the tourist information office but a really short line to get into the museum once I got there. Below is the pyramid entrance to the Louvre and the surrounding area and a few pieces of art.
Can you spot the famous artwork in this picture? squint a little harder. still unsure?
Caution: Artwork smaller than it appears. Here it is, complete with some bald dudes head. really, the Mona Lisa is super small in person and it’s basically an obstacle course of people taking 60 selfies and moving to see if her eyes follow to get close to her.
So why is she such a big deal? Why does everyone know about her? Is it because the woman in the painting is a mystery? No, she is the wife of Francesco del Gioncondo, he commissioned De Vinci to paint a picture of her. So “it’s because her eyes follow you when you move!” you say. ….Don’t most pictures eyes follow you when you move?If you want an example, watch any old episode of Scooby Doo. It’s not an unique trick. Why everyone learns the name of the Mona Lisa is not as simple as any of these common beliefs. The real reason is that she was stolen. Da Vicini only gave the world 15 paintings. He gifted 4 or 5 of these to the King of France at the time because they were good friends – like really good friends, like really really good friends. Anyway, an Italian by the name of Vicenzo Peruggia was working at the Louvre and became really irritated that the French had so many of De Vicini’s works when in his mind, they were rightful property of Italy. So he connected a plan to steal a painting and take it back to Italy. He stole the Mona Lisa. This was a huge story. A picture of her went on the newspaper for weeks, the first time anyone in France saw or heard about her. Peruggia eventually waited for two years until the news died down and he was able to smuggle her back to the homeland. As he arrived, he was caught. Italy sent the painting back to France and gave Peruggia a mere six months in jail, as he was really a national hero. So the Mona Lisa was once again the papers and people lined up to see her when she was returned to the museum. And the buzz never really died down. She now has her own wall and a bullet proof case of glass surrounding her.
This was one of the pieces of art that was much more impressive to me than the Mona Lisa was. I also really enjoyed the Egyptian, Moroccan, Iranian art sections. To be honest, the Italian section was the best and I was just in Italy seeing Italian artwork not that long ago so….
Paris is made up of three islands which means lots of bridges. These are some photos I took on my walk to the Eiffel Tower. I really like the idea of growing plants on the side of a building, more so than just having vines climb up the side. Current dream house – an apartment with tiles like Lisbon on one side and plants growing on another with a nice balcony with room for tons of flowers.
I have a couple hundred pictures of the Eiffel Tower now with no idea what to do with them so please take a moment and enjoy the things that are taking up so much room on my phone (and blog).
So why do we have the Eiffel Tower? France hosted a World Fair and wanted something really really impressive. They asked for designs for a building 300 meters high and at the time, nothing had been built anywhere over 100(?) meters. Architecture plans poured in, but where the designers were asked if the buildings could be built, the answer was no. Finally Gustav Eiffel (pronounced slightly different than Eiffel in tower for some unknown and insane reason) submitted his design and was confident it could work. The tower is hollow for the reasons that wind does not affect it. It’s also got the capabilities to shift with movements in the ground (seismic legs, plates, something) that help to keep it standing as well. The people of Paris also hated it when it was first built. It was ugly it ruined the city scape, and it quite honestly just didn’t and doesn’t match the utter sameness of the rest of the city’s buildings. Fortunately for them, it was only intended to stand for 20 years. So what’s it still doing here? Gustav was quite the architect, he has bridges and buildings throughout Europe and South America, but when it came time to dismantle this piece of work, he realized this was his pride and joy, his real legacy. So he hunted for a way to make sure it would survive the ages. He stuck a radio antennae on top, taking it from just a tall tower to an important means of communication. As we can see, this worked and he was right, this is his legacy. Cant name anything else he designed, can you? A few other facts – it’s been painted 18 times with another coat to go on starting this fall and it’s going to last a few years. plan your visit accordingly! It’s been painted a few different colors and once, three colors at once. It was the tallest building for 40 years until the Chrysler building went up in New York. It grows and shrinks 7 inches with sun and cold. The tower sways 13 centimeters with the wind. It’s just over 1,000 feet with the antennae included.
After the tower, I had a quick crepe at a nearby restaurant where I had some really rude French service. I regret not going back to see the tower light up in the twilight but I was too tired at the time to think of it. It ended up being a day I walked 18 miles. Instead, I trekked on the Arc de Triomphe which I really don’t have any facts about. I believe Napoleon built it to pass under after a victory of war. However, he didn’t live to see the completion of it. He was so adamant about passing under the Arch that when it was finished, they dug him out the grave and passed his casket under twice, just to ensure he really passed underneath. I went to see the famous Moulin rouge and then had a wonderful dinner of duck and a nice dessert which I wouldn’t have gone for except the waitress brought a whole tray of desserts and I just couldn’t resist at that point. I couldn’t decide what I wanted, so I asked for her favorite and she did not disappoint. The pastry part was filled with chocolate mousse. I was so full but it was so worth it.
This is Sainte-Chapelle, one of the most unexpected and beautiful things of my travels. It was beyond beautiful. the stained glass depicts different books/scenes from the Bible. and the little church was equipped with (probably) a gay guy who had the loudest “shhhhhh” I’ve ever heard when he decided the noise level was too much.
Below is Luxemburg Garden and palace. I’m happy I went when things were starting to bloom again and not everything was dead. it was also a nice warm day and I was really surprised to see people really putting the little wooden boats in the fountain. I’ve never seen that outside of a movie before.
Below is some typical Parisian architecture and the Parisian Pantheon. Unlike the Roman Pantheon, this one cost money to go in so I skipped it and just took some pictures outside. Also is the Shakespeare book stop, a hidden gem near Notre Dame crammed with books. and Fontaine Saint-Michel as well as some shots of the street I really loved. and lastly, a cheese crepe.
lastly is Notre Dame “Our lady of Paris”. I made the mistake of going during Palm Sunday church. it was quite crowded so I had just a quick walk through. This was the place where French separated government and church. It’s where Napoleon rejected the tradition of kneeling before the pope to take the crown in his own hand and place it on his own head after years of kings being crowned here. For a small price, tourists can go up and walk around in the bells but I didn’t do this. I learned a lot more about the church from my free tour guide but I really can’t remember much about it now. While it was a tour with Sandman’s it was the most disappointing tour I’ve taken with them. It was lead by guy who was half Mexican and half Israeli instead of someone from France and wasn’t half as funny as I thought he was. He was knowledgeable for sure, but I just wasn’t as happy with this tour as I have been with others in the past.
A few food pictures to end the post. (French)onion soup, a breakfast crepe, and an assortment of desserts.
This week I bought bacon, two types of cheese, a whole chicken, chicken breasts, onions, water, a chocolate bar, cabbage, and a bunch of kiwis for about $12. I was so excited. I’ve reached peak adulthood. This is it, my daily excitement is a good deal at the grocery store. Really, I’m not sure when this happened.
I finally bought my plane ticket home, I’ll be home the second week of June. It’s a really weird feeling, knowing in almost exactly two months I’ll be home again. I don’t know where these past 7 months went. It feels like I just got here yesterday. If you would’ve asked me a couple months in, I would’ve said I was so excited and absolutely not sad at all to be going. Now, oh god, I am so sad. To my surprise, I really have grown to love my job, my students, my coworkers, and my life here. In January, I didn’t think I’d last one more day. I now can’t believe I will have a last day. I teared up when my school gave me my official last day date. What a strange feeling.
I will be writing my post about Norway/ Sweden next week and then I plan to write a few posts dedicated to highlights of Budapest and Hungary for tourists, life as an English teacher/ life in Hungary, and also about my opinions on my program.
Learn Hungarian: hippo – viziló (veezeelow) the literal translation from Hungarian to English is “water horse”. I will forever call hippos water horses from now on.