The past 2 weeks I have traveled to London, Paris, Tours & Nice! The University of Manchester gives all students a 3 week Easter Break [which is amazing & I highly suggest all schools get that long of a break :)]. To start, myself, Amanda & Kathleen traveled to London for a few days to explore and visit Bath & Stonehenge through an organized trip through our program. Sadly it rained all day (surprise, surprise), but the Roman baths were truly gorgeous! Easter Sunday I was fortunate enough to get to meet up with my cousin Bryana and get lunch at CHIPOTLE! This was my first time having Chipotle since I left America, and I could not have been happier. After lunch we got to go see the Oxford vs. Cambridge boat race! Like I mentioned before, people aren’t lying when they say you go through all 4 seasons in one day when in London. Before getting on the tube, the weather was pretty nice and sunny. Getting off the tube, the skies were dark and it starting hailing and the wind was insane! It went back and forth like that for a good hour…but hey! It’s all part of the experience, right? It was so great being able to spend the day with my cousin, especially since it was Easter.
That Monday Amanda & I took off on our 9 hour Megabus adventure to Paris! When booking our ticket I remember thinking “oh 9 hours, we can do it..we’re saving so much money..it can’t be THAT bad..”. Fortunately, it wasn’t THAT bad, but it was definitely very long. We arrived at the bus station around 7pm and made our way over to the train station, where we were going to meet Manon. [Back story, Amanda came to France 2 years ago during an exchange through her school & stayed with a sweet family in Tours. Their oldest daughter lives in Paris and she was kind enough to let us stay with her for the 5 days we were in Paris!]. Neither of us had met her before, but she was just the sweetest person and so welcoming & hospitable! She guided us back to her flat that night and we stayed up talking and telling her all about our plans. Let’s just say we slept very good that night.
While in Paris we visited the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Catacombs, Palace of Versailles, Sacre-Couer, the Louvre, Musee D’Orsay, Le Marais, Champs de mars, and of course a TON of bakeries. I highly suggest for anybody visiting Paris, that they make a pitstop at Laduree (the famous macaroon shop from Gossip Girl). This was my first time trying a macaroon, and I was not dissapointed. My favorite day here was probably Friday, for multiple reasons. 1) We woke up and Manon made us crepes for breakfast (which were better than any crepe shop). 2) Manon, Amanda & I were going to spend the day at the Palace of Versailles. 3) The weather was BEAUTIFUL that day-and we finally had sunshine! 4) We ended the night back at Manons’ with a wine & cheese night. She went out and bought multiple cheeses that we got to taste (fun fact-trying putting cheese on bread and adding jam to it! It’s actually quite tasty). My experience in Paris was unforgettable and I enjoyed every single day there. We saw a lot of famous monuments, tried a lot of amazing food, and were surrounded by such lovely company. Now off to the next stop-Tours!
Tours is where Amanda’s French exchange family lives and it is located in Northern France, south of Paris. When she came last, she got to spend 10 days here; so she really got to know the family and get to know the town. We stayed with Agathe (who is our age) and her parents, Bruno & Sophie! This family (just like their oldest daughter), was SO kind and welcoming to us. They had breakfast waiting for us upon arrival and were constantly happy and wanting to hear about our experiences and travels. We spent the weekend exploring the town, meeting with old friends, and we even got to visit a castle! Thankfully, the weather in Tours that weekend was absolutely gorgeous as well (such a nice change from the rain). It was so different being in a not so ‘touristy’ place, because not that many people in the town & in shops knew English; which is understandable since French is the main language. Luckily Agathe is fluent in French & English so she was able to translate for us! But it was cool being exposed to that & trying to interact and communicate with people whose first language isn’t English. Another observation were the meals. When we sat down for lunch one day and finished the first course, I remember thinking “okay time to clean up the dishes”, but no, the food kept coming out. They break up their meals into 4 courses instead of eating it all at once like we typically do. I really like that concept because it gives everyone a chance to enjoy their food & the company of who you’re with. Also, the main food group in France is definitely BREAD. Breakfast, lunch & dinner consisted of bread, bread & more bread! I think I’ve officially turned into a loaf by now. But I am not complaining because the bread was SO much tastier than any other bread I’ve had before. Again, my experience wouldn’t have been as good as it was if it weren’t for the sweet family we stayed with (and of course my amazing travel partner Amanda).
Next stop, Nice! I was really looking forward to coming to Nice because I knew for a fact there would be sunshine & warmer weather. I was also excited because our two good friends from Manchester, Kane & Oscar, were meeting us here! Stepping off of the train was so wonderful because you felt the warm sunshine and cool breeze on your face. Except Amanda & I had no more room in our luggage so we had to wear 3 layers of clothing, so it was a pretty hot trek up to our AirBnB. We met up with the boys and spent our first night exploring, grabbing dinner in Old Towne & sitting on the beach. The next day we hiked up to Castle Hill, which had the most breathtaking views overlooking the city. It was a gorgeous day as well, with not a cloud in the sky. The whole next day was spent laying out at the beach which was absolutely wonderful. The beaches here are different than America because instead of sand, they have rocks. It wasn’t the most comfortable thing, but it wasn’t as bad as you would think. This day was super relaxing, and pretty successful considering I didn’t get too sunburnt! [Different story for Amanda & Oscar though :)]. Our last day we took a train to Monaco which is known as “the playground of the rich”, and after being there, I totally understand why. Everything was high class & super fancy. On every corner there were either Maserati or yachts. Let’s just say my new goal is to retire here one day. Having a few days to relax in Nice and hangout with friends was the perfect was to end my Spring Break! I made so many good memories and got to bring back a little tan to Manchester.
This was the first time I’ve ever been on the road traveling for 2 weeks straight. It was definitely an experience traveling in a country where the first language isn’t English, and trying to find your way around; but I’m so thankful I get to do it with my best friend Amanda. I met so many amazing people during my travels, indulged in so much food (especially bread), shared so many laughs & made memories I’ll cherish forever. After being on the road for so long, I also became homesick for Manchester. I think that’s such a great feeling because after only 2 months here, Manchester truly feels like home to me. Now it’s back to school & actually having to attend class! This week will be fun because Amanda, Kane & myself are going to a Manchester U21 game, Amanda turns 20, & my cousin Bryana is coming to spend the weekend with me! It’s also time to start looking for where to plan my next trip….any suggestions?