Thursday, October 6, 2011

Churches, Parks, and Ice Cream: the Parisian Adventure Continues

The next morning we woke up, dressed up all fancy-like, and headed out the door for a VERY packed Sunday in Paris.  We had delicious croissants at the hostel for breakfast, then made our way to Notre Dame de Paris for Mass. Yes, THE Notre Dame.  We didn't see Quasimodo or Esmerelda, but it was SO beautiful - both the Mass and the walk around the Church we took afterward.  The crucifix is an image of the Pieta, and the artwork is remarkable.

The lovely ladies all dressed up for their Sunday in Paris! 

Statue of St. Anne and the Blessed Mother 

Beautiful Rose Window!

After Notre Dame, we started searching for Shakespeare and Co. - one of the most beautiful bookstores this bibliophile has ever laid eyes on.   It has LOTS of books, a piano to play, reading rooms, and a nook where people leave notes.  I left one for you all  =)

It smelled of books too. =) 


Such a beautiful instrument! I got to play Greensleeves.

After that, we pushed Mickey in the Seine.  Here's an action shot:

Luckily one of the boats caught him so we could continue on our way.  Next we visited San Chapelle.  It's no longer a functioning church, but used to house really cool relics from Christ's Passion.  Now it's just a BEAUTIFUL building with walls that are literally entirely stained glass.  It very literally took my breath away as I came up the stairs into the main sanctuary. None of my pictures will even come close to doing it justice, but here's what I have:

The windows cover almost the entire bible left to right around the room, with a special emphasis on Old Testament books concerning idol worship.  The Passion windows are especially beautiful, as are the ones on Esther.  Such a tall order, constructing the Bible in stained glass!

After San Chapelle, these champion tourists were feeling weary. When we get weary, we do one of two things: get ice cream or nap.  There wasn't a park close by, so ice cream it was.  We went to La Maison Berthillon which has what might be the best ice cream in all of France.  If you don't believe me, google it and see what other people have to say. Seriously, SO GOOD. And even better, I think, when you eat it along La Seine =)

Just a little stand that serves up big deliciousness!

After that, we walked along the river for a while, took lots of pictures, and made our way to the whole reason we got so dressed up in the first place (besides Mass)...
The Eiffel Tour! It is much smaller in person than I would have thought, but still pretty cool.  We chose one of the lawns near it for our daily nap time, and ate lunch there too. Lunch was a baguette with ham and cheese.  Yum.
Seriously, what is more French than a baguette and Le Tour Eiffel??

After lunch/nap time, we went to the lawn on the other side of the Eiffel Tour, which apparently is the Parisian version of the National Mall in DC.  There we took lots and lots of pictures.  I've only posted one here, but many more are on facebook.
 Beautiful day in Paris!

Les quatre amis =) 

I found Waldo! 

The view facing away from the Eiffel Tower.  Look like another major city in the world we know??

Sunset under the Tower

After that visit, on the way back toward town, we came upon a photo exhibit that focused on artists from outside the Western World.  There were all sorts of collections, including ones about teenage suicide, grandmas playing soccer, consumerism, and even just people's eyes.  The best part was that each had a mini bio of the photographer as well as the story behind the collection you were viewing.  We didn't take any pictures of their pictures, since it was a photography exhibit and we thought some of them may be copyrighted, but this is the website to look up the exhibit:

We then treated ourselves to a delicious Italian dinner complete with, if I remember correctly, a scrumptious chocolate dessert with vanilla ice cream.  Yummm.  All in all, a pretty darn successful day in tourism, if we do say so ourselves =)  It was definitely one of our favorite days of the trip.

More to come later... Love and peace!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Where in the world...

is Clair?!

Hey guys!! So I know it's been a while, but that's because two weeks ago I finished up my first tutorial and left for a week long travel break! How blest am I? We went to Paris and Munich, and the entire experience was completely irreplaceable. Let me share (as best as I can remember...)

Night/Day 1: On a midnight bus to London

Day 1 was really night 1 as it started at 1am Friday night (Saturday morning).  With no more than a normal sized backpack a piece, my travel companions Torey, Kathryn, and Mickey, and I made the short trek into Oxford in order to grab a shuttle to Luton airport.  We were sleepy.  We got there around 3am, grabbed some hot chocolate from Starbucks, and waited for our 6am flight to Paris.  We tried to nap during this time, but with armrests between every seat, on a sleepability scale of 1-impossible, Luton comes in dead last.

Around 5:30 we boarded our EasyJet flight and headed for the wild blue yonder!  **Travel tip:  EasyJet and RyanAir aren't as sketchy as they seem like they should be, so I do recommend them, HOWEVER, they don't give free water, and for some reason flying really dehydrates people, SO tip: if you're traveling discount airlines, buy a waterbottle before you board. It's less expensive that way. (sorry, Mom for the runon sentence)

We landed about an hour and a half later in Paris, took a train into the city, and this is what we first saw:

It was a beautiful, sunny, *warm* day in Paris, and the weather stayed that way all week. We could not have dreamed up better weather.  From the train station, we walked to the hostel to drop our things off. It was in Montmartre right near the church of Sacré Coeur  (Sacred Heart).

After successfully dropping our bags off, these 4 bleary-eyed travelers found a cafe faster than you can say "pain au chocolat".  There, we caught a bit of the New Zealand/France Rugby match and had the most delicious cappuccinos and nutella & banana crepes that have ever crossed any of our lips. Seriously, so good.


After the rejuvenation, we decided to go to Sacré Coeur.  It was way WAY up the hill, but the trek was definitely worth it.  The Church itself is beautiful inside and out, and the view from the top of the hill was breathtaking.  
At the bottom of the hill

 On the way up!

Woah-oh! We're halfway there! 

View from the top 

The Church in all its magnificence.

After walking around the Church and saying a prayer or two (the inside was beautiful! Sadly, pictures weren't allowed), we journeyed into Paris and stumbled upon the wall surrounding the cemetery where many famous people are buried.  I say the wall because we walked around the wall for a good 15 minutes at least before we found a way in.  The cemetery was pretty cool.  We didn't end up finding any famous people, but there were some very old tombstones and mausoleums.  

Shortly after that we started a tradition that we kept going the entire trip - nap time. SO GOOD.  This first nap was (as Torey pointed out), the very lawn where MaryKate and Ashley sword fight in "Passport to Paris" (we think).  Legit!  SUCH a good nap. The grass was so comfy and the sun was glorious.  On a scale of 1-10, this was at least a 7.5.  Wonderous.

After resting up, we took a visit to the Musée d'Orsay, home of many impressionists, as well as my favorite painter, Vincent VanGogh!  The impressionist section was under renovation, sadly, but we still saw a few Degas and much of VanGogh's work, so it was well worth it.  
The outside of the Museum.  It used to be a train station, and the inside is still pretty open, similar to Grand Central in NY or 30th Street in Philly. Pretty cool!

After the museum, we grabbed dinner (at this point I don't remember where, but I do know we didn't eat a single bad meal while we were there, so I'm sure it was delicious), headed back to the hostel, and were asleep by 11pm.  Exciting, I know =P  We had traveled all day! Who could blame us!
The hostel was nice, especially since they gave us a 4-person room.  It was basically a very simple hotel room with bunkbeds reminiscent of Girl Scout camp.  Loved it.
Kathryn sitting on my bed chronicling the day, and Torey chilling out.
Note the glowing orange walls haha

That's all for now, and our LONG first day!  Stay tuned for days 2-5 (i'll try to be briefer, I promise).  Love and miss you all, and hope all is well! 

~ Clair

ps. sorry for the strange blue highlighting... still trying to figure out some things out. Until then, let me know if it's too difficult to read. =)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The First Week (or so)

Hey all!

Since I've already been here a little while, I figured I'd give a brief overview of some of the things that we've done here thus far =)

Within the first few days of being here, my flatmate and I were headed to the store and saw a sign for raspberry picking! So picking we went =)  It was lovely!

Delicious! Cute ladybug too =)

Backtracking a day or so, the first day we were here, a few of us vowed not to nap - not to even go near a bed for fear of napping - in order to fight jet lag.  To kill time, get our footing, and see some sights, we visited a couple of the colleges, including mine!  First we went to New College. It's pretty much beautiful.

Then we visited my college - St. Catherines.  It was built in the 70's. Not the 1770's, not the 1870's, the 1970's. It kinda looks  like the Pryz. Here, I'll let you see for yourself.

Hmm. Not exactly your typical Oxford castle-y college. Oh well. I've decided it's where all the rebellious rich royals go because they want to buck tradition. They're the same kind of royals that would elope with an American in Paris in an instant. Just sayin. =P

Hmm... what else... oh!  I have a tutorial on C. S. Lewis for this first month.  He and a few of his buddies who called their group "The Inklings" used to chill at a pub that they affectionately called "The Bird and the Baby".  Its real name is "The Eagle and Child". My tutorial, it turns out, goes on in a building that is right next door! Oh, and I've eaten there too. Crazy, huh?

It's so old! How can I tell? The ceilings are so low!
See average sized man in the corner v. door frame for reference (and he's slouching a bit)

That's pretty much it for the first week, with a lot of random strolls in town and gaping at the beauty of this place in between. Stay tuned for the second-ish week and beyond =)

Love and miss you all!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Is this real life??

Hey Everyone!

So, following the wise advise of many CUA students who have studied at Oxford, AND for ease of keeping in touch with multiple people at once, I have created this little blog to keep you updated on the highlights of living and studying in this BEAUTIFUL city.

Did I mention beautiful? and SO cool??

The title of this blog is a very clever pun that comes from the section of Oxford I live in.  West Oxford is affectionately (and not so affectionately to the people who live in the prettier parts of town) known as "Botley".  My flat, however, is nothing but a picture of wonder and class. See?

The neighbors think the old mattresses outside are just "all the rage". =P (they were here when we got here. they were going to be "gone within a week". 2 weeks later, definitely still here).

So yes, welcome to my blog. Let me know if there's anything you're burning to know. I aim to please. =P

Love and miss you all back in the States!!