ARCHIVE: FRANCE!

AIX-EN-PROVENCE!

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Warm, sunny, cutely sandstone-colored everything and friendly people. Most of them are very patient and happy to talk to me with my slow, American-accented French. Others switch right into English, but appreciate my effort. Food is good and not too expensive. I survived a cooking class entirely in French and made friends with Tessa’s program-mates. Très bon!

Pictures: selfie at the Fontaine des Quatres Dauphins (fountain of the four dolphins), the flags outside the city hall,  the big fountain on the cusp of the old and new parts of the city, and cooking class shenanigans.

CARNAVAL EN NICE!

Saturday evening, I had the chance to enjoy Carnaval celebrations in Nice. The parade was a ton of fun. My butterfly mask magically vanished after we ate at a little pizza place (maybe it flew away), so I became Cyrano de Bergerac instead (the classic mask with the looong nose based on the character from the play). We got sprayed with confetti and silly string by the people on the floats and got some of them right back.

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Pictures: myself and two friends in a mask selfie, my first view of the Mediterranean, a bad-ass lightup bug float, and the big ferris wheel by the parade route.

MARSEILLE!

We arrived on the bus from Aix at around 6pm. The sun was sinking and made the clouds look quite artistic. With no real plan in mind, we headed for the Vieux Port to see the water. Further random wandering led us to several impressive buildings, including La Prèfecture and Opera Muncipal. We ate at a little port-side restaurant in the middle of a veritable bizarre of other restauarants offering low prices on special menus. The French-cuisine seafood was delicious. The waiter took a shine to us and gave us some kind of sweet elderberry cordial on the house. We returned to Aix footsore, full, and happy.

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Photos: the view of the water from the Vieux Port, La Prèfecture, and the Opèra Muncipal.

–INTERLUDE…–
OHHHHH MYYYYY GOOODDDD

Missed my train from Aix to Frankfurt because of lateness, didn’t have cash on me to get a new ticket, machine didn’t like my Mastercard (really, France?!), so we found a payphone and woke up my dad at 3:30 US time so he could transfer money and I could withdraw cash to buy the blasted ticket. As I write this I’m waiting in the Aix TGV station for another hour before I ride to Paris with a two hour layover before going on to Frankfurt and from there goodness knows how/when I get back to Heidelberg. Au weia.

On the (sort of) upside, I apparently sound like a German when I speak French. I got myself a tuna baguette to munch on while I wait, and the lady asked me if I was German. Better than sounding like an American, I guess (at least my accent is on the continent).

Otherwise, the south of France was absolutely lovely. I would love to come back someday. It was great to see Tessa again.

Moral of the story: always leave half an hour earlier than you think you need to because waiting in a train station isn’t nearly as bad as missing the train.

UPDATE:

As I type this my fingers are chilled in the Paris Gare de Lyon train station. I have another hour to kill but feel better after I used the wifi to book a place on a bus from Frankfurt to Heidelberg. I’ll be home a few hours later than expected and minus a good chunk of money, but what’s an adventure without a little snag here and there? I took a peek outside because, um, hello, even if I’m stuck I am at least stuck in PARIS, and even though I can only see a little of the huge city, I can still admire the aesthetic.

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Skyscrapers not a stone’s throw away from older buildings. Wow.

Now to keep warm and wait. My bed awaits and tomorrow, Istanbul. On y va!

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