LYON & GENEVA w/ DAD

Last week marked the visit of my first guest here in Lyon, my dad. My mum will be the second, a week today and Roz, my third on 18th May! Although I love the idea of exploring new places and even old ones by myself, a lot of the time I do wish I had somebody with me. I think that you see places completely differently depending on your company. For example, my dad is a walker. So, although I have now been in Lyon for 2 whole months, by walking different routes last week I gained a totally new perspective and mental mapping out of the city. We also took one of those sight-seeing city buses on the rainiest day of his visit which again allowed me to see Lyon much differently than before. You miss so much by being lazy and taking the metro everywhere. I’ve been trying harder recently to look up and around rather than down at the ground or my Apple Maps – though it can prove a little tricky when you know how much dog poo is around. For me, having somebody visiting also forces me out of my room in which I feel so comfortable. That’s a good thing too because I always have a good day once I’m out and about.

17 / 3 / 2018 GENEVA

 

 

On Saturday, we visited Geneva. We took the Flixbus from Lyon Perrache station, it only took a couple of hours. The weather wasn’t great and unfortunately visibility was low . It was bitterly cold but we had come wrapped up and prepared. We took a little walk along the lake to see the famous Jet d’Eau and then headed to the town centre, past the windows of very expensive shops and through some of the old streets. We tried out some Swiss Easter chocolate and took a ride on the little solar-powered electric train along some of the lake, before heading lakeside in the other direction towards a very photogenic lighthouse and another great view of the Jet d’Eau before dinner.

 

18 / 3 / 2018 VIEUX LYON & BASILICA OF NOTRE-DAME DE FOURVIÈRE

 

 

Sunday was my dad’s last day in Lyon and we had already planned to visit Vieux Lyon and climb up to the Notre-Dame de Fourvière. Again, the weather didn’t treat us too well but it didn’t rain so that’s a plus and the views were vast and pretty spectacular regardless (I look forward to another hike up there with you Mum, we all know how much you love a church on holiday). The old town of Lyon is really beautiful, with all of its wonky buildings and ochre palette. It’s so typically a European old town and almost feels like a movie set. A living, breathing (if kinda tourist-y) step back in time which is always one of my favourite parts of cities and holidays. We grabbed lunch from a beautiful little bakery right in the heart of Vieux Lyon, in the form of two sandwiches and a HUGE pastry. I had no idea what the pastry was when I added it to the order but it was bloody delicious. I’ve since researched and it was an allumette (a lyonnais speciality apparently, as seen below) made from pink pralines – how exotic! We finished the day with an episode of the Crown and an Indian takeaway (#BritsAbroad).

 

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P.S. To my dad, thank you so much (again, again!) for visiting me, for the day trip to Geneva and for all of the (mainly edible) treats.

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IN PARIS WITH YOU

Last weekend I visited one of my best friends in Paris, where she is now living and working for the second half of her year abroad. I think it’s pretty self-evident that my experience in Paris would have been far different and let’s face it, so much better had our terms in Paris coincided. One of the main problems that I faced in Paris was loneliness, making friends and even having enough confidence to leave my room some days. I can say without a doubt that having the bubbly, sociable butterfly that is Roz Farr there with me would have fixed all of these troubles and Paris would have been much more successful for me in different ways than it perhaps was. Anyway, enough of that and let’s get onto my little weekend break and how Paris compares as a tourist to as a demi-resident / billy-no-mates who can’t afford anything after a weekly shop and a takeout coffee nor can they really communicate very well with anybody, not that there’s anybody to communicate with etc, etc.

10 / 3 / 2018

So here’s a little about my cheeky weekend away in the city of lurrve with my best mate. I arrived at 15.30 on Saturday 10th March after a 6 hour Flixbus from Lyon. After a little miscommunication, we were finally reunited (hurrah!) and headed straight to take some cute pics on the most instagrammable street I’ve ever seen in my life, Rue Crémieux.

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Roz @ Rue Crémieux
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Dream Home

This was swiftly followed by a quick stop at the Bastille en route to a pre-dinner freshen up. We had already chosen our supper destination based on Trip Advisor reviews and mouth-watering instragrams under #eastmamma and #bigmammagroup. Nothing was exaggerated, the truffle pasta was indeed to die for and we shared a lovely bottle of wine. Get there early, especially if you’re headed there on a Saturday like us because you will have to queue to be seated or even to be put on the bookings for later that evening.

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Roz w/ food & wine @ East Mamma

 

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Me w/ wine @ East Mamma
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LA PÂTE À LA TRUFFE  @ EAST MAMMA

11 / 3 / 2018

We used Sunday as our main tourist-y day and set out to see the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, perfect photo opportunities on a sunny day (it’s got to be done) and the Parc du Champ-de-Mars being an ideal lunch spot for a little Sunday picnic.

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Roz & Tour Eiffel
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The 80s called and they’d like my denim suit back. Tant pis!
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Very happy Roz w/ picnic
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Me w/ picnic

Our picnic spot was also the sight of my first ever real-life encounter with the well known, French cliché “c’est la vie”, though it was under slightly different circumstances than one might expect. The gentleman’s dog had decided that our picnic spot was better suited as his toilet.

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Roz w/ Arc de Triomphe
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Me @ Arc de Triomphe
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And again.
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Roz @ Arc de Triomphe 2.0
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Looking like a Cool Coffee Mom

We spent the early evening at a café listening to some very cool jazz and got Chinese food a little later on (an experience in itself), before heading back to bed and booking a holiday to Palermo with our dear friend Emma! Although I’m  feeling that holiday hangover / weekend blues on this Tuesday evening before an early start tomorrow, I had an absolute blast this weekend AND my dad is visiting me this week! We’re even off to Geneva on Saturday, so deffo stay tuned for that – I hear it’s great.

LIVING SOLO

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It’s not mine, but it’s a taste of what could be. A trial run of adulthood, maybe. Sans bills or the majority of my rent (thanks mum & dad). But it’s still a taste nonetheless. Although I’ve lived away from home during term time since the end of 2015, and even before then had stints at boarding school from the age of 8, moving to France alone is a different experience altogether. Moving to Paris back in September was terrifying and it was almost just as scary moving to Lyon a couple of weekends back. However, things have started differently here, and indeed for the better. I jumped straight into university on day 3, rather than having a fortnight of not knowing what to do with myself in Paris. University takes up 10 and a half hours a week, spread across 4 weekdays, as opposed to just 5 or 6 hours in Paris divided between a Tuesday and a Saturday. Yes, uni on a Saturday. I’m also going to be taking up a job offer rather soon that will keep me occupied for a further 8 hours per week and in some form of grown-up routine (vs. little bits of studying here and there and taking full advantage of that free month of Netflix).

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Top tip : Flowers brighten the room and in turn, lift your mood – especially super pretty ones from a lovely little French florist.

Another thing though, something that I think is helping exponentially with my Year Abroad experience this time around (which admittedly, seems to be a little less wild than some), is that I am living alone in a studio. Granted, it’s not for every 21 year old wanting to explore a new city and culture whilst learning more of a language and perhaps in that sense it’s an error of judgement or the easy way out, but I love it here in this room that I can call my own for the next 3 or 4 months. It’s also a little further out than what would have been ideal, an almost 40 minute walk to university. However, that’s actually resulted in me hitting that 10,000 step target on most days, which can only be a good thing. The studio means that I have my own space entirely. A bathroom and kitchen of my own, rather than just the bed and desk going unshared. But it’s not just the room. I have my own mailbox with my name on a sticker and a name tag on the front door to buzz guests into the building (which is also beautiful by the way). Mum & Dad are visiting in March so they can test it out for me. Needless to say, it’s remained out of use thus far. . .

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Questionable lighting choices.

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Food is only ever a few steps from bed.
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Takeaways for one aren’t so terrible after all.

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Living alone might sound like it’s going to be lonely maybe even creepy, and I must admit I did have my doubts, especially after some super lonely times in my room in Paris. But as with most things and as cliché as it may be, life it is what you make of it. Of course, there are lots of solutions to combat loneliness but sometimes you do just want to be by yourself and living alone makes it beyond easy to do so. It also comes with lots of other benefits. Meals for one mean choosing the accompanying TV show and takeaways without the ordeal of choosing where to order from, the entire place is kept exactly how you want it to be kept – at whatever level of tidiness you so desire, and there are no queues to anything – that’s no knocking / knocks on the bathroom door, and no lining up for the hob, because it’s all your’s.

 

 

 

4 / 2 / 2018

WHEN MUM CAME TO VISIT

I’m a little behind on blog post plans due to my 21st birthday (belated, celebratory post coming soon), attempts at studying and working towards my TEFL (also to be discussed soon), and general laziness in all honesty. So let’s throw it back to the beginning of the month . . .

After a lovely and much needed break at home, mum flew back with me to Paris. I had been desperate to visit Versailles, so used this as the perfect opportunity to drag somebody along with me (she was more than compliant really). However, Versailles is more of a full-day / Saturday outing so on the afternoon and evening of our arrival we had a wander, and some food and wine . . . naturally. When in Rome and whatnot.

3/11/2017: MONTMARTRE WANDER & DINNER @ AMÉLIE CAFÉ

Montmartre has now twice been my go-to tourist spot to take my visitors here in Paris. We got off the métro at Pigalle, had a quick look at the Moulin Rouge and headed up to the Sacré-Cœur (mum loves a church / cathedral on holiday, it’s a well known family fact). After looking around for somewhere to eat, I suggested we check out the Amélie café as another hint that mum should watch one of my favourite films / at least one of my many viewing suggestions. We headed there and had a cheese board, chips and wine along to some lovely unexpected live music.

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Moulin Rouge

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Mumma @ Café de 2 Moulins

4/11/2017: CHÂTEAU DE VERSAILLES

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Versailles was incredible. To the extent in some rooms that I really was speechless. No photo will do justice to just how absolutely huge and totally grand the Château de Versailles truly is. It’s bloody massive. Having recently rewatched the first series of the BBC’s “Versailles” and binge-watched the second, I was pining to see where all that drama, those sordid tales and the infamous wild soirées of Louis XIV went down, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Let’s allow the snaps to do the talking.

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La chapelle royale / The absolutely magnificent Royal Chapel

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La Galerie des Glaces / The Hall of Mirrors

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Le Grand Appartement du roi / The King’s Appartments

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The Gardens

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Getting those IGs ft. new The Great Frog rings, Vans from my besties and nails a lot fresher than they are now.

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Mum looking all windswept and interesting (hope you had a great time visiting me!!)

 

MARVELS of MONTMARTRE: Amélie, Dalí & Artist’s Square

Being here two weeks in advance of my classes has had its tribulations.  However, it has also given me plenty of free time to do some exploring. As a hardcore fan of the film Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain, Montmartre seemed like a natural and obvious place to begin. The endless steps were most definitely rewarded by the spectacular view from the Sacré-Cœur and my fangirl moment outside the Café des 2 Moulins.

7/9/2017 / Amélie Sites

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IMG_7385Misty Parisien Cityscape

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IMG_7446Café des 2 Moulins, where Amélie works!

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12/9/2017 / Espace Dalí

Espace Dalí was also on my week “To Do” list. An interest (and to some extent a confusion) in Dalí and the surreal was sparked back in my French Cinema module at Cardiff last year upon watching Un Chien Andalou, a surrealist short film by Dalí and Buñel – definitely worth a watch if you haven’t already seen it! The exhibition is kind of small but in the same way it’s intimate, thus allowing you to get around everything on offer super easily, sculpture and painting alike.

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« Le surrealisme, c’est moi! »

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« L’éternal féminin rend l’homme semblable à un crétin »

 

Artist’s Square

My visit to, and through, Artist’s Square was less orchestrated and was more of a visit en route. I was mesmerised by the artists at work and spent a good half hour walking up and down the line of portrait works, watching. I had absolutely no intention of being painted myself until I was called over by one of the men who didn’t have any work on offer, wanting to paint me “for fun” and not obliging to buy anything. Of course, not having any other plans, I thought why not? I ended up buying the painting.

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In all honesty, the lower half of my face is a little off but I do like it as a painting nonetheless. It also means I’ve got a great little artsy souvenir of my first week in Paris, and my first week as an Erasmus student, forevermore!

VACAY IN VALENCIA

Another Spanish city break. Another girly getaway. This time Valencia was calling . . .

We’re going back a while now but in celebration of the end of exams and thus, the end of my second year at Cardiff university / reaching the half way point in my degree etc. (who needs excuses anyway yada yada), two of my housemates and I booked an urban girly retreat to Valencia, Spain. Having all acclimatised to the matte skies of Cardiff, the Spanish sun was most definitely calling. Be warned, this is a photo heavy post! 

Day one was for exploring (and papping each other it seems)

9/6/2017

Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències / Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias / The City of Arts and Sciences

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Day two, I will be honest with you, was a hungover right off.

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We were kindly invited along to a (boozy) Erasmus Pool Party @ Tumbao Beach Club which was so much fun. 

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Our last day was a tan topping (burning) beach day at Playa de la Malvarrosa. After cycling there, we rewarded ourselves with loads of obligatory paella and lazed around by the sea all day. Absolute bliss.

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BREAK IN BARÇA

I’m a sucker for a city break so when mumma suggested a girly Easter getaway, I was so down. We decided on Barcelona, having both wanted to visit for some time, and what a fabulous decision it was. Arriving on morning of the Tuesday 11th and flying home on the afternoon of Friday 14th April, we had 3 nights and plenty of daytime to wander around and explore the city. Let’s take a look at our mini adventure through photos!

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We stayed in the super central Praktik Rambla Hotel on the Rambla de Catalunya and it was so gorgeous! We had a twin room with fancy French doors onto a cute little balcony overlooking a bustling square of restaurants. The super comfy beds made for great afternoon siestas too (when in Rome and all that).

Touristing

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Our visit to the Picasso Museum was perhaps my favourite outing. Get there early to avoid humungous queues!

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Bruised like a peach in the land of the orange.

 

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La Sagrada Família

 

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Arc de Triomf

La Sagrada Família and the Arc de Triomf were spectacular. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get into the Sagrada as tickets were sold out but it was still great to walk around such a magnificent piece of architecture.

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Couldn’t resist a snap in front of the cutest floral-fronted abode in Barcelona.

Now, onto food . . . and drink!

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Obligatory holiday ice cream snap 🍨

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Naturally, tapas and sangria were on the menu of an evening.

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We were lucky enough to have a great tapas place literally on the doorstep of our hotel so naturally we took advantage of the fact and dined here two out of the three evenings of our stay, trying out different dishes each night.

Big thanks to mum for treating me to our girly Easter break! Barcelona was great fun and I’ll definitely be back.

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