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.
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.
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).
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.
This one’s really for those of you who may be embarking on a year abroad in the near future. If you’re not, you’re all welcome too I guess.
Ok, so I’m not here to tell you it’s all going to be terrible but I am going to be brutally honest about a few of the struggles I had upon my arrival in Paris and during my first couple of weeks here. Before you get reading, start worrying and over thinking, it’s not all doom and gloom and of course, it does and will improve exponentially throughout the year and then no doubt, settling back in for fourth year at Cardiff will be the next challenge! The plan here is also to throw in a few little cultural observations I’ve made at the end, so don’t get too disheartened and do carry on reading!
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.
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)
Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències / Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias / The City of Arts and Sciences
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!
Having just arrived home from a wonderful fortnight in Normandy, I thought it about time I return to the blog having not posted since before my first set of university exams. So, before getting into talk about my travels, I should say that all went well. I finished my first year studying French at Cardiff University with 69%, one frustrating percent from a 1st but delighted nevertheless.
After months of lazing around at university and taking my first year pretty easy, I was so ready for a break having done some real work again for a few weeks. Normandy was the absolute ticket and oh so relaxing.
Having been kindly invited along by Tom’s dad, we had been so looking forward to this trip for weeks! After my new passport finally arrived, we decided that I would drive to Portsmouth, we would catch the ferry to Cherbourg, (I would be brave) and drive to the château on the other side.
Here it is, the ultimate post in the trilogy recounting my recent trip to Athens. I thought of no better way to build the anticipation than to leave the historical sites of ancient Athens until last. After all they are all quite something, in both feat and appearance.
The Parthenon is quite simply the most amazing thing I have ever seen and I can only hope that these photographs of mine do it some justice. The sheer size of it was unbelievable and to see such a thing in real life was completely mind-blowing. I haven’t seen a photo yet that captures its enormity, but these are the best I’ve got.
As intended, the Acropolis stands, still today, above Athens and reigns over the city. This results in fabulous views from each and every one of the central ancient sites as well as from the Acropolis Museum. I love how much of a focus the Acropolis is, and just how majestic it looks in the following shot. The moody tone of the composition only enhances all of that and it’s definitely one of my favourite shots of the trip.
View of the Acropolis from the Ancient Greek Agora.
I really enjoyed wondering around the Agora as it brings everything back down to Earth. Yes, the temples and the artefacts and grandeur of all of that is incredible but for me there was something really human about the Agora. As a central meeting point, market and square full of taverns etc. the Agora was the centre of the city’s life and it therefore offered a sense of the everyday that I found really interesting.
This is the Temple of Hephaestus which is incredibly well preserved and well worth a visit.
I’ve reached the end of the ‘Athens Trilogy’ now and all there is left to say is what a fantastic time I had on this trip and that I would most definitely return. Athens offers all you could ask for in a city break in my opinion and I have tried my best to capture what I find the most important aspects, in these three posts. The food was delicious and astonishingly cheap, the museums were modern and well designed and the ancient sites really were the most incredible things I have ever laid eyes on.
Thank you for sticking around until the end and reading about my holiday – hopefully there are many more adventures to come!