lundi 29 août 2011

Wait...are we in Australia??

Nick departed for the land of the free and the home of the brave after our adventures in Rome while Megan and Abby continued onward to Athens! Or at least what we thought was Athens, but is apparently an Australian hotspot for travel. They were everywhere!

When we got to Athens in the afternoon is was already cooler then any time of day we witnessed in Rome, so our spirits were high. This, combined with the fact that we were staying at the coolest hostel in Athens (run by Australians of course), was a sure sign that we were really going to enjoy our time in Greece.

The first evening was spent eating Gyros (of course!), meeting the woman that would play Abby in a Greek movie about her life, watching the sunset over the Acropolis from the rooftop bar of our hostel, and meeting our new roommates (Australian, obvi).

Our hostel offered a walking tour in the mornings as well and so we, five Australians, two southern Asians, and one Frenchwomen set off with our Greek guide to see all of the famous sites around Greece. It was very interesting and informative. We saw the Acropolis, stood on Mars Hill, saws old Greek and Roman ruins, the old Olympic stadium, the changing of the guard at Parliament, and the riot police! We asked our guide if there was a riot going on and he said that we were in Athens, so probably. Lucky for us, like the rest of Europe, dissatisfied Greeks take August off, so we did not have any trouble with strikes or riots.

We also made the 45 minute tram ride down to the Mediterranean! The beach was a pebble beach but the water was not too cold. Unlike the beach in France, there were no waves here so if you swam out from where other people were you could see the sea floor 10 feet beneath you as floated effortlessly in VERY salty water. There were little fish and naked Greek children. Livin' the dream.

When we weren't adventuring, eating Gyros, or siesta-ing, we did a lot of shopping. There were streets full of cool shops that we spent hours perusing. One of our very sickly (and Australian) roommates told us where the big store shopping district was and so we hit up all of the trendy stores as well.

Our second to last night in Athens was spent hiking a nearby hill to watch the sunset. You could see all of Athens and a lot of the Greek isles as well. It was pretty amazing! Our final night was spent at the McDonalds in the Athens airport where we struggled to stay awake until our early morning flights departed.

I sadly left a very sleepy Abby at 4:30am to attempt to check in at the most inefficient airline counter I have ever been at (unaided by the fact that Europeans do not know how to form lines). My adventures took me to Zurich for 5 hours (which is apparently in Switzerland and not Germany) where I was confused into spending $18 on a Burger King meal and pulled out of security twice for special screening. Next off to Chicago for another 6 hours where I thankfully had use of my cell phone to pass the time. Finally to Denver where I met my family and stayed in a hotel before driving the 4.5 hour drive home. Needless to say, it was a long travel stint. In the end, of course, it was all worth it as these last six weeks have been some of the craziest and funnest of my life. I made some amazing friends and had some incredible adventures!

Although my Eurotrip ends here, Little Abraham (abby) continued on to London where she undoubtedly will have many adventures of her own to share with you!

Much love,

samedi 27 août 2011

Paris refuses to be posted.

Our avid blog followers will note that, in following our travels on your push pin board maps (which I'm sure all of you are undoubtedly doing) we appear to have lost several days of Paris travel in the transition from real world to blog world. That would be Megan's fault. However, we can also lay blame on the fact that the instructions were in Greek (literally) and I was attempting to blog from my phone. So let us travel back in time to our pre-Rome excursion as I blog about these 2 days of our lives for the third time.

When we last left you, Nick, Abby and Megan had just lost the wenchiest French Wench with Clarin's departure at some ungodly early hour. Lacking the ugly faces and dance moves of our best fourth, we continued our travels with a slightly less pony-wanting trio. We spent our first day set loose in Paris with those who remained of our group. It was a relaxing day; we sat in the park watching Bryant try (and SUCCEED!!) to catch pigeons with his bare hands. Next we wandered down by the river to watch the Parisians pretend that they have a beach. Left over pool trauma from the south of France made us all nervous to be so close to water, but luckily none of us were thrown in (or in Abby's case, bounced of the curb and then thrown in). After we grew tired of the river we took over a Starbucks basement (our God given right as Seattlites) for several hours. There we reminisced about the trip and discussed the inner workings of SPU politics (the scandal!!). Finally it was time to say goodbye to some more friends. We left Eric with some parting complaints ("Eric, it's too hot, turn off the sun!") and headed to the Westin, in which we sneakily fit 5 people into a room meant for 2.

Our final day in Paris was spent taking full advantage of the metro system. We picnicked under the Eiffel where the best business tactics are to shout out random American associations like, "Lady Gaga, Bling bling," or to pick pocket travelers such as ourselves. We also went to a huge graveyard where lots of famous people are buried and it eternally looks like Halloween. The Shakespeare and Company Bookstore also filled up much of our time as we perused its shelves and it quickly became our favorite bookstore (you would've loved it Em). We went back to the Montmartre steps to watch the sunset and made friends with an Italian musician and his Georgian (like the country) assassin manager. We finished the evening wandering around a Parisian carnival across the street from our hotel. In classic carnival fashion, it was grossly overpriced so we just ate snacks and walked around. Because of our early wake up call in the morning, we went to bed while our friends continued their evening, enjoying their last night of Parisian night life.

We awoke the next morning at 5am and made our way to Rome that day without much trouble. Note that we flew on Niki Airlines, the trendiest way to fly. Our pilot had a fauxhawk, the flight attendants wore weans and trendy blazers, and they played Flo Rida as we landed in Vienna for our layover. Hella swanky to be sure.

This post is a loving memory of Clarin Joy McDonald, a tragic loss to the French Wench travel team

mardi 23 août 2011

wench in rome. . .

Everyone knows the saying "when in rome, do as the romans do." what we didnt know however, is that in august, What the romans do is get the hell out of rome, so nick, Megan andt i were on our own with this one.

We arrived in rome right on time and took a shuttle straight to our hostel because "we deserved it." by the time we ventured out into the streets to find pizza the sun had gone down and we walked around our new favorite city for hours admiring countless huge ancient things.

In the morning our infatuation with rome was shattered when we realised that rome is about 150 degrees and 200% humidity at all times. And the city is about a million people past capacity. Basically the entire city is a huge fire code violation. We quickly learned that rome is best at night, or with a gelato in hand.

We didnt let the heat stop us though. We trekked through the collosium, roman forum, palentine hill and a bunch of other old marble stuff on our first day. There are no wordsbto describe how hot it was other than if the smith family had been there, we would be playing minigolf (jones, brehm, smith florida shoutout.)

we also spent a day at the vatican in which we climbed 550 stairs to the top of st. Peters basilica for a beautiful view of the city, spent some time in the air conditioned vatican museum, and were herded like cattle through the sistine chapel. Quite the holy experience. Megan and abby also had some trouble getting into the vatican due to their skirt lengths. (what hussies) but they were soon taught by vatican security that modest truly is hottest.

The rest of our time was spent in more museums, shopping, siesta-ing, eating delicious pizza, night walking, day dreaming of smoothies and free wifi, filling up water bottles from national monuments, playing masho and love fortune, and a fatefull ride on the 64 bus of which we do not speak of but reminds us that no matter what happens, there was always a time when life was worse.

Finally i would like to give a special thank you to the man who made our trip. You got us free wine, taught us how to skip long lines, and how to protect ourselves from pickpockets. Rick Steves we salute you.

samedi 20 août 2011

Paris, London, even Tokyo.

Due to increased amounts of peer pressure, I am now writing to you about our last days in Paris and my wild adventures back home to the US of A.

Our last night in St. Maximin, once again, was celebrated with dancing, singing, packing, cleaning (we only had 12 hours before we left so we had to clean pretty quickly), Scottish girls in short dresses attempting the worm (author's note: this never ends well), and Liz Davis going all "high school P.E teacher" on us. We were going to miss the South of France, but were anxious to get to Paris. We fell asleep way to late for our 7 am wake up call in the morning, but were all thankful for the 3 hour train ride/nap to Paris. We arrived in Paris and took the metro to our hostel, which is quite a feat when you are traveling with 25 people, all with luggage, who don't really know where they're going. Over the course of two days in Paris we got to go to so many cool places: the Arc de Triomphe, the Pantheon, Napoleon's Tomb, Notre Dame, The Louvre, Museum Orsay, Sac le'Coeur, The Moulin Rouge, etc. etc. I'm probably missing a few, but all of these places were absolutely amazing. The amount of history that Paris holds was breathtaking. Not to mention that the fashion was jungle chic, the benches were nap-worthy, and Monet's paintings could be admired for hours on end. At the end of our two days, we spent the night underneath the lit up Eiffel Tower and we all dreaded the fact that our France trip would officially end the next day and that we wouldn't have the privilege of living with this fine group of people in France anymore. We said our goodbyes and made plans for a reunion party ASAP. Then the French Wench did the hardest thing since trying to make Nick write a blog post: said goodbye to me. Breaking up the members of the French Wench is just unnatural. It's like not having baguettes for breakfast or Dr. Davis without his aqua sweater.... it just shouldn't be allowed. And yet, it had to be done.

In short, my 48 hours of traveling back home were.....hell. Okay, not actually that bad.... but by far the longest 2 days of my life. I had an 18 hour layover in Amsterdam, where I realized that reading maps in Dutch isn't as hard as it seems. I worked my way to the Ann Frank house, which was something I have always wanted to do. It was amazing. I indulged in some Dutch pancakes, then headed back to the airport, which would be my home for the next 10 hours. The next day consisted of ridiculously high priced airport food, not enough sleep, four different planes, sleeping through the boarding of my Seattle to Spokane flight, waking up at 10:55 pm when my flight was at 11, the airline have to reopen the plane for me to get on, and finally arriving back home at midnight on the 17th. Being home, has never felt so good. And there ends the travels of this lonely French Wench. Keep posted for the stories of the other wenches who are currently in Rome.

you know you love me,


vendredi 12 août 2011

I want a Pony!

We understand that this is becoming a trend, but we once again apologize for our lack of blogging. This time we have a real excuse, our internet is about as sturdy as a house of cards, one blow from caving in. I have never missed dial up internet as much as I do now. Or as much as we did last night, the night before our final when we realized we didn't have access to spark notes or online chapter summaries of the books we didn't have time to read between all the tanning and pool-partying we have been forced to do.

Anyways, we will attempt to catch you up before the internet crashes again.

Saturday morning we took the bus to the Uzes Market, where Clarin continued her quest for floral pants. The Market was huge and crowded and would probably be really impressive to a group of students who don't live miles away from Pike Place in downtown Seattle. Saturday night we went back into town to watch the parade. The parade was literally a freak parade with flying jellyfish, ribbon dancers trapped in huge balloons, bollywood dancers, and a huge robotic elephant that sprayed the crowd with water. Although we insisted Dr. Davis was not to pick us up until at least midnight, we were begging to be picked up at 9:30. When we got back to the house, the rain started. We thought it rained hard in Honefluer. We were mistaken. There was a flash flood on the pool deck, thunder and lightning, and a leak in the roof convienently right above Abby's Pillow. It was a rough night for everyone.

Sunday the rain continued, and since there is only one room in the house that has wifi, and really just only one common room in the house, it is needless to say everyone was suffering from cabin fever by the time the rain stopped. We watched some movies and actually got some school reading done. That night, Abby taught Dr. Davis to go "bat fishing" by swinging socks and stockings above his head. After realizing that no bats were being attracted, yet everyone was laughing, we think it is safe to say Abby will be getting docked a few points on her final.

This week we've been on two excursions. The first was to Avingnon where we visited the French Papal Palace and spent hours shopping and eating Gelato. The second was to Lo Beyuex, which was a midevil fortified city. We were highly encouraged to dress warmly, so luckily we were wearing sweatshirts on our hike up a mountain in 95 degree heat. The view was spectacular though.

Wednesday night Dr. Davis invited a group of traveling gyspsies to perform for us and a group of others from the town we are staying in. We've discussed how we would describe this night to you, but we think Katy Perry says it best in her poetic lyrics "last Wednesday night, yea we danced on table tops, and we took too many shots, i think we kissed but i forgot. It's a Blacked-out blur but I'm pretty sure it ruled. Yea!" 

The rest of our time has been spent by the pool, and in class. The growing closeness of our group is symbolized by the number of people that get thrown in the pool each hour. There have only been a few casualties, including a huge bruise on Abby's hip, and Nick's unfortunate encounter with a very oily Liz.

We have finally finished all of our finals and are ready to celebrate our last night in the South of France before going to Paris tomorrow! We can't believe that our trip is coming to an end!

Also, Nick has promised to buy Abby a Pony, which is great news. We will look for one in Paris

samedi 6 août 2011

Bull Snap (title dedicated to the Hogue Household)

The French Wench would like to formally apologize for the lack of blog posts lately. The French Wench would like to blame these lack of posts on the 98 degree weather in which causes us to do nothing but lay by the pool, and let's also blame it on Megan Hogue because she is always a good person to blame things on, especially when she is busy getting her bangs cut while she forces me to write this post.

In our last episode we left you on the edge of your seats on our kayaking adventure. We have had many adventures since then.

1. Pool Party Extravaganza: Amanda (the owner of our villa) is a party animal. Tuesday night we were all sitting around hanging out and all of a sudden we hear loud music and singing. Amanda is down by the pool dancing provocatively (mind you she is 65 years old) and singing loudly (mind you it's hotter than helena out so the amount of clothes is minimal). We then all proceed to  have a dance along with her, and then one thing led to another, someone threw someone in the pool, and before you know it, we are all in the pool, loving life. Then the neighbors came and told us we were being too loud and we had to stop. But it was a great night nonetheless. (and we've learned some new dance moves)

2. The Mediterranean Sea: we spent ALL day on Wednesday at the Mediterranean Sea. Let's talk about how beautiful it was shall we. Holy cow. Blue/ Green/warm water, white sand, big waves, hot sun, and gelato. It was a perfect day. And none of us got sunburned! It's a Christmas miracle. It was a great first trip to the Mediterranean for all.

2. Arles: We went to a town 45 minutes away called Arles. Unfortunately sweet Megan didn't come along with us because she was feeling a wee bit sick and didn't feel like gallivanting around the colonial countryside all day. This was the hottest day of our lives and we were walking around the town looking at old roman colosseums and sweating profusely. Luckily, Dr. Davis gave us money to buy gelato. Nothing better than gelato you don't have to pay for. We went shopping in the cute shops around Arles and some of us made some purchases that are tres france.

3. Bull fighting: Last night we had the opportunity to witness a small town, friday night, bull fighting event. We crammed 24 people into two 5 passenger cars (quite a feat i might add) and drove 10 minutes away to the neighboring town of uves. It was one of the most hilarious things we have ever seen. They release a bull into the arena and men "try" to prove their "manhood" by catching the bull's attention and then running away from it to jump the fence and try to not get trampled. Unfortunately our dear friend Justin (aka Cap'n) could not escape the bull's wrath and got "trampled" (aka lost his footing and fell and the bull stepped over him, and a tiny scrape resulted). Nick also got in the ring and did manly things like stand behind the fence and plank in the middle of the arena whilst the bull left the arena. The night was a hilarious success and who doesn't love a good ol' bull fight?

Tonight we get to go to the running of the bulls in the streets, so you can look forward to hearing stories of that in our next post. And good news, I was promised there would be sheep there :) numz.

also, sorry no pics. our internet is not so hot currently.

you know you love me,

French Wench.

lundi 1 août 2011

Failing at Poolside Charades

Where we last left you: Midterms complete and mad-packing done...ish. Ensues our final night in Honfleur. We had pizza for dinner (which seems insignificant except that we LOVE pizza so it was the best thing eva!!) We went out and took our final pictures in Honfleur, reminiscing on the good times, and forgetting the fact that we spent the majority of the first week hiding from the rain inside playing cards. Around midnight we all decided that it was a brilliant idea to go to the beach. After some logistical sorting we finally made it to the was a good night! Unfortunately someone locked the door back at the villa and hid the key in some black hole of things you will never find. Being 3am, we were keen to go to bed and ended up scaling walls and hedges and wrought iron spiked topped fences to break into our own home. We couldn't just wake someone up because the door is deadlocked in a way that you are locked both in and out unless there is a key. It was an eventful night.

The internet here is r...i...d...i...c...u....l....o....u...s...l....y slow so this is the only picture you get for now...but know that we have lots more and that Nick is in them.

The next morning we were awoken (some of us more forceably then others--sleepy Clarin). More packing and repacking and cleaning and recleaning later we all trooped down with our entire months luggage through town to the bus station. Lucky for us, it was market day so there were lots of people in the streets to laugh at the silly Americans struggling to lug their giant backpacks over cobblestone streets. A 2 1/2 hour bus ride to Paris, a 2  hour wait in the train station and a 2 1/2 hour dare or darer filled train ride we finally made it St. Maximin. It is a suuuuper small village but we don't mind because we are staying at an AMAZING villa!

Our first day at the villa was spent poolside. Literally. It was a complete vacation day. Topped off with a shrimp dinner and world class musicians that played all evening as we danced the night away. This day has been unreal.

Today we had class, which is held outside because it is so warm here. After lunch we went Kayaking down a river under some ancient aquaducts. We splashed and jumped off cliffs and had a fantastic time. We are now completely exhausted and hanging out by the pool. Abby and Nick are unsuccessfully guessing what Clarin is charade-ing....obviously she is miming headless chicken...or something to that effect.

And that's where we are at. Nighty night readers (or if you are particularly avid blog followers, this would be a good morning)

The French Wench