Je suis le pire…

Translation: I am the worst ( at blogging…)

Sorry to everyone for my lack ofposts during the  last month! I just cannot bring myself to make time for blogging…ugh.

So, what am I still doing in Europe? Well, my family and I are spending the holidays abroad! Yay!

Currently, I am typing my blog in an apartment in Rome where we will be staying for the next three days! I am also typing it on my dads iPad, so it is going to be a bit shorter than my normal post :)

We began our Christmas vacation in Paris, where we stayed in anapartment as well. We then went on to Grenoble for days any. I spent yesterday afternoon translating conversation between my host parents and my family, as neither party spoke the other’s language! ( waaaay more difficult than it sounds.)

Sorry for no pictures, but I can NOT figure out how to work this thing and I don’t have Internet on my laptop here yet…apparently they don’t have Internet in ancient Rome! Hopefully I will have it working by tomorrow :)

Forgive the mistakes, I am sure there are many…I am not used to typing with a little keypad!

Ciao!

Marie

Je suis allée à Londre!

Translation: I went to London!

YES London. Although I love visiting places in France, it was so nice to go somewhere that I didn’t have to work to communicate with people! It was my first time ever travelling without an adult (I know, I am an adult! But I mean with someone who is responsible for all of the complicated travel-things) and I was so thankful that I was able to do this in an English-speaking country. I love speaking French, don’t get me wrong, but there is just something comforting in knowing that if there is a problem, you will be understood by the people around you!

So…last week Thursday, my friends and I left Grenoble at 7 am to catch our 10 am flight in Lyon. We took “Easy Jet,” which is a British airline that travels to major cities all around Europe. I would highly recommend it for anyone looking for cheap flights, but be forwarned, the planes are pretty small and rough on take-off and landing!

We had to get on the plane outside!

 
We got to London around 10:30 (there is a 1 hour difference between Grenoble and London) and took an “Easy Bus” into the heart of the city! After eating lunch, we checked into our hostel. It was the first time I had stayed in a hostel with other people in our room, so I was pretty nervous! Thankfully, there were no issues with this…we had four other people in our room, three of which were also American students studying abroad!
 
We finished all of this around 4, a bit later than we had hoped, so we nixed our plans to visit the British Museum that evening. We instead went straight to the British Library and Kings Cross. For anyone who doesn’t know why Kings Cross is important to me, it is the location of Platform 9 ¾, the famous Hogwarts Express platform from the Harry Potter series. I know, I know…I am such a nerd…but that is just who I am :)
 
When we got to Kings Cross, we had no idea where the Platform was. We knew that they had moved it outside of the actual station because there had been too much commotion near platforms nine and ten, but there were no signs or anything saying where to go. We were debating on whether or not we could pluck up the courage to ask someone where it was, when we found it! Thankfully we didn’t have to be the people who were searching for Platform 9 ¾…
 

The St. Pancras Hotel...it was on our way to Kings Cross and was too pretty not to show you!

 

So...this is Kings Cross! Not the same building they use in the Harry Potter films, so it was slightly disappointing.

I was sooooo excited!!!!

 

Inside the British Library! It was so cool...there were so many old books!

 
After the British Library, we promptly took the “tube” or the metro to the theatre where we were going to see…duh duh duh daaaaaa…. WICKED! I know, how did we afford that? Well, we sat in the veeerrrrry top of the theatre, that’s how! We ate dinner at a pub before the play. I got the classic british meal of “Fish n’ Chips.” Although the picture doesn’t look very appetizing, it was really good!
 

Yum. Peas...

 

YAY! Wicked!

 

I almost bought these...but I figured that I didn't need to see facial expressions :)

 

The stage was so cool...that dragon was even able to move!

 
The performance was incredible. There are really no better words to describe it! If you ever get the chance to see Wicked…don’t pass it up!
 
After taking the tube back to our hostel, we prepared for our day of walking by going to bed on time! Unfortunately our roommates didn’t return until 2 in the morning and were not very good at being quite while they got ready for bed! I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep, let’s just say…
 
On friday, we spent the day near St. Pauls Cathedral, exploring all of the sights. Instead of describing all of it in a story, I am going to list what we did, and then give you a “picture tour” of all of it! I am pretty sure it would take you a day to read if I included all of the little details, so think of this as if you are walking the same route we did…
 
Friday:
Tower of London (not inside, it was too expensive!)
Tower Bridge
Monument to the Great Fire of London
The London Bridge
Shakespeare’s Globe (once again, not inside…)
The Tate Modern Museum (Modern Art…)
Millenium Bridge
Old Bailey’s Courthouse
St. Pauls Cathedral
 

The Tower Bridge!

 

The view of Tower Bridge from London Bridge!

 

London Bridge...waaaaayyy less impressive than I expected seeing as there is a song about it!

 

Shakespeare's Globe!

 
 

Anyone recognize this bridge? Yep...it was destroyed at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince!

We had lunch at the best place ever. Eat. I got tomato soup and salt and vinegar "crisps." This place has to come to the U.S.

 

The view of St. Pauls from Millenium Bridge!

 

I loved this random yellow door...

 
The front of St. Pauls. It was so much bigger than I had expected!
 

The ceiling of St. Pauls. Sorry for the awful quality...

Just a note…we walked past the cathedral during the afternoon, but we didn’t go in until later in the evening for the “Evensong” service because it was too expensive to go in when there wasn’t a service…not that I didn’t want to go to the service! On the contrary, it was one of my favorite parts of the day! The Men and Boys choir of St. Pauls lead the service, and they were simply amazing. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures of the inside of the cathedral…I snuck one from the inside of my purse…which is why the quality is so terrible!
 

Everyone needs a typical telephone booth picture, even me!

 

Old Bailey's Courthouse...the judges and jury still wear white wigs during the trials!

 

My first British Policemen on horses...I was really embarrassing and had to take a picture :)

 After we left St. Pauls, we had to find somewhere to eat dinner. The whole weekend, we ate foods that we were not able to find in France. Friday night, it was a burger! There is no way to find a good burger in France, so we went to The Gourmet Burger. It was really good! I got one with horseradish and Portobello mushrooms.

My first burger in three months!

  After we ate dinner, we took the tube back to our hostel area and decided to get dessert at the pub close by. We encountered some really great singing…done by russian? german? men…not really sure what language they were speaking :)
 
The next morning, we headed out for another day of exploring! We took the tube to the Hyde Park station and started our morning there…
 
Here is the list of our destinations for saturday:
 
The Marble Arch
Hyde Park
Speakers Corner
Serpentine Lake
Apsly House
The Wellington Arch
Buckingham Palace (and the Changing of the Guard)
Victoria Memorial
Trafalgar Square
The National Gallery
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
The London Eye
Westminster Abby
The British Museum
 
Whew….what a long list!! Well, here are the pictures from the day! Enjoy the tour :)

We started out at Hyde Park! Speakers Corner, where there are usually people on soap boxes sharing their opinions :)

 

Unfortunately, on a Saturday morning it is not very busy...

 

We walked around the beautiful park for a while...it used to be King Henry VIII's hunting grounds!

 

Serpentine Lake separates Hyde Park into two sides...it was really pretty :)

 

We were taking pictures by the lake, when suddenly we were surrounded by runners!! There was a race in the park that we didn't know about :)

 

This is the road known as "The Mall," which leads to Buckingham Palace! The color of the trees were so beautiful.

 
 

Arriving at Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guard :)

 

The Guards arriving to the Palace Gates...

 

The Parade of the Band arrives next!

 

As we walked into Trafalgar Square, we could see Big Ben in the distance!

 

My Lunch #2, from another restaurant that NEEDS to come to the U.S...this time I got roasted red pepper soup with my crisps :)

 

The National Gallery...home to a great collection of impressionist art!!

 

Trafalgar Square!

 

The countdown to the summer Olympics in London has begun!

 

There was a guy in the Square drawing all of the Flags in the world, and people were donating money to their flag...so we gave some American Dollars!

 

We ate scones with clotted cream and jam in front of Big Ben :)

 

Big Ben!!!! And my new poppy pin, which is what people in England wear to remember Armistice Day.

 
 

Westminster Abby! Unfortunately, I wasnt able to take any pictures inside...so sad!!

 

The view of the London Eye and Big Ben from Westminster Abby

 
Well, that was a marathon of pictures! I know they were all pretty grey, but that is how London is! Thankfully it didn’t rain all weekend! In order to get into Westminster Abby, we attended the Evensong Service there too. It was even better than the one at St. Pauls! They had a men and boys choir just as St. Pauls did, but there was more scripture reading. I absolutely loved it.
 
After we had finished seeing the sights for the day, we ate dinner ate a pub. I got steak pie because it is a British classic :) It was pretty good….but the picture is not very appetizing, so I will spare you. We walked around for a while after dinner because it was Guy Fawkes night, and there was supposed to be fireworks, but we decided to turn in early. We had to get up at 2:45 be ready to check out at 3:30…our plane left from the airport at 7, so we had to leave really early! Unfortunately, my alarm went off an hour before it was supposed to because I hadn’t changed my clock back…my friends were not too happy with me when we figured it out…we went back to bed for an hour (not that I fell asleep again) but we agreed that if I hadn’t woken us up for those extra ten minutes, we probably wouldn’t have made it out in time! We took a double-decker bus (eeeekkkk!!!!) to our “easy bus” that would take us to the airport. It was surprisingly busy around town at 3:30 in the morning…there were a few times where our bus was completely full! So crazy….
 

My first double-decker bus!!

 
 Our bus ride got us to the airport just in time to make it to the gate before it closed. I was a bit stressed, to say the least, but obviously I am safely back in France, writing this blog! Overall, the best “first trip without adults” ever. Although I do wish that I could have shared my experience with my family…
 
Hope you enjoyed the incredibly long post!

Bien à vous,

Marie

 
 

Bientôt…

Translation: Soon…

Hopefully either tonight or tomorrow afternoon, I will be able to write a post on my latest adventure! My friends and I embarked on a trip by ourselves for the first time…where did we go, you ask?

Here are some hints:

 

 

 

You guessed it! We went to LONDON!! It was such a great trip and I am so excited to tell you about it…but right now, I am going to Skype with my family, so you will just have to wait until later!

Bien à vous,

Marie

Je vous présente ma famille d’accueil…

Translation: I present to you: my host family!

I was going to make this a post all about my life here in Grenoble, but I figured that it could get pretty long, so I am going to split it into two parts! Part one: introduce my host family. Part two: a day in the life of Marie!

Well, I am currently living with my host parents: Bernadette and Jean-Claude. (I know, so French!!) It is just us most of the time, but at the beginning of the school year their youngest son, Luic was staying with us. He is a police man, or “flic,” in a different town further up in the mountains. They have on other son, Nicolas, and a daughter Elise….but I am not sure who is oldest…sorry. We haven’t really discussed that yet. Oops. Elise is the only one who is married, and she has two kids: Laure (4) and Damien (1).

I got to meet Elise and her husband (Nicolas…same name as her brother, yes) and their two kids last week because Laure was going to stay with us for the week! French schools had last week off, so Bernadette and Jean-Claude babysat while Laure didn’t have preschool. She was soooo cute. All week, she would come into my room and just sit and watch me do homework. After a while, I showed her how to use “Paint” on my laptop…which was probably not the best thing to do. all week, she would come and ask if I wanted to draw on my “ralateur” which is not even a word… “ordinateur” is the word for computer in french, she just preferred to call it a “ralateur.” So. Cute.

She also has the best glasses ever.

Sporting some Harry Potter-esque glasses :)

 

Concentrating really hard on getting her stars right!

At the end of the week, I got to go to Elise’s house with Bernadette to drop Laure off! We left on Friday morning and came back Saturday afternoon from their miniscule mountain village. I am talking 20 houses maximum and a small gathering of market-type stores. It. Was. So. Gorgeous.

Too bad I was too distracted by the cute kids to take any pictures. (*GASP*)  I know…I am mad too. Anyways…that is the general information about my host family…now for more specifics on my life with my host parents!

First, they spoil me. It is true. They let me eat more meals with them than I am supposed to, Bernadette does my laundry every Monday, and all of my clothes get ironed…even my pajama pants. Technically I am supposed to only eat breakfast and four dinners a week with them, but after Bernadette told me that they preferred that I eat with them, I decided it was okay…still not sure how to tell her that I don’t need my pajama pants ironed, but oh well. Bernadette also sets out my breakfast every morning: a bowl of coffee (Yes! French people use bowls instead of mugs…) orange juice, bread, and nutella:

My breakfast du jour!

 
We live in an apartment outside of centre-ville. There are three bedrooms, two bathrooms, one water closet, a living room, a kitchen, and an office. Here’s my quarters:
 

Yay, it's my bedroom!

 

My awesome shoe rack from IKEA...my host mom bought it for me after she saw how many shoes I brought :)

 

Here's where all of the studying gets done :)

 

It's my bathroom! Where is the toilet? In the water closet down the hall...

 
Now you have a better idea of where I live! Isn’t it great??
 
I feel like I should tell you a bit more about my host parents…so here is what I know so far!
 
Bernadette: She is an amazing seamstress! She is currently working on making towel/ponchos for her grandchildren and great-nieces and nephews. They are really cute. She is also working on a duvet cover for her niece and a doll dress for Laure. One of her other hobbies is to go hiking, either with Jean-Claude or with our neighbor. So far, she has been hiking at least twice a week every week that I have been here. Which is pretty cool.
 
Jean-Claude: He is the chef in the household. And just ask my parents, he makes delicious food every night. They get to hear about it all the time when we are chatting on Skype. All of our meals are served in courses, the first of which is soup 50% of the time. Maybe even more. The surprising thing is that  we have not yet had the same kind of soup! Yeah, he is a very talented cook.  Another one of his hobbies is Bowling! He actually just got back from Paris for the national bowling championship tournament! His team got fifth place!!
 
Well, I hope you have enjoyed getting to know my host family a little bit! Keep an eye out for “a day in the life of Marie.” It should be preeeetttty interesting :)
 
Happy Halloween!
 
Bien à vous,
 
Marie
 

Je suis désolé…

Translation: I am sorry…

I also considered calling this post “broken promises,” but then I realized that I am not reeeaaally breaking my promise. I promised you three posts by Sunday night. Well…in France, it is Sunday night, and I am giving you a third post…but  it is not what it was supposed to be.

I was contemplating on whether or not  I should just whip out a quick post on my life in Grenoble, but the I realized that it was impossible. I want to be able to spend enough time describing my daily life and my host family. But it is 11:30 here…and I am tired and have school tomorrow morning. So. I have decided to break my promise and give you your third post tomorrow instead. I hope you all don’t hate me too much!

Just look at it this way…now you have something to look forward to tomorrow morning/afternoon!

Here is a preview of what my post will feature!

This is the view from my bus stop...and yes, it snowed last weekend in the mountains!

 
Alright…I am going to bed now. Keep your eye out for my post tomorrow!
 

Bien à vous, 

Marie