I have soooo much to say! So be prepared now to sit for a while to read this… Also know that when I return home, I will be learning French, German, and Spanish so far.
Alright, this was our first overland port. That means we could travel between countries without getting on the ship if we wanted to. Well, the more time in countries, the merrier! My grandma was gracious enough to help me spend time in Paris during this overland travel. But first, I had a day in Belgium. Only one day in a country is not enough time to do everything wanted, but I did my best.
We were allowed to get off of the ship at 6 am (2 hours earlier) so we took advantage! We headed to Brussels to eat some “mussels in Brussels.” Yep, I did it; we got a HEAPING bowl of mussels with Belgium fries (they originated in Belgium–not France) and some more dark beer. We went on a tour around and saw the famous cupid statue peeing! There are a few stories behind this statue, but no one knows which one is correct:
1.) A general lost his son and sent all his soldiers out to find him. When they found him, they were to make a statue of him. You can guess how he was found.
2.) This was a place for the poor to sell their pee to leather makers, since pee helps ferment the leather… eww.. but probably the true story.
After some WONDERFUL chocolate as well (Belgium chocolate is all it is cracked up to be!) and falling in love with Speculoos spread (Belgium and French people LOVE it…. so do I) we came back to Antwerp. Oh, and don’t worry–I had a Belgium waffle too! I decided Belgium was the port of gastronomy… no ice cream though.
The next morning we were on our way to Paris! It was interesting to go with people I haven’t met because I got to meet a lot of new people. Some are pretty cool, and some, I found, hang out on the SAS trips because they can afford all of it and more, no prob. There was a girl that said, “Money can buy you anything….” Obviously she has not been depressed, because money cannot buy you happiness. (cliche, I know)
Anywhom… Paris was… interesting. I am glad I can say I went there. I had crepes, biked around the city, saw the Eiffel Tower, and went to the Louvre. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to go inside of the Louvre or up the Eiffel Tower (most of the students were FURIOUS about this) but we were IN PARIS! It rained the whole time too, so it made it very difficult to see the beauty of the city (OR my theory is it washed all of the dirt away–the streets were DISGUSTING!) Also, I tried some pato fouie bois–fattened duck liver. Actually, it was quite delicious! It looked and tasted like a piece of cheese. I wasn’t disgusted until I looked up how it is prepared afterward for my class paper…
The last day of the trip, we went to Claude Monet’s gardens. It was astonishing!! Beauty everywhere. This trip out of the city into the country made me realize how much better the country is, and that I want to live in the country someday–not city.
Overall, the trip to Paris was a good one that I am glad happened. I probably won’t go back, but it was a beautiful experience, all the same.
The day we returned to Le Havre, I was EXHAUSTED! I decided to go to sleep and wake up early to figure out what I was going to do the last day in Le Havre. This paid off, since at breakfast, one of the lovely faculty stood up and asked if any student was interested in having a free ticket to go to the cliffs of Etraitat. I was immediately listening, and many were going to go independently, and a couple older people were interested, but he wanted a STUDENT to go in his place. I raised my hand and talked to him. All I had to do was take a picture for him to show his son what it looks like. Lucky me, I have been in LOVE with picture-taking. So I thanked him and took a shower. This is what I saw all day:
Returning to Le Havre, the bus stopped and allowed us off in the city, since the port was about a half hour away from the city (first port this has happened) so I got off and found EVERYTHING I was looking for: gold flats, a cardigan, headband (that is what I am collecting from every country) all for under 25 euros, AND it was all done in French!! It’s crazy how much of their language you pick up just by immersing yourself in the country. I also finally had a macaroon and a tart–such a healthy lunch. It was such an AMAZING day, and I felt like a blessing from God–truly. When I got back to my room, the verse of the day matched one of my pictures from the cliffs. And that is what I am going to end with. I am dumbfounded by the goodness of the Lord and how He seems to make all of my dreams come true, and connects my life in ways I couldn’t imagine!
“But those who hope in the Lord shall renew their strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint.”-Isaiah 40:31