Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pasqua a Parigi

What an Easter break. Yesterday I returned to Milano from PARIS, a city I now adore. We arrived Friday evening and I was instantly captured by the vitality of it all--while Milan is also a large city, Paris practically wipes if off the map. The people in themselves were completely different. I don't know how to explain it, there's just a different atmosphere in Paris than what I'm used to in Milan. But maybe it's just because this was my first time out of Italy all year and I don't speak a word of French. :)

My host family has an apartment in a central neighborhood which was extremely convenient. Throughout the long weekend, my host parents took me around to see many of the famous sites: Notre Dame, Tour Eiffel, Musée du Louvre, d'Orsay, Beaubourg, Arc du Triomphe, Montmartre, Champs-Elysées, etc. etc. I made sure to take plenty of pictures even though it was rainy the entire trip. We hadn't expected it to be so cold so I was wearing many layers and a raincoat basically 24/7. Then, the last day, the sun came out and the skies were clear. That was, of course, the only day in which I didn't bring my camera with me when I went out on the town. Ah well.
Notre Dame
Opéra
Tour Eiffel 
Montmartre, for me, captured the soul of Paris. Virtually untouched by the stampedes of tourists, it is a beautiful hill that overlooks the rest of the city, and it is marked by exquisite buildings and windy, tree-lined streets. Next time I will definitely have to see more of it. Another area I particularly enjoyed was Le Marais, a district in the exact center of the city with many boutiques, bookstores, and restaurants, and some of it is pedestrian-only. Absolutely charming.

I spent an entire morning inside the Louvre, which is massive. I managed to see all of the most famous pieces there, including Mona Lisa, Nike of Samothrace, Venus de Milo, The Raft of the Medusa, Hammurabi's Code, and countless others. I ended my visit by eating at Starbucks, which was the first time I had eaten there in over 7 months (Starbucks doesn't exist in Italy). It was heaven!
mhmmm
The Raft of the Medusa (my favorite)
I tried to pick up a bit of French along the way, but since I hadn't brought a notebook, I had trouble memorizing all the phrases and words I learned. In the end, even though I really liked Paris, I spent the last half of my stay going around alone because my host parents had to work, and that was kind of depressing. Next time I'll have friends with me and we'll tear it up. :) The fact that I didn't know the language was also intimidating, and I really hated having to use English. The French I encountered were very good at English, but I just feel like other countries shouldn't have to learn our language for the sake of tourists. Ughh. Oh well. Coming back to Milan, in a country whose language I know, was a big relief. Plus the Parisians are rather condescending so that was odd as well. :P In any case, I got a good taste of the city, I now know the layout, and I feel confident using the metro by myself, so I will be ready for my next visit!

I have two weeks here in Milan before we leave for our big Rotary trip to Rome and the Amalfi Coast. Can't wait!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

PRIMAVERA

It is April 1 and we are officially in SPRING! I am so happy right now that you can't even understand. No wonder my mood had flatlined during winter; Milan is a grey mess when it's cold! Now that we have the sun once again, everything has burst into life: the trees are once again green, the people are back on the streets, and everyone is enjoying life in 1 layer of clothing instead of 4. THIS is why I came to Italy in the first place, to enjoy life in a place where others were doing the same.

Continuing my one-blog-post-a-month tradition, this is my first post since the beginning of March, when we had just returned from Venice. Now I have just returned from Cremona, and even though I had already been there in November for the Festa del Torrone, I feel compelled to give all of you an update on my life (even though there was nothing different about Cremona except the weather). March passed extremely quickly, so quickly that it almost scares me a little. If the remaining 3 months pass by like this, I'll be back home in the US before I know it. During the winter months, life dragged on as if it was a slug (great simile, I know) but now that we are in the warm-weather months, life is flying by! Like a dragon or something! Crazy stuff. (I'm a little delirious if you can't tell; I blame the heat.)

the entire 2040/2050 group
gettin' crayy
Duomo
Nothing of major consequence happened in March, at least nothing I consider of consequence at this point. I remember how I used to blog about going to an aperitivo or something back in October, but now I go to aperitivos quite often with my friends so it's no longer a blog-worthy topic. Now that people are coming out of hibernation and want to hang out 24/7, it's getting trickier to manage my money, so I'm having to be really careful about that. On the subject of money, there are several trips I would like to plan for the next few months, the options of which include Denmark (to visit my friend Laura), Florence, Berlin, the French Riviera, Amsterdam, and Barcelona. Obviously I can't go to all of these places; maybe 2, but in reality I'll probably only make one big trip like this work. I'm already going to England the last week of June, and (surprise!) I'm going to PARIS next week for Easter break with my host family! I CANNOT WAIT! Paris has been my dream city ever since I got to Europe and I am so excited to go.

Two weeks after Paris will be the big Rome/Amalfi Coast trip with Rotary, the one we've been looking forward to all year. Then I have all of May free and half of June before England. I return to the US on June 29. The date is set, we've bought the plane tickets. As of today I have 88 days left, and it's truly odd to think that the year is almost over....in some senses if feels like it has just begun! Anywho. May will be my month of traveling so I have to start planning NOW. As in right after I finish this blog post, haha. I'll post again after Paris happens. Less than a week. Can't. Wait. :D