A final goodbye.


Last week, in the midst of finals, one of my best friends came to visit. Maria flew in from the States on Tuesday afternoon. That night and the next, I had my last 2 finals which I'm not feeling too great about. However, the director of the program has reassured me over and over again that I should worry not because he is very generous during the grade transferring process...I need a lot of generosity.

Anywho, on Tuesday night, we had our EAP Last Dinner at Brasserie Georges, the oldest restaurant in Lyon. Maria got to join and we endulged ourselves with another 3-hour meal, complete with a salmon pâté as an appetizer, duck as the main dish, chocolate mousse as the desert and coffee/tea for the digestif. It was so delicious and a great way to spend time with everyone, saying 'bye' to those that are leaving early, and expressing our gratitude to the directors of the program who worked so hard being drowned by government paperwork.

The next day was a mellow day since I needed to spend a good 4 hours or so studying for my final. It didn't do much unfortunately. Rather than testing us on economic strategies of the world economy, my power-tripping professor asked: who was the financial minister in 2007? What was China's GDP in 2001? But from what I understand, he had equally retarded questions in another class as well, resulting in all the international students feeling like failures. Sigh.

After my final was said and done, I was ready to show Maria an exciting week in Paris and Lyon. On Wednesday night, we headed over to Emily's apartment to watch Clueless and have girl talk and say our last goodbyes to the few that were leaving the next day or two. Then, Maria and I headed over to a French friend's house party but left quickly because we needed to go back to my apartment and pack for our train to Paris the next day.

On Thursday morning, as we were getting ready, we somehow lost track of time and missed our train to Paris. For 20 euros more, we got the next train out, arriving in Paris around 2 pm-ish. We immediately went to our hostel to drop off our bags and get going. To our surprise, it started snowing. It was sooo beautiful but then, the snow fell heavier, making our hair soaking wet, and freezing our fingers off. It wasn't so fun after that. We trekked through the Louvre, the Tuileries garden, Champs-Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe, and last but not least, the Eiffel Tower. We ate a kabob on the way, making our dinner short and quick. We didn't get back to our hostel until 10 or 11 pm. Exhausted and freezing, we called it an early night.

[Snowflakes in my hair!]

[Braving the cold]

[Maria...not so much]

[Trying to catch snowflakes on my tongue]

[Christmas in Paris is GORGEOUS!]


[I'll miss seeing you in person]

The next day, we had a delicious brunch at our hostel. If you're ever looking for a hostel in Paris, check out Saint Christopher's. It is absolutely amazing-- cheap, clean, and there's a restaurant downstairs. Anyway, we continued our journey by going to Notre Dame and walking around the Marais area (lots of cute shops and cafés). Maria did some shopping and around lunch/dinner time, we stopped by a Chinese/Vietnamese place and had a hot bowl of pho. It was soooo delicious! Then, we headed back to the hostel to grab our stuff and make our way to the train station. Unfortunately, at the train station, we somehow missed our train even though we were 30 minutes early and at the right platform. Thankfully, we jumped on the last train but it was delayed an hour because of snow on the tracks. We arrived in Lyon at 1:30 am when the metros, buses and trams are already closed. The taxis were all occupied and there was a long line of people waiting. Because it was too cold to stand and wait and because we were beyond exhausted, we decided to start walking in that direction. We walked all the way from the train station to the bottom of my hill and decided to hail a cab there because there was no way we were about to climb a steep hill for 30 minutes. Needless to say, the moment we stepped into my apartment, we crashed.

[In front of Notre Dame]

[GIANT Christmas tree]

[Admiring the church]

[Inside the cathedral]

On Saturday and Sunday, we did some Christmas shopping but it was freezing so it was hard to do much else. The weather dropped to 20 degrees and snow was falling hard. On Sunday night, Emily invited us to a dinner that her homestay mom was hosting. It was a great French at-home-dining experience for us (especially Maria) and the food was to die for. While we were sitting in the salon, she had pieces of baguettes with caviar. Then, as the appetizer, we had deviled eggs, crab pâté, shrimp pâté and beat salad. Then, for the main course we had rice with mushrooms and salmon with broccoli, glazed with a lemon and butter sauce. Cheese followed and then, a dessert of fromage-blanc cake followed that. I barely made it home!

[My apartment...warm and cozy]

[Outside my window!]

Monday, Maria left for Germany where she was meeting her boyfriend, Nick. The moment she left, I had to clean my apartment and pack because I had to move out the next day. I scrambled around for some last minute shopping, then cleaned the entire apartment from top to bottom. I packed up and was ready by the time Tuesday evening rolled around. Emily let me stay at her place even though she was flying out of Lyon on Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, I changed my train ticket to Paris so that it could go directly to Charles de Gaulle airport since my hotel is only 2 miles from the airport, rather than getting into the center of Paris and having to figure out a way to lug my 2 50-pounder suitcases, a 25 lb carry-on backpack, a computer bag and my purse across town. Had I gotten a taxi, it would have cost me at least 60 euros. By changing my train ticket to a different location, I only had to pay 11 extra euros and sacrifice my morning, leaving at 10 am rather than the originally scheduled 1:30 pm.

This morning, I got to the train station an hour early and for the most part, things ran smoothly. Now, it is Wednesday afternoon, my back is killing me and I have blisters on my hands from pulling the suitcases but I'm here, in Paris, at the hotel safe and sound. That's not to say I haven't had a few mishaps already: I almost toppled down the escalator, I fell backwards in the shuttle from the airport to the hotel, and I've run over at least 10 people's toes. Oh well. It's all part of traveling. Besides, I need to anticipate the absolute worst considering the fact that I'm flying back to the States on Christmas Eve with a 4-hour layover in Mexico City.

Needless to say, I'm excited to go back home. These last few days have been bittersweet but I think Maria being here has really helped me keep my mind of the negative emotions. The moment she left, it's been go-go-go for me as I've had so many things I needed to do before leaving. I know it will be sad to say goodbye to France, leaving the simplistic life that I created for myself out here, but it's just another change in life that I'm welcoming with open arms. Now, it's on to the next chapter in life.

I'll see you on the other side ;-)


Simply Tanya said...

Lys!!! I can't wait to see you. I'm so glad your experience was everything you wanted it to be and you got to do so much! You know many people will be in the States with open arms on your arrival. Have a good Christmas with your family. I love ya girl!

p.s. weird that you watched Clueless (one of my all time favs) a few days before Brittany Murphy's death. :(


Liz, even if I already told you this while we were (are) chatting, but I LOVE this blog! You're such an awesome writer.

So how is the weather there? hahahahah JK JK...

Can't wait to see you!! PS. Stay away from tanya, she drinks wayy to much now.