Friday morning I left for Aix-en-Provence – a 10 hour train trip from Locarno! Coney and Lea helped get me ready for the day’s journey, with a hearty breakfast of bread that we made last night then another roll for lunch, fruit, nuts, and of course some Swiss chocolate! It was Three King’s Day, so she also packed me another piece of that bread too. I was so sad to say goodbye; it was such a treat to be with them and experience Switzerland. We went to the Madonna del Sasso church in Locarno, saw the Castles in Bellinzona, and hiked the Cardada’s Cimetta–where you can see the highest point and lowest point of Switzerland–went shopping, and tried all of the food I could imagine, including raclette on the last night (basically melted cheese put on potatoes, fruit, vegetables, meat…need I say more?)! FYI chestnuts are also amazing.
I traveled from Locarno to Domadossola, Italy, then from there to Geneva, and from Geneva to Aix. The train rides were long, but for some reason the time went by surprisingly quickly. Looking outside the train car windows was definitely a way to stay entertained and impressed J I was chatting with someone from Geneva for a little bit, and it was the first time practicing my French during this trip with an actual French speaker. I was a little overwhelmed at first and could not remember the translation for the words I needed, but after a little while I became more relaxed. It was a good warm-up for my arrival in France. However, even with that I was still definitely a little overwhelmed once I arrived in a country that does not speak my native language. I watched Atonement on my last train leg to Aix once the sun went down, which was definitely a mood killer. Depressing movie, but the history of the movie during the WWII era helped me get excited for another place full of history.
On Saturday we toured the city with the French student tutors (who are students at local universities and are there to help us improve our French), and they showed around. We found the bank, the post office, grocery stores, and other places that we would find useful during our time here. We went out for a drink that night with the other French students who live in each of our apartments, at the ‘classic’ Irish bar called O’Shannon’s Pub. The first thing I noticed was just how much French people smoke! There were a ton of people sitting outside in the cold, but under heat lamps, who were smoking. Otherwise it seems like the bars here are much more relaxed, as there are tables for sitting and chatting with people. I ordered a beer called “Grim Rouge” off a suggestion by Florine, one of our French friends. Apparently its full name is Grimbergen and it is from Belgium. I have been doing my research 🙂 It was delicious, then we went back to the apartment for an early night.
The next day (yesterday) we went to Marseille for the day. We saw Notre-Dame de la Garde and the new Mucem that was recently built, a modern art museum. The city was beautiful as it was right on the water, but it seemed like there wasn’t a ton to do. France is currently in the process of revamping, as it has not traditionally been known as the safest city in France. However, I loved the red rooftops and view of the water!
Just a few pics from Marseille…Matt bought me an AWESOME camera for my birthday, where you can download on your computer or other websites (Google Drive, Flickr, etc…) though a Wifi connection. BUT since the Wifi is so iffy here because the city and everything in it is so old, I have to be patient on uploading the rest!
Sooo the pictures are not posting because the internet is STILL so slow…here are the captions, you’ll have to check back to see when the pics are posted 😉
Red rooftops galore!
Today was more of an orientation day and we learned about all of the classes being offered. We did some grocery shopping at Monoprix, then had our first meal at a French family’s house. The housing/food situation is a nice combination of meeting new people who live in Aix and eating authentic food, while also having the independence of living on our own still. Plus I think I need some home cooked meals to avoid eating as much bread as I have (2 quiches, 2 croissants, and 1 crêpe within 2 days cannot continue to be a thing!!). However, living in an extremely old apartment building also has its downsides – namely the toilets and the washing machine that do not seem to cooperate! Oh well, we will learn…and it is just another adventure.
À tout à l’heure!