Hurray, another follower! I now know people are actually reading this blog (besides Mom). And now I have another blog to read! What is interesting about my 2nd follower, Ariel, is that instead of going abroad, she’s doing the DC semester. Although technically she’s not abroad, she’s counted among the people who I know that are abroad because she isn’t physically at Dickinson this semester. Also I find the fact that she’s not learning a language but doing some kind of internship/seminar incredibly fascinating and I can’t wait to learn more about her experience! I’m not too sure I understand the title of her blog though… maybe I should make mine more confusing too?
Ugh, I’m feeling kind of blue today. I think I’m PMSing… sorry if that is too much info. But I woke up with that blah feeling that usually accompanies PMS and the mild depression/I hate my my life feeling. Maybe it’s’ a good thing Papa doesn’t read this blog (at least I think he doesn’t?) because I’m sure he doesn’t care to know about my menstrual cycle schedule. However Pape (French grandpa) does… oh whatever, he raised 3 girls (and my dad has 3 sisters) so they can deal with it!
Ok so before I go on a tangent again let’s talk about Carcassonne… Well…
So I ventured off to Carcassonne yesterday with Erika and Gaelle by train. Erika actually got to sit in first class on the way there so I didn’t actually see her until the train arrived in Carcassonne. I also ran into other Dson peeps who were heading to Bordeaux for the day. So we got to Carcassonne with no problem, crossed the Pont Marengo (over the Canal du Midi, same canal that runs through Toulouse and right next to the Dickinson Center!), and into the modern part of Carcassonne, looking for the tourist office so we could get a map.
Everything pretty much went off without a hitch. I love traveling without Dickinson and not having to be told where to be at a specific time and what to visit. When we finally spotted the medieval city, the part of Carcassonne that it is famous for, we were all struck with awe. Really. It looked like something out of a fairytale, the fortified city walls with the ramparts and towers and everything. It was so beautiful, especially with the Pont Vieux in the foreground and the Aude River. Gaelle kept repeating she was waiting for her Prince Charming to come sweep her off her feet on a white horse haha. The thing is, the Cite really looks like you’ve stepped back in time and I kept expecting a knight or a squire or some 11th century character to appear out of thin air.
Apparently, according to Mom anyways, I’d already been to Carcassonne when I was a toddler. My mom won’t shut up about some pink plastic sword she bought me there (what were you trying to do Mom? Instilling violence in me at such a young age?). I have zero memory of Carcassonne but I DO remember the sword because it followed us home one after one of the annual trips we made to France each summer. The sword got lost at some point and then somehow the sheath (also bright pink) stayed behind. We finally got rid of the sheath when we moved to our current house back in 2001. While I was in Carcassonne, I did see a little boy with a toy sword and it reminded me of Mom and her obsession with the pink sword. Too bad I didn’t take a picture.
So we crossed the drawbridge (I know! An actual drawbridge, say what?) into the old Cite and just wandered around, passing a lot of restaurants advertising cassoulet (specialty of the Languedoc region) and touristy shops. We finally reached the Chateau Comtal, this part of the Cite you had to pay to get into. We got student discounts, wooo!
I don’t know much about the history of Carcassonne nor did I learn much while I was there since we didn’t do any guided tours. If you’d like to know more about Carcassonne, try Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carcassonne
But apparently the pointed cone towers were restored in the 19th century by an architect and are not the authentic towers from around the 11th century, when construction on the Cite first began (and lots of people were against that). That is weird but I liked the pointed cone towers and think they look fine and go well with the mystical character of Carcassonne.
So yeah we visited Chateau Comtal, part of the inside of the Cite and walked all around the ramparts in tight claustrophobic passageways high off the ground. Didn’t help me with my fear of heights but it was fun! After Comtal, we went to visit the Basilica, which used to be the cathedral of Carca. until 1801 by St-Michel Cathedral. The site of the Basilica has been a holy one for a long time since the Basilica was built around the 11th century atop a Carolingian cathedral. The exterior of the Basilica was renovated by the same guy who renovated most of the Cite in the 19th century but the inside was pretty much left alone. It is absolutely gorgeous inside but very dark and somber.
Unfortunately the weather was not on our side this weekend (again) but there wasn’t too much wind like last week. It was simply dark and gloomy all day and drizzling on and off. It wasn’t too warm either. After eating lunch (I also ended up eating a crepe with nutella yummmmmmmmmmm), we left the old Cite and headed into the downtown area with the main shopping area. We went into a few stores, ended up in Mcdonald’s at some point to stay warm (and I bought a Mcflurry to give us a reason to be there), and tried to see if we could head home earlier. Unfortunately, Erika’s ticket could not be exchanged for an earlier train for some reason so we decided to stick with the original train we had been planning to head back on. We did go and visit another church (St Paul) and saw the outside of the St-Michel Cathedral but didn’t go inside. We ended up on the main street for what seemed like the millionth time and I ended up buying a black handbag I really liked that was on sale.
Then we headed to the train station for what seemed like the looooongest waiting game ever. It was 6 PM when we first got there. We probably should have just gone back to McDonald’s again. We sat in the info office for awhile but got kicked out by the mean man and his bomb sniffing dog. I found it hilarious there was a lone security guard with a muzzled German sheperd. The Carcassonne train station is tiny, so tiny that the self cleaning bathroom is outside of the main waiting area, near the platform. You had to pay 30 centimes to use it. I had to wait 2 hrs and a half to use the bathroom because I was too cheap to pay for it hahaha. Erika and I mostly chatted to pass the time while I think poor Gaelle had about had it. Our initial enthusiasm and wonder at the old Cite was long gone. We had walked a lot and were exhausted and cold (the train station automatic doors kept opening and I don’t think it was heated) and just wanted to go back to Toulouse. At one point, a family member called Gaelle and she started chattering away in Creole on the phone which amused me and Erika greatly since we could pick out a few words here and there (Creole is a mixture of French and local dialect). Gaelle is also originally from Haiti which I think is the coolest thing ever. And Erika has a Mexican background so in fact all of us are bilingual. I discovered Erika was from LA and that she has worked in Malibu in a restaurant type place and has served a lot of celebrities! I don’t think I could live in LA–not only do you need a car to get everywhere (I hate driving) but I’d get too tongue tied by all the celebrities that live in Tinseltown (why does LA have the nickname of Tinseltown?).
So while Gaelle Creoled it up, the two girls from WashU, Nicole and Allison, showed up. They had left on a later train from Toulouse and had visited the Cite as well but not at the same time as us. We were supposed to meet up but we ended up leaving the Cite before they even got there. We talked to them while waiting for our train and finally had to separate when it came since we were sitting in different compartments. That’s when I realized that I was about to travel on the TGV for the first time. It was direct to Toulouse and got there in record time, I was so amazed. Toulouse and Carca. aren’t far apart, but it taken over an hour to get there on the way to Carca. The TGV got us back in under an hour.
And that was Carcassonne! All in all, it was a pretty good visit except for the weather. By the end, it was pouring and not very fun. I never want to return to the teeny tiny Carca. train station… I had had enough by 2.5 hours!
I did go out for a bit Friday night at Place St-Pierre, a square known in Toulouse for its many bars. However I didn’t stay out late due to the fact I was getting up early for Carcassonne. How responsible I am!
As for the strikes, I ended up not going to class Thursday at all. I didn’t feel like taking the metro all the way to the Mirail just to be told class was canceled. While there were protests in Toulouse, I did not go looking for them while I was out and about. I don’t know where and when the protests took place. Most of the buses were running and the metro didn’t seem to be disrupted from what I could tell. According to French Media, 65 000 or 300 000 people depending on who you believe protested in Paris. Why are the French protesting? Well… that’s a good question! I’m not too sure myself. From what I could gather, they are upset with Sarkozy because he married Carla Bruni, a former model-turned-singer who dated Mick Jagger in her heyday (and also has been involved in her own share of affairs) after being divorced from his 2nd wife a mere 5 months.
Haha just kidding! The French don’t care about his love life. Well they do, but it doesn’t upset them the way I’m SURE it would upset Americans if Obama say, dropped Michelle in favor of Pamela Anderson. Anywho, Sarkozy is evidently doing something to upset the French but I’m not sure what… apparently he lied and flip flopped on some issues and is ignoring the outcries of his populace. And this is supposed to be surprising…? He’s a politician! I’m sure Obama will be caught on something soon enough… Everybody loved Bill Clinton, yet there was still that whole Monica Lewinsky thing that sort of tarnished his image. He lied about having sexual relations with her before backtracking and claiming he was “confused” as to what kind of sex was implied by the question. I’m not about to go into the sordid details of what happened between the two in the Oval Office because everybody pretty much already knows at this point what went down… and wow, I did NOT mean to make that a pun. Seriously!
In my opinion (and this is my blog, therefore I’m allowed to opinionate as much as I want) the French rely TOO MUCH on strikes to get what they want. Sometimes it does work… but most of the time it’s just annoying. The whole world is in an economic crisis, the whole world is suffering. I mean, Starbucks is laying off 7000 employees… If Starbucks can’t stay afloat, nobody can! There are other ways to get your voice heard than through strikes. In fact, the French are well known for their love of going on strike. I’m going to be honest: I think they abuse their right to protest a little too much. As soon as something goes wrong, a strike happens, it’s become almost predictable. Does the government even take these strikes seriously anymore? I mean, come on… The French are a creative people! Let’s be more innovative! Don’t you get tired of yelling and waving banners and marching around?
I guess all cultures has their thing. The French love to go on strike, Americans love to sue. I just learned some of the passengers of that plane that landed in the Hudson are going to sue because they aren’t happy enough with the upgrades they received from US Airways. Can I just say: wow. You survived one of the most incredible landings ever… can’t you be grateful you’re alive?! You owe your life to that pilot for the rest of your life! But no, Americans must sue… because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be Americans!
I still have not got an internship. The first internship with the magazine isn’t going to work out but there’s a possibility something else will… I don’t want to jinx it so when everything is final, I will let you all know!
What else, what else? I dunno yet where I’m headed to (if anywhere) next weekend. But I am going to Barcelona Feb. 13th-Feb. 15th with 3 other girls! I’m so excited to be heading back to Spain!
I’m praying for my doggy here because I heard he’s been limping a lot and that he hurt his paw. Poor Milou! I guess he wasn’t just being stupid when he just plain refused to go up the basement stairs. I think he has arthritis, not that any of you care, but I miss him!!!!!!! Can’t wait to be reunited with my furry little guy!
Oh and since I know he reads this: Pape, j’espere que tu te remets vite de ta desarticulation. Je viens d’apprendre ca ce weekend. Je veux que tu guerisses rapidement et je t’envoie des ondes positives de Toulouse!
Ok that’s all folks.