T-2 and 3 days

On my third to last day in France, I spent most of the day in class (more intellectual property lessons).  After class, I wandered around and found a suitcase (it’s purple) and then met up with Cynthia for our last baking experience in France!

Since we had enjoyed making the mixed berry clafouti a few weeks ago, we thought we would make another clafouti.  This time, we opted for a cherry one.  The only cherries available in the frozen food store (Picard) were Les Griottes (Morello cherries), so we went with that.

Sour cherry clafouti! Would be delicious served with vanilla yogurt.

After our baking, we headed out for a traditional Lyonnaise dinner (we didn’t leave for dinner until almost 10pm, so we really went full-fledged French).

Our pick for dinner.

We decided to visit a bouchon Lyon, which is a traditional Lyonnaise eatery serving lots of sausages, duck paté and other Lyon specialties.  Since I hadn’t been to one yet (and really wanted a salade lyonnaise), we picked this one.

The interior was very homey and welcoming.

The restaurant was quite charming and the owners were super friendly.  It seemed to be quite popular, too, so were felt like we must have made a good choice.

La carte.

Cynthia was my willing companion on my quest for French food and offered a number of good suggestions on what I should try.

She's so accomodating!

Since I had been craving the salade lyonnaise, I opted for that for my first course (got to love the menu options, which include an appetizer and main dish for a set price).

Salade lyonnaise.

For my main dish, I decided to try something new that is a Lyon specialty – the quennelle lyonnaise de brochet.  I don’t really know how to describe it, but it’s made with some sort of meal mixed with fish, baked and covered with shrimp sauce.  It was very interesting and actually pretty tasty.

The quennelle lyonnaise de brochet.

And the potatoes served on the side were probably the best tasting potatoes I have ever had.  Delicious!

After dinner, we walked back to Cynthia’s apartment so we could end our meal with our homemade clafouti.

Very cute alley near the restaurant.

It was a wonderful third to last day in France.

On my second to last day in France, I did some packing (it’s about time I started that!), went to class, and then celebrated Cynthia’s birthday eve!  (Her actual birthday is today, March 31, but she has opera tickets for tonight, so we had to celebrate a day early.)

Between class and dinner, I decided to whip up a birthday gift for Cynthia, so I made her a wine cozy (without a pattern, of course).

Cynthia's birthday wine cozy/carrier.

Then, I met up with Colton at place bellecour so we could walk to the restaurant that Cynthia’s parents (who are in town visiting) had picked out.

Beautiful evening to celebrate a birthday.

Cynthia’s mom had chosen Brasserie Francote, which was quite lovely!  I enjoyed a wonderful dinner with Colton, Cynthia and Cynthia’s parents, who are adorable!

 

The Brasserie Francotte.

Colton and I started the evening by giving Cynthia our gifts:

A wine cozy and two bottles of wine. Do we sense a theme here?

Colton decided that the wine cozy made a better puppet, much like lamb chop.

Colton... Shari Lewis... pretty much the same thing.

For dinner, I had a fantastic piece of duck, served along side two fried quennelle natur (vegetarian quennelle).  Yum!

Duck with red berry sauce and quenneles.

For dessert, I decided I had to try a professionally made clafouti to compare it to my homemade creations.

Clafouti with caramelized pear, grated walnuts and powdered sugar.

It was quite tasty, but I prefer the homemade cherry one.

In addition to delicious food and yummy wine, I also thoroughly enjoyed the company!  Cynthia’s parents are wonderful and I’m so glad I got to meet them.

Happy birthday, Cynthia! And thanks for dinner, Cynthia's parents!

The waitress took Cynthia's dad by surprise by pouring a large amount of brandy over his chestnut ice cream. (I just love this photo.)

Sadly, this was my final meal in France with C²!!  😦  I’ve had such a wonderful time hanging out with them for the past three months that I will be quite sad to leave them tomorrow.

I'll miss you guys! *tear*

 

My favorite France buddies.

 

 

My last day in the happiest place on Earth

Scotland has now replaced Disneyland as the happiest place on Earth.  The people were so freaking nice and I really had a hard time forcing myself to get on the plane headed back to France on Saturday morning.  Don’t get me wrong, I do like France.  But it pales in comparison to how wonderful Edinburgh was.  Also, the fact that (have I mentioned this?) they speak English was really a point in their favor.  Not having to think so much about how I would ask a question and being able to have a full conversation with the waiters was wonderful.  Absolutely wonderful.

I definitely overdid it with the walking on my first day in Scotland, so what did I do on the second day?  Rest?  Nah.  That would have been too easy.  Instead, I decided to do ten times as much walking as I had done the previous day and even attempt to go on a hike.  I’m a smart one.  Really I am.

I woke up and headed downstairs to try the breakfast offered by my bed and breakfast.  The dining room was adorable.

My solo dining experience.

There were a number of options on the menu, but I decided to go with the traditional Scottish breakfast.  When in Rome…

The "house" breakfast.

All I can say is that I tried everything.  The black thing was an oat cake, which, sadly, was possibly the most disgusting thing I have ever tasted.  I did eat the egg, the tomato and the bacon (fried ham, they call it bacon in Europe).  The rest was pretty much inedible to me.  The owner of the bed and breakfast laughed at me as she took my plate, saying, “Well, at least you tried!”

My first goal of the day was to make it to the Edinburgh Castle.  My mom strongly advocated hailing a cab so that I could reserve my limited walking strength for wandering the castle, as opposed to using it up just to get t the castle. Shockingly, I didn’t listen.  Instead, I walked from my room about a mile to get to the Royal Mile, then walked the Royal Mile to get to the Castle.  It was a lot of walking from the get-go, but I saw some wonderful sights along the way.

First, I took a picture of the exterior of the super cute Bed and Breakfast.

Cute streets - the Royal Mile.

Looking through the Advocate's Close.

More street shots, with a hackney (cab) in the front.

Finally, I reached the base of the Castle.

First full shot of the castle.

I paid my 14 £ (plus 5 £ for my guidebook) and began wandering around, snapping way too many photos (I realize that there are going to be a ton of photos in this post, but just be glad I’ve limited it this much – I took over 600 pictures in my 2 days in Scotland).

The castle.

The castle was absolutely beautiful and I lucked out getting such a beautiful day in Edinburgh.

Statue on the castle grounds.

I probably spent a good 2 or 3 hours wandering around, checking out as much of the castle as I could handle.  After Isaac and I spent an hour wandering around the armory museum in Switzerland just a few weeks ago, I wasn’t too keen on checking out the same type of museum here.  So, I skipped that part.  Maybe next time.

Views from the Castle grounds.

The castle is on a hill, so it has amazing views of the city.  If nothing else, the trek to the castle was worth it just to see out over Edinburgh.

More of the view.

Traveling by myself, I, of course, had no one to take pictures of me.  So, instead of talking to strangers (we all know how I feel about that), I opted for the super awkward self-photography shots.

At the Castle.

As at every castle I’ve visited, there were lots of cannons.

Lots of cannons.

View of the city from the cannon.

The 1 o'clock gun, which is supposed to be fired every day at 1 o'clock. I was at the castle at 1pm and did not hear anything, but I must have missed it.

I saw the crown jewels, which were beautiful, but I couldn’t take pictures of those.  They are clearly a popular attraction because in the small room that held the jewels I saw more people than I saw during my entire visit to the Castle grounds.

Then I check out the place where prisoners of war were kept during the 17th and 18th centuries (where Americans were treated the worst because they were considered pirates – Arrrr).  Also, I saw the cells where Scottish prisoners were kept – one guys was kept for two months in solitary confinement and then sentenced to two months hard labor for desertion of military service.  Then, he went on to win tons of medals for service to the country.

Prison cell.

Then I resumed taking excessive photos of the Castle grounds.  What can I saw?  It was beautiful!

Shot of the Castle grounds.

Castle and cannon.

Shot of the city from the Castle.

I’m sure Edinburgh is a wonderful city even when it rains, but, in the sun, I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful place to spend a couple of days.

Pretty...

After admiring the view for hours and causing myself a great deal of pain in my foot (have I mentioned that I not only broke the toe but also sprained the ankle and twisted the knee?), I decided to leave the Castle and head to Arthur’s Seat – which is a dormant volcano in Edinburgh where you can hike to the top.  I mean, what better thing to do than go for a hike with a broken toe?

To get to Arthur’s Seat, I had to walk down the Royal Mile.  Along the way, I decided to stop at The Witchery, which is a famous restaurant in Edinburgh.  It’s macabre, but the name stems for the killing of hundreds of witches, which occurred near where the restaurant is located, at the base of the Castle.

The Witchery

It was a beautiful restaurant, with a ton of atmosphere.

The interior of the Witchery.

I ordered a two-course “light lunch” meal for just 15 £.  It was great.  And the waiters were super friendly, discussing ebooks with me and making sure I was well taken care of.

Charcuterie appetizer.

I’d love to go back and stay at the attached hotel, which is supposed to be amazing.  (And expensive.)

After resting there for a bit, I headed down the Royal Mile to go toward Arthur’s Seat.

St. Giles Cathedral.

Along the way, I stopped at the St. Giles Cathedral and paid my 2£ so that I could take pictures inside.  They are doing some construction inside of the cathedral, so it wasn’t as beautiful as it could have been, but I could tell that it would be a breathtaking cathedral without all of the scaffolding.

Stained glass windows.

The largest organ I have ever seen.

After getting my fill of the cathedral, I continued my wanderings.

In case you haven't had enough street shots...

Right before reaching Arthur’s Seat, I came across the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Palace of Holyroodhouse (photo taken through the gates, obviously).

Unfortunately, it was already closed for the day.  So, I’ll have to check it out next time I get to Edinburgh.  It’s the home of the Queen whenever she visits Scotland.

Next to the Palace.

Finally, I made it to the park to begin my hike up to Arthur’s Seat.

Holyrood Park.

I know that going on a hike with a broken toe may seem a bit weird, but this was one of the things I was most looking forward to about my trip.  So, I wasn’t going to let a measly broken bone stop me!  Or, I was going to try not to let it stop me, at least…

It really is a beautiful area.

So, I began my hike.

A little ways into the hike - by this time, I was already stumbling around.

As I’m sure you are all aware, I’m not the steadiest person on two good feet (see stair incident).  So, wandering along rough paths and rocky terrain on only one good foot was less than easy.

Scenery almost pretty enough to make me forget the pain.

I wandered around (very slowly) for a couple of hours, just enjoying the scenery.  It was absolutely beautiful and I could not have asked for better weather.

Arthur's Seat.

Had I been in possession of two fully functioning feet, I would have hiked to the top of this peak.  Unfortunately, I quickly realized I’d have to stick to the lower levels.

More scenery. Don't you now feel like you were there?

Rough but beautiful terrain.

After hiking a bit, I decided to take a break, pull out the Nook and soak up some sun.  It was so peaceful.

Reading break!

 

When my foot stopped throbbing, I continued on with the hike.

Don't you want to go to Edinburgh now?

Also would have loved to have hiked up these peaks...

Fun with photos. It's amazing how different the photos look from the two cameras. I'm still so pleased with the expensive camera purchase.

The view of the city from the hill.

View of the Palace at Holyroodhouse from the hike.

As the sun started setting, I decided I should head down the hill and walk back into the city.

Parting shots of the hills.

Last shot of the view from my hike.

I could have (and probably should have) hailed a cab there, but I decided to walk back along the Royal Mile one last time.  [If you’re still reading at this point, I’m impressed!  I realize this is the longest post ever.  It’s almost over, I promise!]

The shop made me think of Isaac's basketball team, which is called "The Former Has Beens." While I think this is a ridiculous name, his team was a finalist for the best name award at one of the basketball tournaments last year, so I can't really make too much fun of him for it now.

Gratuitous Edinburgh shot.

St. Giles at night.

Cool Scottish bar.

Finally, after having wandered around for hours, I decided it was time to grab some dinner and then head back to the bed and breakfast.  I decided to get something I hadn’t had in months – Japanese food!

Cute little Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant.

The food was great – and listening to American pop music while eating Japanese food in Scotland was highly amusing to me.

I finally decided I had had enough walking for the day, hailed a cab and relaxed in the room for the rest of the evening.  The following morning (Saturday), I woke up, ate breakfast (this time, I opted for French toast), packed, checked out and took a cab to the airport.  I had an uneventful flight back to France.

I spent the rest of the weekend recovering from my whirlwind trip and completing my 7th final of the quarter.  I now have just three days left before I head back to the States!

Lucky Number 13

Today, I boarded a plane and visited my thirteenth country, Scotland!  (I have also been to the US (duh), Canada (also duh), England, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, the Bahamas, Poland, the Czech Republic, Panama, France, and Switzerland – yes, I realize a couple of those are administrative regions of China, but I’m all for them being independent states, so I count them separately.  🙂 )

A couple of weeks ago, I decided I needed to get out and take one last trip before I headed back to Seattle.  I chose this week to do this because I only had class on Tuesday, which left me Wednesday through Sunday to go on a trip.  Of course, I couldn’t take up the whole time because I also have a final to complete, but, currently, I’m pretending that doesn’t exist.  Anyway, I chose Scotland for a few reasons: 1. They speak English. 2. The airfare was cheap. 3. They speak English. 4. It was only a 2 hour flight. And 5. They speak English.

So, I arrived in Edinburgh a little after 3pm, and took a taxi (snapping a few pictures along the way)

One of the many beautiful churches in Edinburgh.

Random houses in Edinburgh.

The Meadows - a huge park in the middle of Edinburgh.

to the bed and breakfast where I am staying.  And it’s adorable!

My room! I didn't get a picture of the outside today - I'll try to remember to get one tomorrow.

After resting for a minute (and trying to forget about the pain in my toe (a tip: if you’re walking in the airport behind someone with a roller bag, you should pay attention to where you are going rather than have your face buried in your book.  Otherwise, you run the risk of running into the person’s roller bag when he stops suddenly, and might kick said roller bag with your broken toe.  And that would hurt.  A lot.)), I headed out to check out the town.  The wonderfully nice woman that runs the bed and breakfast (the Lauderville Guest House) pointed me in the right direction and I headed toward the city centre.

Another beautiful church.

The streets are absolutely gorgeous.

Ruins on a hill... clearly I'm not too clear on what exactly many of these photos depict, but the sights were so pretty I couldn't stop taking pictures!

Another cool structure.

Shots of Edinburgh.

Another church?

After wandering around and doing a little shopping, I stumbled upon the Hard Rock Cafe in Edinburgh (apparently there is one!).  Since Nancy has requested that I pick up pins from each Hard Rock Cafe I see, I went in and went shopping.

Hard Rock Cafe Edinburgh.

After completing my HRC mission, I wandered around a little bit more.

George Square.

Gratuitous Edinburgh shot.

By this time, I was getting pretty desperate to find a good restaurant.  I really wanted to find a good pub to eat at, but was having trouble finding such a thing (shockingly).  I even almost gave in and ate at a TGIFridays.  Luckily, I found the perfect street just in time!

Rose Street.

I decided to eat at a Scottish pub called Dirty Dick’s.  It looked popular and like what I would expect a Scottish pub to look like.

The menu! In a comic book!

I loved the decor.

I ordered their specialty, which was a steak & ale pie.  Yum!

Yum!

I was totally full after dinner, but I didn’t want to leave yet (nursing the wounded toe, afterall – plus was really enjoying my nook book and a diet coke), so I decided to go for dessert!

Toffee bread pudding!

It was so darn good.  I am going to have to go on a major diet/workout spree as soon as I get home (and as soon as the foot heals).

And a parting shot of the restaurant, since I forgot to get one prior to dinner.

The pub!

Since I did not have the energy to walk the 30 minutes or so back to the bed and breakfast, I hailed a cab and got the nicest cab driver ever.  He told me all about the city, assured me that I could call the cab company any time because they are all vetted by the government, so my safety was guaranteed, and refused to take a tip!  He was so sweet.

Everyone I encountered today was super friendly.  I’m really glad I chose to come and I can’t wait to see more of the city tomorrow.  I am definitely not going to be able to see everything because I’m only here for a short time and so much requires too much walking for me in my lame situation, but I’m going to see as much as I can.  I’m already compiling a list of things to do when I eventually come back, though!

Baking, a birthday and a broken toe

(Warning — Lots of food pictures to come in this post!  You might not want to read this if you’re hungry.)

After Isaac left, I still had five days with nothing to do since I had dropped the international business law class.  I spent a day recovering from all the running around Isaac and I did, then struggled with entertaining myself.  As I noted in an earlier post, I went for my first run in France – a run to the river, along the river, and back.  Running in France was a very interesting experience, with much winking, comments and cat-calling from the boys in Lyon.  Very odd.  I ignored it, but I still have no idea what the big deal about me running was.  I suppose you don’t often see people running along the street here, but, to get to the river, I had no choice but to run in the city, too!  Anyway, I planned on doing additional runs in the city, but the weather has not been cooperating.  And, because of my adventure today, no running will be possible for a while.  I’ll get to that shortly…

Anyway, after my run, I sat in the sun and read the Nook, which is my new favorite gadget.  My mom, being the wonderful person that she is, sent her Nook with Isaac so that I could use it for the remainder of my time in France.  I never had much interest in having an eBook reader, but, holy cow, this thing is amazing!  I’ve already read 12 books on it.  It’s so convenient!  I will definitely have to get one of these for myself when I get home.

Last weekend, I also made rice krispie treats with C² for a dinner party they were attending.  They provided all of the ingredients

Just like at home... but with pink and white marshmallows!

and I got to mixing!

Finished product! Or not...

Since we had to estimate amounts (measuring cups are a little different over here, and the marshmallows were a little small), the rice krispie treats ended up being a little dry.  So, we decided to jazz them up a bit with some chocolate.  We heated up some dark chocolate and dipped them in it.

Colton prepares the work surface.

Chocolate covered rice krispie treats!

We also decided we would drizzle them with white chocolate to make them even more exciting, so Colton prepared the white chocolate.

Colton takes his baking seriously.

Unfortunately, we had some difficulties with the white chocolate, so had to settle for just the dark chocolate.  The white chocolate refused to melt enough for us to drizzle.  But they were still pretty good, even with just the dark chocolate.

This week, I had about 20 hours of class (this week – international labor law!) and went to 2 operas.  I battled the flu this week, which wasn’t enjoyable.  But, I rested a lot and was able to make it to the operas – the last of my French opera series!  On Tuesday, Colton and I went to Figarro, which was pretty good, and on Wednesday, we went to Don Giovanni, which was very intense and was the best opera I have seen in Europe.

On Thursday, St. Patrick’s Day, C² took me out to celebrate my birthday (Cynthia had a friend in town on Friday and didn’t think her friend would want to celebrate my birthday; I think that friend sounds questionable.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to celebrate MY birthday??).  We went to my favorite restaurant in Lyon, L’Entrecôte.

Steak frites!

They only serve one meal at this restaurant, steak frites, and they serve it very well!  You get unlimited fries plus two servings of some of the best tasting steak I’ve ever had.

The additional servings of steak.

I definitely need to figure out how they cook those fries and that steak.  Because they don’t serve Coca Light at this restaurant (according to the waitress, this is because the meal is fattening, so why would you order a diet drink… don’t you love that logic), we are always forced to enjoy a bottle of wine when we dine here.  Darn.

The local wine, the Côte du Rhône.

Since we were celebrating a birthday, we had to get dessert, which they nicely brought out with a sparkler in it!

We didn't capture a photo with the sparkler going (I was too slow), but I love this photo of me and Cynthia.

Celebrating Birthday Eve with my favorite people in France.

In France, they like to feel close to what they are eating.  It cracks me up.  So, in this steak restaurant, they have paintings of cows everywhere!

Happy cows make for good steak?

On my actual birthday (hello 28!), Colton and I went to dinner at another of our favorite restaurants (which we seem to eat at every week or so), BIEH, Best I Ever Had.  It’s an American diner which serves wonderful hamburgers.  Yum!

Then, we headed to Colton’s favorite cocktail bar, Soda ‘n Soul.  He kept saying they had the best cocktails.  I didn’t really believe him until I tried them.  They really were delicious.  First, I started off with a pear, vodka and fresh blackberry drink.

Yum!

Then, after watching the bartender light a number of drinks on fire, I decided I had to try the firey cocktail.  So, for our second round, Colton and I ordered Zombies, which were made of various rums with a sugar cube on top doused in absinthe and lit on fire.

Our Zombies.

After I got over how strong they were, they tasted great.  While we were there, a couple of friends from our program joined us (and one brought her French boyfriend).

Caitlin (from BU), me, Colton, Fred (the French boyfriend), and Lauren (from LSU).

This was the first time that I had hung out with fellow LLM students other than C² and I really enjoyed it!  I’m going to have to try to make time to hang out with them more in my last couple of weeks here.  Overall, I had a wonderful birthday!  I’m still looking forward to all of the belated birthday celebrations when I get home, of course, but this was definitely not a bad way to spend a birthday in France!

Today, I planned to complete my labor law examination so I could relax on Sunday.  However, my plans went a bit awry.  I woke up about 10am and headed downstairs to make myself some breakfast.  On my way down the stairs, I slipped, fell down the stairs and slammed my foot into the bottom stair.  I am not sure that I have ever experienced that much pain.  After spending a good hour sobbing, I pulled myself back upstairs, messaged Colton and Cynthia and waited for someone to get back to me.  Finally, Colton saw my message and came up with a plan.  He called his “French mom” and asked for advice.  She said that we needed to go to the pharmacist (pharmacists here do a lot more than just dispense drugs).  So, we found one that was open (harder than it sounds) and planned to meet one metro stop away from me.  I dragged myself over there very slowly (and managed not to cry on the way – also harder than it sounds), but, upon getting there, the pharmacist told us we needed to go to the hospital instead.  So, we caught a tram and went to the nearest hospital…. where we waited… and waited… and waited…  It took us about 4 hours before we were seen.  *sigh*  Finally, they called me back, took an x-ray and confirmed what I had thought – I broke the middle toe on my right foot.  They taped it up and regretfully told me that I am just going to be in pain for a while, but it should heal on its own in about three weeks.  Good times.

I managed to get through my first 28 years on earth without a single broken bone.  I guess the streak had to end sometime!  I just wish it didn’t have to end while in France where I have to walk a lot and have some big plans coming up.  Oh well – I guess that’s what I get for making plans!  On the plus side, my bill without insurance for the entire visit, including the x-rays, was under 80 euros!  My copay alone at home would have been at least that much.

[I apologize for the incoherence of this post – I blame it on the pain.]

 

Isaac’s last day…

Phew.  This is the last post in the series on Isaac’s European adventure.  I’d say you’re probably all sick of hearing about him, but you’re probably just as sick of hearing about C² so at least this has been a break of me talking ad nauseum about them!  🙂

Okay, after our day of skiing, Isaac had one last day to spend in Lyon before heading back to Geneva and then flying home.  We lucked out and had awesome weather so we decided to spend the day outside.  I had been meaning to go to the Parc Tête d’Or, a large park in Lyon (in fact the largest park in all of France), but I hadn’t yet gotten there.  So, Isaac and I decided to find it and have a picnic.  We headed out, walked to the river and then walked north along the river.

Restaurants along the river bank.

I just discovered (after almost three months in France) that there are a ton of restaurants along the river in Lyon – I’m going to have to visit at least one of these before I head home.  Hopefully, the weather will stay nice.

After a very long walk, we finally found the park.

Inside the grand gates of the park.

We enjoyed a nice picnic of mediocre sandwiches in the cool yet sunny weather and then ventured around the park in search of the zoo.  I had heard that there was a zoo inside the park, so I was determined to find it.

Exploring the small island in the middle of the lake inside the park.

First, we wandered down some stairs into a tunnel and emerged on an island in the middle of the lake in the middle of the park.  The island contains a couple of monuments dedicated to the French who lost their lives fighting for France in various wars.

One of the monuments.

Monument dedicated to the French who lost their lives in wars between the 50s and 60s.

After exploring the island, we wandered back to the main part of the park and took in the beautiful sights.

A river in the park.

Along the lake.

Finally, we found the zoo, which it turns out is free!  I was quite surprised that we could go enjoy the animals without having to pay anything.

Mr. Giraffe.

There was a nice “African plains” exhibit with giraffe, watusis (my favorite name of an animal), antelope and various other animals wandering freely amongst themselves.

Flamingoe!

The flamingos appeared to be quite upset about something, as they were squawking and flapping their wings.  They were pretty to look at, though.  Reminds me of the zoo in Alexandria, Louisiana right down the street from where my mom and I used to live.

Turtles from Florida... in France.

They had a ton of turtles that they said were from Florida.  I didn’t read the sign, but I wonder if they are there because of the oil spill?  I just thought it was interesting to have all of these turtles from the U.S. in the middle of a French zoo.

Reindeer.

Lastly, we saw the reindeer before heading home.  They had quite a few, so I can only assume this is where Santa’s helpers go in the off season.  🙂

After visiting the zoo, we wandered home, ate some left overs for dinner and called it a night.  Isaac had to catch a 6:30am train in order to get to Geneva to catch his flight home.  Fortunately, his flight home went much better than his flight to Europe, though he did cause quite the stir at the airport when they thought his iPod in his carry on was some sort of detonator.  Ha!  He says he was stuck at security for half an hour trying to get that sorted out.  Good thing he had tons of time when he arrived at the airport.  Poor guy.

Anyway, I had a wonderful time exploring Switzerland and France with Isaac.  I wish he had been able to stay longer, but we crammed as much in as we possibly could!

I am flying to Edinburgh, Scotland a week from yesterday for a brief visit and then will be flying home two weeks from yesterday.  My time here is really coming to a close!  I’ll be home and seeing all of your smiling faces before you know it.  Can’t wait!

Almost the end…

After we got back to Lyon on Saturday, March 5th, we rested and then met up with Cynthia to get some crêpes!  I didn’t want Isaac to leave without having a traditional crêpe dinner.  So, we wandered into Vieux Lyon and enjoyed a leisurely dinner of savory crêpes with sweet crêpes for dessert.  Yum!

Then, on Sunday morning, I decided we all had to go the market.  So, Isaac and I met up with Cynthia again and wandered around the market for at least an hour, getting all sorts of wonderful fresh fruits and produce, a freshly roasted chicken, and some fabulous bread and cheese.  We lucked out and had fantastic weather.  I think Isaac really enjoyed market.

Me and Cynthia at the market.

After the market, we went back to Cynthia’s house to enjoy the fresh chicken, roasted potatoes, bread and cheese.  Also, Cynthia had recently told me about this amazing French dessert called a clafouti.  After looking up a couple of recipes online, I’d been eager to bake one.  So, we selected this recipe and baked one up that Sunday afternoon.

The clafouti!

It was delicious!  It’s sort of like a flan with fruit in it.  I can’t wait to get home and try different variations of this recipe.  It made for a perfect dessert for our Sunday meal.

On Monday, Isaac and I went on our European skiing adventure.  I had been hesitant to go skiing because it seemed like it would be a hassle.  But, Isaac bullied me into it.  And, to be honest, even though we all know how I hate to admit this, I’m glad he did.

We had rented our ski gear on Sunday evening at a place a few blocks from my apartment.  We then caught a bus near Bellecour on Monday morning at 6:30am (eeks!).  We rode on the bus for three hours (where I enjoyed a nice nap) and then arrived at L’Alpe d’Huez Ski Resort at about 9:30am.  It was absolutely beautiful!

Snow, mountains and sunny weather!

We met a nice French guy on the bus who spoke perfect English and he accompanied us on our first run, showing us the ropes.  I rode in my first gondola!  We also went on a run which supposedly has the highest vertical assent in all of Europe.

Isaac seems to spend a lot of time sitting when we go skiing...

Bundled up and ready for some skiing!

I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be dressed warmly enough, but I actually found that I was overdressed for the unseasonably warm weather we found on the mountain.  Actually, this ski resort claims that it has 300 days of sun each year – I’m so glad we didn’t end up there on one of the non-sunny days!

I went overboard with the photos (as usual) because it was so darn pretty.

After skiing for a few hours, we took a lunch break.  And, of course, because we’re in France, the lunch break took a good two hours, minimum.

Perfect lunch setting!

We chose an outdoor restaurant so we could continue soaking up the sun!  Instead of in the US, where you would go up to a counter and order your food, this was a full-service restaurant.

Enjoying some Vitamin D!

Isaac got his beer, I got my coca light, and we both got some sun!  It was absolutely fantastic.  I even got a delicious gourmet dessert!

I have to learn how to make these molton lava soufle things...

Finally, after our long leisurely lunch, we headed back up to the slopes.

The weather kept getting better and better.

After a couple more hours of skiing, we had to head back to the bus to head home.

Our bus.

We met back up at 4pm, and were on the road by 4:30ish.

Parting shot of the resort.

We arrived back in Lyon just after 7pm.  It was truly a perfect day.  I wish Isaac had had a longer stay so we could have squeezed some more skiing in.  (I know, I know, I tried to talk him out of this at first…)

In my next post, I’ll cover the last day of his trip.  Stay tuned!

 

La Vie en France

Today, I woke up and suddenly desperately needed to go for a run.  So, I donned my running gear and headed outside.  I ran from my apartment to the Rhône, ran along the river, then ran home.  It was pretty wonderful.  I’m going to work on running longer and longer distances for my remaining three weeks in France.

After finishing my run, I decided to head back outside and spent a couple of hours reading in the sun on the banks of the river.  Perfect.

Reading on the River bank.

Okay, back to Isaac’s trip.  We spent last Tuesday and Wednesday in Lyon.  On Tuesday, I woke up to go to my first day of International Business Law class.  I spent two hours in that class while Isaac wandered around the city.  After spending two hours in that class, I decided that was two hours too many.  So, I dropped that class and decided to spend the whole week and a half of Isaac’s visit with him instead.  It was a much better decision.

Anyway, after I decided not to return to the class, Isaac and I rearranged our plans for the trip.  We went to The King’s Speech on Tuesday night with Colton, which was my first movie-going experience in France.  The movie was brilliant!  I can’t decide if I think Black Swan or the King’s Speech deserved the Oscar more – they were both amazing films.  After the movie, Isaac, Colton and I wandered around Vieux Lyon and got drinks at a little bar.

A fountain in Lyon. Supposedly, the horses snort water if you wait long enough.

Vieux Lyon.

On Wednesday, Isaac and I relaxed a bit, did some grocery shopping, and went to dinner at L’Entrecôte with Colton for my favorite French dinner – steak frites!  🙂  For some reason, Isaac was not nearly as excited about this dining experience as I was…

On Thursday, Isaac and I caught a 9am train bound for Paris.  After checking into our hotel, we began a walking tour of Paris, heading in the general direction of the Notre Dame Cathedral.  Our first stop was the Montparnesse Cemetery.

I know it's weird, but I love old cemeteries. So peaceful.

Then, we went to the Hôtel National des Invalides to see Napoleon’s Tomb and check out the Museum of Arms.

Les Invalides.

Napoleon's Tomb inside Les Invalides.

Isaac in front of Les Invalides.

The Museum of Arms inside Les Invalides was very cool – they have swords, guns and uniforms from the 12th to the 20th Century.

Next, we wandered around checking out the streets of Paris on our way to the Eiffel Tower.

Wandering around Paris.

Isaac decided he wanted to walk up the stairs on the Eiffel tower instead of taking the elevator (good thing, too, because the elevators were shutting down right when we got there).  So, we climbed the 700+ steps to the second level (the last level accessible by stairs).

Me and Isaac on the Eiffel Tower.

I thought it would be harder to climb up all of those stairs, but it was actually not too bad (after I had a moment or two to recover and catch my breath… 🙂 ).

 

Posing in front of the Eiffel Tower. Isaac feels like it is more important to get a person's feet than to get the top of the monument. I feel differently. We're having a debate over which view is better.

Isaac, posing in front of the Eiffel Tower - how European.

At the base of the Tower.

After admiring the Eiffel Tower from all angles, we headed over to the Arc de Triomphe and, because we hadn’t climbed enough stairs that day already, we climbed the 380+ stairs to the top of that monument.

The Arc de Triomphe.

We ended our first day in Paris by doing my favorite Thursday night activity in Paris – wandering around the Champs Elysées, where, as I mentioned last time I was in Paris, the stores are open until midnight!

 

Hot wine at a restaurant on the Champs Elysées.

On our second day in Paris, we decided to head to the Notre Dame first, since we never made it there on Thursday.

The Notre Dame.

 

Inside the Notre Dame.

The other side of the Notre Dame.

We also wandered around the islands in the middle of the Seine River and found the best ice cream in Paris, Berthillon.

Isaac eating his apricot and green apple ice cream.

I had a scoop of dark chocolate and a scoop of mandarin.  They were both delicious!

Along the Seine.

The Seine.

Isaac’s mom suggested that we go to the Musée d’Orangerie, so we decided to spend some time there that afternoon.  It’s full of impressionist art, and it was fabulous.

My favorite painting at the Orangerie Museum.

We wandered more…  We must have walked at least 5-10 miles each day we were in Paris.

Hard to believe this is self-photography, right?

The streets of Paris.

We then visited the Pantheon and the Jardin du Luxembourg.

The Pantheon.

Jardin du Luxembourg.

Finally (relax, relax, the post is almost over, I swear!), we paid a brief visit to the Hard Rock Cafe in Paris so I could get a pin for Nancy.

Hard Rock Cafe.

After a very busy two days in Paris, we headed back to Lyon early on Saturday morning.

Okay, I’ll save the rest of Isaac’s visit for another post.  Hope this wasn’t too boring…

I hope y’all are ready for me – I’ll be home in just three weeks!