Having been born and raised on the Coast, for years Spring Break has signified the official beginning of pool time, boating, island time, and overall “summer weather”. Sure there were those years where the weather was just a bit colder than preferred, but as those loyal to sun bathing know put on a pair of socks with
the swimsuit, and it is like it is the summer heat in the middle of July. Well not exactly, but socks certainly making tanning in colder weather a possibility. And on the Coast you BETTER not return from Spring Break without a tan…or else.
This year however; not only did I return to school without an inkling of a tan, but I didn’t even set foot near a pool or beach let alone put on a swimsuit. And for once, I am actually ok with this fact. Now don’t get me wrong, next Spring Break I will have my happy butt placed next to a pool with no intention of moving, but this past week was certainly one for the memory books!
Since I am a bit far from the Gulf Coast this semester, and instead in the Swiss Alps sun bathing and beach lounging wasn’t a Spring Break option but…traveling to meet my family in Paris certainly was, and it is most definitely what I did! The Uni ended classes the Thursday before Easter weekend, and on Friday morning I was on my way to Zurich en route to Paris! I was lucky enough to have a former Millsaps study abroad student that attends school here offer to give me a lift to Zurich which saved me about a 45 francs train ride! (although I did promise to cook him sloppy joes) Once in Zürich I had the entire day to explore the area, and see just what the second most expensive city in the world had to offer.
Fortunately for me Good Friday is considered a work holiday here and nearly every store was closed for the weekend. Why fortunate you ask? Well let me just tell you I have a BIT of a shopping problem and while studying abroad having to choose between shopping or food, I have had to choose food for the past month. An extremely difficult decision for me, and with all of the tempting shops lining the Banhofstrasse in Zürich the big guy was looking out for my wallet by closing the temptations.
I roamed the city for hours seeing everything from a breathtaking lake, which my father renamed as “Swan Lake” when I retold the story of how there were swans literally EVERYWHERE in the water. And whatever beautiful serene images you have of swans in your head…WRONG. Those things are mean little birds, chasing after each other nipping with their beaks, and starting all out beak brawls over a piece of bread. Some aren’t even all white! Sorry to crush your dreams, but thought you should know.
Towards the end of the evening I remembered I didn’t exactly have anything to do when I returned to the hotel, so instead I sought out a tourist office where I could find a nearby movie theater that just might be showing movies in English. And found one I did! Plus the theater was showing The Hunger Games, which for those at home isn’t a big deal, but try having every single person you know
having seen it and being stuck in a country that A. only has one movie theater and B. shows the movie only in German. Needless to say I happily dished out those 16 francs to see the Hunger Games without a second thought.
The movie theater/ experience deserves a tiny paragraph all to its own so here goes. First off you have to buy specific seats for movie theaters here, just like a concert you buy a ticket in a certain area and that is where you are assigned to sit. Second, in the middle of the movie there is an INTERMISSION! I mean how brilliant is that? They stop the movie at a climatic part and allow everyone to take a bathroom break or get more popcorn without missing a minute of the movie. Take note Cinemark..the Swiss are on to something there.
After the movie, I had a lovely balanced meal of McFlurry and fries and returned to my hotel in the airport. Since my flight was early Saturday morning and no train would get me there early enough this was the reason for the overnight hotel
stay. Early Saturday morning I headed to the terminal and before I knew it I was off in the air Paris bound!
I met my mother and father at the airport (yes Mama was crying) and we headed to the hotel to meet up with my brother, Cree, and his girlfriend. I’ll save you the other lame arrival details and get right to the point….Paris was BRILLIANT! My family had been a couple of years ago for ten days, so this trip was so great because we didn’t have to do the crazy tourist stuff (Louvre, Eiffel Tower, museum, museum, museum, get the point?) and could instead hang out, stroll, and act like a local. Hey Cree and I both speak a fair bit of French so we could fit somewhat, well until they heard our accents of course….
Since Cree’s girlfriend hadn’t been to Paris before we did in fact do a few of the major highlights for her, but not as half day events like the previous trip. The Eiffel Tower was among the stops, and instead of waiting in the elevator line for
oh 4-5 hours we instead had the brilliant idea to CLIMB THE STAIRS. Seriously. We climbed the stairs of the Eiffel Tower to the second story, where Mama, Daddy, and I let the other two go ahead and wait in line for the lift to the top. Waiting in line for another hour to see something we had already seen? Not worth it so instead we parked ourselves in the cafe where we met the neatest couple from London/Ireland. The man, Pat, kept repeating a sentence that has since stuck with me. “Traveling is all about the people you meet, you remember places by people not museums you visit.” And I can’t help but think how true he is. Nice life lesson learned.
Another highlight was of course Easter Sunday mass in Notre Dame Cathedral. Such an amazing building, and the gathering of so many nationalities in one area to celebrate the resurrection of a common Christ was more memorable than any Easters past. Oh and the Easter Bunny even flew all the way to Paris to see us! Yea, be jealous.
One of the most memorable events from the trip was not a sight, nor a meal, nor a place, but instead a conversation that took place one morning at breakfast. My dad and I had gone down before the rest of the family, and a young couple from
the states sat at the table next to us. They began to order, but it was clear they spoke ZERO French and the waiter spoke ZERO English. Without a second thought I walked over and began to translate the couples order to the waiter and who would ask a number of questions in French to clarify, and I DID IT! The waiter understood my French and looked to me for translation and the couple was convinced I spoke French! While I clearly am not fluent nor even close, it was a reminder that I am in Europe having the time of my life, and my years of education combined with my family support and God’s blessings can make me a strong powerful woman. Ok, that all might be a stretch for just translating a breakfast order, but its true!
The weekend was filled with roaming the streets of Paris, good food, amazing sights, late nights, and most importantly time spent with my family. On Tuesday Mama, Daddy, and I headed to Liechtenstein while Cree and his girlfriend headed
back to the states. Since I have already droned on long enough, I will save the details of the rest of my Spring Break trip for future blogs, but just a hint it involves goats, mountains, oh and Venice!
Five facts acquired over Spring Break:
1. Climbing the stairs of the Eiffel Tower is indeed the equivalent of two hours on the stair stepper. Don’t believe me? You try it.
2.Never underestimate the power of crepes. Hungry for something sweet? Try a crepe with sugar. In the mood for something salty? Try a crepe with ham and cheese. Craving a chocolaty delight? Try a N crepe! Crepes are all-powerful.
3. Europeans have their act together when it comes to hot dogs. None of the split slippery hot dog bun that breaks half of the time. No, they take a piece of po-boy bread (French bread for those not from the Coast), cut a hole in it, but not all the way through, pour the ketchup in and stick the meat right down in the hole. No slippery dog, no messy hands, and pure genius.
4. The Easter Bunny is like Santa. He can travel everywhere.
5. The French really do appreciate the effort of at least trying to speak French.
Granted, they will usually switch to English to make things less confusing BUT they certainly gain respect for you if you try!