Saturday, February 13

After a long and exhausting day of traveling I finally arrived home in Lausanne around 11:30 pm Friday night.  This past week I went to Athens, Greece for my 'educational field trip'.  The week was action packed but was very enjoyable and beautiful.  We stayed in Athens for the week but took many day trips to the islands and other parts of Greece outside of Athens.  Our hotel was at the base of the Acropolis which was breathtakingly beautiful and was a short walk to most of the fabulous sites in Athens.  This is a quick run down on what we did!

Day 1: We arrived around 3:30 pm so this was a free day to explore.  We walked around and explored the city, bought souvenirs, and picked up some yummy feta cheese pizza!

Day 2: We woke up at the crack of dawn to set sail aboard the 'flying cat 1' to the Greek islands of Poros and Hydra.  These islands were so beautiful and were a lot of fun.  Poros is a quaint, less traveled Greek island so its authenticity remains high and few tourists visit.  We sipped on the best cappuccinos and gazed out at the beautiful sea for about an hour.  Then we went shopping, of course, where I found two divine pillow cases.  I am so excited to decorate my apartment next year with the fabulous things I collect throughout my travels! Afterward, we ate a fabulous greek meal, complete with tezaki, hummus, grilled pita, fried zucchini, feta cheese balls, greek salad, and excellent olive oil.  The Greek are so hospitable and appear to be extremely joyous and relaxed.  Poros definitely had the 'island time' vibe going on and I loved relaxing and exploring.  Next, we set sail abroad the 'flying dolphin' to the Greek island of Hydra.  Hydra is a more known, touristy area that is special because there is not a single car on the island.  Every resident/tourist uses donkeys to navigate around the island.  Hydra was the picturesque Greek island with beautiful Mediterranean style villas, blue and white buildings, and fabulous hiking.  We hiked around for a bit and found a spot that had about 35 'slum cats' as we called them.  They were adorable but were all abandoned and very sick.  Afterward, we sat down at a cafe on the water front for a few 'Tiger' beers, which I hadn't had since Vietnam so I was very excited!  After a long day of exploring the Greek islands we headed home and went out to a lovely dinner.  Our dinner was amazing and we got eight free bottles of wine! The Greek love tourists, especially Americans, and will do anything for their business.  That night, I learned that 'Yaimas' means 'cheers' and we used that phrase quite a bit....


Day 3: We woke up again, at the crack of dawn, to pouring rain.  I mean torrential down pour...this day was very wet and as a result, I am now sick.  Despite the horrifying rain, we saw amazing things and had a great time.  The day started off by traveling outside of Athens to see the Mycenae ruins, including the tombs and palaces.  It was awesome.  We hiked up a mountain to the top of the Mycenae acropolis which was wonderful and had a great view.  After this, we went to lunch at a delicious taverna and stuffed our faces.  Next, we stopped at this medieval port city called Nafplion that had adorable shops, cafes, and ruins of fortresses and castles.  This was so amazing to see! After this, we went to the Amphitheater where Greek plays, chariot rides, and other forms of entertainment began.  It was unreal to see where all of this actually took place after learning about it for so many years. 

Greek Amphitheater

Day 4: Again, we woke up too early, to climb the Athens Acropolis!  Even though I was exhausted from the night before, I cannot complain because the Acropolis was so beautiful and had a view of the whole city of Athens. There is not much to describe through here are some photos...
The Acropolis (The Parthenon, The Temple of Athena, etc.)

After the Acropolis, we walked through the Ancient Agora ruins which were incredible.  It was essentially, a giant park that was so green and luscious with the Temple of the Gods and various ruins scattered throughout...Here are some photos of that...
Temple of the Gods

After this we ventured to the Olympic Stadium which was entirely built from marble and was used for some of the Olympic games in 2004 in Athens.  
After our planned activities we had free time to explore the city, pack, and fly home! Our flight home was a was delayed 4 hours due to maintenance issues which was unfortunate but they took us to another delicious tavern as a result and had probably one of the best meals of the week! I am so happy to be back in Lausanne, even though it is freezing and snowing.  I am now preparing for midterms which are the next two weeks and they will drain everything out of me.  I look forward to my upcoming travels to Spain in two weeks and for Azzurra and Britt to visit me in Switzerland next weekend!
"For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone"
-Audrey Hepburn

Saturday, February 6

J'Adore Paris

It is Saturday night around 11 PM and I just got home from Paris.  I had the best 24 hour trip ever! I met up with my two best friends from London, Carson and Azzurra and we had, yet another, romantic weekend together! This weekend was simply magical, full of love, laughter, exploration, yummy wine, and enough memories to last a life time.  I feel so blessed to have two AMAZING best friends in my life and they were the perfect pair to see Paris with! Our adventures began Friday morning at the Gare de Lyon when I stepped off my train and was greeted with contagious smiles and open arms.  We found our way to our hotel in the Latin Quarters-Hotel Sully St. Germain-which I highly recommend for an inexpensive and charming hotel.  We checked in and set out on our Paris exploration! First, we visited the Musee de l'Orangerie near the Champs Elysees, that had the most spectacular impressionist art.  On display was the Lily Pad series by Monet and it was truly incredible and life changing.  My whole perspective on art changed and opened my eyes to a wider spectrum of modern art! This was a fabulous little spot, full of Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh, and much much more.  At the museum we met up with Britt who is also studying abroad in London and is one of my best friends from last year.  I hadn't seen him since August! After the museum we strolled along the Champs Elysees, ate at Laudree (fabulous macaroons + chocolate croissants), which was adorable and so charming, and climbed the Arc de Triomphe.  The view on the roof top is incredible.  No words or pictures can do it justice, but essentially I saw the entire city of Paris and beyond lit up at night and it was breath taking. After this, we went back to our hotel to get ready for the night and quickly after set out to the Eiffel Tower to pop champagne and celebrate our amazing lives.  We had such a great time goofing around and taking fun photos with our champagne directly beneath the tower.  The Eiffel Tower is much larger than I expected and is an incredible monument.  It was so beautiful lit up at night and really set the tone for the night.  After falling in love with Paris, champagne, each other, and life in general, Britt arrived and we went to dinner.  After dinner we went to the cutest wine bar and sipped a nice Bourgenion rouge.  We chatted and once again, enjoyed each others presence.  After realizing that it was 2 am and we had to wake up at 8:30 to explore more of the city we strolled back to our lovely hotel and went to sleep!

Saturday, we had a fabulous petite dejuner complete with the best cappacino, baguettes with butter and jam, and a croissant.  It was delicious.  We then saw Notre Dame which was amazing, as well as the Louvre.  Both of these locations were incredible and only allowed me to fall deeper in love with Paris. For lunch, we ate at Azzurra's grandmothers favorite restaurant in Paris called 'Le Souffle' and that is exactly what it is.  An assortment of amazing soufles as well as fabulous salads, poultry, and french onion soup.  This place was adorable and defined Paris. Afterwards it was time to say goodbye in order to catch our trains.  It was sad to say goodbye but I will be seeing them soon in Switzerland and then in Prague.  This semester has opened my eyes to an entirely new appreciation on life and I am so happy to have such inspiring, beautiful, and intelligent best friends.  I cannot wait to live with Carson and Azzurra next year in Malibu and to make our home, 'home'.  I hope to return to Paris one more time this semester.

Lily Pad Series by Monet

The Souflees

1 John 3:18
"Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth"