Monday, January 30, 2006

Twinkling Eiffel

Here are some more pictures of the Eiffel. I tried to get the light show at night, but my camera really doesn't like to focus on moving lights. I do take many, many more pictues of the Eiffel Tower than I would ever dream of putting on my blog, but it is almost always in my line of vision if I am in Paris. I always look for it and am amazed when I see it in some random place where normally I wouldn't think it visable.

Random Church at Night

I know I could probably find the name of this church, but honestly I am only adding it because it is a really good picture. I was waiting for a friend to go to a Scotish pub and I thought it would make a nice picture. I am sure it is important because it is right behind the Pantheón. Hopefully, I will figure it out before I leave and I can add to this entry.


This is where many famous French people are buried, mostly intellectuals like Voltaire, Rousseau, Marat, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Jean Moulin, Marie Curie, Louis Braille. Looking at all their crypts gets kind of boring, but it is interesting place to visit. One really cool thing about the building is that it houses an experimental device built by Léon Foucault to demonstrate the earth's rotation and it still works!

Chartres Cathedral

This is the famous Chartres Cathedral. It was really beautiful. I wanted to go up in the towers and see the gargoyles, but the people with me got bored easily. There is also a huge labyrinth under the church which I wanted to see but didn't. Maybe I will get to go back before I leave France. Anyway, it is incredibly impressive. Notre Dame of Paris has a really cozy feeling when you enter, but this church just makes you feel really insignificant. Massive and cold are two words I will always associate with it.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Favorite Place to Hang Around in Paris

Sacré-Coeur Basilica in Montmartre (Paris)
Montmarte is my favorite place to visit in Paris. Some areas are really seedy, but it has a lot of "flavor." There are tons of tourists, shops, artists offering to paint you, and guys with thick accents selling Marlboros, but there are also great views of the city, large hills, great old buildings, picturesque walkways, and famous movie backgrounds (think Amelie). These are pictures of the Basilica. It isn't very old by European standards, completely built by the end of the 19th century. I have to admit, the inside of it is a little disappointing after seeing Notre Dame, but I love the way it majestically sits on the hill looking down at parts of Paris. It takes some real tenacity to get there; there are many, many steps, but I always appreciate the view from the top.

Great Shots of the "Iron Lady"

So I really, really love the Eiffel Tower and I can't seem to stop taking pictures of it. I swear I will not put all the pictures on my blog, but I just want to share this amazing site. I see it at least 4 days a week and it is still awe inspiring to me. I never get tired of seeing it. I took these pictures one day this month. Despite being incredibly cold, it was a beautiful winter day for pictures.

Eiffel and Me

As I have said many times in this blog, I love the Eiffel Tower. Here it is reflected in my eyes!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Ask and You Shall Receive

Well, France has thrown me a bone finally. I have the best working schedule ever! I teach 4 classes on Thursday and 4 classes on Friday. I have a 5 day weekend. I feel like I am on a six month holiday. The only downside is that I have nobody who can travel and visit places with me. I guess I will just see Spain, Italy, England, Ireland, Greece, Austria, etc. by myself. It will not be as much fun, but at least I will get to see all those places now! Yes, I feel my luck changing.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Back in the Saddle Again

Well, I will start teaching again this Tuesday and, I must say, I am not looking forward to it. My schedule is a little better this time. I will definitely have a 3 day weekend, so YAY! Life has not been so grim. I have spent a lot of time applying to law schools and jobs. If I get accepted to a law school, I will go in the fall, if I don't get accepted, hopefully I will come home to a job. Sometimes I realize moving to France was probably a big mistake, but I think for the most part, I am glad I did it.

For my free time, I have been discovering Paris. It is really nice to wander around Paris by myself. I really love the city. It is charming, historic, beautiful, and all the other things people say about it. For those of you who have never been here, you should come. You will love it too!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Having too Much Vacation is Bad

Disclaimer: I have some “poor me” sentiments to get out of my system. I am not apologizing, it is my blog and I will whine if I want to. It is just warning so you don’t waste your time.

I have spent the last few days exploring Paris. Really, I was looking for an apartment, but that is never going to happen because I do not have an extra 1500 euros to spend. Yes, that’s right; a renter needs a 2 months caution, plus the first month’s rent, plus a parental guarantee. It is such a pity because I want to enjoy my time here, after all, I know this is a great opportunity, but circumstances just keep stonewalling me. I would so love to live in Paris, if only for 6 months, but no, it is not possible because I am not rich. It is a beautiful city and I can not enjoy it knowing I have to rush to get back to the ghetto every night. Sometimes the RER (the transportation connecting Cergy to Paris) is frightening. Fortunately enough, I have a friend, Seb, who lets me spend the night, but I hate intruding all of the time. It is just not fair! Instead of being grateful I am in a major European city, I just keep counting down the days until I get to go home. And I am tired of trying to have a positive attitude about it. Gandhi would have problems being positive about my piece of heaven in the dorms (I just can’t get over the fact that I am almost 27 and I live in a dormitory). Well, maybe not Gandhi, but everyone I know would have already thrown their arms up and gone home. I know this sounds like I am being a whiney baby, but God, can’t I get a freaking break in life?! Just once, can’t I be pleasantly surprised at my fantastic circumstances, instead of forcing myself to be positive? I kind of think I deserve it; I graduated high school early, went through boot camp, finished two completely worthless degrees, busted my rear to support myself all of these years, been a fairly decent friend-why can’t someone or something throw me that proverbial bone??? I am just utterly exhausted-this can’t be the best life has to offer. If it is, I quit.

Well, enough of the personal stuff. In order to perk up, I visited some of the stuff in Paris I have neglected seeing. I also did a lot of walking because reading a map in obviously not one of my strengths. One day I went to the Conciergerie, a prison during the French Revolution and also where Marie Antoinette was beheaded. It is on the Ile de la Cite, an island in Paris, with Notre Dame and Sainte Chapelle. Unfortunately, the Conciergerie was not as fascinating as I hoped it would be; the museum is not something I would recommend to people with a limited time in Paris. Plus, it was kind of pricey, 6.50 for a dungeon basically. Except for the historical significance, there is nothing really of note in this museum. They descriptions leave a lot to be desired and, unless you know a lot about the history of the French Revolution, you will be lost.

Next, I went to the Crypte Archeologique, also located on Ile de la Cite. It is under Notre Dame and houses some of the ancient artifacts developers have unearthed from the banks of the Seine. It was cool, but again, not something you would need to see if you have a limited time in Paris. My other friend, Seb, joined me and we had a lovely time imaging how much fun it would be to have a disco in the museum. And yes, we are very mature (he is a teacher as well).

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Angela, France Welcomes You Back with Open Arms

Honestly, I dreaded coming back to France. I had such a good time in Germany that I didn't want to come back, but I had to turn in grades, so back I came. The train ride from Germany to France was long and I had to stand for about an hour because I did not have a reservation, then some man took me five cars away from my luggage to give me a seat. I got all paranoid because the guy was acting very strange and I could not relax or stop thinking I was in the middle of some weird mugging experience. Nothing ever happened, but I was on edge for the duration of the trip.

I called my friend, Seb, to help because my suitcase and backpack weighed so much. He met me at the train station (again, he is one of the nicest people I have ever had the honor of knowing). We went to his house and unloaded some of the weight so I could make it safely back to the ghetto.

From Seb's house, I have to travel through Chatelet, one of the busiest stations in Europe, and it is a little dangerous. I am always very careful, especially at night; most of the time, I pretend to read a book in order to stave off some of the weirdos. Well, luck was not on my side that night, because as soon as I sat down to wait for my train, a man came up to me asking for money. He asked in French first and I told him I did not speak French, hoping this would get rid of him. It did not; he just started speaking English. He had this odd way of clicking his tongue while he talked and he made me very uncomfortable, but he finally left.

Next, and as God is my witness, I am not making any of this up, a man with the worst rug ever walked up and sat so close to me, he was actually sitting on my coat. He also starting speaking to me, telling me how he just had his pocket picked. I told him I did not speak French, again hoping this tactic would get rid of him. No luck. He started telling the whole story in English. I am not talented enough to begin to describe how creepy he was. After he told me the whole b.s. story in English, he then asked me for some money for a ticket so he could get home. I told him I did not have any money (usually I try to either ignore people like this or get away from them, but he was SITTING on my coat). He then told me he knew I had money because I was American and all Americans have lots of money. Belligerant and argumentative, he was, and for some reason that made me want to resort to violence. Anyway, I spun some ridiculous story about how I was in the military and they don't pay with cash. He then told me to use my credit cards that he knew I had, to go and get money for him. He was so aggressive and hateful that I was starting to get a little worried, so I just pushed him as hard as I could, got up and walked away. I happened to look back about 10 seconds afterward and he had completely disappeared. He was nowhere to be seen. I have no idea if I was being "worked" by him or what, but I made it back to the dorms in one piece with all my belongings. Needless to say, I was mentally cursing France and the French and public transportation the whole ride to the ghetto and let me just add, regardless of all of my education, I have an immense arsenal of foul language at my disposal.

Snow, Snow, and More Snow

One of the great things about Germany was all the snow. There was a lot! Unfortunately, it waited until after Christmas to snow, but it was still nice. Being from Arkansas, I really felt like I was in a winter wonderland and used taking the dog for a walk as an excuse to go out and play in it.

It was really beautiful and Cassie (the dog) and I had fun throwing snowballs at each other. Okay, she ran while I threw snowballs at her, but we had fun nonetheless.

European Christmas (sort of)

I spent the holidays with my cousin, Gary, his wife, Debbie, and their baby, Kayla. It was a fantastic time and I am so glad they let me stay with them. Initially, I only planned on staying for 1 week, but they invited me to stay for another week and I was having such a good time, I couldn't say no. It was a great break from France and it was nice being with family for the holidays. I got to run on the treadmill, watch lots of television and learn some sign language (Kayla likes to communicate with it). I really wish I could express my graditude better, but a big THANK YOU will have to do for now.