When we are thousands of miles away from home, caught up in the adventure of it all, it’s easy to loose focus on bits and pieces of home. We expect this when we set off, because we know we are here to see new things, to create friction beneath our feet, and to absorb every bit of what lies beyond the confines of our comfort zones. We do this flawlessly- some days. Others, especially those that border the holiday season, are more difficult to live out to the fullest.
This is because sometimes, no matter how beautiful a place is, or how exotic and memorizing, we just want the comfort of familiarity, of a place where we can unbutton our top pants button because we ate too much at dinner, sit in a room of comfortable silence, and boycott showering for the next few days because we fucking feel like it.
However, if you can’t be home, and are lucky enough to be surrounded by like-minded expats who find themselves in a similar situation, I think you should pop open a bottle, bake some mac-n-cheese, throw a bird in the oven, and party like it’s 1999.
Thank God for Friendsgiving. ❤
When I hear the word Barcelona, I think of the Dylan song “Boots of Spanish Leather,” of vagabonds, restless travelers, letters from home, beaches, colorful tapestries, and sangria. It’s a place I knew of but didn’t expect to see during my year living abroad here in Europe. But as it turns out, I think that those kind of last minute, unexpected adventures tend to be the best kind.
Two weeks ago, one of the American Au Pairs that I met here in France asked if I wanted to take a trip with her and a couple of other Au Pairs in the area. Initially they were planning on going to Copenhagen, but when the flight prices climbed we decided on Spain instead. It’s a hard life, I know.
There was a part of me resisting the trip because of financial reasons, but I couldn’t ignore the gut feeling that this one was a trip I needed to take. I had been spending the past couple of weeks prior feeling restless, and made a conscious decision that I needed to get out and explore more. While there are always logical and smart reasons to resist doing things in life, I think there are also just as many valid reasons to support moments of recklessness, irresponsibly, and beautiful ridiculousness.
We met on Friday night, started drinking wine and went out to a local bar in Annecy since we were all staying at one of the Au Pair’s basement apartments for the night. Immediately I felt at ease, which is sometimes a tricky thing to do when you move alone to a new country and are thrown into new and unknown social situations. We all just clicked. We laughed, we drank, listened to T Swift on repeat, laughed some more, got home at 1:30 AM, ate chicken nuggets, fell asleep and woke up 2 hours later in the same clothes and with the same makeup from the night before. We drove to Geneva at 4:00 AM, landed in Spain by 8 AM, and began our Barcelona adventure on a Saturday morning in November.
We had some plans on where to go, but for the most part we decided to wing it when we got there. As Brandy proclaimed that Friday night…. “I’m not a mapper, I’m a feeler!” In fact, I think this quote pretty much sums up the entire trip.
We saw the incredible Sagrada Familia church in mid-construction, the beach, the magic fountain light show, the Barcelona night life with some semi-locals, and the lovely Gaudi artwork at Park Guell. We got drunk downtown, stumbled out of bars, met people with accents from all over the world who have been exploring it for years, slept in bunk beds, vomited outside of a cab, drove through red lights at high speeds on windy roads, lost a phone, got pick-pocketed, slapped the aforementioned man silly with the infamous Barcelona Backhand, drank wine, ate pasta, took the subway, bought matching back-packs, drank sangria, spent too much money, got lost- and somehow made it out alive. The time passed too quickly, but at the same time it felt like we were there for weeks.
I couldn’t have imagined it any better, with a better group of girls. From now on, when I hear the name Barcelona, I won’t be thinking of Dylan, but instead of a certain amazing lip-syncing video on the subway and the fact that life really doesn’t get any better than spontaneous moments of laughter and craziness with other like-minded people.
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Last Sunday my host mom’s parents took the whole family out to lunch at La Baratte. The restaurant was located in Leschaux, France, a small village situated in the hilly outskirts of the French Alps. It was a chilly fall day in November, but inside the restaurant I felt the cozy nostalgic comforts of a Nashville Cracker Barrel, mixed with all the perks of eating a four-course meal at a 5-star restaurant in a small quaint French mountain town.
Someone pinch me.
I moved abroad to stretch myself, to experience a new place, and to meet different and interesting people from all over the world.
Last Saturday, 5 of us Annecy Au Pairs took a day trip to Lyon, France- a German, a Swiss, a Brazilian, a Georgian, and an American. We met in the parking lot behind Aleksandra’s apartment building situated across from the lake, and set off for a day trip to a city none of us had yet to explore.
Lyon is the third largest city in France and is the capital of the Rhone-Alpes region. It is the starting place of Cinema, and has a rich history that is difficult to absorb from just one day. However, thanks to our Swiss and German elected tour guides of the group, we were able to take full advantage of our one-day trip into the city. (They also brought bananas and cookies, which helped fuel those of us who were less than prepared…) 🙂
We parked in the Hotel de Ville parking garage and went off to explore various corners of the city- The Traboules (which are old passageways between buildings in the old town), unbelievable churches like the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, the urban park and zoo called Le Parc de La Tête d’Or in the middle of the city, the murals of Lyon, and the incredible Roman ruins at the Amphitheatre des Trois Gaules.
If you haven’t been to Lyon, GO! right now. Drop everything and make a trip out of it. 🙂