"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagnination, and life to everything." ~ Plato

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

163 - To France ~ Europe Day 7

June 6th, 2011 – In France!

                I am currently in bed, looking out of glass doors that open to a balcony with a view of the Eiffel Tower lit up in the distance!  J
                Most of today was – unfortunately – traveling.  We left the Hotel Montana in Limburg, Germany at approximately 6:30AM, which meant rise and shine at 5.  C’est trés difficile!  A lot of us, maybe all of us, dozed on the 5 hour bus ride. 
Sleepy sleepy... I got so many excellently awful sleeping pictures.  haha.  Morning people ftw!
We crossed through Luxembourg and made our first rest stop just inside France, where many had an early lunch at about 10:30AM.  There was a small store there where I got a pair of painting reproductions for either Dad or Em (depending on what else I find).  Driving recommenced… I slept, listened to my iPod, laughed, and worked on catching up with entries.

These are our "Yay we're in France!" faces.
                One of the most interesting things about the drive were the decorations along the side of the freeway we were on – made to give drivers something to see and keep them alert.  Most were either poles or layouts of flat shapes (circles, squares, or triangles) and spray painted in bright colors, usually arranged in a rainbow pattern.  Didn't get a good picture of those... oops.

Here, let me placate you with a through-the-bus-window view of the French countryside!
                We made it into the city with little time to spare before our concert in the St. Madeleine Cathedral.  It is Catholic (as all are, unless otherwise noted, in France) and elaborately decorated.  The overall style is that of ancient Greece – inside and out.  It is designed to appear like a Greek temple from the outside, with giant columns and flying buttresses and stern white statues inside to boot. 
Ignoring the tow truck and the bit of bus in the photo, this is the front of St. Madeleine!  Really gorgeous flowers are just behind those poor peoples' cars.
And from the back.  Our entrance was on the side.
I’m not really sure how I liked it; it was impressive, but the giant statue of angels dancing around pregnant Mary up behind the altar, as well as the looming eyeless statues inset in the walls seemed excessive to me and somewhat unnerving. 
The concert was somewhat unnerving as well – we were so tired!  At least “Pacific Sanctus” (which most of us had been singing and/or playing since Christmas time) seemed to go well and received enthused applause from an otherwise rather reserved audience.  I get that there were probably plenty of confused tourists … people would get up and leave in the middle of our set… at least, we all decided to think that they were tourists and not bored French people… *le sigh*
Once all of that was over (thank the Lord), we went as a group to a mall the Galerie Lafayette for dinner.  The whole mall took up multiple buildings and was giant, designer, gourmet, and expensive.  There was essentially a gourmet grocery store in the middle of everything, which is where my group headed for food.  Cue chaos!  I managed to find pizza –covered in olives and insanely good – and guide a couple people through the process.  My eensy amount of French is menial, but functional! We also got some chocolates (mine are souvenirs for Mom and Haley) and macaroons (for me!) which were delicious. 
This may look like normal nutella.  But it is in fact GIANT MONSTER NUTELLA.  Seriously - huge!

Yay macaroons!  I got passion fruit, hazelnut, and some other chocolate kind, I think.
Tried an ATM and it didn’t work, which makes me a little nervous, but I will try another one tomorrow.  We gathered outside the cathedral at 7:15pm to head back to the bus.  We craned our necks all over to catch the sights (including the Arc de Triomphe) as we passed through the city on our 30 minute ride to our hotel. 

L'Arc de Triomphe - sights of Paris!  :D
Oh my gosh the hotel!  J  We are in a triple again with Jessie (yay)!  There is 1 bedroom, a large living room with two pull out beds, a kitchenette, and a balcony with a view of Paris!  The weird part is that the toilet is behind one door and the sink and showers (yes, there are 2 showers) are in an adjacent room.  A water closet?  Just another reminder that we’re in Europe! 

A hazy, zoomed-in view from our balcony.  Why hello there, Eiffel Tower!
An example of our general excitement, taken by Amanda.  :)
We all got generally excited and wanted to go to the pool, but it was closed.  The group hoping to go to the pool still wanted to hang out and some folks thought there was somewhere nearby where we could find some wine to take back to the rooms.  We walked to town, in the end, but things were either closed or closing.  There’s not a whole lot around to begin with.  However, it was a nice evening stroll.  While we were standing outside the hotel, we met a woman named Ursula who was walking her dog.  She ended up talking with our group and gave us some “tour” information about the town our hotel is actually in.  I don’t recall the French name, but the translation is along the lines of “Quarry on the Seine” (as in rock quarry).  It’s where a lot of the stone for various places in and around Paris comes from, which was interesting to learn.  She was really wonderful and we’re hoping she’ll be able to be at our St. Severin’s concert tomorrow.  When the group found out that where we were originally headed was closed, most turned back, but I spent a bit more time enjoying an evening walk with a small group before we all decided to turn around.  Once back in the hotel room, we all basically passed out – long day! 

Looking forward to Versailles and another cathedral concert tomorrow!


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