My Mission Trip to France=$3800

I have raised $3,857.00 to date. My support raising is complete! Thank you!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

pieces.

Can I still write in this? I am technically not "doing Europe" anymore. Let's call this a "Sheena does NY" post.

Life in the Big Apple has been grand.
After my goodbyes on Sunday I went to my friend Brittany's apartment in the Upper East Side. It was so nice to live and be with her for a bit. I got deathly sick that night though, which was a bummer, but not enough to keep me away from Trinity Grace Chelsea. Oh that church, that church is just wonderful. Totally something I could see myself being a part of and Jon Tyson is just amazing and creating a completely grace-filled Christ-centered community. Thank you Jesus for using these people so powerfully in this City.
Crashed the next day...and the next. However, I saw Lee Ann and John and their friend Heidi for a bit on Monday. That was fun, I finally walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, which I never did when I lived here as a little girl. Crazy I know. Then we had a great dinner in Little Italy and then went to GROM!!
Grom is a true Florentine gelato place; the locals in Florence told us there were two best gelato places, La Carraia and Grom. Well, we went to Gelateria la Carraia (best gelato of my life) but Grom is a chain so we thought we'd go to their store in NY! They ship all the ingredients from Florence and make it just like they do in Florence! It costs your first born, but it was so worth it.
Well Grom was situated in the Upper West Side, and while we're eating this semi-drunk woman and her daughter come in raving about how they just saw Bill Clinton at dinner. So naturally, I'm like "No way!" and the woman is like "GO THERE! See for yourself! Cesca...you'll see all the Secret Service."
So John, Lee Anne, Heidi and I decide to go!
And sure enough, we get to the corner where the restaurant is and there's like three black, blacked out Escalades in front of it and Secret Service men on the corner. Excited, we go in to the bar and wine is half off a bottle, so we get a bottle and take turns "going to the bathroom."
Sure 'nuff, bam, Bill Clinton, right there, sitting having dinner.
Eeee!

Then we had a glass of wine and went to a free comedy show at Upright People's Brigade, which was decently funny.

The next day I woke up super late, researched nonprofits, and then walked around Central Park and Greenwich Village some. It was lovely just getting lost in the city. And I went to Bryant Park for a bit to watch the ice skaters. So wonderful.

The next day went pretty much the same, except I finally found Strawberry Fields, the tribute to John Lennon in Central Park. And I walked through the Rambles, which was so beautiful. I can't believe this is Manhattan.
Then I walked around Midtown and window shopped for a bit and when home and honestly, I fell asleep around 9pm.
Lame, I know. Even more lame, being sick.

Thursday I moved to Brooklyn Heights, where I am renting a room from a couple that goes to Trinity Grace. Then I napped, visited charity: water headquarters, and then saw Hannah and Susan WIllard! That was lovely, they were in town checking out colleges. We met up at Colombia and then got lunch and at a cute little place near there on the Upper West Side. I met Deb, an amazing woman who's Susan's friend. I think sometime this week we will make a date to bake together. AHH YESS!

Then went back to the Brooklyn.

Friday was much of the same, sleeping in and such, except I got a new book at Barnes and Noble and walked to Trader Joe's.
UM...my mom's old bank is now Trader Joe's...what the heck? It's pretty crazy...
What's crazier is living back in my hometown. It feels weird and is just crazy to think that the last time I walked these streets was as a little girl.
And I still remember so much. I haven't gotten lost/not known where I was yet. That's just crazy.
Another weird thing, my fav chinese take out is now an American Apparel. Hmph.

Made some dinner and food for the rest of the weekend, then went to WTC to watch Brittany Logan's dance show. It was really interesting, sixty 60sec pieces composed by different composers and choreographed by different choreographers. Really interesting. Brittany and her roommates danced together and they did great.
Then we went to Greenpoint in Brooklyn to watch a show - the Pearl and the Beard. Fell asleep before the show started (it started at like 2am!) so I just went home.

This morning I volunteered in BedSty at a church to help immigrants learn English. It was fun and I RANDOMLY met the guy that Lee Ann and John stayed with earlier in the week. Isn't that CRAZY!?!

This world is just too small. Seriously? Insane.

Then I went shopping in Williamsburg and hung out there. It's a really cool part of town and definitely was not this cool when I lived here. UBER hipster (the birthplace of the hipster) but really nice. I talked to some people I met on the street for awhile. I wish I were staying here because we totally would've been friends...

And now...just sitting in Brooklyn after getting rained on all day. Boo. I need to get better. I need to. But tomorrow should be great, I'm checking out Redeemer Pres with my new friend Deb, then hopefully serving at the Bowery Mission (ee!) and then church later on that night at Trinity Grace. Maybe squeeze a yoga class in there.

We'll see.

Random:
Construction on the sub has been crazy, so I had to take the N over the Manhattan Bridge (what?!) to get home. As I was going over the bridge my eyes beheld the Brooklyn Bridge and the beautiful, foggy, gray skyline of NYC...and tears came - out of nowhere! It was so surprising but in thinking about it I think I realized that a piece of my heart always stayed in New York.

Oh New York.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

and now, the end. well sort of.

There's something beautifully poetic about the journey of life taking you right back where you started.

My current location is Brooklyn, NY. United States of America.

Home. Maybe....

My trip to Europe started here about ten weeks ago. Ten weeks ago. Gosh that's ridiculous.
Ten weeks ago, James and I met at Orlando International Airport and hopped on a plane to NYC. It was the first day of our trip, the first plane we would ride, the first bus we would take, the first subway we would board, the first day we lugged luggage around for more than and hour, the first day we got lost... Fast forward ten weeks and here I sit again, in Brooklyn, NY, with innumerous "firsts" under my belt, calloused hands, weathered luggage, longer hair and a mind full of beautiful memories.

Right back where I started.

James left for Orlando this morning. Friends in Otown, be sure to say hi (and Happy Birthday) to him soon.

How strange this all is! Thoughts of home, of having a home, of having a car, having a life, a job, a cat - this all seems so overwhelming to me right now. What a funny state to be in, so awkwardly thrust into reality again.

Although I guess my reality hasn't completely arrived yet. I am still traveling. Still a nomad.
Perhaps I should explain.

My travel plans have changed past the Eurotrip that James and I have so thoroughly organized.

I have decided to spend a little more time in New York, seeing how my subleaser Kaitlyn needed a place to stay for longer in Orlando. My rent in Orlando is being paid for and I have the opportunity of a lifetime to live and work in the City, so I figured, why not?
Perhaps this will be the perfect extended ending. At least I think so.

Our days here in New York were just beautiful. James and I arrived at JFK and traveled to Phillip's house in Williamsburg with ease, practically public transportation pro's by now. Jet-lagging like crazy, we ordered Chinese food and watched a movie on the couch as soon as we got in. Dinner and a movie: Hello America. I didn't last the whole movie, surprise surprise, but we did really well, falling asleep around 11pm. Two days later and I think we're pretty much over jetlag.

The next day we work up early. Actually, James and I woke up with a start at 6:45am. Um, that's like 1pm in Europe. Getting back to sleep for a bit did not come easy, for ME at least. Infer what you will about James. :)

We finally got up around 9am though and left for the financial district. There would be a Yankees Champion Parade that day; a tickertape parade through the Canyon of Heroes. Quintessential New York. It was wonderful; the streets were filled with New Yorkers doing what they do best (being loud, ha!) and people decked out in their Yankees gear. Office workers of the highrises above were throwing tickertape and shredded paper (even some toilet paper!) out their windows into the parade below. So much noise. So much litter. And people selling propaganda everywhere. Oh America.

After the parade, Phillip's roommate Evan took us to this awesome mexican restaurant in Soho. El Paso. Soup and bread, chips and salsa, two chimis and rice and beans for $7.00. So awesome.
We ate until we were grossly stuffed and felt strangely patriotic doing it.

Then James and I ventured to Central Park. It was the last day of peak season, which means that the leaves are in full color for fall. It did not disappoint. Autumn is my favorite season and I've experienced the most beautiful autumn of my life, I'm sure. Such blessings.
We walked through the park for bit until we found this big grassy field. Just perfect. We laid out in the grass and people watched while letting the sun warm us. Oh beautiful sun. Oh beautiful city. Oh beautiful life.

Then we walked down to Serendipity; I wanted a little cookie something and some coffee and thought it would be cute. We got there and there was an hour and a half wait. Ha! So instead we took a picture, went to CVS, got A&W Root Beer and Butterfingers and laughed about how we were such Americans.

We did some shopping at H&M, which is cheaper in America than in Europe. Oh happy day. Urban Outfitters was having a crazy sale for women's gear so I got a dress and shirt for $15. At Urban!?! For reals, I was so happy. James was upset men don't have these types of deals, but happy for me of course.

Shopped out two hours later, we returned to Brooklyn and went to a 24hr falafel place down the street to use internet. Manna.
Hours passed through good coffee, good conversation, and good company, and we successfully stayed awake in time to meet Daniel Beeler at midnite. Yes, my childhood friend was able to take a random trip to NY before a work trip to Minnesota. So sweet. After getting him settled we fell asleep to some great Jim Gaffigan.

The next day I took Daniel to the Staten Island Ferry, then Wall Street, the World Trade Center, Central Park, the Empire State Building, Rockafellar Center, and Times Square! We ate NY pretzels and pizza. This day feels like a blur. I was quite the tour guide, and we had a great day, although I think I wore Daniel out. Apparently, I'm euro-walking conditioned. Suh-weet.

We met James at Junior's in Times Square for dinner; some good american eats and NY cheesecake. It was also perfect that this was James and I's last meal together because this was where we had our last meal in America before our flight to Europe.
Round and round this full circle we go. So perfect.
We sat in a booth near the same one we had before and all got amazing steakburgers with fries. Then we each got a slice of cheesecake; Daniel got original, I got raspberry swirl, and James got strawberry cheesepie. It was lovely and everything Junior's cheesecake is supposed to be.

We left for Brooklyn and went to Manna again, getting internet. Then we stumbled home, tired (and sick, in my case) and went to bed. I had a hard time sleeping without the ability to breathe, but was up in time to tell James an early goodbye.
Goodbye.
So strange.
Then Daniel and I got breakfast at Gimme Coffee! and I told him bye.

So many goodbyes.

And here I sit. In New York. Alone and back where I began.
Postgrad Eurotrip, check. Done and done. And now? Now, I am faced with the decision of what to do next in this endeavor called life. I wonder what will happen, where I will be, what I will decide...no one told me how terrifying and exhilarating this would be.

I'm right back where I began.

About 22 years ago I was born at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, NY.
Sweet life, you've brought me here again. My hometown.
Full circle. And just perfect.

Thank you friends for joining me on this journey. It's not done and I'm sure will never be. But I'll see you soon I'm sure...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

the burbs.

Friends.
For the past two days James and I have been staying in the most wonderful home of the Minors, residents of Middlesex London, the burbs if you will. They live in a lovely little town called Hampton Hill, and life here has been so refreshing. God gave us the perfect ending to our long and wonderful Eurotrip. The Minors have an AMAZING home that they graciously invited us into. I can't tell you how refreshing just sitting in the hottub with a glass of wine has been these past two nights, refreshing to my body mind and soul.
Tonight I will be in New York.
This is craziness.

I am so sad to be leaving this continent, but excited to have a working cell phone that will put me in touch with loved ones soon.
Look out tonight, I might call you.

Love love.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My last night in Paris.

Je t'aime Paris.

Oh city. Oh sweet, intoxicating city. How you have captured my heart.
Nothing quite compares to you.

I've realized that sometimes the cliche things in life can be wonderful. Perhaps this is why they are made cliche; so many people have found joy in doing these acts.

Sitting at a cafe that overlooks the sparkling Eiffel Tower at night and sipping on a cafe creme while reading Hemmingway and writing in your journal is uber cliche.
But so wonderful.

Thus describes my night.
Unplanned but enjoyed, I ended up walking around the 7th arrondisement, my old "stomping grounds" if you will (from when James and I had an apartment) and getting maybe (a little) lost. In the end I managed to find my way to an endearing cafe where the bartender laughed at my French (very poitely) and the waiter, dressed in a black vest and black dress pants and awesome Parisien shoes, of course, answered my question of "Does this view ever get old to you?" with the sweetest, most French reply of "It's the best view in the world, no?"

Ah Paris.

As I sat, various Parisians rode by on their Velib bikes, identified by the flickering white light that is signature to the front of every bike. Oh how I wish I had had the opportunity to ride one, but such is the plight of an american with a credit card sans a puce.
As I sat and sipped my coffee, a group of people my age sat down at a nearby table. They spoke French eloquently and I secretly listened as I hid behind my book.
"Would these be my friends if I were a Parisian?" "Would I do this on a Monday night if I lived here?" These questions filled my mind, along with the fantasy of a Parisian life.
With every word they uttered I wished more and more that I could speak French as eloquently as they did. I promised myself (again) that one day I will master this language. Their conversation continued, and I switched to actually reading again. Just as I started to get lost in my book the Eiffel Tower started to glitter.
I was so awed and amazed by the sight.
My awe did not go unnoticed though. No longer the invisible American girl, the group of Parisians made sure to recognize my presence by laughing at how I was utterly GAWKING at the Eiffel Tower.
They mimicked my position of hand-on-chin-mouth-open-eyes-dreamy and I laughed when I noticed what they were doing. After making eye contact with me, they spoke to me gently in English and said "I know, it's very beautiful."

C'est trop vrai.

I shyly smiled in agreement, knowing that I was probably blushing as well.

After the light show I decided to write. I have to admit, I got lost in writing, and really needed to keep better track of time because I had to beware of missing the last metro home. I understand how Hemmingway and Joyce and Fitzgerald must have gotten lost in their writing in this way. For days and days. Oh sweet city.
As I wrote in my journal, I thought of them, these great writers of the past who decided to be expatriots in this city. It's amazing to think that someone, far more talented than I, was able to take the same setting I was in and create such beautiful works of art.

After finishing my cafe creme, I paid and then left for the metro, literally catching the last one. I'm practically a pro at this now. The ride into La Defense was surreal. As stop after stop passed by, I realized more and more: I'm not ready to leave this city.

As I walked through the streets of Courbevoie to my temporary home at 2 Avenue du Parc I saw the Eiffel Tower sparkling again. I wished I had taken more time to watch, but the cold was cutting through my jacket too much so I had to walk faster. But even this brought me joy because I am convinced that Parisian leaves crunch classier. Oh fall.

So last night in Paris. Okay. I suppose I can handle this for now. Maybe this is like eating the best meal of your life, and not being ready to leave the restaurant. Something amazing and beautiful happened there, but now is the time to go home and digest, and let your body process what has just happened to you. You can not stay there longer, or you will ruin it. Maybe tomorrow you will remember the meal throughout the day, and smile and rub your belly. But you know it's too soon to go back, no, that meal will not be tomorrow night's dinner. Or the night after that. Or the night after that.
But maybe in a little bit you will return, and it will be just as lovely a feast as before.

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for all of Paris is a moveable feast.” - Hemmingway

Oh Hem, you got it right.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Because a picture post is way overdue...

Friends, these are a crazy mix of pictures from Paris, Nice, Cannes, Berlin, Switzerland (Huemoz and Lausanne), Rome, Florence, Barcelona, and Bilbao.




































Sunday, November 1, 2009

Metros

So the Parisian metro closes at 2am, the RER line closing at midnite. The buses stop running around 5am.
Let's just say we took the metro home last night...and not because we caught it before 2.
Ha.

Quick overview.
Going to the ChampsElysees. Crazy parties. Realizing it was too expensive for us, then going to the Republique area to a bar that had already closed at 2am. WHAT?
Meeting Kasia and Ania and old friends from afar. So crazy. Hanging out in Paris and getting fries and candy from a Turkish cafe. The turkish man who served me making fun of how I speak French, but maybe in a very polite way. Oh well.
Such good fries, then a pastry shop open at 3am in the morning. WHAT? Hallejuiah, yay for drops, so good. Latrrice avec aumand et chocolate. Yummay gimme.
Then walking to Bastille, so much walking. Parisian police giving us the wrong directions. Boo.
Then stumbling upon a random club in Bastille, asking if we could get in for free because it was like 4am in the morning already...and the bouncer complying. WHAT? I am magic.
So Sheena +4 in a Parisian club with a 20euro cover on Halloween night FOR FREE. Most awkward club ever, complete with eer race, a disabled person in a wheelchair on the dance floor and a couple random OLD OLD men.
Strange music, but fun dancing.
Walking home on tired footsies but so happy the metro was open again. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Happy Halloween from Paris.

Friday, October 30, 2009

[guest blogger: sarah tilley]

Friends, chocolate, mint tea, and Sheena make the best Thursday night a homesick girl could ask for in Bilbao. Thursday night is a huge going out night around here. Half off caƱas (mini beers) and pintxos (basque tapas) bring out the crowds. My roommate Mi could not believe that we were not going to go out and take advantage of the deals. But I got all I could ask for with having a best friend in town. Earlier that night we did get to do what was on my list of "Bilbao with Sheena" priorities. We went to my favorite cerveceria in Casco Viejo to split delicious bocadillos and croquetas. I crave food from this place at least twice a week- so I thought Sheen deserved to share in this dining experience. Afterward we walked along the river that divides Bibao and enjoyed the sight of the Guggenheim at night. We also took some pictures under the giant, Tim Burtonesque spider that hangs out by the Guggenheim. Hopefully sheena will post some of those soon :-)

Most importantly, I was blessed with good conversation by someone that really knows me. And after you get that, you don't really need to go out and experience the Thurday night drink deals. Falling asleep while watching Friends suits you just fine.

Thank you for coming to Bilbao Sheena!! Agur!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Oh friends.

Maintenant, je suis a Bilbao avec mon meilleur amie, Sarah!

It's so hard to believe that Sarah lives here. In Europe. In Spain. For good.
When I leave here she is not coming home with me, because she is home.
This is so weird.

But Sarah's life here is so lovely, and Bilbao is a really cute city. It's pretty artsy and industrial at the same time, which is very interesting.
The train ride in was so beautiful, riding through the Spanish countryside. The hills were fire red and covered in vineyards for miles and miles.

Sarah met me at the train station when my train got in - it was such a romantic scene lol! I got off my train and was looking around for her on the platform and in the distance I see this girl in a (cute!) dress running through the crowds towards me. It was Sarah and then we ran towards each other and collided in a big hug!
Isn't that so funny? We laughed about what a scene it was later.
So after Sarah picked me up from the train we got on the metro, which is really beautiful and new and well lit and awesome, and got off at Indauxten, where she lives!
We went to her cute little apartment, which honestly is not that little, and then made a carrot cake for her auxilliare friend Deidre, who's birthday was yesterday. It was such a scene baking in Spain, lol, because they don't bake here! It's so sad really. Sarah had to buy baking soda in the cleaning aisle (whaaat?!).
Anyways, we made carrot cake from scratch that was AWESOME and figured out how to use the oven and everything (because it only has numbers 1-6, as opposed to degrees or even celsius). Thank you google, you were very helpful.

Then we met Deidre and her roommate and her roommate's boyfriend and went to the beach, which was so gorgeous! There were a lot of surfers out and the water was freezing, but it was SO BEAUTIFUL. I'm so happy that this will be Sarah's beach. We put our feet in the water and played and took pictures. It's hard to believe that ocean is the same one as home. After sunset we went to this bar on top of a cliff that overlooked the beach and I drank some great red wine.

Then we went home and changed and met Deidre for dinner and cake. We walked around Downtown Bilbao and the old city area, which was suprisingly really extensive, until we finally found a cute little bar that had pinxtos. I got one covered in honeyglazed ham and another one with some other meat on it-it was really good. We also had this white wine that apparently is the pride and joy of the Basque Country. It was pretty delish.

Then Sarah and I walked home and crashed.
Now I'm here getting ready to do some MUCH NEEDED laundry and maybe try to sleep more. There is construction going on downstairs that's making it kind of hard to so though. Sarah is working all day today but I think I will get a free bike rental and check out Bilbao, maybe make it to the Guggenheim, etc etc. Then tonight I'm not sure what we will do!
Life is grand.

AND BARCELONA!
Oh that city. It's so funny because James told me on our second or third day there that on the train ride in he thought this was going to be a city that contested with Paris for MY favorite city. ON THE TRAIN RIDE. But he was right.
Barcelona is unlike anything I've ever experienced before. It's the most creative and passionate city I've ever been in, that's for sure. It's my favorite city along WITH Paris because I love them in two different ways. Yes, that's right, I can have two favorites.

Today I am going to try to upload some pictures to the site. Perhaps then I will write a little recap about Barcelona.

The jackhammering seems to have ceased for a few minutes. Off to chase some sleep!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A little bit of Italy, Monaco, France, and Spain in two days. And the worst day yet. Oy vey.


Friends, this makes me happy right now.

Yes, that's right, I am with Sarah Tilley in Barcelona. Life is just lovely and grand, I can't believe how amazing it is that we are all here right now.

We live in a loft in an amazing hostel. It's really grand.

Today was actually really great, compared to yesterday (the day from hell).
Basically what happened yesterday was James and I left from Florence at 1:30am, got into Milan at 7:00am left Milan at 9 and got into Nice at 2 where we found out we couldn't get to Barcelona until the next day (today) at night because France had a holiday.
Oh lordy, so then we took a train at 6:30om (after fighting with desk people all day, or basically James doing that all day) to Montpellier, which we arrived at around midnite. This was where we had to wait until 3pm to take a five hour train to Barcelona. So we spent the night in the train station (which was loads of fun) and then took a 6am train to Avignon.

This is where it gets good because Avignon was actually really gorgeous and we had the most lovely time just walking around and exploring the city. The pope used to live here and had a really beautiful castle that we got to explore. I also got a lovely French pastry. I love France. I just love that country, have I said that yet?! I love France.

Well then we got on the train and got into Barcelona.

Here we got to see the newlywed Vandermolens for a hot second and then walked around Gotica and the Las Ramblas area with Sarah after getting an amazingly cheap dinner.
Tomorrow Sarah and I are getting breakfast at the hostel and then getting coffee after.
For reals? Hanging out with my bff in Spain.

life is so lovely.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Italy, again.

Dear friends,

Switzerland had perhaps the most lovely landscape I have ever seen, but boy am I glad to get out of that country. Literally sucking our wallets dry.
I had a hard time with it honestly, poor James had to deal with a Sheena breakdown, lol.
But we had a lovely time in Switzerland though, and in Lausanne, which is just a beautiful city. We met the most wonderful couch surfers who made us awesome Swiss food.
We had raclettes and some amazing fondue (which swiss people would argue is not french, its a mini war, i guess this is what's important when you're a neutral country, lol).
Also, we went out to this realy great Chinese restaurant with some of our new friends and then finally went out to a club in the Lausanne Flon district which is apparently pretty famous.
It was a good time although Europe has still disappointed with its crappy music.
However, I could not get over how in Lausanne at this club they were broadcasting the Gator game! CRAZY! It made me feel a little homesick honestly.
We finally were able to get out of Switzerland yesterday, after is costing an arm and a leg to do so, but now we are in lovely Florence with Lindsay and Ross Stowers and their lovely family. We're only here till Wednesday night thought because then we are going to BARCELONA.
I am super stoked about Florence though and getting the best gelato I've ever had and seeing the Duomo.

Today will be a day of walking and love I'm sure.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Switzerland

Switzerland is so expensive! Just as an example, the dollar is about equivalent to the Swiss franc, but a McDonald's meal (not that I would get one) is 14 swiss francs! CRAZY!

Anyways, the last couple of days I've been at L'Abri in a small little village up in the Swiss Alps.

Go here for more info about L'Abri.

It's been so good. I read an amazing book that God just used to kill me, in a good way of course. The wound is open, scraped out, and being treated. Perhaps some real healing can begin. The week before I felt on the verge of emotional burnout, some days thinking I really was going crazy. Four days in the Swiss Alps has brought me sanity. God has given me clarity, hope, and love.
I feel refreshed and refocused. I feel healthy.

Thank you all for your prayers over this part of my journey.

I ate some wonderful food at L'Abri, but mostly just enjoyed the pace of life that allowed me five hours of reading and drinking tea in a cabin overlooking the snowcapped Swiss Alps everyday. In the evenings before dinner I would take walks along the edge of the valley and meet some Swiss cows along the way. Swiss cows have bells around their necks; you could hear them all the time at L'Abri. One cow even came up and licked me. Weird, but really cute.

Now I'm couchsurfing in Lausanne. James and I are reunited.
Tonight we are going to check out the cinema portion of this awesome music and art festival, and then we are going to check out some house/techno clubs.
Lausanne is so beautiful. They have a really gorgeous gothic cathedral here that reminds me of Notre Dame.

I miss Paris.

Also, Lausanne is on this huge lake, nestled between the Swiss Alps. The town of Evian (like the water) is right around the corner. The water is awesome here.

It's almost too cold, but it's kinda nice.
We leave to Florence on Sunday night. It will be nice to be in Italy again. I wonder if I will be able to afford Italy. I can't afford Switzerland, but it's nice to just sit outside and look at how pretty everything is and be hungry and homeless and still absolutely lovely.

I might be back in Orlando later than I thought. But if you know me, you probably knew that would happen.

We'll see.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Four days is not enough

This is my last day in Rome. I'm so sad about this. Tonight at 11pm I take the night train to L'Abri. I'm going alone because James is going to stay in Rome and then meet me in Lausanne later this week.

I really like Rome. Not as much as I like Paris, but maybe I haven't spent enough time here. It's so beautiful. The weather is steamy but it almost makes everything feel more ancient...I dont know how that works.

Vatican City today. Apparently there's a pope party. Should be fun. :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I hitchhiked in Germany yesterday. Imma big girl now.

I am in Rome! Ahh! I dont have much time at ths internet cafe but I just wanted to give God so much praise for my day yesterday it was beautiful and lovely. I cant wait to tell everyone more! Mwah!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Berlin

Berlin has been so lovely to us. I wish I had more time to write, but I want to get a small nap in before our train at 4:30, so I will be leaving oh...in two hours or so. AHH!

Well Paris was so amazing.
Nuit Blanche was everything I thought it would be and so much more. I just love that city.
James and I were the only ones of the group we went with that made it through the night. We're so insane sometimes!

The metro not working wasn't even an issue for us because by the time we got on the metro ride home it was 7:00am.
My favorite thing I saw at Nuit Blanche was this huge disco ball suspended by crane over the Luxembourg gardens. The artist wanted to bring stars to the city of light so the ball reflected stars everywhere. It was so beautiful.

We finally went to bed at 8am and got up at 2. We got out the house by 4pm and were able to go to the Louvre for about an hour (FOR FREE!) which, ya know, is INCREDIBLE.
We then went back, got our things and took the metro to our train. We took the overnight train to Berlin.

Two years ago one of the students involved in the high school ministry I worked with, Student Venture, hosted a German foreign exchange student who was also a Christian and is amazing. I contacted him a few weeks ago about staying with him when we were in Germany. Well we were actually able to meet up here in Berlin! It was the sweetest thing ever and so awesome to see him after two years. We stayed with two of his friends from church, a recently married couple who are our exact ages, Frank and Janette, and they were such AMAZING BLESSINGS to us. Frank and Janette are vegans and they made us the most amazing vegan dinner last night and then Frank had school off today and toured us all around Berlin. In addition, Thomas gave us a tour yesterday.

Today we saw it all, the Reichstag, the Jewish Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie, Postdamer Platz (we saw a movie in the sony center tonight!) the Berlin Wall, the art/graffiti district in East Germany, we got amazing doner kababs, an awesome german pastry that I can't pronounce lol, we saw the old kaiser church that had a bomb dropped in it, walked and used the oldest UBahn station in Berlin, walked through the most expensive mall in Berlin...wow...amazing day and night.
Yesterday we saw Bradenburger Tor and walked through Tiergarten for a bit. Then we went to Alexander Platz and saw the TV Tower (Frank and Janette live 5 min walk from it) and then walked to the Berlin Dome and the fountain of Neptune and the surrounding areas.
It was such and incredible night. Frank is so awesome and lived in Minnesota for a summer, so was able to communicate with us flawlessly. He also loves history and his city and politics and was really a wonderful tour guide.
I just feel so incredibly blessed and loved and taken care of.

Tomorrow (today, in an hour) I board a train to Frankfurt, where I will stop for a bit, put my luggage in a locker, and then take another train to Darmstadt, where my mother used to live.
I think tomorrow is going to be a really hard day for me, so please pray.
Also, tomorrow I am going alone. James needs another day on his railpass so he's going to drop me off in Frankfurt and then his train continues to Rome. It will be a very long (16hr) train ride for him and he will arrive in Rome at midnite. So pray for his travels as well.
I will play in Darmstadt for a bit and then continue to Rome on an overnight train that will put me in Rome by 9am Friday morning.

Oy I am so tired I can hardly see straight, but I love and miss you all. Please pray for me, I'm scared about the things I will encounter but can sense that God really wanted me to encounter them alone without James. I know the power of meeting alone, intimately with God, but pray that I would crave and really be able to do that tomorrow.
Pray.

Love you.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

How do I describe this goodbye...

Sitting in Paris with another headache/beginning of a migraine=no fun.
However, I'm still sitting in Paris. I love love love this city. So very much. Je t'aime Paris.

To recap on the last couple of days though...
After mountain day on Sunday we spent the next Monday doing literally nothing around the house in Plascassier. We were very productive and did our laundry, finally, and then when Emilie got home from school she walked us around Ville de Grasse, an itty bitty village on top of a hill nearby. It was were the elementary school was and some cute parks whose swings and other playground toys we played with for awhile. Afterwards we went back to the house, ate some dinner...and I think James and I watched a movie, I honestly can't remember.
The next day we called "Tomoraco" because we were planning on going to Monaco, but alas, we woke up too late and missed the bus from Valbonne Village. After sitting around at home, again, Julien, a boy who rents a room downstairs, came home from work and was able to take us to Moans-Sartoux, where we were able to catch a bus into Cannes. We just went to the beach in Cannes and then decided that we wanted crepes from this Fenocchi stand that we like in Nice, so we hopped on the bus to Nice for 30 minutes, grabbed ice cream and crepes, walked along the beach promenade, then caught our bus back to Valbonne.
We called Wednesday "Tomoraco" again, but then we missed the bus, AGAIN. So we ended up figuring out a way to get to Nice even though we missed the bus. It took us twice as long, but we worked out the connections like pros, and were in Nice by 2pm. However, we decided it was too late to go to Monaco, so we just had another day in Nice, where we went to our favorite crepe and ice cream stand, our favorite boulangerie, and our favorite overlook of Nice, at the top of the Chateau.
That night we had to most amazing dinner of our lives.
Lisiane had invited some people over, and made rice with shrimp and fish and chicken and corn and veggies and it was so yummy. It was served with some yummy rose wine as well. In addition, we had AMAZING crepes for dessert, with nutella and jelly and whipped cream and brown sugar and confectioner's sugar and lemon juice as choices for toppings. I actually got to make majority of the crepes, which was awesome! (So roomies, watch out). James and I passed out that night, and tried to make it through a movie after our sugar coma, lol, but we were just so happy and overwhelmed we literally sat rubbing our tummies and sighing. It was the most perfect send off dinner.

We called Thursday "Tomoraco" and we actually got up in time, made the bus, and finally made it to Nice and then took the connection to Monaco. This was not before going to our favorite boulangerie, then our favorite crepe/glace shop, then our favorite glace vendor. We're crazy, I know.

So we ended up only getting about 2 hours in Monaco, but it was just beautiful. We walked through the Monte Carlo Casino picture and took pictures through our fingers that will be permanent only in our minds because we didn't bring our cameras. We sat at an overlook in front of the Casino that looked out over the cruise ships and the yachts in the harbor. We ate another pastry and made up stories about the lives we would lead as rich people with boats. We walked along the coast line and then up some random stairway that actually were steps along a cliff near a Grace Kelly monument. Monaco was so beautiful, but way too expensive and flashy for us. Lol.

After taking the bus home we had to rush to pack because our bus connections were late and got us home at 8:00 and we had an 8:30 train. Oy vey! So we rushed and said hurried goodbyes (which was so sad) and Jack drove us to the next stop on the line, in Cannes, so we could be sure to make our train.
After getting some food in Cannes, we finally got on our eleven hour train to Paris. It didn't seem so bad this time around, although my neck issues have only progressed through the days (please pray, it's been so painful lately).
But we woke up in Paris, which is just a beautiful thing to behold.
Oh city, how I love thee.

Today, after getting back in to Jessica's apartment in Courbevoie (with our French Canadien and Indonesian friends, again! Yay!) and after doing some grocery shopping, I left with Alessa and Michelle (the canadiens) to do some thrift shopping.
Oh. Em. Gee.

I found the jackpot of thrift shopping in Marais today. Places like Freepstar just littered the streets of Marais. I was actually overwhelmed because it was like every single store was vintage heaven. I settled on a black scarf and a white scarf that I got for a euro each, but I'm definetly going back tomorrow and hardcore sifting until I find the pieces I want (Dana, Whitney, Jess B., Kate, Crystal, Angela, and all my other vintage store owning friends, this store would make you joyfully cry, I'm sure).

Tomorrow Paris explodes.

I really need to get rest for it because tomorrow will be non-stop until 7am in the morning. Please pray I am physically able to do it, because Nuit Blanche is going to be so sick.

After shopping at Marais today we walked around the Louvre and then walked around the Montparnasse area and then back to the Latin Quarter for a bit. I got to take the girls to Shakespeare and Co and this really awesome used bookstore/cd store/vinyl shop that I love (Boulinier). While walking through the streets you can just see that the city is ready, stages are set, screens are prepped and ready to go; tomorrow night Paris is gonna be crazy.
The guides for the night are in every Metro stop, everyone's talking about it...EEE I can not wait.

So until then...bonne nuit!

I will try to write tomorrow...the day after tomorrow morning...but perhaps the next time I write will be in Berlin. On Sunday after hitting up all the museums for free (first Sundays, woo), James and I will hop on another night train to Berlin, where we will be staying with my friend Thomas' friend. I think next week will be the start of the insanity.
Bring it. :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

McDonald's in Paris made me happy today.

No, not because I'm an America craving junk food.
Because today, McDonald's was warm, had free bathrooms, and free WIFI.
Things we all take for granted in America, seriously.

After getting off an eleven hour train to Paris the last thing I wanted to do was use a cold, dirty bathroom and have to pay euros to do so.
McDonalds had such a lovely bathroom, it was clean and warm, and they had free WIFI. And James and I are at our second home in Paris, in Courbevoie.
It's so great to kind of have a handle on this city.
Today we tackled the metro like pros, I'm so proud of us.

And today off I go to Marche Aux Puces in Saint-Ouen, then maybe some time alone in the Luxembourg Gardens, and maybe I'll meet James for dinner in Montemartre or something lovely like that.

Paris, je t'aime.

We're here only for the weekend because of Nuit Blanche 2009. You gotta check it out.

OHHH I'm so excited.
And then, Berlin, and then Rome and then Switzerland and then Florence and then Barcelona and then Bilbao and then Paris and then London and then NY and then...

Oh this is going to be the craziest month of my life, I know it.

*Short little post, will write more about what it was like to visit Monaco (which is another country, who knew?) and say goodbye to Cannes and Nice and Plascassier and Jack Roquemore and fam)*

Monday, September 28, 2009

There is no language for what we've seen...

Only the sweetness that bends us to our knees,
And all of these fumbling words
To explain what it means,
But out hearts were buried deep in the sand.