Saturday, January 14, 2017

Reunited at Last


the girls and I in Petite France in Strasbourg
 If I could explain to you how amazing it felt to be reunited with my best friends from the USA for my birthday week, I would. What I can say is that week was one I will never ever forget. 

Four of my dearest friends from home, two from Springboro and two from Bowling Green, came to visit over the holidays once I got home from Portugal.

We spent our first three days in Paris before hitting up Strasbourg, and we finished up the week in Geneva, Switzerland. It was a whirlwind week of exploring new cities and catching up on old news, but I wouldn't have traded it for the world... I may have traded Paris for Portugal if it was that easy because I would've loved for these friends to understand why I love that country so much, but Paris is never a bad idea.


It always is. Countless sights to see and people to navigate around. Countless metro stops.

I'm so glad I went to Paris with these girls because it really changes the way I remember a few of the places I had visited with my Portuguese friends in November. I now understand the magic that is Champs Éysées at Christmastime, whereas previously it was just a freezing cold and rainy memory of sharing umbrellas. The Louvre is still amazing even though Mona Lisa lacks my appreciation. Pablo Picasso's museum blew my mind. Montmartre's street artists bring Parisian cityscapes to life. Macaroons and crêpes were still widely available, as they should be in Paris. On this trip, I encountered so many kind waiters and waitresses as well as just French passerbys... my previous sample size was apparently way off the norm. I was also extremely glad that during this trip to Paris I felt extremely comfortable leading my friends around the city... it reminded me how much I've grown in my semester abroad, and it was fun to see how much less intimidating European travel has become. 

Mary and Ellie with macaroons from a vendor along Champs Élysées 
Mary, Kelsey, and me in front of the Louvre
Ellie in the Picasso Museum
Kimmy with a crêpe near Champs
All of us at Jardin du Luxembourg


Introducing my best friends from the two places I've called home in my life to the third place I call home was special.

We arrived to Gare Centrale in Strasbourg at 10:15pm, and by 11pm we were inviting new friends over to celebrate New Year's & my 21st birthday. We went out and had a really fun night, although I'll admit it wasn't a "normal" night at all without my normal Strasbourg crew. (And yes, as I tell them every single day, I am missing them dearly.)

On January 1st, most everything was closed because France/holiday/Sunday, so I walked the girls by the European Institutions with my friend Benji and we otherwise enjoyed a day to relax after running around all of Paris. The first is my birthday, and it's usually always a day to relax around the house with my family so this felt right. On the 2nd, I ran the girls all around Strasbourg. We started the day with a boat tour of Strasbourg which was really informative, and a good way to introduce the city with such a rich history. After that we caught lunch and visited the Cathedral. After the Cathedral we walked around Petite France before meeting up with friends at Au Brasseur for happy hour beers and tarte flambée. After that we returned to my apartment to pack up, and head off to Place de l'Etoile to catch the (overnight) bus to Geneva.

boat tour of Strasbourg
showing the girls around Parc de l'Orangerie
Kimmy, Ellie, and Mare being goons in Petite France


I can't say enough about our time in Geneva... I'll start by saying I'm forever grateful for Kelsey's family's hospitality.

Kelsey's great-aunt and uncle live outside of Geneva, and they welcomed us to stay in their guest house for the week. Even kinder, they more or less completely cleared their schedules to show us all around Geneva, take us on a day trip to Lausanne, and facilitate travel to and from the bus stop/ train station/ airport. 

Kelsey's great uncle, JR, is a Geneva native, and he showed us all around the old town of Geneva on the day we arrived. He recounted the history to us with amazing detail, and we enjoyed his side comments about where he and his friends would meet up with girls while they were teens. On our second day, Aunt Jackie took us into Lausanne, and we visited the Olympic Museum. It was such an amazing museum; I was so impressed by the overall design, and I think we all particularly enjoyed the exhibition on Olympic stadiums. Our third and last day with Kimmy and Ellie, we went into Geneva and saw the Red Cross Museum. As the 2016 European Museum of the Year, you can imagine how spectacular this museum was. I must say, I left with a much greater appreciation for the mission of the Red Cross, and a much better understanding of what they are outside of my Red Cross First Aid and Lifeguard certifications. After the museum, the girls and I stopped for crêpes once more before my hometown bests had to head back to Paris for their flight the next morning. We all had such an amazing week, and it was a bittersweet goodbye. These girls have known and supported me since I was a little kid, and to show them my life in Europe was such a gift  to all of us. You've taken me to the airport to see me off the Europe, and I've greeted you from this side of the Atlantic, now, too. I can't wait to see you two (and meet the Wiedeman's new pup, Roxie) on home soil in May.

The next day, Kelsey and I spent the day at home with Jackie and JR. After a week of running around, it was so nice for Kels and I to spend our last day visiting and reading. She's off in Madrid now, studying and collecting experiences as I am in Strasbourg, and it was so nice to be the one to see her off to her airplane from Geneva early that next morning. Kels and I try to spare each other tears 99.9% of the time, but there was no need to spare emotion this time--I hadn't seen Kels in four months, then I got to spend the most amazing week with her before she began her experience of a lifetime in Spain. There was nothing to be sad about. Smiling and waving, I sent her off from the Geneva airport. Before I made it home to Strasbourg by train, she was safely landed in Madrid.
Can you say spoiled? The chalet down the drive is the guest house we stayed in with a perfect view of Mont Blanc.
the panoramic view Aunt Jackie drove us up the mountain to see on our last day 
I finally experienced raclette and oh my gosh it's amazing
Kels on Rousseau's Island in downtown Geneva
walking on a trail just up the mountain from Aunt Jackie and JR's home
sending off these lovelies💕

I had missed my Americans. Thank you to everyone (especially the amazing parents) who made this week happen.

Love, Jules

"Wander with wonder and the whole world becomes home." -Tyler Knott Gregson
Throwback to NYC because seeing Kels got me even more excited
because it means Chels will be here soon (2 weeks!), and today we all booked
our hostel for a St. Patty's Day reunion in Cork, Ireland!

No comments:

Post a Comment