Thursday, March 7, 2013

Thank God It's Thursday!

Hey guys,
Just a quick post today. So exams and midterms are done... Yay!!! I think I finished very well, but we'll see. I'm currently cleaning and packing for the three weeks away from the Abbey. I can't wait, but I'm still not ready for three weeks backpacking it through Europe. It's crazy and exciting. The biggest thing I'm looking forward to is Spring Break because everyone just needs a break from everybody else. That's the one thing that the orientations don't prepare you for is how quickly the charm of France wears off and how easily everyone get's irritated, mais c'est la vie. Anyway, it's 3 1/2 hours on a bus to Normandy, but the bus drivers in France get a 30 min break for every 2 hours they drive, so it'll take a while. I'll hopefully remember to charge my phone so that I can take pictures, but I can't guarantee that I will, so sorry in advance. Alrighty, so that's all I wanted to say. Bye guys.

Monday, March 4, 2013

5 Weeks

Hey guys,
So, I'm posting this just as an update. Not too much has been going on here in this quiet village. Mostly everyone here is resting for three weeks on the road and studying for finals this week. Last week I posted about a possibility of me going to Oradour, but I decided to take a weekend off from traveling in favor of sleeping... and a bit of partying. Sorry. However, I will have plenty to post after three weeks of  moving about Europe. On Friday, we leave for a bus ride to Normandy for the weekend. Next we'll head for a week in Paris and then leave for the weekend (St. Patrick's Day is that Sunday) in Amsterdam. From Amsterdam we'll all split up into our individual classes, I will be heading to Berlin for a week. For the final week, I will be in absolute bliss in Rome. I'll be surrounded by ancient architecture, savory food to try (and hopefully like), magnificent art, and of course high speed internet at the hotel. Hopefully, the weather will be warm like today (it was sunny and 61 degrees!). I probably won't be updating anything until I get to Rome, but I'll try to be constantly writing about everything. Also, I shall try my hardest to remember to get pictures, but I get really caught up in what I'm doing... so yea. Other than all that, everything's great here. One month down and two to go. I can't believe that I'm a third of the way through... I don't think I'm quite ready to go home just yet.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Hey guys,
  Sorry I'm not posting consistently. During the week I have school from 8-16h and these teachers don't mess around about homework. I'm going to really make an effort to start posting more, but I can't guarantee anything. SORRY. Anyway, I'm doing really well here in Pontlevoy. Adjusting from home to this less than 2000 person village is difficult, but overall I'm getting the hang of it, but there are good days and there are bad. Pontlevoy is quiet and peaceful, beautiful, but sometimes it doesn't seem real because of how picturesque everything is. When you think of the little countryside village of the Loire Valley, Pontlevoy is exactly that. Its buildings are ancient and rustic, the roads are cobblestone and narrow, with vineyards and fields as far as the eye can see. The sound of a car is a rarity and everything the town has to offer is within a stones throw. For the first few weeks there was nothing but grey clouds and a biting chill, but this last week was sunshine and warmth (if you can call it that).
  The first weekend we traveled to Tours or Le Petit Paris. The best way to describe Tours is this: New Orleans and Paris smushed together. Tours is a college town, so it's very geared towards the college life: shopping, bars, clubs, and the 24h McDonalds for all your drunken needs.
  On the second weekend we went to le Château de Chenonceau (I hope I spelled that right). It was gorgeous! When you first arrive you walk down a driveway through a tunnel of giant trees with a hedge maze off to your left and a little farm off to your right. After walking through two sphinxes at the end of the tree tunnel, the castle appears with magnificent gardens on either side. There are only two words I can say about the gardens in winter: fountains and green. The castle itself is built of the river Cher; honestly, you have a ridiculous castle when it diverts an entire river.
  This past weekend a group of us headed for Paris. Now, I'll be honest here, I didn't get that many pictures... I'm sorry, but I do have another week there. All I really did was go on a group tour with the Mackaman and got lost trying to find the restaurant on the day we arrived; wandered around Paris and got a French phone (which I just ran out of minutes on), navigated the metro like a boss, and did a river boat tour up the Seines (which I should have gotten pictures of... my bad); and the last day we ran around Paris for a few hours before we headed back. It was pretty cool though.
  Today, we went to Château du Clos Lucé and Château royal d'Amboise. Château du Clos Lucé was Leonard da Vinci's house for the last few years of his life, given to him by his good friend, King Frances I. A secret tunnel connects the Château du Clos Lucé and the Château royal d’Amboise. Clos Lucé showcases all of da Vinci's inventions and paintings (most are copies with the real ones in other museums). Leonardo da Vinci was buried in the chapel on the Château royal d'Amboise grounds.
  All in all, I've been getting along and making great friends. I'm also learning quite a bit and little by little increasing my skill in French. I really will try to post more, but we've literally been going and going since we got here. Next weekend we're going to Oradour-sur-Glane or the Martyr Village. The Château de Chenonceau photos are on my Facebook.

Château royal d'Amboise

Château royal d'Amboise

Monday, February 4, 2013

Day 1: Arriving, 1 & 2 February 2013, Friday & Saturday

    Sorry that my first post has taken so long, it's been a pretty crazy weekend. So here's what I wrote for Day 1.
   Day 1: Arriving, 1 & 2 February 2013, Friday & Saturday
   Everyone tries to prepare you for long lines in the international terminals and they tell you that security takes forever and customs takes even longer, but it was so not the case for me. I was through security in a matter of a few minutes with maybe 30 seconds actually standing in line. My first glimpse of the French countryside was from the plane and it was gorgeous. The sun had just painted the sky with bold pinks and fiery oranges when we began descending into the thick gray cloud layers. After what seemed like an eternity we finally broke through the cloud line and into the mystical and foreign world of France. A sea of green in all different hues stretched as far as the eye could see with tiny villages and ancient castles dotting the countryside. All too quickly the plane carried us further from the country and into the city of Paris. 
    We landed around 9:40am in Paris or 2:00am in Dallas. While everyone should have been exhausted we were all hyped and ready for the city and our village home for three months, but our enthusiasm was quickly depleted when we began our trek around CDG in an effort to meet up with our Abbey friends. I must say that CDG is one of the most confusing airports of all time and the people driving around the airport are the scariest of all time. When we finally reached everyone we found that we still had three hours to kill before the bus arrived and the exhaustion caught up quickly. Card games and talking were used to pass some time, but eventually I grabbed my neck pillow and jacket and snuggled up as best as I could on the cold tile floor. A few of the girls in my group followed suit and attempted a nap to no avail.
   Once again excitement and conversations filled the air when we loaded the bus. As we left the airport and drove further into Paris people swapped stories from there travels and homes and friendships were made. As I listened I looked at the window but it didn't feel like Paris. It felt like just another city. I suppose my expectations were so high about Paris being such a wonderful, ancient city that I overlooked that fact that it is a city and cities change with the times. It wasn't long before we hit traffic and it wasn't much longer after that the laughter and conversations died down as the sleepiness set in.
   I had just woken up from one of the best naps of my life when we pulled up to The Abbey in Pontlevoy, France. It was breathtaking. It amazed me to know that I would be living there and in such a beautiful village for three months. Over a thousand of years of history are in the chapel walls and hundreds in the surrounding buildings. If only these walls could talk they could tell me stories of the crusades, the French Revolution, and Napoleon. It's boggling to think about. Pontlevoy is known as "the bridge" because it's built on a plateau between the Cher and Loire Rivers. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

The Main Staircase

The French Garden

The view from my room

The Chapel

The Chapel