I’m back in the United States. I have been back for the last 12 days. Unfortunately, I don’t think my life is very interesting when I am not traveling. I will turning 35 this year. I returned to college, currently I’m at my local community college. I will be transferring in a year and half. Urgh!
What have I been doing so far? I started school last week. So I’m been trying to get adjusted to the semester. I started Jiu Jitsu again and I’ve been trying to get over my jetlag.
I wrote my resolutions down. I’ve been meaning to post them. That takes way too long. Sometimes post will come without pictures. They are just posts to get started again.
My friends will visit me this week. I will do a post about that.
I went to Paris, France as my last leg of this European trip. I spent 5 days there. I decided I would go to see Paris back in September of 2019. The last time I went to France was around 2006. I had such a bad experience with France that time. This time I tried to go with an open mind. I also used six months to learn some of the basics of the language. I am in no way conversational. I went to see a friend who I really enjoy talking to.
So the last time I was in France I had such a bad experience. There were several factors that contributed to my bad experience. First, it was my first time traveling to Europe, I mostly touristy things, like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. Secondly, I didn’t speak the language, not even a little bit. Parisians are known for not being very nice to tourists. Let’s flip the perspective and see it in their eyes. If someone comes to your city and speaks another language, that’s not the official language of the country, how would react to them? I think the reaction is pretty universal.
Instead of going to see usual things I went to see the locations I wanted to see. I enjoy Rodin’s sculptures, so I went to his Museum. I really enjoyed the Tecahnical Museum in Prague, so I thought the Musee des Artes et Metiers would be cool. I enjoyed the models and architecture of old buildings. The movies I enjoy in Paris that I know of are Amelie, obviously, Before Sunrise, and Inglorious Basterds. I went to the bookstore in Before Sunset and I went to Brasserie in Inglorious Basterds.
I think that’s what makes me enjoy traveling more as I’m older. I cater traveling more to my interests and feelings. I try to see things and subjects that I have a general interest in. I keep returning to Europe because I find it’s history amazing. I also don’t try to rush so much activities in my day. I just try to enjoy myself and go into a book shop, and relax. If the weather was better I would be outside drawing all day. Here are a few of my sketches from Paris.
This time I learned enough to get by and see what I wanted to. I learned how to order food, coffee, and my check. I felt good that I achieved these small steps. I felt that I was received way better by the restaurants when I spoke french. The first time I went to Spain, ordering food and interacting with the language on a daily basis was the first step as well.
I think Paris is a great city to hang out in and take your time in. There are so many cafes and places to see. I did get to see my friend, if only for one night. There was a strike so traveling was difficult the entire time in Paris. She couldn’t hang out the second day. But through coincidence or serendipity I met a very Australian lawyer in Montmartre. I remember her henna tattoo from breakfast at the hostel. She was sitting at the same table I was sitting at. No one at the table was conversing except the Peruana and Espanola, which I was eavesdropping on the conversation. Fast forward to the afternoon and She was having a cafe and a smoke outside in front of the Sacre Coeur. We had really deep conversation about her countries history and politics. Later that night we met again at the hostel and had another conversation on life and 2019 over some beer and bar food.
I did one day stops in Dunkirk and Calais before Paris. Dunkirk was famous for the allied retreat during World War 2. It was made famous by Christopher Nolan’s movie, Dunkirk. It was made in 2017. I actually saw it while I was in Edimburgh. It brings a different feeling when you watch a movie in the U.K. about the U.K. Then I went to Calais. I only knew Calais from the sculptures by Rodin, Les Bourgeois Des Calais. Then I went to Paris.
I got to Dunkirk by Flixbus from Bruges. It was only an hour until you are in another country and they speak another language. Most Americans don’t really understand how crazy that can be. Not to mention Dunkirk also has several ferries a day to Dover, England. The location of this city makes it special. The cinematography in the film of Dunkirk is what captivated me. The massive beach and old hotels. Sadly, I didn’t get really explore the promenade because it was getting dark, misty and cold. It appears to be a beach vacation spot for tourists on summer days. The promenade is very modern, I assume a lot of digital enhancing was used in the movie.
I went to Calais the day after via Flixbus. What surprised me is the immigration issues in 2016 in the city. There was small immigration encampment called the jungle of Calais. I’m often so surprised of how closed off I am from the news of the world. For example, The fires in Australia. There is strong similarity to the feelings of immigration at the time and with how the U.S. feels currently. I don’t think anyone wants criminals coming into their country and doing bad things. The immigration encampment was eventually dismantled by the government here. If you wish to know more, here is link of one of the videos I saw on Youtube.
I went to Bruges after Antwerp. I have heard it was one of the prettiest cities in Belgium. The movie, In Bruges, is one of my favorite Colin Ferrell movies, probably the only. I did my reading assignments for my college class. I went on a Spanish walking tour. I drank two beers, texted some friends and family then I went to sleep for New Year’s Eve. Not the best time, but not the worst time in Bruges.
I did most of my reading assignments while I was in here in Bruges. I stuck to myself and read my textbook on my phone. I did the assignments and discussions from my laptop. I wonder if anybody else at Lonestar College is doing online classes outside of the country? If you can work online doing freelance and be anywhere in the world, couldn’t you travel and finish college from anywhere in the world? Just a thought. We are now in the year 2020. ( A legitimate school would probably not go for that, huh?)
I took a free walking tour in Bruges. Leonie, my German friend, whom I met in Antwerp has some influence in this. I wondered if I could take the tour in Spanish. So took the tour in Spanish. Did I understand all of it? No. This was a big shocker to me. I had to really concentrate to understand the guide. There were so many ambient noises, people talking, cars, as well she was speaking to a group. My comprehension was truly tested. I can have one on one conversations but taking a tour is a challenging situation. I wish to improve in this area. I wonder if people that study English who think they got it down like me. Then they go on a tour and they get lost in the tour guide’s language speed or accent.
I spent New Year’s Ever by myself in the Hostel Bar. I drank a couple of beers then I went to sleep. I reflected on the past year and past New Year’s Eves in general. Most of my New Year’s are pretty uneventful. I think it just depends who you spend it with. Unfortunately my family in California never does anything besides go to sleep or work, that is why I left to see somewhere else for New Years. I do like this tradition of being somewhere else for NYE.