Archive for the ‘June 2010’ Category

Let’s go to the beach!

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Today we woke up to just beautiful weather. We decided that this is the perfect day for the beach. After slowly waking up and waiting for the bus, we headed for the beaches in Nice in the afternoon. When we go there, we realized that this beach is different from most of the other beaches we have seen because there is no sand just small, smooth rocks and pebbles. It was nice that we did not end up leaving with sandy feet and clothes. When we got there, unfortunately the clouds were rolling in at that time, but it was nice to relax and read by the Mediterranean. My sister and I put our feet in when we first got there, but we decided not to go swimming because the waves were too big for us. As I was looking out onto the water, I kept seeing these small white birds skiming the water and then diving straight in! They were trying to catch fish and we actually saw one catch a fish. It was funny watching them because they would first fly higher and nose dive right into the water. I have never seen a bird do that. We all of the sudden heard some fighter planes shoot out from the airport and display a short show for everyone on the beach. Then the colors red, white, and blue shot out from the tailpipes of the planes. They were celebrating the 150th birthday of Nice becoming part of France.

Around 5:30 we decided to head to the old town of Nice and look for a restaurant for dinner since we did not have lunch. This part of Nice was beautiful. There were narrow alleyways with high buildings connected by lines of laundry hanging out the windows. The green shutters against the yellow walls just made the area look so wonderful. A lot of the architecture we have seen reminds us more of Italy. We recently found out that Nice used to be a part of Italy until the 1800s when it became a part of France. After enjoying a nice dinner in the heart of the old town, we decided to walk around and explore. We saw some touristy shops that we loved looking around. Do you know how they have all different souveniers with peoples names? Well, my mom and I always look for my name, Justine, and never find it. We found it two times back in the United States and had to buy those two things. This time I looked, like I always do, and I found my name!! I found my name on a ruler and then on a pen, and then on a coin purse…it was everywhere! We asked the person who worked there if “Justine” was a common name in France. He said yes it is very common because it is a French name. I found a necklace with my name on it and I had to buy it. I was meant to come to France!

I wish we had more time to just wander and get lost in Nice, but we had to get back to the bus station to go back to Vence. Unfortunately we missed the bus and had to take a taxi back. I am planning to go back to Nice some other time this week and explore the old town and other districts.

My Life in France

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Before I went to France I wanted a good book I could read on the beach. Since I loved the movie Julie and Julia so much, I wanted to get the book that the movie was based on. While I was in the bookstore in Edinburgh, I saw a book titled “My Life in France” by Julia Child. I asked the people who worked there if this is what the movie is based off of. They said yes. So I bought the book, but then I realized that it was actually a biography about Julia Child and her time living in France. It was not about Julie Powell at all. I considered returning it, but after reading some good reviews online I decided to keep it. I think it would be good to read since I am here in France. I am so glad I accidentally stumbled upon this book because it is turning out to be so interesting. Today I was reading about her trip to Monaco in 1950 where she stayed at the Hotel de Paris! I cannot believe that I was in that exact hotel yesterday. All of the people, food, and culture that she references to is so relevant to my vacation I am just loving every page of this book.


Monday, June 14th, 2010

I am in France! This is my first time out of the UK since January. I flew from Newcastle and met my family in Nice. We are renting a house in Vence which is a small town about 15 miles outside of Nice. The house we are staying in was built in the 1200s and even better than what I expected. Since this is a small town, not everyone speaks English, so we manage by looking up words in the phrase book, speaking broken French my dad learned in High School, and by using a lot of hand gestures. Everyone is very nice and some people try to speak English to us even if they know just a few words.

The day after we arrived in France, we started our morning with a Cafe Au Lait which is a very small, but strong cup of coffee (we all needed it). There are so many cafes with outdoor seating which is wonderful to just sit and absorb in the surroundings. Sometimes just sipping on a cup of coffee and people watching is the best part of traveling. Since it might rain later in the week, we decided to go to Monaco on the first day instead of on Tuesday. My dad and sister wanted to take a relaxing day to orient themselves to Vence, so my mom and I were the ones who went and took a bus and train to the second smallest country of Monaco. I have dreamed about going to Monaco ever since watching a Samantha Brown travel show on the Travel Channel. I just imagined everyone who lived there would be rich and own yachts. And I did see a lot of yachts! My mom and I first went to a cafe in Monte Carlo right next to the famous casino. While we were there, we were keeping an eye out for famous people and also the rich residents of Monaco. There was an old woman, probably in her 80s, sitting at a small table by herself and she had a huge purple hat on her head. She was wearing fancy clothes and a lot of make-up and just watching the people walk by. My mom kept saying that she thinks that she was probably a famous person when she was younger and looked like a very mysterious and interesting character. Have you ever seen the movie Sunset Boulevard? She reminded her of the main character in that movie. After that, we went into the casino to gamble! It was my first time gambling. We walked into the building and were taken back by how gorgeous it was. I wish we could have explored the rest of the building, but we just went into the foyer and one other room. We decided to only bet 5 euros and we ended up leaving with more money than we came in with! (Well, we won 1 euro, but it was still so much fun because we did not loose any money!). I can’t wait to try gambling again. Next to the casino was the Hotel de Paris which was designed by the same architect as the casino. We walked through the revolving doors into a grand foyer with marble floors and huge columns with a detailed ceiling. I would have loved to stay in that hotel! We saw a menu for the restaurant in the Hotel, and there was caviar for 550 euros! I do not think I have seen anything that expensive on the menu. After we went to the hotel, we walked around the port and saw beautiful views of the water and the old town from the hill across from us. By the time we walked to the old town, we relized that we have been walking almost all day. We decided to go back to Vence at that time since our feet were pretty tired of walking. For dinner, we went to a cute restaurant in the heart of Vence and I enjoyed the best muscles I have ever tasted.

Ayr and Newcastle

Monday, June 14th, 2010

This week I visited two of my flatmates in Ayr, Scotland and Newcastle, England. I had a great time!! Here are some photos…


Burns' Cottage where Robert Burns was born


Culzean Castle


Josie and I at the top of the art gallery. It had a wonderful view of Newcastle, but that day it was so rainy!

The Millenium Bridge in Newcastle tilted for the boat to go underneath! It only happens about once a day!


Hadrian's Wall

Alnwick Castle: Some scenes from the first two Harry Potter movies were filmed here such as the first flying lesson.

My last post from Edinburgh

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

I am writing my last post from Edinburgh because I am leaving tomorrow morning. This does not mean that it is my last post ever, because I will be traveling for a few weeks and I will still keep you updated. Over the last week, all 11 of my flatmates have been going home and now I am the last one here. Early this morning 3 of my flatmates went home and one of my flatmates just left a few minutes ago. I don’t think it has really hit me that I am actually leaving. Yesterday, I was talking to my friend Carolyn who is from New York and also studying abroad in Edinburgh for the semester. She has a very different living situation because she only has 2 other flatmates! Yesterday the last one left and a her very good friend from the United States left to go back home. That is when it really hit her that she is leaving.

Before everyone left to study abroad, all of the UMW students who were going abroad went to a meeting held by the study abroad office. They talked about the “M” curve. What happens is that before you go, you are so excited and you cannot wait to go abroad. They call this the “honeymoon phase” where nothing is bad and nothing can go wrong. This may last a few months before you go and the first few months abroad. Then the curve goes down when you start missing home and missing your friends. This is the low point of the curve. Then it begins to rise when you are planning to go home and excited to go home. After a few days or weeks, the curve might go down again when you start to miss the country where you studied abroad.

I think that this curve definitely happens to everone who studies abroad. My “honeymoon phase” lasted a long time compared to others. I just fit in perfectly in Edinburgh. I am sad to leave, however I am also excited to travel and go back home. I have been here for five months and I think that is a good time period to be abroad. If I studied abroad in the fall semester, I would have only been abroad for four months. That would have been way too short and I would have been much sadder to leave if my time here was cut short. Since I have France and Italy to look forward to, I am not totally sad to leave. I am sure once I get back home I will miss Edinburgh a lot.

So my next stop is Ayr, Scotland. I will be visiting Sarah, one of my flatmates, in Ayr which is on the west coast of Scotland. Then I am going to Newcastle, England to visit my other flatmate, Josie. Then off to France and Italy. I will keep you updated on my travels.