Beachy Paradise | Marseille, France

The past two relaxing days in Marseille have been great with my Mom. We have slept in, gone to the beach, explored this cute little town, and just really soaked up all that Southern France has to offer. To say that this stop was a great way to end our trip this summer would be very accurate. 

There have been some very memorable times during these past two days that I think I must share. First off is our beach experiences, to say that the women of Southern France are comfortable with their bodies is an understatement. Our first day on the beach we had just got our towels rolled out, I was mid suncreen application, and BAM! Boobs. And I don’t mean just one lady, I mean half of the beach is topless.The range was easily from 75 years old to newborns (which shouldn’t be at the beach anyways but that’s another point entirely). I told my mother that I think I had seen enough stranger’s topless to last me a life time! And then it was the same thing the next day.. I think I’ll stick to my bikini tanlines. 

  
After our afternoons on the beach we spent the evenings strolling down the fun and winding streets of Marseille. Much like the rest of Europe that I have seen this far, the streets go every which-a-way and can be very easy to get lost or turned around in, luckily we didn’t. But our evening walks showed us a very fun and pretty side of Old Marseille that we hadn’t seen yet, with the large port and old museums. 

 Marseille was certainly a great end to my trip with my mother, but only the beginning of my time here in France. Tomorrow I will be hopping on a train, saying good-bye to my Mom, and heading to Toulouse to get ready to start my first week of classes on Monday! This summer has already been so memorable and impactful; I can’t wait to see what Europe brings my way next. 

-Bre

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Au Revoir, Paris

My time in Paris has come to end. My mother and I have now traveled down to Marseille, France to spend a couple days relaxing at the beach, moseying around the town, and simply taking a break from the hustle and bustle. In reflecting I would love to share with you all my many observations and interesting little tid bits about Paris.

1. I have grown to not like Paris that much- 

Its true, I am not a fan of Paris. I loved my little time at the Eiffel Tower, Love Lock bridge, and the Monet gardens but other than that I just thought it was okay. I would come back and visit again, but not for more than a weekend passing through to visit other cities or countries in Europe.

  
2. It’s dirty-

Now I’m not just talking the ground, although that was also dirty. But there was constantly smoke being blown in my face and the number of prostitutes we saw walking down a “family” shopping area was crazy! Now don’t get me wrong it is a safe and cleanly city when it comes to the food and hotel we were in, but the other aspects of the city were a little sketchy.

3. The Metro-

We had a great experience on the tube in London traveling around to the different major sights and it was great. The metro in Paris also got us everywhere we needed to go, including Monet’s Gardnes and Versailles, which were both outside of the city. It was fast and a safe way to travel, but at night the stations were poorly lit and crawling with homeless people which were kinda scary. Now we were both safe the entire time,  but in general the travel systems in London seemed to be better..

4. The carbs-

From pizza to bagettes the French know how to do bread, and the fact that I’m this excited about bread  is saying something. It’s my sister, Bethany, is who normally obsesses over her carbs not me. As most know I am a very picky eater and thought before I left Indiana, that I would easily be able to slim up this summer while in Europe. Well if the bread keeps tasting like this I don’t think that is going to be the case. 

  
5. The French police-

The police are at all major sites, but other then that I hardly saw them just out and about patroling. And when we did see them, they were in these tiny little cars that just made me laugh when compared to the police vehicles we have in the states . Plus a fun little tid bit, the people often call the cops “poulet” (chicken), but warned us not to say this to their face for obvious reasons. 

My travels have been fun and I’m certainly learning  a lot about Europe and myself as a whole which has been really eye opening. I’m excited to start my time in Toulouse where I will be studying at a French University, taking in the culture of that small city like a great glass of wine; enjoying every last drop.

  
-Bre

The City of LOVE

Paris is a timeless city with music bellowing out from street corner cafe’s, romance is always in the air, and it is a historical place for so many. The past few days in Paris have been interesting, and I’ve certianly learned a lot about traveling and the world we live in. One thing that is true and pure no matter the country your in; is a smile. That is most definitely evident here in Paris. I might not know much more then hello, thank-you, and good-bye in French, but by adding a simple little smile to your converation it can change the whole dynamic. The people smile back, interact with you more, and try to reach a common ground with you so much more so than they would if you just simplely stated in English that you needed to find the Eiffel Tower. 

I was warned coming to France that the Parisians and French are rude people and don’t like Americans, well from where I’m standing that is a misinterpretation completely. They just want to see you making an effort, just like we do in American when it comes to speaking English. 

I’m sure you’re wondering right now what a smile has to do with love, as stated in the title. Well folks it’s simple, your smile is an open door to a relationship. The first smile that I recieved when walking into the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority house freshman year at Purdue Univeristy opened me up to a whole new kind of relationship. One that is selfless, forgiving, passionate, and genuine. I knew after joining ZTA I would have these sisters for a lifetime, not just four years. So when I decided to Study Abroad this summer in France I knew there was one stop I had to make.. and no not the Eiffel Tower, the Love Lock Bridge. 

 
As many of you know from it’s popularity the Love Lock Bridge is a huge tradition for travelers, but it has caused some problem for the oldest bridge in Paris. A while back the bridge collapsed from the weight of all the padlocks put on the gates, so the government made it against the law to add more locks to the bridge once they got it back up. Well as you can see from the photo above that didn’t stop too many people, including myself. 
Many people say that young woman go away to Purdue University for their schooling to get their “Mrs.” degree. Now although I have joked about that being my degree (which is actually AG Sales and Marketing), I came looking for a fresh start. And that start began for me at Zeta Tau Alpha where I have meant some pretty amazing girls who have forever changed my life for the better. So tonight I locked that padlock and threw the keys into the Seine River in honor of the Alpha Theta chapter. 

   

To all my amazing sisters; remember that love, is the greatest of all things. 

-Bre

More London Adventures

Friday and Saturday were two days full of fun travel times here in London. Just to recap a bit on Friday Mom and I started our morning off at Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guard ceremony, then we headed off too Kensington Palace to tour the home of Will and Kate. Both of these sight where amazing historical moments for London to tour through, but to be honest they weren’t my favorite. I told myself when I started this blog I was going to be completely honest and blunt with my posts and that is what I intend to do for you guys!

  
 After this we went to Saint Paul’s Cathedral, now let me tell you that was the most glorious Cathedral I have ever seen. The detail was breath taking, they told us “No Photos”” (like they do at many sights) but I didn’t listen so I took a few anyways for memories. There were a total of 526 steps from the ground floor up to the top of the second dome where you could go outside on the ledge and see the entire City of London. And I walked my butt all the way to the top of that Cathedral, and it was worth it! The view was great,, but getting to see the inside of the cathedral in detail of the side walls, steps, and railings as I walked up was really neat. It really took me back considering the cathedral was built in 1675! 

Next we took a boat cruise on River Thames from the Tower Pier to Westminster Pier getting to see London from another way. To say we have really experienced London is true to a “t”. We have walked through most of the major points of London at some point, took a hop on hop off double decker bus tour through London, and then saw it all again via river boat. Once we docked at Westminster Mom and I walked across the bridge to the London Eye for a ride! Then after sunset went on a walk through the City of Westminster to round out our thrid day.

  

Saturday was probabaly one of my favorte days in London. The Westminster Abbey was the first stop of the day for Mum (can I talk like a Brit yet?) and I. The history inside that church is enormous. From the different tombs of past monarches to the coronation chair where every single monarch (except one) has been crowned. My favorite part was getting to see the giant stone on the floor of the Abbey that belongs to Charles Darwin; as many of you know I am a bit of a science geek and loved learning about Charles Darwin’s experiments in high school biology so this was quite a treat for me! 

After the Abbey we trained out to Camden Market, probably the sketchiest place in London I have been thus far, yet a really cool little place. You just have to watch out for pick pocketers if you go, but I would highly suggest going to any market in London. The markets are a fun place to see a different side of the town that the city doesn’t have to offer. This fun little place is where I found my painting for the UK. 

The blog is about my travels, but also really about the artwork that I find while abroad. I was so excited when I found this little store in the market that was selling original, hand-painted canvases. The painting I choose is one of a view of the Saint Paul’s Cathedral; it was one of my favorite spots in London. For me Saint Paul’s represented the faith, tradition, monarchy, and history of the city and this painting encompassed all of that. 

  
After the market we made our way out to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It was a dream of mine when I was little to go to the Olympics, it may have been three years late, but hey I was there! It was crazy to sit in the stands in the Aqautic Center looking around and think that this is where so many people’s dreams came true, and where many others’ were crushed. The place where Michael Phelps won his many gold metals for USA, and local hometown favorite Morgan Uceny competed on the track but fell short. It may be three years later, but the place was still awesome!  

  
Later in the evening we made a stop at Harrod’s, a store of elegence and beauty.. and lots and lots of pounds! Name brand, designer everything from wall to wall covering almost a block of store space. The place was quite a sight. And a great way to end my last night in London. Tomorrow morning Mom and I will be taking the Chunnel to Paris, France to continue our travels, prayers are always appreciated.

–Bre

Two Days in the UK

Day One:

We have arrived! 

  
The adventure has begon for this summer and I am excited, exhausted, and loving every minute all at the same time. When Mom and I arrived to London we took the train to a station close to our hotel, stepped out from the underground and right before us was the famous Big Ben. Talk about a great sight for tired eyes. We got lost at first trying to find our hotel which is in the City of Westminster, but once we found that it was smooth sailing.
We did a bit of exploring on our first day and night in London seeing Big Ben, The London Eye, House of Parliment, Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly Circus, and ate at a resturant in Soho for dinner called Bills. It was a fun little mix of a sit down resturant and a bar which was certainly fun for both Mom and I. 

Day Two:

Our second day in the city called for some touristy events so we took our first ride on the double decker bus to explore many of London’s gorgeous sites. We had a great tour guide on the bus who told us many stories, myths, and his own personal opinions on certain attractions. It was great to see both the side of London heavily focused on the royal family, but also the modern City of London which was very industrialized. 

  
And when in London, a phone booth photo is a must!

  
Then after lunch we ventured out to the Tower of London. I learned so much about the royal family and London’s history as a whole. I even made a little pit stop at the Crown Jewelry Shop to get a fun little gift for the new soon to be crowned 2015 Miss Blueberry Queen, although I won’t be at the pageant this year to pass down my crown I want to still be able to give her something from me and what better tha a gift from London!? Speaking of which the Crown Jewels display was absolutely spectacular. If any of you ever make it to London you have to make a trip to the Tower of London and see the Crown Jewels. They were breath taking. We couldn’t take any photos of the Crown Jewels, but I certainly could crown it by the sign!

  
To round out the day Mom and I took the tube {which I becoming a pro at by the way} to Oxford Street for an early dinner and to walk through some of the shops! I haven’t seen any paintings yet, but I was told there was some lovely ones at a local market.  Definitely something I am going to have to check out. 

The people in London have been so sweet to us which honestly surprised me, I was told that Europeans hate Americans.. but maybe they were wrong. A couple other things surprised me as well. The British dress impeccably well yet their bathrooms are labeled “toilet” and at resturants you have to ask for the check. Rather forward when compared to the American life style, but it also saves time. We have yet to see a speed limit sign, and people drive where ever they want to. It is certainly different then what I’m used to back home.

I have only been abroad for two days and I am already learning so much and falling in love with the British culture. Who knows, I may never come back.. 

-Bre

Hello world!

The count down is officially ticking down! In 10 days I will be boarding my flight to live abroad for the next three months.

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So here’s the break down for my trip this summer:

When I first hop the pond over to Europe, my mom will be traveling with me. We will be spending two weeks exploring London, Paris, and then either Marseille in Southern France or Switzerland. After this we will make our way to Toulouse, France where I will be living on campus at Purpan University while studying European Culture & Agricultural Economics, French Food, and Viticulture & Enology for four weeks. On weekends at the university we will be traveling around France, Spain, and Italy.

After the first part of my study abroad is over, I will be taking a marketing internship with a local winery in France for another four weeks. At this time I will be living with a host family in Southern France; living an authentic French lifestyle which will be a completely new experience for me. Both the study abroad and internship were set up through Purdue University’s Study Abroad program and the College of Agriculture.

For the final two weeks of my trip I will be traveling around different countries in Europe. The plan isn’t completely finalized, but the countries that I am looking at are Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and Belgium.

The nerves are setting in, but the excitement far outweighs them. I can’t wait for this incredible journey to start and to be able to share my experiences.