These first two were taken from Lille where I started off. The first is the Place Gen. de Gaulle in the vieux part of the city. It was cute with a fountain in the middle and right near was the vieille bourse which was really pretty. The other pic you see is of a beautious peacock...there is a free zoo in Lille in a park that I stumbled upon by accident(you see some of the best things by accident in Europe, I swear!) There was a really good variety of animaux and I took way too many pics of animals, that I can definitely say. I ended up eating at a food stand-y thing right outside the entrance of the zoo. That made me sad as I was dying of hunger and ended up with a half-cooked cheese panini and fishy-tasting fries...yum. All in all, Lille was a nice city, though. It's definitely too big of a city for me, but was pretty and I'm glad I got to see it.
Next up, we have Bruges, Belgium(or Brugges as the Belgians call it.) Let me say, I fell in L-O-V-E with this city and already want to go back! Which is funny because Belgium never interested me before, but it definitely has peaked my interest now! I only had 5 hours which I actually believed to be 7 because military time still messes me up sometimes and that was def not enough time. Tant pis.
The first pic here is of the main place of the city...it had some sort of amusement park-y thing set up in the center which sort of took away from what I imagine it would normally look like. But, there was a cute fountain right in the middle and all the buildings, I mean like, every single last one were so beautiful. I took a seat on one of the benches after ordering some Belgian fries which I obviously HAD to try(they were delish.) Basically my time in Belgium consisted of a lot of walking and a lot of eating. Haha. After I had my fries, I went to this chocolate shop I read about in Rick Steves guide to pick up some chocolate as a present and some for myself. Then, I made my way to the Burg, then I took a canal(hence the 2nd pic) tour with 5,000 children and old people. It was actually pretty funny because the boat tour was in three different languages with French being second and English third, so the dude had to start talking about each thing we were to see wayyyy before the actual thing came up. By the time the English came, it was right next to us. Sucks if you don't speak English! After, I got a Belgian Waffle(also necessary and delish) and walked around where the shopping area is. I ended up a little early back at the train station where I proceeded to eat the majority of the chocolate I bought myself. Haha! All in all, a great day.
These pics are from my Loire valley castle tour. The first is Chenonceau and the second is Amboise. I ended up doing a half-day tour that was about 5 hrs long because I couldn't get a train from Lille to get me into Tours early enough to do the full-day one. I did get in about 2 hours before the tour started and got the chance to walk around Tours. It seemed like a cool city along the lines of Rennes, so I was happy to walk around aimlessly and with little knowledge of where I was going(ahem, kind of the theme of my trip.) Anyway, I was super happy to get rid of my backpack and start up the castle tour in our little minibus. Ever since I fell in love with french and France, I had always wanted to see the castles I had read about in so many books...especially Chenonceau and Azay-le-Rideau. Well, I didn't get to see AlR and so many others, so like Bruges, I will definitely need to go back!
We went to Chenonceau and I explored the interior as well as the gardens(didn't get to do the maze, though!) I could have easily spent two more hours there. I got myself a peppermint ice cream and strolled down the tree-lined path and tried to imagine what it was like to live there and all the history. I also decided Diane de Poitiers(the mistress who originally had the castle) was a) not that hot and b) got a pretty sweet deal in the end when the king's wife kicked her out, but gave her an entire other property. I decided I could totally be a mistress...that is, if I wanted to! After Chenon, we headed to Le Clos Luce which is the house Da Vinci spent his last three years in and that was ok, but I prefer castles I think. Next, we headed to Amboise which had kind of a sucky exterior in comparison to Chenon, but it did have a chapel where Da Vinci is allegedly buried, so that's pretty cool. Also, the city of Amboise was super cute and I would have liked to have more time to wander around. Although, I was a bit sick of wandering aimlessly by myself, so that will have to be for another time.
In other news, this has been a rough past two weeks for me after my vaca. I have been sick with a pain in my head(also general fogginess and nausea and some other unpleasantness I won't mention) for about three weeks now and these past two weeks, it has been getting worse and worse. I actually went to the emergency room this past Sunday after going to the doc twice, then for an x-ray and finally to get my blood taken. Now, if you know me, you probably know that I a) am a huge hypochondriac(how French!) and b) hate doctors/hospitals/anything medical, really. So add that in as a factor as to how stressed/terrified/upset I have been. The docs think it is a tension headache(ie when the muscles in your neck tense up and cause terrible headaches.) Well, I don't know what caused it...maybe my crappy mattress and pillow or maybe just general stress. But, it is still not gone and I finish up my meds today, so I prob am gonna have to go to get a neck/shoulder massage, go back to the doctor and/or go to the eye doc to make sure it's not related to possible eye problems. Oh, the joy! Plus, Friday was my b-day(25...yikes!) and I've had too many either just ok b-days or even a couple bad ones, so I was not thrilled to have the same thing happen this year. I did luckily have fun going out to din with my copines and dancing our tails off, but it just wasn't the same with my stress and the fact that I was very sober! Needless to say, I will be re-feting my anniversaire this Fri. Haha, you know me!!
Besides all the head pain stuff, I've also been feeling stressed about not knowing if I'm going to stay in France or not. I've applied for a summer job recently, so I'm waiting to hear from them, but I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much. Then, I also reapplied for next year, but renewing assistants are SO last priority that I don't have much hope for that either. On top of that, I waiver a lot, because besides my french friends and one English friend that is most likely staying and my love of Rennes and France, there isn't a whole lot more to convince me to keep being away from my family in the states. I miss seeing them every week and I just couldn't spend my whole life in another country away from them for years and years. I mean, there are options like if I can snag myself a frenchie, I could eventually do the AGREG/CAPES and be a teacher and spend the summers back home for example. But, if and when I have kids(yes, I know I'm getting ahead of myself here), I couldn't stand for my family to not see them very often at all. I just don't know. If I do end up back in the states this summer, I think it will be for good which makes me very sad, but I think that's the reality. I mean, I'm getting older and can't keep living backandforth like this. I will prob study to be a French teacher there, but again, not positive. Ugh.
Ok, well let me leave on a positive note after all that ranting:) I only have to work tomorrow and then have Tues off...yay! Alright, I'll be back sometime!!