Old friends really are the best friends. Thursday night I raced home from IES Abroad and got ready to catch my flight for a five-day trip to Paris, something I’ve been looking forward to for months (almost like a second spring break!). At the very beginning of my time in Rome, three of my best friends from home and I planned a weekend away in the city of lights to catch up and eat a potentially lethal number of crepes (two successful goals). The ladies in this post are Alice (a fashion icon and fellow gyro-lover studying geography in Prague), Lisa (a laugh machine who sings as badly with as few reservations as I do studying art history in Florence), and Emma (my rock for both exceptionally good advice and, when appropriate, superior bad influence studying Spanish Literature in Granada). We have been close friends through high school and we fell right back into it as we walked under the Eiffel Tower and danced our way through The Marais.
I took French all through public school so I still had a pretty good handle on comprehension, even though my speech was a bit rusty. It was so refreshing to hear French again; it is a deeply lyrical, expressive language. The people there really did appreciate that I was trying to speak in French, too! The stereotypes of unfriendliness weren’t at all what I found.
Alice, Lisa and I checked into our Airbnb late on Thursday night (Emma was staying with her Uncle and Aunt who live in the city with their two boys). Our Airbnb was such a disaster I won’t even offer details except to say that it was one room located in the parking garage of an apartment building. If a future traveler is reading this – don’t stay in Achirac’s “apartment two minutes from the Eiffel Tower.” It was filthy and may be two minutes from the Eiffel Tower if you own a Lamborghini or are simply delusional!
The first day, Lisa and I took on The Louvre while Alice checked out the Tuileries Gardens. After we all met back up, we stopped for a quite bite to eat at a small café and I saw a girl walking towards our direction in a Red Sox Hat. The Red Sox being a devout religion for me, I shot straight up in my seat and told my friends excitedly as I’ve only come across two Boston hats in Rome my entire time there so far. As the girl came closer, I leaned over to her and said “Go Sox!” but when my eyes met her face I realized that it was Emma Watson, better known as Hermione Granger. We were all so shocked, we weren’t even sure it was really her (but it was). She stopped for a quick snack at the café we were at and kept going on her way. Reason 1,000,000 to love the Red Sox: they give me a reason to talk to Emma Watson!
The rest of our day was relaxing and included the Arc De Triomphe and delicious dinner in the Latin Quarter with Emma. My favorite night out was Friday night because we went to a Jazz Club that one of my best friends from GW recommended and watched a group play for about an hour sitting around a crowded table (a dream come true for someone who wakes up to the sounds of Thelonius Monk and Dexter Gordon).
On Saturday, Lisa, Alice and I went to The Marais and had a delicious Falafal lunch. We shopped, walked, and saw Notre Dame on the island. We checked out a cute vintage clothing area that my friend recommended to us and Emma came and met up with us at the store. After dinner, Alice, Lisa and I decided to check out the view from the Eiffel Tower by night. It was tied with the Jazz Club for my favorite thing we did on the entire trip. It was cheesy and goofy and climbing those stairs winded us far more than we want to admit, but I loved hysterically laughing and singing our way up to that gorgeous view. The second floor was my favorite because it’s still open and you can smell the flower-filled spring air while you look out over the Seine, reflecting buildings and lights from all over the sprawling city. I video chatted my mom and showed her the view. I love taking her with me on all of the adventures I go on and sharing the experiences with her because she always appreciates the excitement and newness of it for me, being a saavy and well-traveled lady herself.
On Sunday, Lisa left us and Alice and I took off for the Rodin Garden – if you’re planning on studying in Europe and want to get into lots of museums free, bring a pictures of your student visa like we did! Alice and I walked and talked and my close friend Elizabeth studying in Paris met up with us after a few hours. Elizabeth took my friends and I around to the best spots in the city and had recommended most of our trip to us, so we have her to thank for how great a time we all had. She’s always so thoughtful and I loved that she was able to meet my friends from home too. We watched the sunset from the steps of Sacre-Coeur and then headed to dinner at a Thai place near The Marais. I went home with Elizabeth and got to see the awesome housing that her program placed her in. IES Abroad did such a great job with my apartment and making sure it was a in a clean, safe place, so I was glad that Elizabeth was having a similar experience.
On Monday, Alice left and Emma and I found ourselves walking around Champs Elysees and getting fantastic crepes. We had plenty to catch up and gab about as we made our way to Shakespeare’s Book Store together. Monday night, her family was generous enough to host me for Passover Seder. I missed my family so much but couldn’t have had a nicer option than to celebrate with Emma’s lovely family. They were lively and warm and fed me up to the brim. We had a delicious dinner and I still got to stay up late enough to video chat my own family back in New Jersey for Dayenu, my favorite song!
Today, I leave back for Rome and I’m ready to head home. I miss miei amici and the Italian sun. IES Abroad was so accommodating of my religious absences, but I’m actually excited to get back to class again and see how every one else is doing. This visit gave my girlfriends and I memories we’ll have for the rest of our lives, traveling around a different city that never sleeps. As my mom put it when she saw our grinning faces from the Tower, “I can’t believe you noodlehead Montclair girls are there together, running loose around the world!” Thanks to all of my friends for providing endless laughs, love, and being confidantes like no one else.
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I’m a Jersey girl raised on lasagna and The Godfather. I’ve always liked learning about Old Italy and I’m excited to experience it this spring. I study Political Science and History at George Washington University, and I’m still on the hunt for the best cannoli in D.C. Talk to me about reading, running, and The West Wing!