The Past Week

Lots has happened in the past week! I figured I should keep y’all abreast (I can’t believe that’s actually a word! The thirteen year old boy inside me is giggling.) So here goes…

I went to the Stuttgart Zoo last Tuesday and it was the cutest experience ever. Usually I don’t like zoos that much cause they smell and the animals look unhappy, but Stuttgart was not like that at all. The park used to be the gardens for someone royal and the landscaping shows. It is absolutely beautiful. The animals were all adorable and for the most part they seemed pretty happy. I watched the monkey creatures for forever because they were just having so much fun play fighting and swinging all around. I couldn’t get enough. I also saw a meerkat family cuddling which was kinda magical. The penguins were right there in front if you and I really wanted to pet them but I also didn’t know if that was really allowed and I didn’t want to make anyone upset. They had big heron-looking birds that were free within the park and had a huuuuuge nest atop a tower thing in the center. They liked to fly around and threaten to land on your head. Hehe. Overall, it was super duper.

Theeeeen on Thursday I took the train to visit my friend Lesley in Aix-en-Provence, France. She’s there for the summer so it was really cool that we got to meet up. For some reason I thought that the South of France was all lush and green. Nope. Suuuuper rocky. The trees are more like overgrown shrubs and I don’t remember seeing grass anywhere… Regardless it was really beautiful. I didn’t think I would get to see that part of the world while I was here and now I’m so glad I did! I got in pretty late on Thursday and after some kerfuffle (also a real word!?) I found Lesley and had to stay one night in a hostel because homestayers aren’t allowed to have guests (I stayed with Lesley and her host mom the next two nights after we got permission and I was invited). Friday we went to Marseille which was neat. We didn’t really go downtown because apparently the citizens like to make riots and such a bit too often for comfort but the beach was lovely! It was one of the only sandy beaches in the region. If you know me, you know that I hate sand so it wasn’t perfect, but I was swimming in the Mediterranean surrounded by beautiful rocky hills so I wasn’t going to nit pick :) later that evening we had dindin in Aix which was pretty gosh darn delicious. The pizza was to die for (and I usually don’t like pizza, so it was kinda a big deal).

The next day we went to Cassis (pronounced Cassieee) which is a teeny beach town a little north of Marseille. It was literally the best beach ever because…. NO SAND!!!! It was a pebble beach with rocks about the size of those little cheeses wrapped in red wax. Why can’t all beaches be like that!?!?! There was nothing not to love about this adorable little town. If y’all want to go to France, go to Cassis.

I would like to take a little but of your time to complain about public transportation. Up until last weekend, public transportation in Europe always seemed easier and faster than in America. Maybe it’s just because it’s Germany and they like to have everything impeccably planned and running according to schedule… France was another matter. Aix doesn’t have any form of public transportation within the city and it’s about the same size as Freiburg. What? Makes no sense. They have busses that go other places but the only way to find the schedule for the busses is to get on one and ask. WHAT? So once you know the schedule it’s easy, but if you don’t know, you’re screwed. We were originally going to go to see lavender fields so we went to the train station (a bus ride outside the city) only to find that the train schedule we had looked up online applied to the teeeeeeny train station within Aix (it only has one track y’all) AND to get where we wanted to go, we actually needed to take a bus from downtown Aix because the train schedule we found wasn’t the easiest way to get there anyways. It was a HOT MESS. That’s why we went to the beach instead :)

I kinda figured out that a have a working knowledge of French to get around quite easily as a tourist. You really don’t need to know that much to ask simple questions and read signs. I think I’ve also gotten good at deciphering things where I only know half of the words. Study abroad will do that to you.

I got home in the afternoon on a Sunday and do you think that I was prepared and had food ready for when I got back? Of course not. (In Germany, everything but most restaurants are closed on Sunday.) So this is how I ended up getting McDonalds. I was waiting in line and a homeless man was at the front trying to count up his change enough to buy a soda but he didn’t have quite enough. I was going to help out, but I wasn’t sure that was the kind of thing that was kosher in Germany and I also don’t know if I could totally communicate what I meant in German so I stood there awkwardly. Then, another girl in line comes up and pays for him and I felt really bad because I guess it is totally okay here and I just as easily could have helped out. Shout out to that super nice German girl.

Someone opened a door for me today and I had a brain fart for a minute trying to decide whether to say, “merci,” “thanks,” or “danke.” I settled on, “mmmfft.” The horrors of traveling strike again.

To finish, I would like to express gratitude to Essie nail polish for having super cute summer colors and being cheaper in Germany. Maybe now I’ll try doing all those designs that Pinterest says are “so in this season.”