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Friday, December 23, 2011

JOYEUX GREVE

 I was supposed to post sooner ... MY B .
        I'm going to blame it on the string of events that have happened in the last week or so.

     First thing's first . The strike. Europe is notorious for having strikes, its part of the culture. LUCKY ME was affected by the impromptu public transportation strike that happened on Tuesday. Normally the company workers give you a bit of warning before they go on strike. NOT THIS TIME . I was in Liege for the day with some friends when I got about a half a dozen calls and texts from my host mom telling me that the trains had gone on strike. SO I was stuck , in Liege, 2 hours away from home ( that seems like nothing to us but its far for Belgium). Not to mention it was exactly one week after the grenade attack in Liege as well. We were actually at the memorial service when I found out.
     I wasn't concerned about finding a place to stay in Liege because there are plenty of exchange students to grovel to that live there. I had a place for the night with a friend and woke up the next morning thinking it was like 8 or so ... it was 11 . WELL DONE. We get up get dressed and try to find the bus stop. As we're waiting two empty buses pass us and we instantly thought that the buses had gone on strike too. Luckily we just we're looking at the wrong schedule . The bus came , we took it in vain to the train station, only to find that there weren't anyyyyy trains going anywhere. Except out of Belgium. I felt bad when I told disoriented travelers that there train was in fact not going to be showing up any time soon. We were waiting inside the INCREDIBLY FREEZING train station when a man asked us if we wanted to split a taxi with him to Brussels for only 45 euros per person. WHATADEAL.. He was pretty convinced that there were going to be trains in Brussels , he must have not been Belgian. The strike was all over Belgium so we would have just been stranded in another city.
   So I called my host dad and explained that there weren't any trains going anywhere and the strike was going to last until ten pm the following day. I didn't really feel like spending anymore time in Liege too. He drove all the way to Liege to pick us up ! He's a great guy really , and its not like we had any other way of getting home. I felt bad that he had to do it though, I know it wasn't my fault but just to be nice I bought him a bottle of champagne and greeted him with JOYEUX GREVE when he showed up.
   Since we had PLENTY of time on the ride home , he explained to us why the government workers were all one strike. They raised the retirement age . I think it was to like 55 or something . I wasn't impressed with their reasoning for the strike when Americans retire much later in life, but I also think we work a lot more.
    Going in reverse chronological order... Sunday I went to PARIS.
          It was supposed to be a surprise trip from my host parents but they're like you're always busy with plans so we had to ask ahead. I WILL CLEAR MY PLAN BOOK FOR PARIS. We we're really lucky the weather was GORGEOUS , sunny, not cold at all. Plus the drive isn't far for me because I live on the border !
   The city was amazing , I didn't think I'd love it as much as I did just because its cliche . Nevertheless it was amazing. I don't know why but the size of everything impressed me . I knew that the Eiffel tower was bit but not THAT BIG . We started out tour with Sacre Coeur in the district of Montmartre . Easily my favorite because it has the atmosphere of a small town , quiet , artsy but its set up on a hill and you look out and the rest of Paris is spread out before you.
     After we went to the Eiffel tower and after waiting in an incredibly long line we took a lift all the way to the top ! We ate at a Brasserie that is popular with Parisians and tourists and it was delicious. After we ate we just drove around and saw the sights by night. The Louvre , Champs De Elysee, Moulin Rouge..ect. One day was not enough time to see everything fully and experience all Paris have to offer but I can promise that I will be going back .
       Christmas is ALMOST HERE, and its raining... and warm. It snowed last Friday but it was weak sauce... Apparently they don't get "serious snow" until next month , so like 10 centimeters . It will be weird to be away from home for the holidays , I'm not going to lie. On the other hand though I've had 17 years of American Christmas' I think i can spare one for Belgium.
   In closing I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year ( because it'll be your last ,the world is ending next year, dontchaknow?) . But Seriously... Good health , good times , and best wishes for the rest of this year and the next. And a big thank you to those serving in the military , big milestone ending the war in Iraq!
I don't think I need to tell you what this is.
Top of the Eiffel Tower with my host parents !
View of Paris from Sacre Coeur

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