This past week was a taste of home for me in more ways than one. Both my best friend and my uncle’s family visited within a week of each other, and being with them, I couldn’t help but feel I had side-stepped back home to the United States again for a brief respite from my life in France. I also had the chance to travel all around new places in France during the course of their visits, experiencing new regions, sights, and “tastes” in my current home country. While the visits from home brought comfort and familiarity, the tasting of new cities in France brought several adventures, a lot of travel, and a few stories to tell.
To start off her spring break trip, Breanna and I spent an eventful ten hours in Paris together, then headed back to Aix on the high-speed train and spent several sunny and relaxing days in southern France. We took a day trip to Cassis and hiked the Calanques there with absolutely perfect weather on our side, and returned home with sunburned cheeks and too many photos to count. We also spent about a day, give or take a few hours, in Nice, with more perfect weather. In Nice we hiked La Colline du Chateau for a great view of the city and some ancient Roman ruins, and discovered Nice’s (rocky) beaches. We also enjoyed great food and wine, and being together for the first time in almost three months.
After a surprise visit from les gilets jaunes and pretty much every French police officer from the region in Nice, I finally sent Breanna on her train to Paris to catch her flight home and I stayed in Nice for a few hours alone before running into some friends from Aix and having dinner together. We all got on the same overnight bus home that included scintillating onboard entertainment, like the brawl that broke out when one man started rolling his own cigarettes on the bus and ended with another man being kicked off the bus. When the bus stopped in Aix around 2 am, my friends got off and I continued on through the night to Lyon.
I arrived in Lyon around 5 am (who knew budget buses could arrive at their destination an hour early?), got lost, and ended up at my cousin Dominic’s apartment around 6 am, where he graciously let me in to sleep for a few more hours. After meeting up with the rest of our family at a later, more reasonable hour, Dominic gave us a mini-tour of Lyon and ended with drinks on the rooftop bar of their hotel before I said au revoir and took a high-speed train back home. I loved having the chance to learn about his new city and see first-hand what his study abroad experience has been like in contrast to mine. It was also so refreshing to spend time with my family, and I was overwhelmed with joy when my uncle revealed he had made my one USA wish come true and had brought me an iced coffee. (!!!!)
Overall, I feel like I haven’t stopped moving for more than about 5 seconds in the past two weeks with all these visits and travels, but I wouldn’t have changed anything about it. Seeing my friends and family came as a perfect little interlude in this weird wonderful experience abroad, and I loved being able to experience it with them for a few days. But, now that my quick taste of home is over, it’s time to hit the books and grind out several finals and exams in the next two weeks while also trying to soak up some more time in and around Aix. I have one more big trip planned for this semester— and I also have a really bad travel bug and somewhat irresponsible fiscal habits so that one trip may turn into two—but for the most part, I’m settling into southern France and trying my best to take it all in before I have to leave in six weeks!