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Paris/Pont-Aven

Ahh Paris.  I don’t even know what to say about the city.  I could never spend enough time there and two days was certainly not enough.  I did see an awful lot though.  I arrived around midnight on Wednesday and after surfing the web for a bit I went to bed.  I awoke the next morning around 830, just so that I could catch the free breakfast.  I was worried about being able to find a cheap guitar to buy.  But, as usual, I lucked out extremely.  My hostel was about two blocks from the literal “guitar street” of Paris.  For two or three blocks there was a guitar store or music store every 20 feet.  It was ridiculous.  After visiting about 10 or 15 shops I settled on a classical guitar with a nice price tag of 67 Euro.  I spent the rest of the day with a French Canadian girl.  We walked around the neighborhood of our hostel, saw the Moulin Rouge and then hopped on the metro to see the Eiffel tower.  It was huge, bigger than I imagined.  We walked around it for a while but eventually the cold was too much to bare and we headed back to the hostel.  The next day I met up with my friend Chris from Rutgers.  He graduated last year and has been teaching english outside of Paris in Cile for the past 6 months.  We met up right near the Arc de Triomphe and proceeded to walk around Paris for the next 5 hours.  We saw just about everything from the outside.  My school has a trip planned to Paris in a few weeks so I knew that I would be returning to the Louvre etc.  So we decided to cover as many things as possible without focusing to much on one specific thing.  We went inside Notre Dame, it was massive and somewhat ominous.  We walked to the Jewish quarter and ate the best falafel I have ever had, including all the falafel I ate in Egypt.  We went to the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore, which the Swiss girls I met in Cairo told me I must see.  It was a great bookstore and I spent too much on some Kerouac and Bukowski books.  I spent the last night in Paris with some friends from the hostel and several of the cheapest bottles of wine we could find.  It was a great time.  I awoke the next morning with 10 minutes till breakfast ended and an hour till I had to meet my school at a hotel.  I ate and packed my things together as fast a possible.  I was going to walk to the hotel but due to time constraints I had to catch a cab.  I arrived at the hotel 3 minutes late and 10.60 of the 11 Euro I had on me went to the cab.  I don’t think I could have cut it any closer.  Ahh c’est la vie.  Our french teacher Carine, her husband and four other girls got on the bus and headed to the airport to pick up the other students.  After about two hours of waiting and many horror stories of being stuck in an airport for days due to the wonderful northeast snow storm we were off to Pont-Aven.  It was a seven hour bus ride, most of which I spent trying to sleep in various awkward positions, my upper half across two seats with my legs extended across the aisle and resting on another seat.  I spoke with a few of my fellow students talking about where I am from etc.  Two of them know people that I am close friends with at Rutgers, it is certainly a small world after all.  We arrived in Pont-Aven around 8pm and were greeted by our hosts.  Most of the students are seperated in to groups of two and one group of three, living with older single people.  I am the only one who is living with and actual family, Nicolas, Pasa and their two young daughters Manoe and Liza, aged 12 and 9.  They have a beautiful house only a 5 minute walk from my school.  I am living in a literal bachelor pad.  A studio apartment above the garage with my own shower and toilet and even my own entrance.  They say I can live free and have my own life but I am welcome at the dinner table whenever I want.  I could not imagine a better set up.  We had dinner together that first night.  A beautiful spread of Duck heart and gizzard, toast with goat cheese and ham, salad, good red wine, and followed up with a cheese platter and some cake the little girls had made.  This morning they walked me down to school to check out my studio and the lounge.  I have to return home for a nice lunch of fish, Nicolas loves to cook and he is very good at it.  They told me they like to try many different kinds of foods and wines with the students they host.  They asked if there is anything I am allergic to or don’t like and I had to laugh.  I told them I will eat anything.  They said it is a rule that after a month or two they make frog legs for the student to try and I surprised them by telling them I had already tried the Indonesian take on the dish.  After lunch they are taking me for a drive out to the coast.  There hospitality is endless.  When I told them I was from New Jersey their first reaction was “Oh Bruce Springsteen!!”.  Apparently Pasa’s brother is a huge fan and they told me about the time they waited outside for 12 hours to see him play in Paris.  We start classes on Wednesday and for the next two days we will be meeting with the faculty and doing tours around town and trips to the art store.  Things have been going well and I think they will only get better from here on out.

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2 responses

  1. Dad

    Glad to hear you made it to Paris. It’s been quite an adventure so far. Enjoy and be safe.

    Love,
    Dad

    PS – How’s your French coming along?

    February 2, 2011 at 2:18 am

  2. Kathleen Westgate

    Hi EP…..

    Well I am glad you are settling in with your french family. It must be just like home with 2 little sisters. We hope you are having a wonderful time and are really enjoying the different cultures.

    The picture of you in front of the Effiel Tower is great. You should blow it up into a big picture when you get back home. Thanks for all the informative writing. It is great to read. Enjoy all the art. It must be incredible there.

    Take care of yourself and be safe. Lots of love.

    Love Auckie and Uncle Mike

    February 16, 2011 at 5:40 am

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