Back to the USA

I’ve been home for almost two weeks now, although it feels much longer. There were so many things that struck me as odd once setting foot on U.S. soil. Flying into Newark, I was shocked to be charged 5 dollars to use a luggage cart. The day after I got home, I met a friend for dinner near the mall. It was already 7:30, and I couldn’t believe the amount of cars in the parking lot; what is everyone doing here after seven? Aren’t the stores closed? I found the server to be so friendly, I thought it was cheesy. Why is she so enthusiastic about appetizers? At dinner we were served huge portions and then sent home with doggie bags. While running in my town, instead of passing cows, fields, and rivers, I ran by 611, Starbucks, and Wawa.

I forget words in English, which makes it seem like I’m showing off. I want to speak franglais at every opportuntity, which no one arounds me understands. I miss eating dinner with friends, planting ourselves around the table for hours, and talking.

A big smile came over my face when I saw my post on Anne’s blog, Pret A Voyager, this morning. My city, in the big lights! What perfect timing. Take a look at Verdun in summer on her blog, and be sure to check out her fabulous series highlighting all of the arrondissements in Paris.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a gallant, fairy-tale kind of city. Home of distinguished economist Adam Smith, philosopher David Hume, and inventor Alexander Graham Bell, there is something special about this spot just two hours from Glasgow. Basically, my allegiance to world changing cultural discoveries were left aside when I begged Craig to take me to only one place in Edinburgh: the Elephant House, a café where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter. Mature, right?

The pilgrimmage was an easy trek, walking through the cobblestone streets and marveling at the gorgeous buildings stretching over the river. Once settled in, we feasted on soups and toasties – it was a cold day. Hard to imagine now that I am stifling in 100 degree weather, when I am staying in the house and making smoothies on the hour. But anyway, I felt a little bit inspired looking out at Edinburgh castle, breathing in J.K. Rowling vibes. You can be on the lookout for my next book :)

Just after I thought all of the Harry Potter madness was over, we hiked up to the castle, which bore a striking resemblance to Hogwarts, with the Quidditch field right beside.

As we hiked down, we walked through the beautiful parks of Edinburgh. I spotted some of Scotland’s national flower, thistle. I used to work in a flower shop throughout high school, and I love spotting my favorite flowers in different countries.

Isn’t Edinbugh beautiful?

Highlands, Scotland

I wanted to get away from the big cities of Scotland and see some of the countryside. Craig and I booked a tour through Rabbie’s, which I can highly recommend. We had a great tour guide, who was both funny and informative. I learned a lot about Scottish history and had fun along the way.

The first stop on our tour was to Loch Lomond. Scotland is famous for its lakes, even the most famous one with the monster Nessie hidden inside. We took a walk around the lake, brollies in hand.

Afterwards, we went to the beautiful Glengoyne distillery to take some single malt whiskey. The factory was absolutely beautiful, and it was interesting to learn more about the years of work that go into a single bottle of whiskey. I wasn’t the biggest fan – but I am more of a champagne girl myself.

It’s funny how the rain, fog, and clouds can change the scenery in Scotland at the drop of a hat. On the way to our final stop, we drove through the Highlands and met some Highland cows! They are particularly shaggy and also have horns on the front.

We didn’t let the rain stop us – our final stop of the tour was to Stirling Castle. The Queen happened to be there that day! Craig said that we had to get some scones, because they must have been good if they were served to the Queen. The castle was recently renovated, and everything was gorgeous.

One word of advice while traveling through Scotland – don’t forget your brollies and wellies !

Glasgow, Scotland

I got to reunite with Craig in his hometown, Glasgow. A beautiful city, Glasgow was once a thriving economic center. The architecture alone is is amazing. Everywhere we walked, I was always looking up. Don’t miss the Glasgow Cathedral and the Modern Art Museum.

Check out these typical Scottish buskers – and do you remember Robert Burns?

Don’t forget to take the metro to the West End for some tea and scones followed by a trip to Glasgow University (otherwise known as Hogwarts).

Have you been so Scotland? I just fell in love with liquid sunshine (rain), brollies (umbrellas), and wee drams of whiskey. Next up came the Highlands, Edinburgh, and St. Andrews…

the faces of verdun

If there is one question that everyone keeps asking, it’s this: what will you miss about France? The easy answer is the obvious highlights of the savoir vivre French culture compared to American instant gratification. The beauty of an open clean road compared to super-highways filled with advertising and traffic jams. Long lunch breaks, even longer apéro time, and four hours at the table with friends. Going around the corner for a freshly baked baguette (or éclair, or millefeuille, or tarte aux pommes). Climbing cathedral steps in Alsace, wine tasting by the Garonne, biking through the Lorraine countryside. Country-hopping to Belgium, Germany, or Luxembourg for the day.

But what they don’t know is that the things I’ll miss the most don’t have anything to do with buttery croissants or road trips to Germany. Although that is all exciting and wonderful for me, it’s not what I’ll be longing for when I’m back in the US, eating peanut butter on whole wheat bread and leaving lights on in every room in the house (oh consumer societies).

I’ll miss the Lieutenants teaching us to dance “rock” (still never got it). I’ll miss singing weird ’80s french hits at la Planete. I’ll miss Wednesday night basketball practice. I’ll miss running along my favorite routes in Verdun and seeing my students, who never fail to make me laugh and remind me how precious life is. I’ll miss watching the sun set over the Meuse, going to Franck and Sophie’s for dinner, and escaping on the TER Lorraine with Christine via the stupid SNCF. I’ll miss Tony serving me my favorite beer at l’Estaminet, trekking ito the movie theatre in the bitter cold with Kristie, and cooking dinner with Craig. I’ll miss the people who took the time to get to know me and welcome me here.

 

Je ne veux pas dramatiser mon départ, mais j’aimerais exprimer ma gratitude pour les gens qui ont partagé leur vie avec moi. Pour tous ceux qui m’ont accueillie cette année, je vous remercie de tout cœur. Je n’aurais jamais eu la même expérience si je ne vous avais pas rencontré. Grâce à vous, je vais rentrer avec de beaux souvenirs et des histoires drôles de mon année à Verdun. Merci !

greatist hits

It’s been one year since I started blogging, so I thought I’d participate in a little travel blog project started by TripBase, thanks to Katherina from 100 Miles Highway. The goal is to share 7 of my favorite posts and review older material. I had fun going through my old posts throughout the year.

My Most Beautiful Post

Dades Valley, Morocco. This was the most beautiful country I’ve ever been to. The colors, the people, the simplicity and the flavors. My trip to Morocco this year was something I’ll never forget – and took me out of my normal European/American  travel routes.

My Most Popular Post

I wrote this post kind of jokingly, but it turns out people need to know. Can certainly lead to awkward social situations if not. How to Perfect La Bise

A Post that Shows my Travel Philosophy

One of my non-traditional travel stints, I spent a week in the Vosges volunteering on an organic farm through Woofing.

My Most Helpful Post

Although most of my readers are girls, I think everyone appreciated the tips! What to do in Paris with American Guys.

A Post Whose Success Surprised Me

I couldn’t believe how much people love to talk about food  in Adapting to the French Diet. Likewise, the very popular American Baking in France.

The Post that didn’t get the Attention it Deserved

The inspiring and tranquil trappist breweries in Belgium – I took a day trip to Abbaye d’Orval just a few weeks ago.

The Post I am Most Proud of

This comes from a more personal side, and thus is my favorite; why I love language.

I’d like to nomicate Marie-Eve of Eurotriptips, to pass on the tradition!