Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

Scooter

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Today is my last day in France, so I decided to do something fun and different. I rented a motor-scooter.

I put my backpack on my back, a helmet on my head, and off I went to explore Paris. 

My Scooter

The streets of Paris are complicated. They go every which way, and have names like “Rue de Faubourg St-Antoine,” and “Avenue des Champs Elysees” (which I still haven’t figured out how to pronounce). I found myself lost many times. But that didn’t matter because riding a motor scooter makes you feel happy–like you could go anywhere, and have no worries. It was an adventure.

My first stop was the Statue of Liberty. 

Little Statue of Liberty

Paris has a Statue of Liberty–just like the one in New York. This statue is a lot smaller and is on the Seine river. My guidebook says it was given to the city in 1889 and it faces west, towards the original Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. 

I took lots of pictures. Here is a picture of me taking a picture. 

Picture of a picture

Roundabouts are intersections where all the drivers go in a circle. Roads enter and leave the roundabout. When you get in the roundabout, you stay in it until you find the road you want to leave on. Sometimes I would ride round and round many times before I decided where I wanted to go. 

It’s hard to look at a street map and ride a scooter at the same time. You have to wait till you stop at a traffic light and try to fumble for the map in your pocket. By the time you get it out, open it up, and start figuring out where you are, the light turns green. Then, you need to move quickly because the French drivers behind you are impatient. 

French Driver: “Beep! Beep!”

Eventually, I just sat on the map. That made it easier to get to. 

The police officers usually speak English. 

Me: Parlez-vous anglais?
Police Officer: Yes.
Me: Can you tell me how to get to (here you could insert anywhere you want to go)
Police Officer: Yes, I can help you with that.

Notre Dame is a big church that is very old. It was built in 1163. Well, it was started then, but it took them almost two hundred years to finish. 

After walking around the big sanctuary, I started to climb the long spiral staircase to the top of Notre Dame. The stairs go on and on and are narrow. Sometimes had to squeeze up against the wall to let somebody pass by me. 

Me: Pardon.
Other Person on Stairs: Excuse me.
Me: Oh, you’re American?
Other Person on Stairs: No, I’m French. But you are an American. Bonjour. 

I don’t know how all the French people can tell that I am an American.  

Stairs 1

The stairs kept going up and up and up. Guess who else I met on the stairs?

Stairs 2

Me: Oh, hello?
Lucy: Hello. Phew! These stairs keep going! ”

It was Lucy, from the wedding. She was doing some sightseeing herself. We climbed to the top of the tower and looked down from the top. We could see for miles (or as they would say in France, Kilometers). 

Lucy: Look at all the clouds moving around. It looks like it’s going to rain soon.
Me: There’s the Eiffel Tower.
Lucy: I’m  hungry, see any places to eat?

I’m hungry

Backpack

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

Shop

I had been thinking about my suitcase–the one I had been putting my baggage in. It’s old and when I carried it around at the airport, I kept worrying that the handle would fall off. I decided to buy something new. 

I found a shop titled “Hans’s” and it sold all sorts of stuff. It was owned by a German guy. You could tell he was German, because he was blonde and talked . . . German. 

Me: Parlez-vous anglais?
Hans: Ya.
Me: do you have any backpacks?
Hans: Ya. Look in zee back. 

His shop was full of hats, shoes, coats, purses, and backpacks. 

Buying a backpack is fun–there are so many kinds. There are simple backpacks: ones that have a big compartment and two straps for holding it on your shoulders. And there are complicated backpacks: ones that have many compartments and several straps to hold it onto you, several other straps for holding other stuff onto it, and even more straps for holding it all together. 

There are large backpacks that could hold enough stuff for a camping trip in the wilderness, and there are small ones that can hold a candy bar. 

It’s important to buy a backpack that is the right size. You don’t want it too small because you will have to squeeze all your stuff in it. Then, when you open up the zipper all your stuff comes oozing out around you. But you don’t want one that’s too big, either. Then it is all big and floppy on your back. 

Backpack

I found a brown backpack that was medium complicated. I put all the stuff in my suitcase in it, and it still had some room left–parfait! (that’s French for “perfect”). 

After paying Hans 50 Euros I walked outside the shop. What should I do with my old suitcase? I had owned it for a long time, and didn’t want to just throw it away. 

While I was walking down the street, thinking about this, a older lady holding several shopping bags walked up to me . . .

Older Lady: Speak English?
Me: Um, yes. 

She put down her shopping bags and held up a card with words on it.

Card: “I am from country of Moldova and is poor. I have no home. Please, if you spare money I thank you very very.” 

I didn’t know what to do, she might be lying about being from Moldova and being poor. I opened up my empty suitcase. 

Me: Here, you can put your stuff in my suitcase. I don’t need it anymore.
Older Lady: Oh, very nice. Thank, very nice. 

I helped her put the stuff from her shopping bags into the suitcase.

Then I took her card from her, turned it over and wrote: “Hello, I am from the country of Moldova and do not have a home or any money. If you can give me something, I will thank you very much.” 

I also put one of my little American flags in the suitcase. That way, she will remember America.

She looked happy. I hope I helped her.  

Louvre

Friday, February 15th, 2008

louvre

I saw the Louvre. It is a very large museum with a lot of paintings. 

When you walk around in the Louvre you hear many different languages. Of course you hear mostly French, and you hear quite a bit of English. But sometimes, you have no idea what they are speaking. 

I was looking for the Mona Lisa, and walked up to this lady for directions: 

Me: Parlez-vous anglais?”
Unknown Lady: Nyet.
Me: Not yet?
Unknown Lady: Nyet!, Nyet!

I think that meant, “no.” I wonder what language it was?

I eventually found the Mona Lisa. It was in the Italian section. 

Leonardo Da Vinci lived in the 1400s, was Italian, and painted the Mona Lisa. The Mona Lisa very famous and sets all by itself on a wall. It’s hard to see the Mona Lisa because there are many other people crowding around it. It’s a picture of a lady who smiles. I wonder if her name is Mona or Lisa, or if it is Mona Lisa. 

Above is a picture of me in the modern art section. The Louvre is full of paintings and statues. I didn’t draw any of the statues because they usually didn’t have any clothes on.

Sortie

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

On the Metro 

I learned a new French word today, “sortie.” It is a very useful word.

When you are in Paris, you have to ride the Metro a lot. The Metro is the same as the American Subway. It is a train that travels all over town, and is underground. It costs one Euro to get on the Metro, and you can ride it many places. The Metro is fun. 

There are Metro stations everywhere. To get to where you are going, you first have to buy a ticket at the station. Then you get out a little map and figure out what station you need to get to. Sometimes you will ride on several trains going in different directions to get where you want to. 

Once you know what station you need to stop at, and what trains you will need to ride to get there, you get on the train and PAY ATTENTION! You don’t want to miss your stop. 

Sometimes there is nobody on the train except you, and sometimes it is very crowded. Sometimes you can’t sit down, and you have to hang onto a railing. Sometimes you have to pack yourself very closely to all the other people on the train. It can get uncomfortable. 

When you get to your stop, you get off the train and now you are in a strange station and don’t know where to go to get out. That’s where the word “sortie” comes in. it means “exit.” Just follow the sign.

Today was the wedding

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

I have drawn a bunch of pictures from the wedding. I will lay them out and describe each one. 

Pastor

Here is the pastor. He did the ceremony. He was a bit old, and couldn’t walk very well. Sometimes he talked in English, and sometimes he talked in French. He talked in English enough so I knew what was going on. 

Ceremony

Frank’s bride’s name is Esme. Don’t you think they look very nice together? 

Guest List

After the wedding, there was the reception. Here is the guy that keeps everything organized. His paper says “guest list.” It actually said something in French, but I put “guest list” in the picture because every time somebody walked in, he would make a check mark on the paper. 

The Chef

The French sure know how to make good food. They also take a long time eating it. There were five courses, each one lasted for about an hour. In this picture the Chef is serving me a chicken dish. It tasted like wine. He called it Coq au vin. Dessert was the best part. There wasn’t any cake, but a series of . . .  chocolaty things, with lots of cherries. 

The Dinner

Most of the people at my table didn’t speak much English, except for the girl next to me. She seemed relaxed after she found out I spoke English, and could talk with her.  

Me: “My name’s Kevin, what’s yours?”
Lucy: “Lucy. Are you from America too?”
Me: “Yes. Do you speak any French? I’m afraid I know very little.”
Lucy: I know how to say “I am innocent.” I learned it from the book I’m reading, “The Scarlet Pimpernel.” You say, “je-suis innocent.”
Me: Oh, I know that one too. I hope neither of us have to use it.