Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Vive le vent d'hiver

Well, currently as I'm starting to write this it's 1:30 in the morning and I'm heading back to Haifa from the airport. Pourquoi? Because I spent the weekend in France! In France's self-proclaimed 'Capitale de Noël,' to be precise.

It was a total last minute decision. It's a hobby of mine to research flights for fun and daydream about traveling. Wishing that I could visit Strasbourg to see the Christmas markets, I happened to find a really affordable flight and the decision was made. 8 days before leaving, I bought the plane ticket and booked a hotel!

On Thursday I had a looooong day of traveling. Taxi ride+train to Tel Aviv+flight to Istanbul+flight to Paris+RER ride+train to Strasbourg.

I got there late on Thursday night, and right away I was SO happy to be back in France and Strasbourg. The baguette and macaron that I ate on the train might have had something to do with that. As soon as I got off the train, my first thought was "why did I ever leave this city??". Because it is definitely the cutest city of all time.

I was really excited to see that I had a view of "my" cathedral from the hotel window. Yeah, I claimed this cathedral for myself. That's how much I love it.

I spent Friday morning visiting all of my favorite stores that are only found in France. At one point I was so happy that I wanted to start skipping. I don't think that's ever happened before in my adult life. I got a little too used to French shopping last year, so I've really been missing it. Shopping is just not the same anywhere else!

Later on Friday, I took the train to Nancy to see my friend David (you know, that French guy who showed up in Wisconsin this summer?). We walked around, saw some Christmas lights, and went to an Italian restaurant for dinner. Fun night!

We started out Saturday by visiting the cathedral and starting to check out some Christmas markets.

I can't express how much I missed that place! <3 European cathedrals <3

Of course, I also had to stop by my old street where I lived last year! Bonjour, rue Hannong.

After lunch, we headed over to meet up with some other people for a YSA activity. Hearing about the activity was actually how I came up with the idea for this trip in the first place! We were split up into teams to go do a scavenger hunt type thing in the city. There was supposed to be a person from Strasbourg in every group, but since there weren't enough I ended up being the one giving a bunch of French people directions. Go figure.

Since it was the first day that the Christmas markets were open, it was super crowded. Eventually we ended up getting separated from our group. So we gave up on what we were supposed to be doing, and just had fun wandering around where we wanted to. 

Later that night there was a dance, which in hindsight we should have skipped because never ever in my life have I enjoyed church dances. Turns out that even in France, they still kind of suck. There was a bus strike (haha, oh France and your love of strikes...), so I ended up having to wait around until past 1:00 in the morning for a ride back to my hotel.

I went back to my Strasbourg ward for a visit the next day. It was weird to be back! It was fun to listen to church in French, less fun to bise (cheek kiss) a million people hello. I'm about as comfortable doing that as I am using the metric system... 

After church, me and David decided to go to Germany. Because why not, right? The town over the border from Strasbourg is Kehl. It's a small town with pretty much nothing to see, but there's still something exciting about casually crossing international borders. From the end of the tram line in Strasbourg, Kehl is only a 5 minute bus ride away.

I missed my German class on Sunday, but I think I should get some kind of extra credit for making a stop in the motherland.

After figuring out how to get back to France, it was already starting to get dark enough to enjoy the Christmas lights. It was BEAUTIFUL (although a little freezing) walking around to see the lights. The weather in Strasbourg was just a little different from the 70 degree weather we're still experiencing in Haifa.

If that doesn't put you in a Christmas mood, I don't know what will. 

I guess that summarizes my weekend in France! Yesterday was another long travel day- after leaving my Strasbourg hotel at 7:30 a.m., I made it back to the dorms at 2:30 a.m.

I'm so filled with happiness that I got to spend a few days shopping at my favorite stores, eating some of my favorite foods, speaking one of my favorite languages, and hanging out in one of my favorite cities. 

C'était vraiment un week-end inoubliable et incroyable! La France me manque.

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