After London, Kacie, Casey, and I took the train under the English Channel (not nearly as exciting as I thought it would be, for some reason) to Paris! Casey's friend, Jessyme, and two of his friends, Theo and Frederick, (all native Parisians) were waiting for us at the train station. They were really sweet and bought our metro tickets, helped us find our hotel, and then took us to lunch :) I dont have any pictures of Paris yet, except the ones my friends have of me, because my camera died on our last night in London.
I only stayed in Paris for 2.5 days, and all the Caseys really wanted to do in Paris was go to bars at night and go to the Eiffel Tower, so I ended up sightseeing by myself both days. I saw SO much and my feet were in such pain by the end of it, but I had a really good time :) I walked up the Champs-Elysees and saw the Arc de Triomphe, the Luxemborg Gardens, the Place de la Concorde and it's obelisk marking the location where Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette were guillotined during the revolution, the National Assembly, ate a crepe in the Tuileries gardens, took a million pictures of the pyramids outside the Louvre (I didn't get to go in, unfortunately, it was closed), walked along the Seine and over the lock bridge, went to the Eiffel Tower to see it lit up at night, and went to church at Notre-Dame.
The lock bridge is where people write their name and that of their significant other on a padlock, lock it on the side of the bridge, then throw the key into the river to make it last forever.
On my last night in Paris, my friend Brittany arrived so she and I went out to dinner and got escargot :) Yum!
I also went to Shakespeare and Company, a book store opened by an American soldier who wasn't ready to go home after World War II. It was a residence and gathering place for the "lost generation" of writers, like Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce. It's this cramped, adorable used book shop and I was quite excited, having been in Europe for 2.5 months, to find it was full of Americans.
Right now, nothing is quite so exciting for me as hearing English. I'm sort of isolated in Italy, along with the other 20 people in my program who don't really speak Italian either. I think my Italian has now surpassed my French (I took 2 years of French in high school), but it was really fun finally getting to use what I learned in school and being the translator for the Caseys, neither of whom speak a word of French.
The Caseys and Brittany accidentally booked their flight for after we were supposed to be back in Macerata, so I was on my own getting back. I debated never telling anyone this, but seeing as I lived through it: I took the train back from Paris, and since my train left really early, I didnt go to bed at all that night. I changed trains about 5 times getting back (Macerata is in the middle of nowhere) and my last train was from Civitanova to Macerata. I got to Civitanova at 10:30 pm, 10 minutes too late to catch the last train of the day. The next one was at 4:50 am, the train station was closed until 6 am, and the only other person in the station was an elderly woman. There was nothing to do but wait for the train so I went to a cafe next to the station that was open til 1 am, got some hot chocolate and read til the little old lady came and sat by me. She didnt speak any English, so I talked to her in my very broken Italian until we got kicked out of the cafe and went back to the station. It was the end of October, super cold, and we sat on a bench outside the station for 4 more hours. I almost finished reading the same book twice. Then, I missed the train because it turned out not to be a train at all, but a bus. So then I waited another hour for the 6 am bus, and finally arrived in Macerata at 7 am. By the time I got to bed, I had pulled 2 all nighters in a row and had been up for 45 hours straight. I'm just trying to convince myself all that was worth it, since it must have been a very character building experience :)