excursions, vol. 6: lyon

One weekend, I took off to Lyon to meet my brilliant friend Lochin, who was sadly suffering from food poisoning :/. Nevertheless, we managed to have fun traipsing around Lyon, a city that took me by storm. I was “ravie” (ravished) and plan to return in a couple weeks with Parker to continue exploring.

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excursions, vol. 5: sénanque, gordes, roussillon

As I mentioned before, our program organized several excursions for the group over the course of our six weeks in Avignon. The second one, and maybe the best one, was to the Cistercian abbey Sénanque, the picturesque town of Gordes, and the red village Roussillon.

I mean, srsly.

Senanque Gordes Rousillon
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excursions, vol. 4: les archives départementales, avignon

The highlight (yes, the highlight … probably) of my time in Avignon was a visit I made to the Archives Départementales. I was super fortunate because my host mother has a friend who works there. She was incredibly generous and gave us a guided tour one afternoon. We went into the grand old stacks, inside what used to be an ecclesiastical and later papal chapel. We also went up the tower of the papal palace where they keep 11 levels (!!) of archives. She told us the story of how the Archives came to be housed in a part of the building, while the other part is where public visits are held. It’s bizarre, because I had already done a guided tour of the Palais and hadn’t even really noticed that we didn’t visit half of the building. I guess tours are kind of like that – it’s hard to keep your bearings. Or is it just me?


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excursions, vol. 2: uzes

A couple quick snapshots from our first group excursion. We took four short trips from Avignon with the program. On the first, we canoed down the Rhone in the mistral (no small feat!) and passed under the Pont du Gard. That afternoon, we stopped in Uzès, a charming little town where we had too little time. There were many medieval structures for me to enjoy; here are a few glimpses…

La Tour Fenestrelle:
Avignon et Uzes

Le Duché, sadly closed at the moment we were there (I still don’t know why):
Avignon et Uzes

je suis charlie

Coincidentally, my mom and I had planned a trip to Paris that took place several days after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo. Mom had some trouble with her flights, so I ended up alone on the day of the big manif. The town felt really vibrant, there were people with signs everywhere and the buses and metro were packed. I didn’t go to the manif myself partially because I promised Mom I wouldn’t and partially because I think it would have been a lot of people for me. But we did buy copies of the latest Charlie and I noticed a lot of solidarity imagery around town, plus tons of Je Suis Charlie.

Like in the window of a clothing store:

…as graffiti in the Luxembourg Gardens:

… on the Hôtel de Ville:

… and many buildings lit up like this, the Mairie du 6e:

My mom and I had a great time hitting the soldes (after-holiday sales).

The first night I was there, I took a walk setting out from our adorable hotel around the Jardin. The sunset was amazing and the weather was so pleasant. I even ran into a herd of shetland ponies (?!).
View from hotel:
Nearby St-Sulpice:

After a lightning-fast week, I was on my way home, via Reykjavik.

illinois raptor center

Over the Thanksgiving break, my mom set up a visit for us at the Illinois Raptor Center in Decatur, IL. We were able to hold Yeti, a snowy owl (21 weeks) and Kenny, a bald eagle (4 years I think).




She was very friendly and liked her ears rubbed.


She was holding her mouth open because she was warm.

Afterwards, she ate a mouse in one gulp!

Kenny weighs 7 lbs, but boy did he feel heavy on your fist!





What a neat opportunity!