Day 45 – 2/17/2019

We journeyed to the big city last weekend. No not New York, Paris. It was quite to weekend. Started off with a 7:30 train ride, we both quickly fell in love with trains. You only have to show up 30 minutes early, there is no security, and much more personal space. When we arrived, we decided to forgo the 25-30 Euro Uber and choose to take Lime electric scooters to our Air BNB 5 miles away. It was a long trip but came in at about 6 Euros each and gave us a great mini tour of the city. Once we arrived we went for a little walk and ended up at the Eiffel Tower, which is far more impressive than pictures make it seem. After that we met up with Ellie and some of her friends for some happy hour drink at a place called Princess & Frog. After we made our way back towards the area everyone was staying and had a nice dinner. Then we all decided to part ways and get to bed early, after a short sprint through the rain we got back and hit the hay. We woke up the next day early and hit the city. First we went back and climbed to the second level of the Eiffel tower, to see the incredible view. The stairs were a great workout and the winds at the top cooled us off really quick. After that we made our way to the grand palace and strolled through the park which lead us right to the famous Louvre. We as lovers of art of course had to take advantage of the free admission for students. We went and admired the art, mostly just went to see Mona Lisa. Not that impressive in person to be honest, still worth going to see. The Louvre is really close to the Notre Dame cathedral which is also free to enter. That was really cool, pictures of the inside don’t really do it justice. After that a nap was calling our names. Once we awoke from our slumber we went out and got some happy hour drinks, dinner then met back up with Ellie and her friends for some drinks at a local bar. We then decided that we needed to go see the Eiffel Tower sparkle at midnight and grabbed some bottles of wine and made our way there. The tower is incredible at night, the light show really is something everyone needs to see. We took some great pictures and had a great time there. That was a great way to end the night. Woke up a little later Sunday and made our way to the Arc De Triumph, that was far more impressive than I thought it would be. There was a museum inside and bathrooms, we were both shocked by how big it was. Right down the road is the famous macaroon shop Laduree and had our first experience with macaroons, they live up to the hype. We ended our weekend in Paris with a trip through the famous catacombs to hang out with 6,000,000+ dead people. It was a morbid but great way to end the trip. Overall great weekend, weather wasn’t on our side, we made the most of what we were given though! As always, cheers.

Day 33 – 2/5/2019

When people come home from studying abroad, almost everyone has at least one or two crazy travel stories from their time overseas. This weekend, we experienced our first crazy travel story. After booking a cheap flight to Brussels, Belgium a couple weeks ago, we were excited to travel in Europe for the first time. With a 5:45 AM wake-up call on Friday morning, we boarded a bus to Marseille, France to catch a flight to Brussels. After a short flight filled with some networking with others in our row, we landed in “Brussels” …or so we thought. Out of instinct, I (Andrew) grabbed my phone to call an Uber so we could get our weekend started. As I pulled up the Uber app, a map popped up to choose my pickup location. I zoomed out the see exactly where we were, and I had a mini heart attack. We were an hour south of where we thought we were going to be, and my first thought was that we stupidly booked the flight and managed to get ourselves to the middle of nowhere Belgium for what could have been a long weekend. Luckily, we discovered that the Brussels airport is just really far out and that we could take a shuttle downtown, close to our hostel. After a long wait for the bus, we finally made it to downtown Brussels and checked into our hostel. With barely any food in our stomachs we grabbed some dinner and went to bed with the plan to wake up early and conquer the day. We woke up at 8 the next morning and hit the ground running. Right off the bat we went to Parc du Cinquantenaire in the snow and slush to see the beautiful arches (picture below). After some walking, we made our way to the subway station in wet shoes and socks to go see the Atomium which happened to be slightly underwhelming. From there we hopped back on the subway to go get some famous Belgium waffles, which were as good as advertised, and warmup. Our last stop was the Grand Place of Brussels which was probably the favorite spot for both of us. The architecture is stunning, and it definitely makes you feel like you are in Europe. With the attractions done and stomachs empty again, we grabbed dinner and went to the famous Delirium bar that holds the world record for most beers available (2,004!). Friends were made and conversations went on for a couple of hours before we made the executive decision to not pull an all nighter and responsibly get 1.5 hours of sleep before waking up at 3 AM to catch a bus back to the airport. Our moms must be so proud! After a long travel day, we made it back to Montpellier safely to literally fall into our beds and crash immediately. First weekend of travel, first crazy travel story. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the semester has in store. Cheers!

Day 25 – 1/28/2019

Got the opportunity over the weekend to go visit some ancient Roman sites. First we visited Pont du Gard, which is a aqueduct that was constructed in 50 AD, so its kinda old… The bridge you see in the pictures below is only part of the entire aqueduct, this section took 20 years and a thousand slaves a day to construct. Rather a remarkable feat, especially considering we are struggling to hang up our shower head. After the bridge we went to the City of Nimes, which was a Roman city. There we went on a tour to see and hear about the history of the city. We enjoyed the first hour of the tour but hours 2 and 3 got a little long. The city really was incredible though, with beautiful winding streets that open up into these thousands of year old structures. We were slightly concerned that the protest that have been going on would hinder our ability to get back to Montpellier but the protesters must have used up all of there energy last weekend. As this week was a rather mild protest, meaning no fires and a city center no flooded with tear gas. That is the exciting news from this week, next weekend is our first trip out of the country and first time for both of us staying in a hostel. We will be venturing to Brussels, Belgium. That is the headquarters of the EU and NATO, we have some advice for them that we believe they are looking forward to hearing. Stay tuned for how that goes, as always, cheers.

Day 21 – 1/24/2019

Bonjour! This past weekend was a busy but fun one. Since we last posted, the other group of students who are spending the semester in home stays arrived in Montpellier. We went out with a group of them on their second night and were a fun enough crowd that the bartender gave us a free round of drinks…French bartenders are the best. We all made our way home during the early hours of the morning and woke up about 4 hours later to make it the train station for a day trip to the fishing city of Sete. The city is about a 20-minute train ride from Montpellier, so it was a nice ride to rest our aching heads. When we got there, we were given time to explore where we came across a cool old fort that has been made into a concert venue now (picture below). After our free time, we hiked up to the top the small mountain/big hill overlooking Sete. We were told that it was about a 30-minute walk but in reality, it was a 30-minute hike of death. Narrow, slightly inclined streets turned into 70 flights of stairs that seemed to never end. Upon arrival at the top, every person was red in the face and dripping sweat. But the increased heart rate and perspiration was worth the view. After nearly 12 miles of walking (we’re not kidding…12 miles), we made our way back to the train station to learn that our train back was delayed because of protests. Eventually, we were able to board the train and make it back to our apartment before we dropped dead from exhaustion. Busy weekend but a great time. Cheers!

Day 15 – 1/18/2019

Been a little while since we have posted, our apartment no longer has wifi… Other than that, all is well in paradise. We went to the most incredible vineyard the other day and got to do a wine tasting. Finally, we can use some buzz words to sound like we know what good wine is. The vineyard has been in the same family for the past 10 generations. They had the most incredible gardens, one of which is pictured below. Still haven’t started our French classes, however we have become more comfortable going out and using the little bit of French we do know. People still respond in English, at least we are trying. This weekend we have an excursion with the program to a little fishing village near here called Sete. So, the next post should have plenty of photos from that! We have also booked a trip in early February to Brussels, got some advice for the EU we think they would benefit from hearing. Keep an eye out for a little longer, more exciting post this weekend. As always, cheers!

Day 10 – 1/13/2019

Sorry its been a few days, we were on a bender. Bodies are running on fumes after the past couple days. Its been a interesting few days. Started out with all of us wanting to go out to the clubs. Here they open around 1 and close at 5-7 depending on the place. Not knowing much we followed our friend Ella’s advice and decided to go to “the best club in Montpellier”. We walk in and everything seems cool, its a cool building, club lights, and a dj. Something still seemed like it was missing. After a little while we noticed that while in nature males and females appear in about 50-50 proportion, this club was highly scewed toward the males. We did a little bit of digging and found out that the club we were at was in fact a gay bar… After another round of shots we quickly made our way out. Next night we let our bodies recover. Last night was another interesting one. Our neighbor friends had their friends from Barcelona come visit. We all found ourselves, after heavy pregamming, at a local Irish pub called Fitzpatrick’s. We were not not even close to the rowdiest group there, as there was a group of meathead English rugby players who were singing chants when we got there. At one point their shirts came off and they decided to have 1 v 1 wrestling matches in the streets . When they noticed our group watching they challenged the largest of our group. Fortunately, that wasn’t either of us. As we watched our new friend square up, we would be lying if we said we weren’t scared for his safety. However, just as was to be expected the Americans dominated the Englishman with brute force, as he slammed the other kid to the ground. They wanted a rematch and to challenge the rest of the group but we decided to hold on to our 1-0 record. After the pub, us and our new English friends decided to make our way to a shot bar. It was a super cool little place, on a side street. The establishment was packed to the gills. We had a couple shots and they must have been a bunch of pyromaniacs as they lit every shot on fire, with great showmanship. After we left their we are assuming we just went home, straight to bed. Overall great couple days here. Today was calming, as we went to the park to do some reading. Beautiful sunny day, perfect for sitting out on a bench.Classes fully start this week, so that should be fun! As always cheers.

Day 6 – 1/9/2019

Started classes today, never felt more out of place in my life. Professor asked if there where any foreign kids in the class, I actually forgot that was me and didn’t raise my hand. The kid next to me spoke some English, when I told him I from Minnesota he proceeded to ask if it was “in west? Cowboys?”. Also, kids here love tight pants, that was clearly evident in class. Yesterday was the start of what is essentially the French version of Black Friday. Great opportunity to buy tight pants at 50%-60% off… yay. We have been hitting the stores tying to buy some clothes that don’t scream, “I’m from America”. Pea coats are high on our list for purchases. No pictures for this weeks blog. We took some, just would rather my mother not see them… sorry mom. Looking forward to planning some trips in the coming weeks and setting the curve for these French kids. We’ll keep you posted with any exciting updates. Cheers