Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Strut like you mean it! (Barcelona, Day 2)

¡Hola! Soy Sabine y voy a deciros sobre mi segundo día en Barcelona. 

I know that this is a little bit overdue, but better late than never, right? I'll begin this post about my second day in Barcelona with some pictures and info about one of Barcelona's most famous sights: the Sagrada Familia.

This minor basilica was designed by Antoni Gaudi, whom you might remember from my previous Barcelona post. He, however, wasn't involved with the construction until 1883- a year after it started. Construction was delayed during the Spanish Civil War. It is anticipated to be completed in 2026- 100 years after Gaudi's death.


After seeing the basilica, I suggested to my brother and his girlfriend that we should walk along the beach. Barcelona does border the beautiful Mediterranean, though its beaches aren't as rocky as some of those along the French Riviera. 

 It was kind-of windy.

OK, it was very windy!



We were in the mood for a hike, so we decided to spend some time on Montjuïc, one of Barcelona's hills that overlooks the harbor. The hill hosted the 1929 World's Fair, the Olympic Stadium, and a fortress dating back to the 1600s! We, however, didn't see these things.





Did I mention that there were a lot of stairs?

The view was spectacular, though!



The perfect end to a perfect day: strolling down the famous street, La Rambla, and doing some shopping!


I also had to take an obligatory photo by the MAC store; after all, my favorite celebrity was on a sign inside!

Overall, I had a fabulous time in Barcelona, and it was nice to spend quality time with my brother and his girlfriend. However, I wished Julien was there. I know how much he loves Spain, and he's dying to go to Barcelona. Hopefully, one day, we can go together.

Is there anywhere you'd like to take a friend?

A tout!
~Sabine

Friday, May 8, 2015

Oh, What a Night (in London)!

Coucou ! C'est Aurélie, et je suis allée à Londres avec mes parents

London isn't far from Lille if you take the Eurostar "Chunnel" train, so I've been several times to see ballets, plays, musicals, or just to do touristy things. This time, we went to see Jersey Boys, which was recommended to me by Sabine by her American friend, Liz. Liz's mom is from England, and Liz is obsessed with oldies music ranging from the '60s to the '80s, though the '80s is her favorite. I'm sure she's seen the Michael Jackson show that's playing in the West End. I'm going to be honest; I wasn't too thrilled about seeing Jersey Boys. Liz kind-of got Sabine hooked on the movie version, so I've seen it several times. It's a good story, but I'm just a little burnt out. Anybody who knows Sabine as well as I do knows that she kind-of gets hooked on movies that involve everyday people becoming famous singers. Because of Sabine, I've seen La Môme (La Vie en Rose) several times, too. She wants to relate to these films and be that "ordinary girl" who becomes a famous singer. Sabine dreams of becoming a famous singer, but she knows it'll never happen. We've kind-of created our own inside joke musical, Ordinary Girl: La vie rêvée de Sabine Bouchard (named after a Hannah Montana song and a movie, respectively) based on Sabine's hypothetical rise to fame. 

Before the show, we did some obligatory sightseeing. Here I am near Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster...aka the Houses of Parliament.


Situated on the Middlesex bank of the River Thames, the Palace of Westminster dates back to the Middle Ages, but it burned once in the 1500s and burned further in the mid-1800s. The Palace you see today was built from 1840-1870. Of course, Big Ben, the world's most famous four-faced clock steals all of the attention. Nobody is quite sure where the nickname of Big Ben originates from, but it's official name is the Elizabeth Tower, named after the Queen herself. 

Across the street from the Houses of Parliament, you will find Westminster Abbey, which dates back to the 10th century. The church, built in the Gothic style, reminds me of Notre Dame de Paris.




From this area, you can see the London Eye on the Thames' South Bank. It is one of the biggest Ferris wheels in the world as well as the biggest Ferris wheel in Europe. It was constructed in 1999, just in time for the new millennium.


I also saw Buckingham Palace for what seems like the thousandth time. It is home to Queen Elizabeth II (William and Kate live in Kensington Palace). Queen Victoria was the first monarch to live there.

Aren't the gates gorgeous?

Here's one of the guards in the famous attire. I didn't try to make him laugh; I'm as quiet as he is!

The Palace:

This street reminds me of Paris's Champs-Elysées:

Isn't the fountain beautiful?

In the late afternoon and early evening, we stayed near the theater and explored Piccadilly, Coventry Street, and Leicester Square.


How neat is this tavern?

My favorite part of London: the Royal Opera House! I've seen several ballets there.

Finally, the whole reason behind this trip to London...



We had amazing seats! Musicals are always more fun the closer to the stage you are. 

It was actually a fantastic show, and I'm glad my parents let me come with them. Liz is going to be so happy once I have Sabine tell her that I enjoyed it. Granted, there were several pop culture and Space Race references that I didn't quite "get". Either that has to do with my age or me being French!

"Oh, what a night" it was. London just isn't London without a West End musical (or in my case, a ballet...).

Do you like musicals? What's your favorite? Have you seen Jersey Boys?

I hope you enjoyed my adventures in London.

Bisous,
Aurélie 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Oh my Gaudí! (Barcelona, Day 1)

¡Hola! Soy Sabine y durante mis vacaciones, fui a Barcelona, la capital catalána. No puedo hablar o escribir en catalán, pero es fácil leer. Como consequencia, voy a practicar mi español. No importa porque todo el mundo en Barcelona habla español...

, I'm practicing my written Spanish. During my break, as you might have already guessed, I practiced my spoken Spanish. My brother, his girlfriend, and I went to Barcelona for a weekend. We had an amazing time and saw plenty of impressive sights. Tonight, I'm posting about el Parque Güell...or Parc Güell in Catalan (and French).

So, the park might look familiar to you if you've seen the second Cheetah Girls movie on Disney Channel. Instead of "strutting", I'm going to give a little bit of history as found on the pamphlet I received. Now, part of the park is open to the general public. For the monumental part, you have to pay a small entrance fee. It's totally worth it, though. Ok, let's begin!

This colorful, mosaic tile artwork is EVERYWHERE in Barcelona. Why?

Let's just thank el señor Antoni Gaudí, the famed Spanish-Catalan modernism artist. Barcelona is very much HIS city; his work can be seen almost everywhere. The Parc Güell is only one impressive sight of his. Entrepreneur Eusebi Güell hired Gaudí to create the park, which was built from 1900-1914. It opened to the public in 1924. 

Here are some photos of the mosaics seen on the main terrace... 


Here is the view from the terrace. One of the buildings is a museum for the history of Barcelona. The smaller building (on the right) is a gift shop.

Here is a beautiful mosaic dragon. It was vandalized in 2007 but has been restored. It's terrible that people would do something like that.

Here's the view near the main entrance. If you've seen The Cheetah Girls 2, you probably recognize this.


Here's the gift shop! It was just too pretty.

That was my first adventure in Barcelona. I also stayed in a hostel for the first time. It actually wasn't that bad. We met some super cool people, especially these two girls who were traveling Europe alone. I'd love to travel the world alone someday. That's really how you meet people and have adventures. I do love the company of my friends or family, but I also like the idea of having adventures and meeting people from all over the world. So, I leave you with this:

What is your favorite type of art? Were you familiar with Gaudí before this post?

Besos,
Sabine