Monday, June 29, 2015

When In Rome: Day 2

C'est moi, Sabine, qui ne peut pas parler italien...

So, what did I do during my second day in Rome?

I climbed all 135 steps of the Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti, or what most people know as the Spanish Steps. The funds were given to the Italians by a French diplomat, and the stairs linked the Bourbon Spanish Embassy to a church.

At the bottom of the steps, there is a cool fish fountain...

The stairs! Sadly, the church was under construction. There were also irritating men trying to sell tourists selfie sticks. Gross. I have a real camera.

The Piazza di Spagna:

Here's where I need your help, readers. On our way to the catacombs, we saw this beautiful building. However, we don't know what it is. If you know, leave a comment below!

Our next stop? The catacombs of St. Callisto, located on the Appian Way! This was my favorite part of Rome, hands-down. We had a wonderful guide, too, who told us several cool facts about the site. 

We weren't supposed to take pictures in the catacombs, but you know me. I don't really follow rules well. 

The crypt contained the tombs of popes from the 2nd to 4th century as well as many children and babies who died. The tombs were looted and empty, though several are still in tact. Greek was the written language of the Church, so you can see that on some of the stones.

After the tour, I posed for a photo with Traveling Mini Josefina

The catacomb tour was a great reprieve from the sweltering Roman heat. I drank at least five bottles of water. It was a drastic change from the weather in Lille, which is several degrees cooler. Regardless, Rome is gorgeous.

A la prochaine,

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Sunday Kind of Love (Rome, Day 1)


Sabine here, and that's the extent of my Italian. A couple of weeks ago, my parents and I went to Rome for the first time ever. Actually, it was my first time ever in Italy, despite living relatively close. Since I know French (obviously) and Spanish, I could somewhat understand written Italian. Speaking it was another story. Like I said, I know one or two words. Even though I wish I knew the language, I still had a fabulous time.

We started off our sightseeing Sunday morning after we arrived late Saturday evening. There was no better way to kick of a Sunday than by going to the Città del Vaticano- Vatican City! Here I am in St. Peter's Square during morning mass. In the background, you can see St. Peter's Basilica and an obelisk stolen from Egypt.

On our way to see some other sights, I posed near the Tiber (or as the Italians call it Tevere) River. Legend has it that the city of Rome began on its banks. It was named after King Tiberinus according to one legend. This is one of the longest rivers in Italy, and it served an important role in trade and commerce. The Tiber is also well-known for its floods.

Of course, here's an obligatory Vespa photo. What would a trip to Rome be without one? If only a handsome Italian popstar were there to take me on a ride...hey, I can wish.

"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum": well, it actually happened as we were exploring the Forum. I tripped over a stone and basically face-planted. Let's pretend that didn't happen. I'm hopelessly uncoordinated. 

I took a ridiculous amount of photos at the Forum, so I'm only sharing a few of them.

The ruins date back to the 7th century BC. Located in between the Palatine and Capitoline hills, the Forum was once the center of Roman daily life: commerce, trials, elections, and more. It housed the kkings and the Senate as well. Romulus, the first king of Rome, made a pact with his enemy, Titus Tatius. Thus, the Forum was born. It was built outside of the original Sabine, I don't have a fortress named after me. I'm not famous,..yet. The Sabine were a tribe that once lived in the area; my name originates from that tribe.

Here I am before my fall. I don't really want to talk about it. I bruised my arm pretty badly. 

Here is a statue of the noble general and statesman, Julius Caesar, who is responsible for the rise of the Roman Empire. He was stabbed to death by a group of Senate men on the Ides of March. I got my info from Shakespeare's play. OK, history class, too.

This is what dreams are made of: me, Sabine Aurore Bouchard, impersonating a famous pop star and performing in the Colosseum. 

Fine. I wish. In reality, I was squished between tourists and attacked with their selfie sticks WHICH WERE FORBIDDEN. I'm all for breaking the rules, but if it involves a selfie stick? Ugh. Those things are the worst. 

So what happened here? This Flavian Amphitheater, the largest ever built, was completed in 80 AD. Although natural causes and robbers have been rough on it, it remains mostly intact. It could hold up to 80,000 viewers who came to see mock battles, hunts, reenactments, and shows based on classical mythology. 

It looks like I was Photoshopped into this photo, but I totally wasn't. My dad is clearly an awesome photographer. All sarcasm intended.

So, that was my first day in Rome, and I have plenty more photos on the way. I hope you enjoyed these and the brief history.

A la prochaine!

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!

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.