Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Chronology of My First Weekend in France, Part II With the Last Two New Facts/Experiences

The conclusion of yesterday’s post.

On day 3 in Tours, we continued to tour big cold castles. The first was Chateaux Blois which was yet again bigger than the two we saw the previous day, and had a little more history. The castle had four towers each of which was modeled after a different time period of architecture. Unfortunately it was under construction when we saw it and so we couldn’t see everything in it, but nonetheless it was fun to wander around in. For lunch I got to partake in
new fact/experience #10: eating venison. It was an interesting meal, and another thing which I don’t think will become my favorite, but it wasn’t at all bad, in fact it reminded me of pot roast, at least the way they had it cooked and the sauce it was with. After lunch we went to the largest castle still, Chateaux Chambord. This one was way cool. Louis XIV had it built around the same time as he was building Versailles. Leonardo da Vinci helped out with it, so there’s some really weird things in it like a double spiral staircase with windows so that you could look across to the other staircase. It makes it seem like magic that someone else is on the stairs that you never walk by. It was also really, really huge and lavish. New fact/experience #11:
asking artists to be architects doesn’t always give you very practical results. However, since it was always so cold and also close to a swamp and thus smelly the king never really lived there. Weird. Louis was a very strange and very lavish guy. After dinner we hopped back on the bus and rode back to the hotel, where we had dinner. And guess what we had? Blowfish? Baby pig meat? Giraffe? Nope, we had chicken and french fries. It was a bit of a let down actually. We’d been eating all this fancy French food for our meals up to this point and for our last dinner we got chicken and fries. They weren’t even like the Belgian fries that come with lots of mayo, just fries, without salt. That night me and some other students went out with the IES Social Coordinator, Samuel, to a bar in Tours. It was quite fun. The bar had an Irish theme, in France, go figure. It kind of cracks me up when I see things like Chinese restaurants and Irish bars in France. For some reason this just seems wrong to me. I suppose it really does make since though. We didn’t stay out too late because we knew the next day we’d have our ‘entrance exam’ for lack of a better word. So we headed back to the hotel and got some rest before the next day.

So, day 4 we all woke up and ate, then started our small tests. They really weren’t too big of a deal, just a small starter exam, so that the professors could know which classes for grammar and such we all would need to be in for the next week of intensive review. They took a couple hours to do and then we ate lunch, which was just fish, again kind of anti-climatic for the last meal of our weekend, which started off with eel. Then it was time for the long bus ride back to IES where our host families would pick us up. I was doing a lot better with my French by this point and could communicate better with my host parents now, but they still had to be pretty patient with me and I couldn’t really carry the conversation much at all. After dinner I went back up stairs to my room and slept knowing that the next day, Monday, would begin a not so fun week of orientation at the IES center. But that’s for my next post.


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