The Art of French

Switzerland & France

19 March 2016 ~ 26 March 2016
Geneva, Switzerland & Paris, France

Finally~ A trip to France and Switzerland with my French class!

A selfie on my Polaroid with my mother before heading to airport with my friend because selfies become mandatory sometimes.

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Selfie via Polaroid featuring my mother

We arrived at the airport at 08:00pm exact. Sadly, we were supposed to be there by 10:30pm. And we ended up waiting until 11:00pm. The plane leaves at 01:30am.

When the time to check-in finally rolled along, we quickly got in line and quickly checked in.

Waiting in an airport for hours can surely make a person very thirsty. As soon as we entered the lounge, we headed straight for Java House, a cafe. I guess I wasn’t the only one dying of thirst.

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Strawberry Lemonade from Java

I hate leaving Kenya. But if there is one thing that I absolutely adore is seeing Nairobi’s lights at night from the sky. I tried taking a picture with my Polaroid… but failed quite terribly.

And off we go ✈

We landed in Doha, Qatar at about 05:40am, making it possible to see and admire the sunset.

After an hour of stop-over, we headed straight to Geneva, Switzerland. And my oh my, the snowy mountains were truly beautiful.

It was a scene that I have only seen in movies before. The mountains were so white and beautiful. The snow on the mountains made them look like sharp marshmallows.

Once we landed, we almost immediately went to McDonald’s.

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Je voudrais les frites grand et un coca, sil-vous-plait

Europe, being Europe, had cherry blossom trees right in front of the McDonald’s building that was located in a gas station.

And to Villa Emmanuel we go 🚌

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Villa Emmanuel

The villa had celebrated its 1ooth anniversary in 2007, so the building was very very antique. The room I stayed in had about three stories; one bunk bed on the first, two bunk beds and a ground bed on the second, and two ground beds on the third. Unfortunately, all the girls just about died every morning because the wooden stairs were wayyy too steep and slippery. The heaters were on the ground and everything else was made of wood.
The front yard(?) had enormous tree stumps, wooden swings, an old metal playground, and trees everywhere. It was cold. It was very cold. It was about 4 degrees Celsius.

Yet we were still able to pose and snap a big amount of pictures. Memories were also made in that freezing cold weather. But everyone was commenting about how cold the weather was in while taking pictures and making memories. I guess we found it worth it and necessary even with our fingers and toes freezing off.

One food I really wanted to try at France was escargot, or snails. Sadly, we couldn’t find any. 😦 But if there is one food I would recommend you try if you were ever to go to France or Switzerland is baguettes. Villa Emmanuel certainly served us a lot of baguettes; they even had to run out and buy some more one evening because we were eating too much and finishing their baguette stock. The weight I gained from the trip is probably all from baguettes and nothing more or else.

That was a pro of Villa Emmanuel. A con, however, is the fact that the rooms don’t have WiFi. However, a house right in front of the villa we were staying in is a building that looks like it belongs in a Disney movie.
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Yup! There is an adventure within the house– WiFi.
It’s free and it’s fast. Except it was kinda slow for us since all twenty-five of us were trying to go on the adventure. But once everyone left and only three people were connected to WiFi, everything just went real fast.

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Rooms in the Villa

This is how the wooden rooms described earlier looked. They are cozy and all, but it often felt like a cliff… to everyone.
The girls were getting ready to sleep and it was cold. It was wayy too cold for a normal person from Nairobi, Kenya to function even with the heater on. So we all layered ourselves with the thin clothing we brought and went to sleep. That routine was a norm for all the nights in the villa.

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Early in the morning, we shoved baguettes down our throats and stomachs and got on the bus, heading to the United Nations of Geneva.

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Flags of the United Nations

My school, being the international school it is, also has a flag road like the United Nations with the nationality of all the students. However, the United Nations had much more and it was quite pretty.

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Garden of the United Nations

The United Nations has a garden. And its really simple yet kind of pretty and… unusual.

This lady that I don’t think told us her name led us through the United Nations office of Geneva, giving us a basic tour and explanation of the history and artworks. Pictures were allowed, but videos were prohibited. There was this one conference room we really wanted to go in, but we were only allowed a glimpse from outside. She strictly said, “No pictures of this room due to security reasons.”

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IMG_3123.JPGOne of us, who shall be unnamed for security reasons, decided that the picture was worth ignoring the security reasons and took a picture. We clicked our tongues and all, but I’m pretty sure we kinda appreciate this picture.
The reason we wanted to see this room was because of the ceiling. Try Google imaging the picture and see a picture from a professional who was allowed to take the picture 😉

Right in front of the United Nations building is a chair with one blown up leg looking like this:
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An artist who I do not remember the name of had sculpted it, representing and for the workers who lost their legs while mining.

Chateau de Chillon was next in line of our many different destinations.
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Again, it was freezing. The castle was so old and antique. I could basically and totally picture knights in shining armor practicing their swordsmanship in the courtyard. The place smelled like cows and cow poop. It also had way too many stairs for its own good.

Of course, we didn’t forget to pose and take pictures of ourselves.
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But we also took pictures of the actual castle itself, too.

The interior was beautiful, but so was the view of the ocean right outside.

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Next on the list, Annecy.
Annecy was a beautiful town. But it was too cold for tourists to enjoy and take in everything. It probably would have been much better if we had gone during summer-like spring.
Our mission and main point was to find the Bridge of Lovers. I actually have no idea if we found it or not. We found a bridge, but it probably wasn’t the bridge we were looking for.

Looking for the bridge wasn’t too bad 🙂 We had fun, by ourselves.

We learned to appreciate the view ever so quickly.

Once we found the Lover’s Bridge, we were going to head to Chateau d’Annecy. Even if we were unsuccessful in finding the bridge, we still went to the castle. However, the castle was closed. Annecy clearly didn’t want us there.
But oh well.
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We pretended like we were able to go inside and took a group photo.

The students got about forty-five minutes of free time in Annecy. First thing my friend and I did was enjoy ice cream in the cold weather.

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Coffee flavored ice cream and kiwi-banana flavored ice cream

After the forty-five minutes of free time, we all went and got some of the famous kreps of pancakes of France.

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We had to leave Villa Emmanuel at 05:30am because we were heading to Paris. This meant that the girls had to get up at 04:00am to get ready and pack our luggage. We took a train to Paris 🚄
But this was the coldest it was the whole time we were on the trip. The wind blew from every direction and the sun was nowhere to be seen. Our luggage rolled away from us and people flew with the wind.

The minute we got off the train at Paris, we headed to the Chateau de Versailles. It was a charming castle. However, the castle just showed self-centered and self-serving Louis XIV actually and really was. There were paintings of him everywhere, and the castle itself was a replacement of the Louvre due to the “small” size.

 

There were gold coated things everywhere both inside and out, self portraits of Louis the XIV just about in every room. Imagine walking up to your face, eating with your face, playing with your face… Isn’t that kinda creepy?

After the Versailles, we quickly checked into a hotel in Paris and ate a quick dinner before heading to the Eiffel Tower.
When someone says they’re going to Paris, France, or just France in general, the first thing people think is the Eiffel Tower. So we quickly finished our dinner and quickly hurried to the Eiffel Tower at night, after the sun had set.

The terrorist attack on Brussels, Belgium had happened just a day or two ago, so the Eiffel Tower was lit up with the colors of the Belgium flag. Weird, how it’s violence that ends up uniting countries.

Black Yellow Red

I must say, I would have liked to see the normal lights though.

The Eiffel Tower is 948 feet high, and the night of Paris was breath-taking from up there; partly because it was freezing cold, but also because it was just beautiful.

It was just beautiful.

There were people everywhere. Paris is considered the city of love and the Eiffel Tower represents Paris. That may be the reason why, but there were people kissing everywhere, showing PDA everywhere, and even proposing everywhere.

The whole way up, people are reminded about pickpockets. We, as high school students, joked around about it and had fun. But when a guy started following us and just staring at us everywhere we went, we started getting creeped out. One of our teachers had to come to the rescue and pull us aside. But that was all forgotten in a couple moments, because it was time to go down.

The teachers promised that we’ll be back the next day, and led us back to the hotel.

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First thing in the morning, we headed to the Eiffel Tower. It was a different view, since the sun was up and the lights to the Eiffel Tower was down.

We posed and snapped pictures of the Eiffel Tower during the day,

and headed for the Seine Cruise.

I really wasn’t expecting much from the cruise, but it wasn’t that special. It just went around Paris and explained things that most of us didn’t even pay attention to. There were some pretty views, but we were more into making each other go upstairs into the open air and freeze to death.

Notre Dame was our next destination. And it is one pretty piece of architecture.

Just… Imagine yourself praising God and praying in an environment like this. Everything just felt so holy and clean. Even with the tourists roaming about and taking pictures, there were people in the center, having a service. The stain glasses were enormous and beautiful, the temple was huge, and everything was just… great.

The next session was what we all were waiting for: shopping time. We had two hours.
Shopping malls looked like tourist buildings:

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The ceiling of the shopping mall

Guys shopped more efficiently than girls. It was pretty impressive, the amount of bags they carried back. Girls, on the other hand, did… ehh. Some girls better than others, that’s for sure. Some had trouble finding the shops they wanted, some were too picky on the prices, some were just confused. My excuse is, I don’t like shopping in general and don’t go shopping. Their excuse could be, France is a foreign land.

We were rapidly running out of time. So our visit to Sacre Coeur included a lot of running. The temple is located on the highest point of the city of Paris, meaning that there are a lot of stairs and staircases on the way to the top. Since we were running out of time, our teachers made us sprint up all the stairs. Some of our legs basically stopped functioning and we half died on our way up to a beautiful place.
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We were not allowed to take pictures of the interior of the building, so we just looked around. I had expected it to be similar to Notre Dame, but it had a different feel to it. It was still quite beautiful.

Since we were not allowed pictures of the inside, I took the view of the highest point of Paris. There was a slight fog and the sun was about soon going to set, but it still felt like I was really high up.

After the long day of running and quickly moving around, we had an authentic French meal for dinner. That meant that we had the appetizers, the proper meal, two to three drinks, and the dessert. We were all stuffed and too full to breath in the end, but someone did a toast for the trip, and we enjoyed the last supper we would be having during the trip.

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Last day. We had to leave at 08:30am, meaning that we had to pack, wash, eat, and prepare all before that time. But we managed. 🙂

The first destination at our last day of Paris the the Louvre Museum. It is a castle that has a modern glass pyramid in the center; the castle of Louis XIV before the Versailles.

We saw the Mona Lisa, ancient Egyptian sculptures, paintings of naked people, and etc. We just didn’t have enough time to go around the whole place and see everything.

We flew over to the Arc de Triomphe, but couldn’t climb to the top because of miscommunications.

But we can always take pictures from below, so that’s exactly what we did.

We were already an hour behind our planned schedule. So we didn’t have time to enter Centre Pompidou. We just got there, and took a picture, just like Chateau d’Annecy, pretending like we had made it in and had so much fun.

And then, it was time to head to the airport. It was kinda very sad to depart the beautiful land of both Switzerland and France. We sad our farewells to our wonderful and amazing bus driver and with a slight sadness in our hearts, got on the plane.

We took off,

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Farewell, Europe

Landed in Doha, Qatar,

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Here we come, Kenya

And landed in Nairobi, Kenya.

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Hello, Kenya 🙂

We landed around at about 12:45pm, and it was so hot. It was really hot especially compared to France and Switzerland.

Our French class had begged for this France trip since last year, and we finally got it. I don’t regret begging for it one bit. I loved it there so much, even if it meant spending time away from my family during the Spring Break and freezing my fingers off in a foreign land. A lot of memories and laughter were made. We all just really had fun in general. A trip to France and Switzerland was a big thing, a trip to France and Switzerland with a French class was a huge thing, and a trip to France and Switzerland with a French class that contained my friends was an enormous thing. I loved the experience our French class gave to us– Thank you for everything 💕

I wouldn’t live in France. It is beautiful and all, but there are tourists and just people in general everywhere, everyday, every time of the day, and just words that have the word every in them. It’s really busy and complicated, too.

I would like to go back one day, hopefully in the near future, with my friends, and spend more time in the places we were not able to. Europe is a beautiful place and travelling is a beautiful thing. ❤