November 24, 2010

Follow me to school

 Last Tuesday was a misty morning-- low clouds from all the moisture in the ground made everything look very Halloween-like. The weather here can be a little strange sometimes.

 I headed toward the bus stop-- a different one than usual, because a giant hole in the road from all the rain stopped the bus from coming into Linkebeek. 

Got on Bus 43, direction Sterrenwacht/Observatoire, which takes me to school each morning.   

After a thirty-minute or so ride through the morning traffic of Uccle, I got off the bus onto Avenue DeFré. 

Walked up Rue Edith Cavell, towards Notre Dame des Champs

And here's my school. 

Headed into the main entrance... 

And here's what you see when you first walk in. 

Up three flights of stairs is the level where I have most of my classes. 



If you look down, you can see the other two levels,

 and if you look up, you can see the dome.

Because one of my teachers was gone, I didn't have to go to that class. So, I took a walk around, taking pictures. 

Old stained glass windows aren't all that common in United States schools, I don't think... 


And neither are old wooden staircases. This school, last year, celebrated its 100-year anniversary.  

When you look at the doors to the library, you expect it to look like the rest of the school-- old. 

Actually, it doesn't at all. It was completely renovated a few years ago, so it looks all modern. 

It's a strange juxtaposition, because they also preserved some of the old paintings and architecture. 

Moving on to the bathroom. Because it used to be a girls-only school and they haven't added other bathrooms for the boys (they can't, really-- it's kind of hard to insert plumbing into 100-year-old walls), the two genders share the same. It's a little weird, but it works. 

I find it's always important to note the bathroom stall graffiti. 

Yes, that is English that you see. Weird, huh? How strange would it be if people in United States bathroom stalls wrote graffiti in French, or in other foreign languages? Maybe they do somewhere, but certainly nowhere I've seen before.

Of course, people write in French too:

A look at one of the halls... each of the halls are almost identical. 

The view from outside one of the windows. For the entire day, the weather was very misty. It was a strange ambience...

I had a second class without a teacher-- it's called a fourche, and people are kind of free to do whatever.

Voila, Celine, moi, et Lara! 

Et Celine et Viktor.

Some other misty pictures of the school and grounds around it....

Et des copains!


November 20, 2010

A trip to France (Part II)

So this is part 2. See below for part one. 

The last day in France, I played the classic American tourist, visiting the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, etc. Well, actually, the night before, after I took the nice picture of the city at night and ate dinner with my American friends, that was the time when I played the classic American tourist. I walked from the restaraunt with my little pocket map in hand trying to find my hotel,  and after walking probably around 5 kilometers total and not finding it, I learned that Rue Berger (the street I was on) and Rue Bergère (the street the hotel was on) aren't the same thing at all. But it wasn't a huge deal-- I got to see Paris at night. It's a nice ambience.

Anyway-- the next day, I saw the things almost anybody who goes to Paris sees: the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.

So, here are a couple more photos...


I thought that it was worth noting that we took the world-famous Paris metro system. It's a lot bigger... but much more expensive than the one in Brussels.

Anyway, I got the classic picture of Eiffel Tower:

Not bad, huh?
Really, as with all famous monuments, I had had the scales messed up in my mind. Sometimes, when you see buildings in pictures, they look a lot bigger or a lot smaller than they actually are. This time, the real-life eiffel tower surprised me by how big it was. 

324 meters, or 1,063 feet high. 

The bottom of the staircase. I can now say I climbed sucessfully as high as I could on the Eiffel Tower. 

I was definitely impressed by the architecture. It's a lot of metal. 

The view from the second platform. 

And, I need to make sure to not forget to show how many people there were. People everywhere. 

Lots. Of people. 

View from the top of the tower. Though the fog decreased the view, I thought it made a pretty good effect. 

LA. It's a long ways away. 

Aand, more people. I suppose that's what you get at the most-visited monument in the world. 

And, looking straight up from directly under the tower. 

Headed back to Notre Dame Cathedral, got a picture of some different architecture. Very beautiful as well. 

Le metro de Paris. Classique

Met back up with the Cortezians again, and we explored the Louvre. 

Like every good tourist, I saw the Mona Lisa. Can you spot her? 

The Louvre is HUGE. It took me over twenty minutes to walk from one end to the other. 

Downtown Paris...

And by this time, it was time to head home. After spending about 2 hours in les bouchons on our way out of Paris, we headed towards Brussels. 

The blurry picture describes exactly how I was feeling. It had been a long day. 

Et voila. My first vacation in France.