France in Pictures: Provins, Medieval Town

We were lucky enough to visit a lovely medieval town called Provins. In 2001, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a lovely little town and if you are in Paris, try and take a trip to this lovely place.

Quaint buildings.

Quaint buildings.

The entrance to the town.

The entrance to the town.

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Areas for eating.

Areas for eating.

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A view of the countryside.

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The medieval wall that protected the town.

The medieval wall that protected the town.

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再见!

Aisling.

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France in Pictures: Paris.

I know I’m a bit late posting these, but here you are!

Sacre Couer Basilica

Sacre Couer Basilica

View of the city from the Basilica.

View of the city from the Basilica.

Paris has some lovely ice-cream!

Paris has some lovely ice-cream!

The Moulin Rouge

The Moulin Rouge

The bottom of the Eiffel Tower.

The bottom of the Eiffel Tower.

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The winding queue.

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The most famous view of it.

The most famous view of it.

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The huge amount of locks.

The huge amount of locks.

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Catching some sun on their man-made beach.

Catching some sun on their man-made beach.

The queue to get into Notre Dame Cathedral.

The queue to get into Notre Dame Cathedral.

Inside the Louvre.

Inside the Louvre.

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Bustling about to see the most famous lady in the Louvre.

Bustling about to see the most famous lady in the Louvre.

There she is!

There she is!

We waited 2 hours in the sun to get to this green building; the entrance to the Catacombs.

We waited 2 hours in the sun to get to this green building; the entrance to the Catacombs.

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The long and cold walk down.

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再见!

Aisling.

Our last few days.

In less than a week we’ll be back in China. I’m in mixed emotions with this. I’m looking forward to returning to our apartment and knowing that that space is ‘ours’; instead of living in my parents house. Second of all, I can’t wait to get back to Uni and start studying again. Finally, I’ll enjoy eating the Chinese food again!

But of course I’m going to miss home and Ireland. The lack of people here, my Mum’s cooking, the green fields, and of course my family and friends. I know I won’t be back to Ireland for a while, so my two nephews will be even bigger!

When I decided to move to China for the internship, I never thought I’d be living there for the next few years, so I didn’t really think about family and them visiting me. I do now though! It’s a pity I live too far away from them. If I decided to move to somewhere in Europe perhaps, it would be different. But I may make the most of being in China when I’m there; visiting other countries and studying Mandarin.

Since arriving back from Paris, my oldest nephew is always asking when are we going back to China. When he see’s us leaving, say to go to town, he always asks ‘Where are you going?’ ‘Are you coming back?’ It breaks my heart when he asks these. Because soon I’ll have to say ‘No, we won’t be back’.

But we’re enjoying our stay here, relaxing and enjoying time with the family! Back to the madness of China soon though!

再见!

Aisling.

The romantic city of Paris.

We’ve spent a lovely (and hot) week in the lovely city of Paris. We decided to visit as Rafa’s sister now lives there with her boyfriend, so naturally it was the perfect time to see her. From the rain filled Ireland to the blue sky of France, it was a great welcome! Although my excitement for the sun dwindled a little when I got burnt. My poor Irish skin can’t stick the sun.

But it was a great wee holiday! I’ve been to France a few years ago, but when we were in Paris, we  didn’t get to go sightseeing as it was just a stop off. So this time round we made sure I got to do the touristy things.

During our week, we were staying in the La Defense area. Booking our room with Air BnB, we found a great one that was near to the metro, plus there was a Monoprix near to us aswell. Here they sell French pastries. Oh how I wish the Chinese would adopt these instead of their horrible pastries they make.

So we did the touristy things; went up the Eiffel Tower, visited Disneyland, saw the Mona Lisa, visited the Notre Dame among more. But of course, there were queues….everywhere. The longest wait was for the Catacombs, which took 2 hours….outside, in the sun. We’re glad we visited it, but it was a long wait!

The two things I didn’t exactly like about Paris were

1. It’s cleanliness.

Although I loved Paris; its architecture, winding cobbled streets… what struck me was the amount of cigarette butts that were littered all over the streets. The bins didn’t seem to have the option of putting the butts in the bin, so naturally everyone threw them on the street. So the cleanliness of the city was a bit of a disappointment. It’s such a beautiful city, you would think they would make more of an effort to make it even more beautiful. In comparison to Chengdu, they have an army of cleaners; sweeping the streets and the bins are never overflowing. In Chengdu it’s much cleaner. But anyway it’s still gorgeous.

2. It’s so expensive.

We visited a touristy area in Paris and I came across a menu with deserts being priced at 12euro!  Everything is so expensive! The only place for food that is cheaper than all the restaurants is McDonalds. I’m sure there are cheap places to eat, but with being tourists, we didn’t know these areas. Coming from a country that is extrememly cheap, to arriving to one of the most expensive really puts into perspective how lucky we are to be able to eat and travel cheaply in China.

**Also a tip for anyone visiting Paris and using the metro system. When we were buying tickets, Rafa’s sister used the Spanish version to order the tickets. But she quickly noticed she was being charged more than what they are usually priced at. She switched back to the French version and they were cheaper. So they charge more for tickets when you use the Spanish/English version. So if you can, try and use the French version so you’re not caught out! That’s if you can understand French!

So we arrived back in Ireland to the cold and the clouds, but it’s good to relax. We walked quite a lot in Paris. But I enjoyed my time immensely.

( I will try and post pictures, but our internet here is not very good here so it may take a while)

再见!

Aisling.

Getting ready for home time!

In about 20 days we’ll be on our way to Ireland. Being away for 1 year and a half is scary! It’s flown by but also I feel like I missed loads back home.  My nephew was 2 when I left, and he just turned 4 a few days ago. He’s a completely different boy now! Last time I could carry him about, but now, I’m definitely sure I won’t be able to do that. Plus with the added nephew it’s going to be extra strange coming home to another addition to the family.

So, I’ve started to slowly get stuff ready for going; with Uni and working, we don’t get much time to do stuff. We’ve bought our tickets to both Ireland and France, booked our accommodation in Paris, so now we have to organise our money situation and see how much we should bring.

My 4 year old nephew has also not been letting me forget about what he wants! Specifically dinosaurs. He also added that he wanted a train and gates so he can put the dinosaurs in it. That request was a little to difficult for me to achieve, but myself and Rafael bought him about 9 dinosaurs, 8 that are stationary and 1 that is bigger and moves. So I hope they will make him happy!

As for my other nephew, because he’s only about 4 months old, he’ll have to settle with a hand made (unisex) cardigan from Mexico.

When I think of the souvenirs I brought from Mexico, it made me realise where did I actually put them. Since moving, I haven’t seen them around the apartment. I’ll have to dig them up too so I can give them to my family.

Food wise for Ireland, I did tell Mum to make her special omelette for when we arrive, but I’ve suddenly changed my mind, going for a typical Irish breakfast! We’ll arrive in the morning so it’ll be the perfect breakfast! I realised; we have eggs and the ingredients here, so we could make our own omelette if we wanted to, whereas with an Irish breakfast it’s impossible to make here.

And University wise, we only have a few weeks left until semester one is finished! The amount I’ve learned is amazing, so I hope I’ll learn lots more in level 2. I think I could comfortably do the HSK level 1 exam now. This is the Chinese language proficiency exam for foreigners. I know, I know, I did say  months ago on this blog that I was planning on doing the exam for ages. But I got lazy, and wasn’t actually sure If I could do it. But I think maybe we could do it after we come back from Ireland.

For now, I’m concentrating on learning the characters from the first book. I’ve calculated that I need to learn 10 characters a day in order to know them for the exam. I don’t think I’ll know them all, though, as I tend to forget how to write them very easily.  But I have all summer to make sure I know them for level 2. 

For now thats everything for you,

When I get that backpack out then it’ll really be time to go!

再见!

Aisling.