Quick Post

TUESDAY, March 4th, was our first day back from Spain. We used this day along with the following two to catch our breath before another quick getaway! Oh, the joy of living in Europe. Matt went into work and I spent the day completing the fun tasks of life that will never cease to exist. Laundry, cleaning, and groceries. I also registered for a new class, SFL 102: Intro to Interiors. Do not let the number deceive you, as it did me. It may claim to be a 100 level course but from the second I opened up the first lesson I felt like I was in a 300 or 400 level class. Not exactly the type of class I was looking for since I need to complete the course by April 4th if I want to graduate. But hey, you do what you gotta do.

WEDNESDAY, March 5th, I spent this day completing assignments for my Interior Design course. Despite the amount of work, I am actually enjoying the material of the class. I am learning really useful things that will come in when we no longer live in 100 square feet. Bonus: I get to pick things I would actually use in my home which translates to spending time on Pinterest is finally a homework assignment. I never thought the day would come!

This was the day that Matt met John Kerry. You can read about it at Smiths Go Euro 2.o. Not quite yet…but he is catching up. Check in a couple days.

THURSDAY, March 6th, While Matt was at the Embassy I broke free from the apartment today and did my homework at the library. I really wish I had more to report throughout this week but I really did just do homework like crazy. Especially because we are traveling again this weekend and then Nat and Mikey, Heather and Tanner are coming soon. My original 4 weeks to complete this course is now only 3 weeks since I will be taking a week off to play with them. I thought about just doing my homework while they are visiting but then decided to be honest with myself. There is no way that would happen.

(And sorry, not even a single picture from these days!)

No Hablo Español (Spain–Part 3)

MONDAY, March 3rd, was our last day in Spain. My Dad, Dean, and Loren drove up to Ronda about an hour away. Matt and I didn’t want to spend our last hours of Spain in a car so we decided to check out Marbella, about 15 minutes from the resort. Before my Dad dropped us off in the morning, he treated us to an awesome breakfast buffet. Fruits and bread galore. You could even make your own waffle on a stick. It was fantastic. We stuffed ourselves silly and said our goodbyes.

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Then our day got a bit interesting. We were about 45 min – 1 hour away from the airport and needed to get ourselves there by 7:30 pm in order to catch our flight. The rest of the day was ours—with a few limitations. No car and no ability to speak Spanish. (That’s not entirely true. Matt’s french helped him pick up key words pretty easily. But forming sentences and communicating with others was still a definite struggle.) We decided our first stop would be the beach. After all, Matt served in the South of France for two years without being able to touch the Mediterranean Sea. It was a beautiful day so we made for the beach. Not without some ice cream though.

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It was so nice to relax on the sea side. We spent about 1.5 hours at the beach searching for shells and dipping our toes. It was beautiful. Afterward, we headed back up into the city center of Marbella and saw cool shops and the old town.

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We then hiked up to the bus station and purchased 2 tickets to Torremolinos. A place neither of us had even heard of before that day but had seen a brochure in the Marriott for a Crocodile Park in Torremolinos. This sounded fun. We waited for the bus and when it pulled up it said it was going to Ronda. Wrong direction! We realized we were waiting in the wrong line and asked a guy nearby and he pointed to a bus that was beginning to pull out, “That’s your bus.” We flagged down the driver and barely made the bus. We sat down and were not entirely sure if we were even on the right bus but laughed at the adventure we found ourselves in. We asked the lady in front of us and she confirmed that we were indeed on the right bus! Hooray! We would make it back to France after all.

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The bus ride was nothing short of beautiful. The bus drove right along the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. We passed all sorts of colorful Spanish towns. About 30 minutes later we got off in Torremolinos. It was then that we realized the Crocodile Park is in Torremolinos but we did not know where. It would be like getting dropped off in Farmington and knowing that Lagoon is there but not sure how to get there. (But no giant ferris wheel or roller coaster to give away the location.) So we walked. And walked. And walked. And found a map! Luckily we realized we had been walking in the right direction all along and were just around the corner from the Crocodile Park.

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We arrived, paid too much for admission and walked into a weird crocodile zoo thing. A demonstration had just started where this man would tap a stick on the crocodile’s head and bug it enough that it would snap its jaw at him. But they were pretty calm overall. The guide said it was because they were hibernating. It was interesting to learn about them but kind of sad at the same time because they were so cooped up. What am I saying? I have a huge fear of crocodiles and here I am advocating for their rights. Moving on before I say much more…

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We did get to hold a baby crocodile and that was pretty awesome. And scary and awesome.

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Afterward, we walked back through Torremolinos and realized we had not eaten anything since our delicious breakfast and ice cream. It was about 4:30 pm and none of the cafe’s were really open. We tend to get hungry in that in between time of lunch and dinner. Then we spotted a place that we knew would provide a great lunch/dinner. Burger King. And oh, boy. I don’t know if it has ever tasted so good.

After eating, we decided it was probably time to make our way to the airport. We walked from one end of a large square to the other and then in a huge circle trying to find the metro/train station. We followed signs but somehow we just kept missing it. After a good 30 minutes with no success, we finally asked an older couple where to go. The old man explained it to us and then was so kind he had his wife wait while he walked us to the station. Guess where it was? Next door to Burger King! The joys of not knowing your way around. We laughed pretty hard about that one.

We successfully caught the metro which took us straight to the airport. From the airport we took a bus that took us directly to Denfert Rochereau (the metro stop by our apartment.) And just like that we had traveled to Spain, Morocco, and back to France.

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My, oh, my. What a great weekend.

Bless the Rains Down in Africa (Spain–Part 2)

SUNDAY, March 2nd.

We awoke early and got on the road. We drove about an hour to a port town on the tip of Spain called Tarifa. Here we barely caught the ferry to Tangier, Morocco. Yes, you read correctly, we went to AFRICA!! It still feels like it may have been a dream.

Entering the ferry.

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The boat was really rocking on the way over and the bathrooms were full of seasick passengers. I shut my eyes and opened them to a new continent. It was pretty awesome. We lined up to exit the ferry and find our tour guide, Said (pronounced sigh-eed). Just as we exited the ferry a man walked up to me and held out a piece of paper “Jennifer Smith”

“Is this you?” He asked.

“Yes.”

“Okay, the four of you, follow me!”

My Dad, Dean, Matt and I followed this man past the long lines to a desk. Here Said and the man behind the desk spoke in Arabic. Said asked us for our passports and he handed all four over to the man who stamped us into Morocco. Then we bypassed the long line again, Said nodded at some security guards and we went through some secret exit and ended up in a parking lot near the dock. Said introduced us to Khalid who would be our personal tour guide. Khalid walked us over to a large white passenger van and we piled in.

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Khalid then took all of our passports and announced “I will go sell these.” And he headed back up toward the ferry. I knew he was joking yet still felt very uneasy having my passport in the hands of a stranger in a different country. Luckily, he came back 5 long minutes later (in the picture, he is the man in black walking toward the van) with our passports in hand, “Nobody would buy them!” He said. He had taken them and had them stamped for our departure. This was so when we left later that day we would not have to wait in the long line to get our passports stamped. It will save us time. Are you kidding me? Ha ha we were definitely not in America. There is no way that would ever fly — in most places. Anyway, then our adventure began. We started by taking the van up to a lookout point where we could see both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea at the same time. Pretty tight.

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There were people selling all sorts of things every where we went.

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We hopped back in the van and rode for about 10 minutes until we came to the Camels. This was awesome.

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The only place I had ever seen a camel before is the zoo and now I got to ride one. They are huge animals.

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After the camels, we went to the famous caves of Hercules. They are famous because according to Roman sources, and wikipedia, “Hercules had to cross the mountain that was once Atlas. Instead of climbing the great mountain, Hercules used his superhuman strength to smash through it. By doing so, he connected the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and formed the Strait of Gibraltar.”

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↓ The view from just outside the caves–this is where we began the walking portion of our tour ↓

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Morocco is beautiful. And colorful. And full of culture. We walked the markets and saw an entirely new way of living. The markets were my favorite and least favorite part of the tour. Favorite because it was sooo interesting. Least favorite because of the fish/meat sections. See for yourself…if you dare. Some pictures get kind of gross.

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↓ Poor bunnies for sale. I say poor because they are being sold to be eaten ↓

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↓ One of my favorite pictures. A Berber woman selling vegetables on the side of the road. ↓

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↓ I’m not sure what these are. Spices? The next photo is definitely spices. ↓

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↓ Cheese. The case is made from woven palm leaves. ↓

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↓ Olives ↓

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↓ This was the beginning of the meat market. I thought this stand was bad… ↓

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↓ Stomaches. You can see the gastric rugae, or folds.  ↓

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↓ The head of a sword fish ↓

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↓ An eel ↓

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↓ Goat heads ↓

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Just imagine the smell. And the juices that were dripping right on to the walkway. The bottom of my shoes had never seemed so disgusting.

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↓ The meat/fish section finally ended and then we saw more beautiful stands like this one ↓

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Believe it or not, we walked straight from all of that to lunch. I don’t think any of us had much of an appetite. Especially after seeing where the restaurant owner had surely purchased his meat from. But, Said came and made us all feel comfortable, we washed our hands and began a 4 course meal. Pictured below is what we started with, bread, crepes, and olives with dip. All had very interesting flavors.

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↓ This was our second course. Chicken pie. I tried as hard as I could to push the images of the hanging chicken carcasses from my mind and ate up. It was surprisingly tasty. ↓

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The next course was a meal cooked and served in a tagine. I can’t believe I did not get a picture. I guess you will just have to Google “tagine cooking” to see what I’m talking about. It is a small, funnel-shaped, ceramic, slow-cooker thing. After the tagine, they brought out baklava and fresh strawberries and oranges for dessert. Said was very friendly and made for a very positive experience.

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After lunch, Khalid took us around to a couple shops.

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↓ The rooftops where Jason Bourne saved the world in the third movie ↓

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↓ This was taken in a spice and herb shop. The owner had a whole presentation for us. He would tell us about a spice or herb and the uses. He passed it around for us to smell. At the end he gave us each a bag and told us the price of the various products. He was quite the salesman. My Dad got me some Moroccan hair oil to mix with my shampoo for healthier hair. I got some magic lipstick. It was a really fun experience.  ↓

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↓ This man followed us, especially Dean, around for the majority of our walking tour. He just kept holding out the bracelets asking us to buy. We told him no but he just kept following us. I don’t remember if someone finally caved in or not but it was actually a pretty comical experience. ↓

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↓ A view of Matt, the port, and part of the city on the far right. ↓

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↓ Khalid in traditional moroccan robes. I cannot remember what they’re called. He was really funny and a fabulous guide. ↓

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↓ A picture with Said, the owner of the tour business. He has everything down to a science. He was great! ↓

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↓ Saying goodbye ↓

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↓ A picture showing how Said would lead us right passed the check points and security stations. ↓

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↓ About to get on the ferry ↓

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If you have made it this far, congratulations! That was quite the long post but the pictures were too good not to include. Visiting Morocco is something I will not forget. It was so neat to experience a culture so different than our own. It also made me so grateful to be an American. Hopefully after returning from our three months in Europe, I will not forget the feeling of gratitude I feel now for the fortunate circumstances I was born into.

Vámonos, Muchachos! (Spain–Part 1)

SATURDAY, March 1st, we went to Spain! I can’t believe I just typed that sentence. This trip was such an awesome surprise! When my Dad arrived in Paris he talked about how after a week in France they were spending a week in Spain and Morocco. Both Matt and I were so excited for them. Spain sounded like such a neat place to visit but we did not really have it on our list because tickets were expensive and we had no place to stay. My Dad invited us down for the weekend – all expenses paid. Matt and I could not have been more excited. Our plane left at noon and arrived in Malaga 2.5 hours later. It was a bit overcast when we flew in but cleared up later in the day. Our phone did not work in Spain which worried us because we had to meet up with my Dad, but they found us just fine! My Dad, Dean and their friend Loren picked us up and we headed right into the city.

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Our first stop was lunch. We ordered some Tapas at a Tapas cafe. I also got a yummy smoothie. Next, we hit up the Picasso museum. Picasso was born in Malaga so they have a museum packed with his work. I wrote a post about the museum for my humanities class here. I decided Picasso is not my favorite artist, but this museum was neat, nonetheless. My Dad, Matt, and I went around to the various paintings and would guess the title without looking at the plaque. It turned into a fun game. (I think my Dad has the picture of us in front of the museum because I cannot find it!) Here is a funny one of Matt messing around with the back of his ticket.

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After the museum we went to a famous cathedral in the center of the old town but it was closed. Here are pictures of the cathedral and parts of the old town.

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We decided to head back to the resort. Along the way, the five of us stopped for dinner at an amazing restaurant recommended by the concierge. It was up on a hill overlooking the city below. The windows were huge and view was incredible. (The picture does not do it justice.) We ate like kings.

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After dinner we arrived at the Marriott Resort. My Dad gave us the posh treatment and let us have the master suite for our stay. The master suite was at least twice the size our entire Paris apartment. It was luxurious. Matt and I dropped off our bags and threw on our swimming suits (which we subsequently left in Spain, darn it!) and went straight for the hot tub. It felt so nice to go swimming. And then sleep in fluffy king sized bed. No complaints here!

These are pictures I snapped of the resort the next morning from our balcony.

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WEEK FIVE & Papa à Paris

SUNDAY, February 23rd, there are two things that stick out in my two-week-old memory from this day. The first is our new calling—primary instructors! I absolutely love it. The primary here is bilingual. Many of the kids speak only English and many speak only French. Others speak both languages. So the language policy is, there is no language policy! Speak in the language you prefer. This works well for me because I must admit my French has not improved much at all since being here. There are about 15 kids in primary. We teach the junior primary along with two other instructors. The primary president is so good with the children and flips between French and English very easily depending on the child she is speaking with.

My favorite thing about the two hour-blocks was singing time. Hearing the kids sing in French was so darling. They also belted the primary song “I Love to See the Temple” in English. The Spirit was very strong and I have never been so moved by that song. I look forward to our (limited) Sundays with the Primary kids.

↓ Matt looking unusually happy in front of the meetinghouse for church ↓

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The second thing I remember about this day, is it is the day my Dad purchased us tickets to go visit him in Spain for the following weekend. Our heads were spinning. We just got back from London and would be heading down to Spain in just six more days. Can I just say, traveling in Europe is awesome! Everything is sooo close. {This doesn’t necessarily mean it is cheap to get there, but it definitely can be with adequate planning.} We are so grateful for his generosity and for the many neat opportunities we have had since arriving a month ago.

MONDAY, February 24th, I spent the morning working on my ever-piling homework. I was able to stay diligent all morning because I had the afternoon to look forward to. At 12:15 pm I headed off to Place de la Bastille. Here I met up with my Dad and Dean. It is a square in Paris where the Bastille prison used to be until it was destroyed during the French Revolution.

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We walked around the winding streets of Paris and ate lunch at L’Europeen, a fancy French restaurant on the corner across from Gare de Lyon. Since, we were in France, I decided to put my typical picky prejudices aside, go out on a limb, and order duck. It was heavenly! I have heard that duck is typically tough and chewy, however this one tasted very tender. It was in a delicious sauce with plums and apples. My Dad ordered some Chicken with thyme and mashed potatoes (also heavenly) and Dean ordered…well, I do not quite recall. Something to do with a lot of sausage and sauerkraut. He is much more daring than I when it comes to trying new food.

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↑ Duck ↑

(Chicken not pictured)

↓ Sausage & Sauerkraut ↓

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After a splendid lunch, we went shopping. We stopped in at one of Matt’s favorite stores, Celio, which proved to be dangerous. Too many good finds! My Dad gave Matt a really nice sweater from here, it has already gotten quite a bit of use! After shopping we met up with Matt outside the Pompidou and explored one of our favorite shops, Fleux. I wrote about it at the end of this previous post. Afterward we dropped off the days purchases at the hotel and headed off to dinner.

Years ago when Dean had previously visited France he went to a restaurant called Le Train Bleu. It’s known for the fun atmosphere and over-the-top decor. It is in a train station overlooking the busy streets of Paris. My Dad wanted to treat us to a memorable, French dinner—this evening turned out to be just that. It was quite fancy and far above our typical standards but if you ever find yourself in Paris looking for an impressive place, I highly recommend this one. We ate well and had an enjoyable evening. (Also, I’ll never forget that raspberry and passion fruit tart!)

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Best of all, it was just fun to spend time with my Dad in Paris.

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TUESDAY, February 25th. To be honest, I don’t quite remember this day. However, I am confident we did something lovely, we are in Paris after all!

WEDNESDAY, February 26th, I used my time in the morning for homework and then met Matt for lunch. Instead of meeting at the US Embassy like we typically do, we decided to meet at the Pantheon. It was really neat! I wrote a post (with many pictures) about it here for my humanities course. I really enjoyed the crypt in the basement of the Pantheon. It was also cool to see the grave of Voltaire and Victor Hugo.

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↓ I purposely omitted this picture from my school post, but still feel it should be shared ↓

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THURSDAY, February 27th, this day was similar to the previous day with the substitution of where we met for lunch. Instead of lunch at the Pantheon, we met at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris. Admission is free. Naturally, this attracted us poor college students! We ate a packed lunch in the basement and then visited the permanent collections. I do not think I have ever really been to a modern art museum! So, I actually found this place pretty interesting. My favorite were the large colorful masterpieces. Much of it was weird. But still fun to visit.

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This was also the day we finally remembered to bring Flat Stanley with us and take a picture for our cute nephew, Morgan, and his school assignment.

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FRIDAY, February 28th, I stayed home writing papers and playing catch up with my schoolwork—all day! These days are not my favorite but they are a necessary evil. My graduation deadline is ticking! It is always a nice relief to see Matt after long days like these and enjoy dinner together. He basically rocks for working so hard at the Embassy every day!

Next post: SPAIN!

London {Part 2}

SATURDAY, February 22nd, Matt and I woke up early and met up with the ward in the lobby of the hotel. We divided up into our various cars and drove 10 minutes to the temple. We had originally planned on doing a session but ended up helping out in the baptistry instead. This was my first time being on the other side of baptisms. It was really neat to watch the youth serve in the temple.

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Afterward, Matt and I had a couple minutes to walk the grounds of the temple. This temple, like all temples, is beautiful. I especially loved the grounds. Everything was so green and the temple was so white. Here are some pictures we snapped on that gorgeous day:

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The group then headed back to the hotel for a breakfast buffet. They served a traditional English breakfast along with all sorts of yummy food. We ate well. After breakfast, we drove back to the temple. Here we had a testimony meeting with the youth. I felt so blessed to be included in such a neat experience with the youth. It was a nice insight of what it means to being a member of the church outside of Utah. These young men and young women have so much faith and proudly wear it on their sleeves. I can learn a lot from them.

We ended up waiting for a couple hours outside the temple. This provided plenty of time for us to explore the visitors center and meet the missionaries serving there. Also, it was just fun to talk more with Anna and Myriam. Those Goreeba girls are too much fun!

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Sustained by our big breakfast, a large bag of Snicker’s candy bars, and a bag of clementines, we finally packed in the car and headed back to Paris.

We again drove the car onto the Chunnel and crossed the English Channel back to France. Everything seemed to be going great until our car started lurching. We were just outside of Paris and the gas gage suddenly dropped from a quarter tank to empty! We attempted to make it to the nearest gas station. The car lurched off the exit and into a roundabout. We accidentally took a wrong turn and lurched up to the edge of where the big semi-trucks fill up. Everyone jumped out of the car and started pushing the car into the stall. Unfortunately, these stalls did not have an attachment for our car, just Semi’s. Thankfully, three Portuguese men helped us push the car back out and around to the “car side” of the gas station. The whole situation was hilarious! We felt so close yet so far away. At that point we could not really do anything but laugh. (And of course I took pictures while everyone else pushed the car…)

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But, hey, we made it back to our humble abode safe and sound AND we had an awesome sightseeing/spiritual weekend in England. What more could we ask for?

London {Part 1}

I had never been to England before this past weekend. We were there for less than 48 hours. Let me assure you, we will return! Some day, some how, we will make it happen. London is an adventure worth repeating.

FRIDAY, February 21st, we awoke at 6:30 AM. We met up with the ward on the other side of Paris an hour later. The meeting point was a Hertz car rental office. After the leaders worked out some kinks in the car rentals, we hit the road around 9:00 AM. One nice thing about traveling with the ward is they took care of our transportation, food, and accommodations. It was a very stress-free way to travel. Unfortunately, I do not think it was as pleasant for those in charge. Whenever something went wrong, it fell back to them while we just waited happily to be told what to do and where to go.

Another thing I enjoyed about this trip is how it centered around the youth of the ward. They were going to London so the youth would have an opportunity to visit the temple. Matt and I just tagged along. We had a lot of fun making new friends and Matt even ran into an old friend. Her name is Abish. She was a member in Carcassonne when Matt was a new missionary there. She often went teaching with him and his companion because she was preparing to serve a mission herself. She also helped Matt a lot with his French. Abish has since served a mission in Paris and has now moved back to Paris to live. Her fiancé and her are members of the ward we attend, Saint Merri. We just had not crossed paths until now. I was able to meet her and then sit next to her the whole way to England. Abish is such a sweet person and {lucky for me} speaks English, very well!

Another person I was very excited to see was my friend Anna. I met her when we ate dinner at the bishops house. She is 17-years-old and we also traveled with her 12-year-old sister, Myriam. Together they had me laughing the whole way there. They are such fun girls and also have bright testimonies.

Our car ride was tight, but fun. Andrew and Katherine drove, and in the back was Anna, Myriam, Abish, Matt and I. I love these people!

We drove from Paris to the edge of France where we drove the vehicle right onto the Chunnel! It was awesome. I recorded the whole thing.

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About to drive onto the Chunnel

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Inside the train

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It only took about 25 minutes to cross the English Channel and then we popped up in England! Another 2 hours from the Chunnel to our hotel. It was refreshing to stay at a Marriott. {I must say I will not miss our apartment in Paris once we leave.}

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We arrived at the hotel around 3:00 PM.  The youth gathered up to head to the temple {5 minutes away} and Matt and I grabbed the Bishop for 2 minutes. We told him we would like to go into London right then and visit the temple on Saturday. In about 30 seconds, he told us how to walk to the train station, what stops to get off at, what sights to see, and when the trains come. He really knew his stuff! Matt and I tried to remember the details by repeating them back to each other as we walked to the train station. We were familiar with sights we wanted to see thanks to my friend, Kate, who had done a study abroad in London. She had given me tips a week earlier. Even though we only would have 6 hours in London,  I was gitty with excitement! We walked through a pretty wooded area on a path that led us to the platform of the train station.

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We got off at the London Victoria station. From here we walk/skipped to Buckingham Palace. It was quite a sight to see, especially because the sun was just barely behind it.

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The guards are real!

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From here we walked through St. James’s Park

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We then ran right into Big Ben

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This picture is taken while crossing Westminster Bridge.

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From here we did not really know where to go. I knew I wanted to find where Matilda was playing but we did not have any maps. We stopped at McDonalds and connected to wifi. From there we crossed the Thames again but this time on the Hungerford Bridge.

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From here we ended up in Trafalgar Square. We walked up Haymarket and turned at Piccadilly Circus. By the time we made it to Matilda, they were SOLD OUT. Major bummer.

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We walked back to Les Misérables and checked to see about their tickets. They had standing room for £12.50 (about $20) each. As tempted as we were, the show was 3 hours long and if we had done it, we would have missed our train back. This was okay, though. There was still plenty to see in London. We decided to take the tube to King’s Cross.

The tube in London is not like the metro in Paris. Not at all. It is much smaller and much more packed. We tried to get on a train, but there were literally too many people packed in like sardines that no matter how much we shoved, it was not happening. We waited for the next tube. Same situation, however, this time we were not going to take no for an answer. Matt found a space to squeeze into. I was left facing the inside of the tube, standing on the edge–but not in the tube. The doors began to beep. Matt put his arm on my back and pressed me in further, I plunged my head between two peoples shoulders and prayed my braid would not get caught in the doors. The doors shut. My braid was safe! I tried to straighten up but only moved about 3 inches. We laughed the whole way to the next stop.

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But we made it to King’s Cross!

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Then we took a double decker bus to get back to Piccadilly Circus. We ate Bertie Bott’s Every Flavoured Beans the whole way. We admittedly spat some out on the bus–only the vomit, booger, and rotten egg flavored ones. I actually did not mind the grass flavored one. I do not have a picture of us on the bus, however, I did take a couple pictures of the buses I saw earlier. The Book of Mormon Musical is doing a great job advertising out here:

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These buses were everywhere! It made me laugh. Because, I really do ♥ the Book of Mormon! The double decker bus was fun and a much more comfortable way to travel than the tube. It provided a neat view of London. However, being that high up really throws off your perspective as well. I was positive we had run over many people and cars by the time we got off. It kind of felt like we were on the Knight Bus from Harry Potter.

After the bus we searched and searched for a Wagamama‘s {highly recommended from Kate} for dinner. We walked to TWO of their locations with no success. Bummer. I guess they need to open one in Utah. Matt is convinced they went out of business. Instead we stopped and got some hot chocolate. Best part about it = the portion size! This was no French portion, my friends.

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I think the hot chocolate tasted even better because we got the amount we paid for! (We only paid 5 pounds for both) One thing I am excited about coming home is less expensive food. That will be wonderful.

We strolled around London looking in neat shops. We bought an Arcade Fire vinyl record as a souvenir. After all, they are from Canada. Whoops. When we bought it, we thought they were from Great Britain. Oh, well! At least we have an awesome record!

We took another double decker bus to take us back to the London Victoria station. On our way we passed right by Westminster Abbey (see picture below.) We made it back to our hotel at 11:00 pm. What a fun-filled day we had!

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Dear London,

It was a good 6 hours. But it was not enough.

See you again,

Jen(n)

Catching Up

I am a little behind on the blog. But, I am sooo excited to write about this weekend! That being said, I am going to quickly summarize last weekend/week and then get to… the good stuff. (Yup, it’s that exciting.)

SATURDAY, February 15th, we must not have done anything too remarkable with the daylight because I cannot seem to remember much and I do not have any pictures to jog my memory. The evening, however, was quite fun. A couple in our ward, Katherine and Andrew Current, had us over for dinner. They met in the BYU French department while they were both undergrads. Now they are living in Paris finishing up graduate school. We ate Thai Peanut Pasta and German Chocolate Cake.

SUNDAY I awoke at 2 am. I practically ran to the bathroom. I could go into details, but I just do not find that appropriate in this type of setting…or any setting really. Anyway, I went back in at 4 am. And 6 am. Matt went in after me each time. We like to call this game, food poisoning. We emailed a friend in the ward telling him we would not be at church and spent the rest of the day watching movies and barely moving. (Except of course for the bathroom.) Side note: No pictures from today.

MONDAY we both felt considerably better. It was President’s Day which meant Matt did not have to go into work. He helped me tackle the large sack of laundry waiting for us. We also did the grocery shopping for the week and cleaned up around our apartment. I worked on homework and studied for my upcoming exam. We ate spaghetti for dinner. It was an easy going day.

TUESDAY I began to realize just how much homework I had waiting for me. I spent a good portion of the day in my books. I did not meet Matt for work because he had been recruited by co-workers to go running at lunch. Between running on cobblestones and forgetting extra underpants, he had quite the adventure. I was impressed that he would go running, though! I love to run and I still have not been on this trip. I have a goal to go at least twice before the end of our adventures.

WEDNESDAY I awoke early with Matt and worked on homework. I later met him at the Embassy for lunch. While I was waiting out front for him, the gates of the US Embassy opened and about six escorted, black SUV’s trailed out of the parking lot. In one of the cars was John Kerry, the current US Secretary of State. It was pretty exciting! If Matt ever updates his blog, he will tell you all the cool details about why John Kerry was visiting Paris and more. We spent the end of Matt’s lunch break at Place de la Madeleine, about one block from the Embassy. It was a beautiful day and a fun sight to see.

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{Click on the panorama shots to enlarge}

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The view from the steps

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THURSDAY, February 21, was a very stressful day. I had 3 main tasks for the day. 1) Pick up my Dad and his partner, Dean, from the airport. 2) Finish studying and take a midterm. 3) Pack for London. I woke up early and studied. I met up with Matt and we went to the airport together. Due to a series of events, (including a stopped train and nearly avoiding a ticket) we arrived 2 hours late to pick up my Dad and Dean. I was so relieved to find them waiting diligently for us.

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Matt helped them buy their metro passes and the four of us headed into the city. We stopped for lunch at a cafe. However, lunch was over by the time we got there which left us with very slim pickings. Not exactly how I had planned on welcoming my Dad to Paris, but what can you do? After lunch we explored a nearby cathedral, Saint Eustace. Afterwards, we dropped them off at the train station and they headed to the Marriott Resort outside of Paris.

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I then headed back to the apartment and studied my brains out for my midterm. I took it at 9:30 pm and I feel like it went well. Afterward, Matt and I packed our bags for London. I could barely sleep I was so hyped up from running around all day and my excitement for the upcoming weekend.

So much for short. London post coming soon!

Another Week Already {Part 2} ♥♥♥

THURSDAY, February 13th, we decided to start celebrating Valentine’s day early. Although my morning was full of homework, I met Matt for lunch and my day just got better from there. I can see why the French like to take a 2-hour lunch break. It means Matt and I get to see a new glimpse of Paris each afternoon. After eating our packed sandwiches, we went for a walk. We came to this street where the buildings were leaning in toward each other.

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Matt told me how some old buildings in Nice would lean so much they would be touching at the top. I can’t believe we still haven’t made it to the South of France to visit his mission. We are currently having trouble reserving train tickets with our American credit card. Hopefully we can get that worked out so we get on down there!

We wandered through some neat shops in Le Marais, a neighborhood in Paris. I found a great pair of black heels for church. He headed back to the Embassy and I went back to the apartment. He arrived home that evening with his hands full. In one arm, pastries and a baguette, in the other he held roses. I picked a winner.

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I had dinner prepared, and a side plate with mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil. I served this and a baguette in basaltic vinegar.  I love those Caprese flavors!

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After dinner, Matt and I went for a walk along the Seine. It was very beautiful at night. Beautiful and cold. We walked to Pont Neuf. I wrote a post about it for my IHUM 202 course here.

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To all you avid followers out there, remember when I talked about Pont Neuf in this post and how we tried to find the “Leslie & Ben” lock from the TV show, Parks & Recreation? We discovered it was missing and it was a sad day. We thought it would be funny to replace it. Well, we had not bought a lock yet but since we were at Pont Neuf, we checked again just to make sure the lock was still gone and we found this:

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The lock reads, “Leslie and Ben and Matt.” I looked at Matt. What? He then told me he had been there earlier and put the lock on. Really?? Just as I became totally convinced, he told me it was not really him. It had been some other Matt. He was just reaping the benefits of having a popular name. He had me 100% fooled! Haha! We laughed about that for awhile. Then realized how entirely frozen our hands were and decided it was time for hot chocolate. We darted down a side street and came to this lovely place:

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Deane, Ella, and Jodi might recognize it. Matt said he came here with them on the post-mission trip in 2012. We made two orders of chocolat chaud but the owner informed us we could not order drinks alone, we had to order at least one crepe. She did not have to tell us twice. Since we were still full from dinner, we ordered one crepe with lemon and sugar. It was simple but still tasted heavenly. I loved the food and even more, the boy sitting across from me. It’s pretty awesome to spend so much one-on-one time with this husband-fellow. It was a grand evening in Paris.

FRIDAY, a.k.a. Valentine’s Day, could not have been better. After all, we did spend it in Paris! I would be crazy not to have loved it. I actually spent the majority of the day in our apartment working on homework. At 4:00 pm I hopped on the metro and picked up Matt from work. Naturally, I arrived with one of his many favorite treats. Tarte aux framboises. {The building in the background of this picture is where he works.}

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It was hands-down the best patisserie we have had so far. I’m drooling just typing about it. We scarfed it in the metro, like the true Americans we are. {The French people rarely eat on the go, let alone a fancy treat like this.}

We rode to the metro stop École Militaire. This dropped us nearby the grassy field in front of La Tour Eiffel. We decided to walk up to the 2nd level because 1) it is much cheaper and 2) the line was a 10-minute wait, compared to a 2-hour wait. Only 5 minutes after we got in line, they stopped letting people get in our line for the stairs. They did this because they do not let people take the stairs up after dark. We had barely made the cut off! Phew!

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Wind. There was a lot of wind.

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And then a beautiful thing started happening . . .

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The sun began to set.

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This already beautiful sight became majestic.

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Let me remind you, that pictures never show how beautiful it actually was. This was some serious beauty.

As it grew darker, the tower became lighter. This is a picture I took on our way back down.

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This is how high we went

We did not go all the way up because the cold wind was too harsh and we did not want to miss our dinner reservations. Instead, we took our time on the second level and then made our way to dinner. {To walk up cost us 5 euros each, to take the elevator to the top is 15 each.}

On Thursday, I searched for good recommendations for an affordable dinner for Friday. TripAdvisor.com recommended this one and the owner answered his phone when I called and he spoke English and he still had seats open for Valentine’s day. It is an Italian restaurant called Casa Cristo.

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The owner did not open his restaurant until 7:30 pm. That is when we made our reservations for, but besides the owner, we were the only people there! I thought this meant either the food was going to be terrible or French people eat late dinners. Thankfully it was the latter. By the time we left, he had turned many people away, and others were waiting for our seats. However, before it filled up, I snuck a photo of this charming place.

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Our food was delectable! I would recommend this place to anyone and everyone.

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After our wonderful evening, we got on the metro only to realize Matt’s backpack was still at Casa Cristo. Yikes! We hurried back and luckily it had not been touched.

Yes, Valentine’s day was amazing because we were in Paris. But more importantly it was amazing because of the high-caliber man I am married to. I love Matthew Sanders Smith. End of story.

Another Week Already {Part 1}

Time has passed very quickly. Our 12 weeks are already down to 8. How did this happen? Once I realized this, I panicked. What if we don’t see all of the “must-see’s” in Paris? I immediately started making a list of the cool sights we have left to see. It got me really excited for all of the amazing things we still have left to visit. Paris is cool. Here is a summary of our past week:

MONDAY, February 10, Matt went to the Embassy and I headed to an area called Saint Germain des Près. {This happens to be my favorite stop announced on the metro, the recording says it so perfectly every time!} Here I met up with a couple girls from the ward, Katherine and Christine. Katherine recently finished her Master’s program and her husband is finishing his. Christine just moved here with her husband for his study abroad for law school. Christine has two darling children. Coco {short for Cosette} and Henry. I am so impressed that she has mastered living abroad so well with two children. Serious respect points. Katherine and Christine are both a couple years older than me and they both met their husbands at BYU. Being a member of the church sometimes makes the world seem so small. Anyway, these girls invited me to walk the Seine with them that morning. They go out together once a week and visit neat places in Paris {museums, cemeteries, etc.} I enjoyed our conversations and the view as we strolled the Seine on that beautiful morning. It was fun and very relaxing.

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Christine & Coco. {I didn’t get a picture of Katherine}

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Isn’t that tower just beautiful? I am wide-eyed and open-mouthed whenever we are around it. Here is a picture of the route we took. Starting from Saint Germain des Près and ending at La Tour Eiffel.

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I never get bored of walking in Paris. Instead of walking back with the girls, I headed to the US Embassy to meet Matthew for lunch. On my way, a gentleman holding out a necklace approached me asking if I had dropped it. I so kindly held up my hand, looked the other direction and firmly said, “No, merci.” Right after, scammers came up to me with their petitions asking me to sign my name for a good cause. I have heard a couple different outcomes with this scheme. 1) They are distracting you while their friends pick your pockets and 2) They get your signature so they can sign for your credit card. Not sure if it’s true but I had been warned about the petition scam so I gave them the same hand and “No, merci.” Apparently, I still look like a tourist. Although, someone did ask me for directions the other day. Even more significant, I gave them accurate instructions! {Sidenote: they spoke English so it was actually really easy.}

After Matt and I enjoyed lunch, we went to the shopping center at Les Halles. The sales ended on Tuesday, so Monday we gave them one last shot. Nothing. Where are you perfect black peacoat???

That evening we ate meatloaf. I actually really like meatloaf. I use the Pioneer Woman’s recipe. Big surprise, right? I quite like most of her recipes. Except, I left out the bacon for this one and made it all with ground beef. I loved it. Matt said good, but it was missing one key ingredient. Any guesses? Yup, Ella’s homemade Chili Sauce. We can’t seem to find it anywhere here in Paris. Guess we will have to hold tight until April.

Here is a picture of the meatloaf even though it looks kind of gross, but doesn’t all meatloaf?

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That toaster oven is coming in handy! Also, we eat a lot more red meat over here. I usually only cook with chicken. Not on purpose just because it is easy. But chicken is so expensive over here! Beef is pricey as well, but not as pricey, so we eat beef. No complaints from Matt! I’m not entirely sure how to ween him off of it when we get back to the States.

After dinner, the two of us went to Monoprix for our weekly grocery trip. We decided since we don’t eat out, we can splurge a little on a couple small things at the grocery store. Excellence (Swiss yogurt that is to die for) and chocolate mousse cups. The Bonne Maman brand is our favorite. They are so heavenly. Our fridge is well stalked with both.

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TUESDAY was a less adventurous day. I spent a lot of the day working on homework and blog posts. I met Matthew for lunch. That is always a highlight of my day. I also made one last attempt to find that black peacoat, but to no avail. I did find a lovely shirt, blazer and shoes. I have not done much shopping here in Paris but the 4 items I have bought, I absolutely love. I made stuffed peppers for dinner. Inspired by a picture from Pinterest, I kind of made up the recipe but they tasted pretty good.

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This evening we stayed home and looked through options for a course I can start and finish by April 4th. It’s just my luck that I am actually 1 class short of graduating this April. It was a frustrating evening but having Matt help me sift through the courses made it some how not so bad.

WEDNESDAY we saw a bit more of Paris. On Matt’s lunch break, we walked the Seine and came to the Pont des Art. The bridge that is apparently famous for locks. However, you can tell that these locks get trimmed off this bridge regularly. The Lovelock bridge near Notre Dame was much more covered in locks.

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Good news though, we don’t have to buy our own lock:

Pink lock

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On our walk back to the metro we came across this statue. Yes, it is a statue not an actual tree. I thought it was pretty neat. There is a surprise around every corner in Paris.

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I was going to be ambitious and recount the entire week in one post but it is after midnight here and we are going to bed. Part deux coming tomorrow.