Paris Perfection

Last weekend I fulfilled a life-long dream of mine: traveling to Paris!

This city was so special to me for a number of reasons. First, when I was younger, I had an obsession with the children’s book called Madeline, which tells the story of a little girl living in Paris. Because it was so rare to find characters with the same name as me, I immediately felt a connection with her, which included envying her life in France. It turns out that the name we share is very common in Paris; I saw streets with my name, and almost every grocery store sold the delicious, caky cookies known as “Madeleines”.

While I didn’t walk on any tight ropes or fly an airplane, I still felt as spirited as the Madeline character. Being able to send a selfie with the Eiffel Tower in the near background in my family’s group chat made me feel like a true adventurer, considering no one in my family had ever traveled to Paris. Seeing the 300 meter towel twinkle at night was a whole other sensation, and I probably would’ve been content leaving after only having seen that.

Fortunately, though, our travels didn’t stop there, and we went to various museums, including one of the world’s most famous- the Louvre. Da Vinci’s most well-known painting, the Mona Lisa, did not disappoint either, despite most tourists noting that its size is underwhelming. 

Two of my friends had been to Paris before, which is why they made sure to put museums on our schedule. I, on the other hand, don’t know much about art, and the only place I was adamant about us stopping at was a bakery. With our jam-packed schedule and differing priorities, I unfortunately was not able to enjoy an éclair or chocolate tart like I had hoped, but I did get to order an authentic crêpe at a restaurant.

Since I only have a few more trips left before I return to the US, I was starting to get worried that Paris wouldn’t make the final cut for our future plans. Fortunately, we made the decision to go at the last-minute, and after being enamored of the city, I can finally understand why it’s often referred to as the City of Love 🙂

Surprises in Sicily

I’ve gone on numerous class field trips in my life, but the one I went on through my study abroad program to Palermo, Sicily certainly takes the cake. Sicily is the most southern region of Italy, and this wasn’t hard to tell from the incredibly warm weather we experienced. While we did have a day of rain, the other two days were beautiful, making for perfect beach days.

When our Holy Cross advisor informed me and my classmates that she scheduled an 8 hour cooking class for us, I was far from excited. I didn’t want to miss prime tanning hours, and wasn’t sure what we could possibly be doing for that much time. However, my mentality immediately shifted when I found out that our lesson was going to be instructed by the Duchess of Sicily (!!) The sweet old woman taught us how to cook a delicious Pasta Norma (one of Sicily’s most famous dishes), swordfish, and a homemade gelatin dessert, which we got to enjoy over a fancy dinner in her dining room alongside the Duke of Sicily.

While it was hard to top that first day, our second day was pretty close- and still made us feel like we were royalty of some sort. We struggled to find a taxi on our way to the beach, but fortunately a man on a carriage of some sort offered to take us. The compact, windowless vehicle that barely fit 5 may not have been the safest car I’ve been in, but it was definitely the most fun.

On our last day, we indulged in more Sicilian delicacies: arancini (fried rice balls), cannolis, and gelato on brioche rolls (don’t knock it ’til you try it!)

Sicily was full of firsts for me, and I hope that’s not the last time I visit that special island.