Embracing the mess and going west

It’s all smiles over here in the Netherlands! Maastricht did me dirty last week, but this week has been much better thus far. Although, Stella had to go to the bike repair shop with unknown issues. Send good bike-repair thoughts her way 🙂

This past weekend, I headed to France to meet up with Alex, and we spent three nights in Lille.

France

Alex and I decided to meet in Lille, France because he could find cheap flights to Brussels-Charleroi, which has a direct shuttle to Lille. It’’s a crime that they can call that airport Brussels-Charleroi, but I digress. I took a Flixbus to Lille, a review of that to come later. We both got in on Thursday night, and enjoyed our reunion over french fries and chicken strips because the kebab shop was the only place open for food around midnight.

Day 1

The next morning we ventured to the Grand Place. Alex stumbled through ordering in French, and we both enjoyed some ham and cheese buckwheat pancakes for breakfast. 10/10 would recommend. Neither of us had anything that we were dying to get to, so we started wandering. We hit up all the photogenic spots around the Grand Place, and wandered out to the Porte de Paris, the door to Paris, and stumbled upon a really beautiful church along the way.

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Church, a tower in the Grand Place, and the Opera House

We goofed around taking pictures at the Porte de Paris, and then headed back into the heart of the city for lunch.

The door to Paris!

The best bakery in Lille was super close to our Airbnb. I don’t know for a fact that this is the best bakery in Lille, but it is in my heart. This bakery also contributed to a high increase in calorie consumption *shrug*

I told Alex we would venture back out after I laid down for a couple of minutes, being sick all week took it’s toll, but the joke was on him and we didn’t venture out again until almost dinner time. The French eat so late and IT IS SO FRUSTRATING WHEN YOU ARE HUNGRY. I almost passed out. We enjoyed a reasonably priced dinner, and headed for our final destination, Le Dandy. Le Dandy is a three-floor, narrow building that is home to this amazing and cozy bar. Alex and I got our own couch on a Friday night, and the atmosphere was amazing and super cozy. The bar is known for their speciality cocktails. Alex’s was more excited than mine, the base was tequila and it was served in a wicker cylinder container that let out smoke when the waiter lifted the lid. I sipped on the hibiscus cocktail, and I have no idea what was in it, but it was amazing. A bit pricier, but worth it for the atmosphere and the drinks. 10/10 would recommend.

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Day 2

Neither Alex nor I are known for our decisiveness when it comes to dining establishments which probably complicates our travel plans and gave us a slow start on Saturday morning. Post-brunch on Saturday we wandered to a vintage, secondhand store and tried on some wacky things. We decided to make dinner in the Airbnb so we picked up some wine at a wine store. I have never been in a wine store and this one was large and overwhelming. I picked my rose based on the label, and Alex bought us some red wine for dinner. We sampled the chocolate in the various chocolate shops, and picked up dessert from a confectionary that has stood at the same address in Lille since 1691.

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I was really tempted to buy one of each.

We made a quick stop for lunch and ventured out to the zoo and the citadel. The highlight of the zoo was being near the red panda enclosure when one of the zoo workers woke him up from his nap to eat dinner. Red Pandas are majestic and I’m in love. Two red panda cubs were born this year at the Denver Zoo, and you best believe that is one of the first places I stop when I get back.

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Red panda (isn’t he cute), and us (sorry)

Unfortunately, the citadel was closed, but we took some selfies outside and took a break on one of the walls. We headed back into the city to get ingredients for dinner, and stumbled upon a protest! We both laughed because every study abroad tip ever says not to hang around protests. We didn’t listen to those. It was a super peaceful march against Macron and capitalism. Interesting to say the least.

Walking back from the citadel, the entrance to the citadel, and Alex

We ended the night attempting to go to a club and discovering that French people do not go out until 2:30AM. We had a couple of drinks on the way home in a rock n roll bar.

This weekend was so much more relaxing than the last time we were together, and I really appreciated that. It never ceases to amaze me that I get the opportunity to explore new places with my best friend 🙂

FlixBus

My bus ride to Lille was roughly 4 hours, and I would recommend FlixBus as a cheap and easy way to travel. The seats were not uncomfortable, although they were not the height of luxury, the bus had free wifi on my route, and the bus drivers were timely. For a 20 euro round-trip ticket, it was great.

Life Updates

  • I did not fail my midterm from last week! I’m super proud of myself. Even better (?) I can now tell you way too much about the history of European integration.
  • Food goes bad so much faster here, and it took me a long time to get used to. This week, I finally figured out how to eat all of the food that I buy for myself without letting too much go to waste. Honestly, it’s a miracle.
  • I have less than a month now to come up with a topic for my thesis and submit an application for distinction in my major. SOS
  • Not having my bike has made me appreciate walking so much more. I get time to think and breathe. Here’s a picture I took on the walk home 2 days ago.

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I’m kind of digging ending these posts on something that inspired me this week- so I’m gonna keep it up. I really feel like I embraced the situations I was facing last week and made the best of it, and I’m really stoked about that.

You are always healing so don’t wait to start living.

Bridgett Devoue

Up next: A friend/former suitemate, from home comes to visit and we venture to Bruges with friends from Maastricht! Worlds collide! Stay tuned for the drama! Just kidding, it’s gonna be a great weekend filled with MORE CHOCOLATE.

Good vibes to you and yours,

Erin

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