Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ancient History, Volume II

When I finished writing about my trip to the US back in November, I had every intention of going on to write about my other trips overseas. (Or at least the ones that occurred before I started blogging. If you REALLY want to read about the trip Ness, Kat and I took to Phuket in 2009, it's here. But I'd been blogging for about a month when I wrote it. Enter at your own risk...)

Anyway, in my typical vague fashion, I promptly got distracted by the internet Doctor Who stuff and forgot all about it. UNTIL NOW.

I went on my first overseas trip sans the parentals in 1998. I was a whopping fifteen years old, and it was the school French study tour. Because taking 40 teenage girls half way around the world seems like a WONDERFUL idea, yes? I can't remember exactly how many teachers were with us, but I *DO* remember that we had to wear our school spray jackets half the time so they could keep track of us. Or maybe it was just that 15 year old Kirsti had such horrific fashion sense than they made me wear the jacket to cover up the crimes beneath it...

Anyway, I remember being excited about the 24 hour flight to Paris, because we were flying on Singapore Airlines, and they'd JUST introduced in-seat entertainment. Which was probably the reason why the school chose Singapore - anything to keep 40 teenage girls entertained!! Being the bright young thing that I was, I figured two books would be plenty to keep me occupied for three weeks. Yeah...not so much. I finished both of them on the plane on the way over, and I think I read Pride & Prejudice about a hundred times on that trip.

We started out with several days in Paris. During which time I took many photos that turned out like this:

Yeah. That's the Bastille Monument taken from the far side of the bus, in case you were curious.

I also took this spectacular shot of a château in the Loire Valley a few days later:

Clearly, 15 year old Kirsti was a photography genius.

While in Paris, we saw all the important sights, like Notre Dame, the Louvre, Montmartre, the Rodin Museum, and Jacques Chirac. That's right. We saw the president of France. See?

Also while in Paris, our French teacher's parents joined us. She was actually French, so it wasn't like they flew over for the occasion or anything. Anyway, on one very entertaining occasion, her somewhat elderly but incredibly chic mother forgot to lock the door of the bus toilet and fell out into the aisle when the bus turned a corner. Oh, and we saw a naked dude standing on his balcony. So...yeah.

We left Paris, and stopped at Versailles on our way out of town. Wheeeeeee, shiny pretty historic things! Apparently I thought my memory would be sufficient, because I took about three photos of Versailles. And then we had a picnic and a frog jumped up the leg of my jeans. I'm still a little traumatised about it.
There's a frog in there. I promise. I circled it for you and everything.

After the picnic of trauma, we headed to Orleans, where we did homestay-y stuff and went to French high school. Mostly, I remember that my host family insisted on speaking French to me at ALL times even though they were fluent in English, and if I didn't understand a word, they'd just point at the ENORMOUS French to English dictionary that was in the study and wait for me to find out what it meant. And so it came to pass that I will ALWAYS know that the French word for wheat is "blé". Other than that, most of what I remember about Orleans is watching dubbed American television. I discovered that Melrose Place made FAR more sense to me in French than in English, and that dubbed Mulder sounds like a sleaze bag. I tried to find you a clip of it, but apparently people don't put French dubbed clips of 90s TV shows on Youtube. SAD FACE.

From Orleans, we went to La Rochelle on the Bay of Biscay. We looked at all kinds of ruin-y things and went to an oyster farm. And one night while we were there, we had to fend for ourselves in terms of dinner. We were staying in apartments, so we had a kitchen at our disposal. So we went to the supermarket and bought a bag of pasta and a block of cheese. And we were ENORMOUSLY proud of ourselves. See?

Aah, auto-timer. Such a wonderful invention. Eventually we ended up back in Paris, in what was quite possibly the crappiest hotel I've ever stayed in. It was apparently three star rated, but one of the stars had been drawn on by hand with gold paint. The lift could only hold one person and one suitcase at a time, which meant we had to drag our luggage up these stairs:

The rooms - when we eventually reached them - smelled like someone had been chain smoking in them for three weeks straight. There were cigarette burns on the bed linen. And the toilet was so close to the wall that you had to sit on it sideways. Fun times! Oh, and the lobby was filled with random fat men who didn't appear to be staying at the hotel, which was just creepy. Thankfully, we were only staying there for one night.

And from there, I went to England for a week, during which time I discovered the Harry Potter books. And then I found $20. I didn't really. But it's the only way to make the end of this story interesting!

Needless to say, I need to go back to France and a) eat more pasta and cheese because that's a genius plan, and b) take some half way reasonable photos!!

Did anyone else go on a study tour during high school?
K xx


  1. That sounds about right.

    My year twelve Indonesian class was set loose on Bali and Eastern Java for two weeks. Our teachers made the mistake of giving a class of seventeen year olds a list of things that we were not under any circumstances to try to do.

    Score minus one for cultural sensitivity, but we had an absolute blast.

    1. Sounds like it would have been a blast! I don't think we got any such list. Although the school principal was with us, so maybe they thought she'd be enough to keep us in check...

  2. Wow! looks pretty awesome. I never did a class trip like this (my 8th grade class went to washington DC....that is just not at all the same!)...

    I have some equally bad photographs I've taken of my first solo trip overseas to Germany.


    1. Seriously. I do not miss the days of film cameras...

      When I was at school in the UK, we went on a fieldtrip to Wales. For the day. To visit a coalmine. That kinda sucked!

  3. Love this trip down memory lane, and your observations of past and present selves! What a great snap shot of your beginning of your travels!

    1. It wasn't really the start of my international travels - that happened when I was four! It was just the start of my non-parent accompanied travels. Which is far more exciting, really ;)


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