Yay I've made friends!

Hi everyone!

Happy Friday! Yipee!

The kids have been on vacation this week and things have been pretty calm. Yesterday, I had the entire day off because the kiddos had some activities that kept them busy. I wasn’t entirely sure what my day would hold, but it turned out to be a very pleasant day! One of my new pals from my French class, Victoria was asking around for a recommendation for an affordable photographer. So I recommended myself...even though I don’t have much experience and I was looking for an excuse to take pretty pictures around a pretty city.

I *barely* know what I’m doing. Madison has given me some tips and I’ve watched some Skillshare videos, but my last photography class was about 4 years ago. So, all that to say, I was actually a little surprised that some of these turned out really nice! (It definitely helps to have beautiful scenery and a beautiful model, haha.)

Victoria is from Mexico and also an au pair! It was really fun walking around, exchanging stories about our kids and pausing to take photos. It was very foggy and humid, but it was actually really nice for photos.

Anyways, here we go! Victoria in Paris!

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I think this was right before we got yelled at for taking pics, haha

I think this was right before we got yelled at for taking pics, haha

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I AM OBSESSED WITH THIS ONE WOW

I AM OBSESSED WITH THIS ONE WOW

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CUTE OR WHAT?!?!

CUTE OR WHAT?!?!

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bon week-end!

xoxo

Versailles in the fall!

Hello, howdy, hey!

It’s me, Mal with another update! The weather here in Paris has been DREAMY the past few days. It’s been sunny almost every day with cool breezes, colorful leaves everywhere and fluffy clouds! It really was incredibly lovely. This week begins Fall break for the kids, so I’m writing this from their Aunt and Uncle’s house in Fontainebleau! It’s about an hour outside of Paris.

I’ve been waiting for the right time to visit the Versailles Gardens and last weekend had a forecast of sunny skies, so I figured it was a perfect time. Normally, the gardens are free for students under 26 and living in the EU, but this weekend there was music in the gardens...so you had to pay. I mean, I can’t really complain because it was like walking around with your own classical soundtrack.

I didn’t realize how much I needed to get out of the city until I was walking around in the park, listening to the leaves in the trees and taking in the stillness of the gardens. Paris is lovely, but it is very loud. Sirens everywhere, car horns, bus horns, people talking, musicians, whistles, and bells. Everything, almost all of the time.

If you have lived in any big city, maybe you can relate. The quiet I experienced in the gardens was welcomed with open arms.

*Although, I listened to Phoenix while walking around Versailles because they're from Versailles! They also did a very cool video for la blogotheque that I kept thinking of when I reached the castle! (Ugh, aren't they the BEST <3 <3)

When I first arrived, I rented a bicycle and rode around the canal. I would have gladly ridden all day, but it cost 9 euros to rent for an hour! (So, I tried to be swift and return in only half an hour.) The beautiful thing about so many of my adventures is that I don’t really have a time constraint. I can wander without an agenda and stumble upon surprises.

The weather was so beautiful I actually brought my sister’s fancy DSLR to document my travels. Although I should note, I *barely* know how to use a camera. I think I can frame a shot, but generally, I’m not really sure what I’m doing, haha.

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LOL at my attempt to use the self timer. I tried several times. It was hilariously bad.

LOL at my attempt to use the self timer. I tried several times. It was hilariously bad.

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The square bushes and trees make it feel like youre in Wonderland!

The square bushes and trees make it feel like youre in Wonderland!

I ended my visit laying on a bench, under an orange tree. I read and sketched and felt very peaceful. About nine miles later, I hoped back on the train to Malakoff! 

Au Revoir!

Bisous, 

Mallory

Apparently, sometimes going to museums makes me existential.

Hello everyone!

Things are going pretty swimmingly over here across the pond! I finally have my bank account set up, a new french phone number and I’m waiting to receive my MetroCard in the mail! I’ve also started my French classes which have been helpful so far. We just meet three days a week for two hours. There are people from all over the world! There are girls from Brazil, England, Australia, Sweden and The United States! It’s nice connecting with girls who are in similar positions.

Since my last post, I’ve ventured to a couple of museums. I was waiting for my student ID because if you’re under 26 and a student, you can get into museums for free! I went to the Pompidou Center first because they have a David Hockney retrospective that ends this month and I wanted to be sure to catch it. I realized while walking around that I’ve never been to a retrospective before. It’s really powerful seeing nearly the entirety of an artist’s career unfold throughout the gallery space; to see how their tastes and interests change, how some themes still stay woven through their work and the style morphs over the years.

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I relate to this woman, haha.

I relate to this woman, haha.

One of my favorite moments when visiting a museum is when you turn a corner and see something that is so surprising, you involuntarily gasp - that happened to me a lot. Especially large light installations. Wowza.

I also visited Musee D’Orsay which is just a dream. The entire space is what dreams are made of. The museum itself is a renovated train station from la Belle Epoque and is filled to the brim with some of my favorite artists. I hope to visit lots and lots more.

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After visiting museums, I walk a thin line of being incredibly inspired and also feeling incredibly existential. What do I want my art to say? Do I want to create fine art? What makes me respond to this so much more than something else I would see in a lesser known gallery? Is what I’m doing important? So on and so forth… I had an art class that completely flipped my understanding of art and I’ve been trying to figure it out ever since. That was three years ago, haha.

Anyways...Despite my existential-art-questioning, it’s been a pretty nice few weeks. I think the gray skies are beginning to take over. Somedays the sky just looks white which sometimes feels like we’re on a different planet. (I also just finished A Wrinkle In Time, so maybe my mind is just thinking about sci fi-fantasy things)

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This past weekend Paris celebrated Nuit Blanche (white night) which happens once year one the first Saturday of October. It’s basically a giant art event all over the city all night long. Museums are open later, there are gallery events, classical music performances, giant installations, dance parties and more all for free! I went to one light installation/performance happening in a cathedral. It was unbelievable.

Watch the clip below!!

Some petite highlights from my daily adventures:

One Saturday night I went to a Brasserie that has live jazz music brought a book with me and people read/people watched for a couple of hours. There were two other women reading by themselves that made me better about being there alone on a Saturday.

I saw a vintage Volkswagen beetle drive by with a Bride and I’m assuming her father on their way to her wedding!! Such a sweet sight!

One day sitting by the Seine, there was a girl playing in a Sleeping Beauty dress running around with her family.

I passed a group of very good swing dancers doing their thing.

My french bb’s do things that make me laugh. Their English is getting better all the time! My French is ...progressing very slowly, but I think I'm making progress anyhow. Tonight I made chicken and rice soup that was a winner across the board. *High five*

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beaucoup bisous!

Mallory

I had a crazy weekend.

**This was actually a couple of weeks ago, but I forgot to post it! Whoops.**

My weekends have been a little different every week. This past weekend, my host family was going out of town, so I had the house to myself and time all to myself (maybe change to: and a lot of time on my own). (Because I wasn't sure )Not sure how exactly the spend my weekend, I started how I normally do, by picking one destination and then wandering from there.

I’ve had some illustration work that I needed to get done (I’m still taking freelance work while I’m in Paris if you need some illustration or design :) ) and so I headed to a coffee shop that’s been on my list. I settled down for about an hour, drinking my cappuccino and cranking out illustrations. Once I marked some off my to-do list, I wandered towards the Seine, sat in a picturesque spot and people watched/read a book for about an hour. The weather was near perfection, sunny skies, slight breeze and fluffy clouds.

I embarked on a walk towards the Ile-de-St-Louis, a part of the city I hadn’t visited yet. (It’s one of the two little islands in the heart of the city.) I kept walking until I came across the Place du Jardin, which is a giant botanical gardens. I didn’t know that it existed so I was very happily surprised. I walked down aisle after aisle of beautiful flowers, every kind you can imagine. There are several museums within the compound and I had no idea how large the space was. I kept walking to see what else I could find. The zoo within this compound (different word) and I definitely would have gone in, but it cost money. Plus, all I really wanted to see was the red panda.

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BUT THEN, I was walking back through the main garden on my way out, when I saw a sign for the red panda. I quickly realized that the zoo and the garden shared a fence and you could see some of the animals. I started looking for the little fluff and he was about 10 feet right in front of me!! I melted. They are the cutest, red lil fluffs.

THAT RED FLUFF IN THE MIDDLE IS A RED PANDA <3 <3 <3 I know it doesn't look like I was that close, but I'm telling you, he was very close and very adorable.

THAT RED FLUFF IN THE MIDDLE IS A RED PANDA <3 <3 <3 I know it doesn't look like I was that close, but I'm telling you, he was very close and very adorable.

So, I left the garden thinking my day probably peaked (because RED PANDA) and then I accidentally walked into a TECHNO PARADE. It was totally casual. Okay, definitely not. The street was literally FILLED to the brim with hyped teenagers and 20-somethings. What first caught my attention was an intense bass beat that I heard from several blocks away, so I walked toward it to find a charter bus-like double-decker stage with a DJ at the end pumping out dance beats. I thought this is pretty crazy I wonder how many more buses there are...so I kept walking upstream like a crazy person. I kept walking and saw another and then another and I think there were about ten buses total! They were spaced about 50 yards apart, but all blasting beats.

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There were so many people, there were several times where I just had to stand next to a wall and wait out the crowd. It wasn’t exactly ideal, but the people watching was prime.

My day significantly calmed after that. I found some falafel for dinner and then treated myself to a fancy pastry. I perched myself along the Seine and people watched.

Just a normal day in Paris.

Sunday was a bit different.

I started my day at the American Cathedral in Paris which was really nice. (Also side note, going to church by yourself as an introvert is hard.) Anyways, growing up probably *at least* once a month we would get Mexican after church. So, after church, I really wanted some tacos. I went to one of two (maybe there are more, fingers crossed!) taco places in Paris and I was not disappointed! I should also mention that there are several Chipotles around for when I get real homesick, haha.

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After successful tacos, I went to get caffeinated and work more on my illustration project. I seem to always forget that weekends are always significantly busier at any restaurant than during the week. I mean, I should know, I worked at a cafe for a year and it was crazytown on Saturdays and Sundays. So needless to say, the coffee shop was bustling and I didn’t stay long. I kept meandering through Montmartre and settled down in the square where the Bateau-Lavoir is located. For those who may not be familiar, the Bateau-Lavoir is a spot where famous poets, painters, and writers gathered in the turn of the century. People like Picasso and George Braques.

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And YES, the thought that I was in the same airspace, creating where many creators created famous works did cross my mind. Just Paris things. (*squeals*)

I moseyed a bit more around Montmartre and then decided to head on home. I was pooped.

What a weekend.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Walking through parks and seeing young students eating lunch with their friends.

Two guys playing ping pong in the park

I passed a dog wearing shoes. Later I passed a dog wearing the cone of shame and he kept running into street posts, haha it was pitiful.

On particularly sunny days, people sunbathe at the Palais Royale. In the parks there are chairs everywhere and some that actually recline, making it perfect for soaking up some rays.

I see a girl at my french bb’s school with a sweatshirt with a French Bulldog on it that says “Queen of Naps” -- I need that

I was walking through one of the larger metro stations and a little kid sitting on his suitcase rolled past me.

Saturday, sitting by the river reading where two jazz guitarists play nearby. It was so dreamy.

I rode a bike through Malakoff! It was very brief and slightly scary.

A couple of weeks ago, I went with my host family to their friend’s house for dinner and it was lovely. They were all so kind and the food was delicious!

I see French bulldogs almost every day and I see Brides taking photos all the time. I’m not mad about it.

 

That’s all for now!

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Some days are perfect some days you see three dead pigeons...

I’ve had many more random adventures since my last update! I met up with a semi-distant cousin that lives just outside of France near a town called Fountainbleu, I had my first crepes since arriving and I discovered more parts of the city that I hadn’t seen. 

One story from an outing last week:

Last week, my host family was having a family dinner and I had the evening off. I wasn’t really sure what to do with myself because nearly all of my jaunts have been during the day while the kids are in school. I decided I should find something to eat and then just see where the evening would take me. I ended up eating at a Crepe place, which wasn’t amazing, but it was nice to eat dinner out. Wandering around I remembered I hadn’t seen the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night yet! So, I meandered towards the icon, discovering Paris after dark. It was a really lovely evening stroll. I was listening to Bon Iver’s 22 A Million and then when it ended I switched to Gregory Alan Isakov’s Live With The Colorado Symphony - which turned out to be the perfect soundtrack. 

In the evening, lots of people come to the park to watch the Tower sparkle (it lights up the first 5 minutes of every hour until midnight, I think) and most I assume are tourists. Wherever there are tourists, there are people trying to sell cheap trinkets to tourists. At the Eiffel Tour there are a couple dozen men walking around trying to sell people bottles of wine. Honestly, I think it’s a pretty good idea and during the summer I bet they sell a lot. However, it was a weeknight and there wasn’t a large crowd, so these guys were getting a little aggressive with their selling tactics. (Maybe they’re always like that, I don’t know.) I was approached about ten times with offers for wine from different guys. These guys are annoying, but they probably wouldn’t be trying to charm tourists if they didn’t need to. So generally I’m patient and try to be kind. A short, “non, merci.” 

Mind you, I was by myself having a really pleasant evening. A couple of guys approached me at two different times and would not take no for an answer. They kept asking, “do you want some wine?” I would say, “non, merci.” Try to move on. But they lingered.
“Where are you from?”
“The United States?”
“Would you like company?”
“Non, merci.”
“You don’t like company??”
“No.” 
*man walks away in a huff*
**me puts my headphones back in, goes back to listening to Gregory Alan Isakov**


Can’t a girl just watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle in peace?!?!?! 
Right after man number two tried to charm me and after the perfect build from “Amsterdam,” the Eiffel Tower sparkled. I audibly gasped, haha. The timing of the song made everything *perfect*

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I left the park and got on the metro home completely enchanted by this city. 

I had a crazy weekend and I’m going to write another post about that in particular because it’s a bit lengthy…

Anyways,
See you soon!
Mallory

walk and walk and walk

Bonjour tout le monde!

I hope everyone is safe! It’s so strange being across the ocean and reading about how your home country is simultaneously burning and drowning. I’m sending lots of love to you!

My routine hasn’t changed much since my last update. I’m slowly taking steps to have all of the necessary things to function, like a bank account, phone and metro pass. It’s a slow process but I’ve been doing fine managing without them! Thankfully, because I’m taking language classes, I’m a student, which means I can get a discounted rate riding the metro and get into museums for free! However, I don’t get my I.D. until the beginning of October when classes start.

Because I’m still forming a routine/flying solo, when I go on adventures, I usually end up walking for hours stopping to people watch, read or try to draw something. On Monday morning, I took a free walking tour of Montmartre and learned so much! My tour guide showed us some of the filming locations of Amelie, one of my FAV movies, and pointed out some areas where painters like Picasso and Van Gogh spent their time. She also showed us an alternative way up the top to avoid the many many tourists and hecklers. *Praise hands*

HIGHLIGHTS

I’ve been trying to take note of things happening that might normally go unnoticed. Here are some of my favorites:

I walked through the Jardin du Luxembourg and could smell the Lavender from 30 feet away. Heaven.

One afternoon, I was walking towards a cafe, very focused on the podcast I was listening to and I looked to my right and saw the BIGGEST, FLUFFIEST dog I may have ever seen, looking completely majestic (and hilarious), staring at me from the window of  a tiny car.

One particularly windy day, A woman’s scarf was blown off her neck and her husband dutifully chased it down. They laughed and walked away arm’s linked.

While meandering last Saturday, I came across a group of musicians probably about my age, playing jazz-ish music (I’m really bad at genre naming). If I’m being honest, the music wasn’t amazing, but their carefree and joyful attitude was very contagious. Just some musicians living their best lives playing along the Seine :)

They were playing close to a bridge called Pont Alexandre III, it’s one of the more famous bridges in Paris. It’s got the characteristic large black street lamps and a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower. That being said, people watching here is PRIME. I saw four bridal photoshoots! There was also a woman dressed like a 1950’s model channelling some Audrey Hepburn vibes. It was very entertaining.

This is the bridge!

This is the bridge!

SOME PHOTOS

I honestly tried to intentionally take photos this week, but when I set out to use Madison's DSLR (which she gracious let me borrow) it died literally after I took the first picture. What luck. So, for now I present my attempts to take nice photos with my iPhone. 

Montmartre streets are just magical.

Montmartre streets are just magical.

Flower shops everywhere and all of them are DREAMY.

Flower shops everywhere and all of them are DREAMY.

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Recently my sister and I have become obsessed with French Bulldogs because CUTE. They also look like Stitch from Lilo and Stitch, haha. So, here is a very creepy photo I took while trying to be sneaky. Judge all you want. 

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Place de la Republique

Place de la Republique

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The Canal St. Martin (I think...) It's quite lovely at the moment! I also realized that this might be the place where Amelie skips rocks? 

The Canal St. Martin (I think...) It's quite lovely at the moment! I also realized that this might be the place where Amelie skips rocks? 

A dreamy sunny afternoon!

A dreamy sunny afternoon!

C'est tout pour maintenant!

Bisous, 

Mallory

FRANCE WEEK 1

Hello everyone!

I’ve been in France for a week! I can hardly believe it. I’m hoping to write weekly updates of my adventures in France, but no promises. ;)

My host family lives in Malakoff, which is considered a suburb of Paris, but it’s literally one metro stop outside of the perimeter. My host parents explained that Paris is growing more and more expensive, so living in the “suburbs” is a more viable option. A larger house and an almost small town feel to the neighborhood are more appealing. (Sounds like Nashville, amirite?)

Even though Malakoff is technically out of the city, it doesn’t take long to get the city center via the metro. I am STOKED about not having to drive for at least 9 months. I love how public transit can be meditative. I’ve downloaded books on my iPad and listen to podcasts. It’s the dream.

So far, my everyday routine has been varied. My kids, Louise (12) and Samuel (8) just started school on Monday and the first week is a little irregular. When they are home, I hang out and play (although playing usually means, me watching and trying to keep up with what they are saying, haha). My main job is picking up Sam from school, which is about a four minute walk from the house and cooking dinner for the kids. Their parents get home around 8:00 most evenings, so it’s my responsibility to prepare les enfants for bed.

The family has been so kind and accommodating. The parents names are Sarah and Nathanael and both speak English very well. The kids are learning, but Louise is very good as well. Samuel is just beginning to learn so our communication can be quite entertaining. It’s a mix of my broken french and a lot of help from google translate on my phone. 

I haven’t done a lot of sightseeing yet, but I should be able to next week when the kids have a more regular class schedule.

A few highlights:

Saturday was my first day to adventure by myself and I ventured all over town. My favorite was La Canal St. Martin, which I hadn’t been to before. There is a little cafe called the Pavillion de Canaux that is set up like a house! You can even sit in a tub that has been converted into a little table with a perfect view of the canal! I was swooning. It’s worth a google search :)

Malakoff has a market every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. We went all together on Sunday to the market, it was very sweet. That night we drove into town and walked along the Seine.

I learned Hogwarts Houses have French names. Gryffindor = Gryffondor, Slytherin = Serpentard, Ravenclaw = Serdaigle, Hufflepuff = Poufsouffle. (I still amazed and goggled all the other languages.)

One day when I was walking home with Sam from school, we jaywalked (a tiny street) and Sam turns around, looks at me and says, in a very heavy accent, “we are gangsters.” I lol’d.

I have seen several French Bulldogs in Paris and it was the BEST. I’m hoping to document the next encounter.

That’s all for now! No pictures yet, but I’ll try to be better about taking photos during my day-to-day.

A tout à l'heure!

<3 Mallory

 

PortuGALS: Part Two

After spending the afternoon at Rod's house, we met up with some of Emily's other pals in the beautiful mountain town of Sintra. This little town has cobbled streets lined with charming store fronts, cafes, churches and lots of painted tile. We spent most of the morning walking the streets and swooning at the effortless beauty of the area. 

I mean, swoon city, amirite!?

I mean, swoon city, amirite!?

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LOOK AT THAT TILE. I DIED.

LOOK AT THAT TILE. I DIED.

WHAT A CUTIE.

WHAT A CUTIE.

<3

<3

We didn't get to explore any up close, but there are amazing old castles all on the mountains! This one is perched at the very top. One day I would love to go back and see it up close!

Casual Views

Casual Views

OBSESSED with this one. 

OBSESSED with this one. 

PortuGALS: Part One

I've started a blog! For right now, this space will be mostly used for sharing my adventures with my roomies, but who knows what it will turn into! I would like to mention that I am not a photographer. My skills lie in design and illustration, so I know these are not amazing by any means, but I had fun taking them and that's all that really matters :) Also, these pics were brought to you by my sister's camera, which she kindly let me borrow. I just brought a Prime lens, so my views (? I don't know camera lingo) were a little limited.

Thanks for stopping by! Without further ado I present, PortuGALS: Part One.

My roommates and I recently went to Portugal for about 10 days with a stop to France for a couple of days and it was D R E A M Y. My roommate, Emily, grew up in Portugal because her parents moved there when she was a wee lass to become missionaries. She hasn’t been back to visit since her family moved back Stateside when she started school at Belmont, which was about five years ago.

One day last fall, on a whim, Emily was looking at flights to Lisbon and found a ridiculously cheap flight and bought it -- all within about 30 minutes. It was a whirlwind of spontaneity! My other roommate, Ellie and I quickly started figuring out how we could go too and not long after we all had our flights booked!

I booked mine a little after Emily and Ellie, and ended up booking a different flight to Lisbon (whoops.) but we all had the same connecting layover in Boston! Ellie spent a summer there and knew her way around pretty well, so we walked around taking in the different sights, half hoping we’d tire ourselves out enough to sleep on our red eye flight across the ocean.

Emily and Ellie’s flight to Lisbon left two hours before mine, so I bid them farewell and wandered around my gate. I booked my flight through the Azores airline, so I had another layover on a teeny tiny island before landing in Lisbon. A four hour flight, an hour layover and then another two and half hour flight to Lisbon later, I was reunited with my pals! It was dramatic and perfect.

This trip was quite different from when I went to Europe with my sister about three years ago. During my previous travels we were adventuring around on our own. This time we had Emily’s Portuguese friends as our personal guides! A family friend named picked us up at the airport, another couple let us stay in their apartment (the top floor with an amazing view!!!) and her high school pals showed us some of the best spots in town! We were able to get a much more of a personal perspective of what it looks like to live in Portugal.

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A kitty greeted us at the apartment building we were staying at, so you know I was getting good vibes.

A kitty greeted us at the apartment building we were staying at, so you know I was getting good vibes.

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View from the apartment balcony. It was casual.

View from the apartment balcony. It was casual.

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Our second day, Emily's friend Rod took us to his house. It was one of the most beautiful, picturesque home's I've ever seen. Everything you'd imagine a rustic European home to look like. The living room was full of visual delights including a tapestry hanging on the wall, contemporary illustrations, fresh flowers on every surface and even a baby grand sitting in the corner. In his backyard was a giant orange tree and beautiful flowers at every turn. His mom sent us away with Orange Jam made from oranges from their yard! What a sweet afternoon.

More casual balcony views.

More casual balcony views.

Ellie

Ellie

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I realize this is very out of focus but it's the only picture I got of the lemon tree in the back yard!

I realize this is very out of focus but it's the only picture I got of the lemon tree in the back yard!

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Rod's house!

Rod's house!