SYA Spain Takes Paris

Josie B. is currently a junior at SYA Spain and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Lakeside School in Washington.

On Wednesday morning, I stepped out of a bus onto Paseo Pamplona with 51 other SYA Spain students and four teachers. We all trekked home at 4 A.M. in a tired haze, recapping the epic four days just spent in Paris.

We arrived late on Friday but with just enough time to pop in to the crêperie nextdoor for a ham and cheese galette and a nutella crepe dessert. After some yummy French specialties and good conversation, we went to bed full of carbs and excitement for the next day. We woke up bright and early on Saturday morning, ready to start exploring Paris and to see the famous Musee D’orsay and Picasso Museum. As an Art History student, I flipped out at the sight, in person, of  some of the most iconic pieces in art history- Manet’s Olympia and Breakfast on Grass, Monet’s Gare Saint-Lazare and Water Lily Pond, Van Gogh’s, Cezanne’s, and any others you can name. After a couple of hours at the D’orsay, we squished into a public bus (all 56 of us) that took us to the romantic Marais district. We had lunch and visited the Picasso Museum, lead by our expert tour guide, Sole (the SYA Spain Art History teacher) who showed us everything from Picasso’s surrealist pieces to Synthetic Cubism. We got the afternoon and evening free, so my friends and I indulged in too many Ladureé macaroons and then walked over the Seine to the Notre Dame at sunset.  The rest of our trip consisted of more French sweets, museums like the Louvre, Pompidou Center, Rodin, L'Orangerie, and sightseeing at The Eiffel Tower, Versailles, Arc de Triomphe, Luxembourg and Tuileries Gardens.

Although every day was delightful, sunup to sundown, the last night was the highlight of my trip. The whole class met up in Montmartre in the evening, and we walked up to the Sacré-Coeur for a group photo. We continued through the charming neighborhood, seeing the spots where all the great painters worked, until we reached an adorable French restaurant. We flooded into their private back room for a dinner of beef, potatoes and chocolate mousse for dessert. A pianist played for us while we ate, and, once we finished, a handful of us got up to dance along to the live music. It was a lovely, lighthearted night filled with laughter, gratitude, and some impressive dance moves.

 The walk back on that last night was a sad one, knowing that the next day meant over nine hours of group travel back. However, with my tired first step back on Paseo Pamplona, the familiar Zaragoza air was comforting. It was fresh and clean, and, although Zaragoza is less exciting than Paris, I appreciated the total feeling of security that I had missed. I looked forward to a big kiss on the cheek from my Grandpas, a little shoelace nibble from Chiquilín (our bunny), and locker room dancing with my soccer teammates the next day. Those five nights in Paris were undeniably some of the best I’ve ever had in my life, but the overwhelming sense of comfort I felt stepping out of the bus on Tuesday night (or Wednesday morning) was unbeatable- it was the first time since SYA began that I felt, wholeheartedly, I was returning home.

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