Bonjour de Troyes!
I did not speak much about this trip to Europe prior to this and to cut the story short, I was accepted for a 4-week exchange in Troyes (France) and was in Berlin before the exchange. The Champs De Mars skirt did work after all!
My time in Berlin was spent catching up with a dear friend. I joined a free walking tour and explored most of the city on my own. Berlin is safe and easy to get around. Just grab a copy of their Bahn map. Berliners are also very friendly if you need help with directions. If you are in Berlin or planning to visit during summer, please drop by the Britzer Garten. It was still cold when I was there and some gardens were not in full bloom yet. They should be when it turns warmer and I’m sure it will be beautiful. It also host a large field of blooming tulips. Besides Berlin, I also visited Potsdam and Leipzig. They are two small towns, each with their own character.
Potsdam is like Haji Lane amplified which boasts of many boutique in the Holland Quarters. The city center leading to the Sans Soucci Park is packed with lots of shops and I was very distracted while making my way to the Schloss Sanssouci. The schloss is situated in the gigantic park of the same name. The main stretch of road that brings you to all, if not most, of the attractions and palaces is 2km long, with the Neues Palais right inside. It is a good work out and please arm yourselves with a good pair of walking shoes, shades and a hat!
Being the hometown of J.S Bach and other music composers like Mendelssohn and Schumann, Leipzig is worth a day trip if you are interested in visiting the haus and museums of these composers. It is just slightly less than 3hrs away from Berlin by train and has a comprehensive music trail which covers most of the city centre and musical attractions. It was such a pity that we discovered it late and had no time to cover the entire trail.
Then it was to Paris! Except for the fact that there were dog poo every 10 steps I take, Paris est belle! I was there for a half a day before going to Troyes and was back to Paris for a cultural weekend tour organized by the school. So far my encounters with the parisiens were still pretty alright. Maybe I didn’t interact enough. I met a very friendly waiter at Esmerald, a cafe near the back of Notre Dame. He had a huge sense of humour and offered to take group photos for us. During the Paris weekend, we visited the main attractions like the La Cathédrale Notre–Dame, Musée d’Orsay, Tulleries Jardin, Musée du Lourve, Champs Elysees, Arch de Triomphe and La Tour Eiffel. I have yet to take a decent picture of/with Eiffel and I hope to be able to do so during my last weekend before I fly back. As much as I really enjoyed the sights and sceneries of Paris, Paris n’est pas compléter sans vous.
Besides doing all the touristy stuff, I also had the opportunity to catch Round 4 of Roland Garros. Not only that but also watch Roger Federer!!! play live. It was such a pity that I had to leave halfway through the match to catch the train back to Troyes with the rest. For these opportunities, I really can’t thank the Lord enough!
Troyes, where the university of the exchange is located, is a quaint and quiet little town. The town centre is quaint, decorated with lots of beautiful traditional architecture. Shopping is also affordable, with H&M, a couple of Made-in-China shops, some high-street fashion stores and other French house brands on the main shopping street. Troyes also houses a couple of factory outlets off the city centre. Besides shopping, the next biggest attraction of the town centre is the boulangeries and pâtisseries! Pick any one and you are sure to find awesome possum bread, especially baguette and pastries. Oh and not to mention that Troyes is also home of Ellen Décoration which I will write more about in the next post!
Taking away all the excitement in the town centre, the area around the university and where I stay is dead quiet. Troyes is a small town to begin with. I shan’t go into the demographics but the only interesting place in the entire town is the town centre. Having lived in the city all my life, it took me quite a while to get use to la vie Troyesien. For the first few days, the only form of entertainment was wifi, which can be unreliable at times. It is still unreliable at the dorms. Imagine how depressed we were. First world problems! Then we had to adjust ourselves to academic life and working with non-Singaporean team-mates. I’m still getting used to the terms learned in the Project Management class. It’s all common sense embedded within cheem-sounding theories and methods. History, though dry, is informative and good for general knowledge. The exchange has been awesome so far with pleasant company. While I can’t wait to fly home, I don’t want my time in Europe to end at the same time!