A street in Nice

This picture is unrelated to this post. I just like this picture and thought I would share. It’s a street we walked down the other weekend in Nice. I love winding, narrow European streets with their leaning, colorful buildings.

It’s beginning to feel like fall! The past few days the temperature hasn’t gone above 80 degrees, and that constitutes fall weather in my book. A front went through Sunday and brought cold air along with it. We’re starting to get acquainted with the famous Mistral. The Mistral is the notoriously strong and cold wind that blows down from the north every fall and winter. Traditionally houses face South in Provence and have no windows on the north side to protect from the wind. The bell tower in the market place by the Town Hall is made up of an open iron-work frame so that the wind can blow through the tower and not get damaged. Patricia mentioned that, on the plus side, the Mistral often keeps the weather sunny and clear because it blows clouds and storms away. In the winter, the temperature never gets very cold, but the wind tears through your jacket making you much colder. I only got a taste of the wind yesterday, but  it is pretty darn nippy. Aix is covered with plane or sycamore trees, and it’s almost deafening when the wind blows through their large, dry leaves.

This weekend was the Journée de Vendange, or the Day of Heritage, in Aix-en-Provence. Although I had been planning on going to Nîmes to watch a bull fight, my friends and I decided to save some money and stay here for the weekend. All the museums were open for free, and there were lots of tents in the streets with vendors and displays of traditional woodworking and iron-working, etc. It was fun and the weather was beautiful.

That afternoon, Patricia needed to have all the lavender that grows in the backyard cut back, which proved to be quite a lot of work! Patricia invited about 15 people to come over to help her out, and afterward she had a huge barbeque. There was a green salad, a salad with tomatoes and tuna, grilled sausages, grilled chicken, and grilled duck kebabs with fig and onion (the best part!) and lots of bread, cheese, and wine. The cheese was also tasty- a cheese almost like camembert was covered with herbs and Pastis, an anise-flavored liqueur, then wrapped in aluminum foil and grilled until melted. It was delicious! I apologize for not having pictures- there was no room for my camera at the table, and it was dark so I didn’t think the pictures would look good. After dinner, Patricia pulled out her iPod and speakers and started a mini-dance party on the patio. It was a lot of fun dancing ridiculously to techno and 80s music. Even Patricia’s parents, who are some of the nicest, sweetest people I have ever met, joined in and were trying to dance to Thriller like the rest. It was quite a night and lots of fun! I’m glad I was around that night and not in Nîmes or else I would have missed out!

School is still going very well. I’m not overwhelmed with homework and have plenty of free time after school. Most days I don’t have class until 10:30, which lets me relax, exercise, catch up on reading, etc. before class. But since it’s now 9:30 and I haven’t started getting ready to leave at 10, I better go!

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