La vie en rose

Quand il me prend dans ses bras
Qu’il me parle tout bas
Je vois la vie en rose 

France has this unique atmosphere that it’s hard to explain unless you’ve been there. The chic and messiness, couture and leisure, wine and car traffic. I honestly can’t explain it.
I recently I got away for the weekend to visit my friend in Lille. For the first time, I traveled with Eurostar, at the average speed of 280 km/h… The trip from London to Lille takes 1.5 h. And you go under the sea. This is all hella exciting.
I spent my Friday wandering around Lille, which is not as big as I expected. I landed at the Lille Europe underground station, which is one of the coolest tube stations I’ve seen. Check it out:

tube

Afterward, I found myself in a cemetery, which, by looking at the map, I thought was a park. An honest mistake. It was beautiful though. With the golden leaves illuminated by the morning sun. I walked around the graves and mausoleums and wondered about life and death, soul and body, forgotten people and forgotten faces.

grave1 grave2

I grabbed a croissant on my way to the old town and strolled to the old town. I passed old apartment buildings that sang about French glory and prosperity. The opera house is quite impressive, but I don’t have a good picture of it, unfortunately.
My friend gave me a tourist map with some landmarks highlighted, so my next stop was a cathedral on the side of the city center. I went there all curious and…

monster
This thing. Honestly. You walk around the city full of wonders and then there’s this. I nearly cried. I got away from it as fast as I could.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My nerves were soon soothed when I found this beautiful square right behind the monster.

cute
I had plenty of time on my hands so I tried to get into the house De Gaulle was born in (didn’t know he was from Lille), but they’re renovating it at the moment. I took a detour and went to investigate the Citadel, but all I found was a circus (?) and a small stream around. I could not find an entry to the park that apparently surrounds the Citadel.
I ate an awesome lunch in the main square with an obligatory glass of wine. I was in France after all.
I went back to my friends flat and took a nap waiting for her to finish her classes at uni.
In the evening we went for a dinner and I have to recommend the restaurant, La Petite Cour, that we went to. Fantastic food, wine, and chocolate cake.
We took a little walk around the city on our way home. There was an old warehouse, or at least it looked like it, that was turned into a nightclub and my friend wanted to check it out. We found ourselves crashing a random metal concert of some WhatsTheirName band from I think Ireland. First time in my life I wore sound stoppers during a concert. At the last song the band invited people on stage, so obviously I jumped up and went crowd surfing to end the show. Fun times, I tell ya.

For the next day, we planned to go sightseeing Lille, maybe visit some museum or whatever. Instead, we thought about going to Paris. You can’t say no to Paris. We got there quite late, around 2 pm, as it was a purely spontaneous decision, but we were in Paris!

sw
We went to Montmartre, Canal Saint-Martin, Bataclan, Place de la Bastille, Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris. We ate some Indian dinner and headed to Arc de Triomphe and from there to the Eiffel Tower.

arc 252E3059-2278-41EE-A9BE-71B553DA13AC
We got home around 1 am dead tired but happy.

Next stop: Bruges.

bruges2
We went there as a group of five. Bruges is even smaller than Lille. It is absolutely lovely with the canals cutting the streets and washing over the doll-like houses. We ate fries and waffles for lunch. No regrets.

The day was far from over and we felt done with the city so we went to the seaside.
Standing on the beach we heard the sea calling. We ran barefoot towards the waves and screamed when our feet sank into the freezing water. Childhood memories of countless summers rushed into my mind. It’s hard not feel happy and careless on a beach, no matter the temperatures.

sea
The weekend getaway ended with beer, a midnight walk around Lille, and a 6am train on Monday to London, because I needed to go to work.
Hands up who loves Paris! Hands up who loves Bruges! Hands up who loves Lille! What are your memories from those places? Let me know!
All best,
SW

Tubingen reunion

Time is a curious thing. It’s the digits on my phone. It’s a date in my calendar. It is a feeling. It’s an element out of control. It slows down when you want it to gallop. It rushes through when you want it to stop. A year can be a number of months, days, hours. It is a frame for emotions, experiences, people you’ve met, places you’ve been. How long is a year for you?

Two years ago, I met three extraordinary women that have been changing my life since. It has also been a year since I last saw them. A year is a number here. I didn’t feel it at all.

We gathered in a small town in southern Germany. Tubingen. It is a name you probably never came across before. I haven’t. It welcomed us with the sun. It opened its arms and we walked across its narrow streets and steep hills, we swam down it river.

tubingen river

Most of all we talked, discussed, laughed and argued. Each of us is on a different path now. We are spread across Europe. Yet, we come together when it matters most. No topic was left untouched. We complained about governments, politicians, policies. We debated how to change what we don’t like, how to improve what we can. We talked about love. We talked about struggle.

We talked about what it means to be a woman. Feminism, motherhood, career, tenderness. Everything together, yet each a piece of a puzzle. Nothing defining, nothing limiting, nothing forgiving.

We talked about the future. We shared dreams, fears, and hope. We shared life.

I am grateful and honoured to have them in my life. One year separated, three days together. I feel closer to them than ever. They are a support group I wish everyone had. They are a brainstorm everyone needs. They are the power that the world demands.

Here we all are, surrounded by flowers and light. Their arms wrapped around me. My heart wrapped around them. A blessing for all. The brightest of souls.

us bridge

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