Together with some other international students, I planned to visit the famous gardens and castle of Versailles during the Easter weekend. When we arrived at Gare du Nord (Paris) we asked someone which train we had to take to get to Versailles, and a stranger then paid for tickets for all of us! We were very suspicious of this and didn’t accept the tickets, but bought new ones instead. Always be careful in Paris!
After we hopped on the right train, we noticed that Versailles is a popular destination during Easter, as it was really crowded in the train and everyone left the train at the same place! Fortunately, the gardens and castle are huge, so it was not a big issue that there were so many people. Once we were in the gardens we saw people using golf cars to get around, which in my view, is not the best way to experience them, but it was nevertheless hilarious to see. When the weather became worse we queued up to enter the palace (wherever you go in France, there are always queues!) and it took us only 20 minutes to get inside, a new record for us. Inside there were a lot of statues and paintings, notably those of the royal family and our good friend Louis ;)
Later on, we celebrated Easter in the international building. For the occasion, some of my international friends had prepared some beautiful eggs. They took some leaves from the forest surrounding the campus, stuck these on the side of all eggs and then put each individual egg in a tight cloth. Once they did this for a few dozen of eggs, they boiled them in water with onion peel. This gave the water and the eggs a nice red colour all over, except for the spots that had been covered with the leaves! Thus all of the eggs had a very nice and unique imprint. I contributed to this whole thing by eating over 5 kg of onions with my roommate to save enough onion peels ;). Everyone then received one egg and we had to ‘smash’ each other’s eggs to find out who had the strongest eggs. We did this by hitting the top of one with the top of the other, which was very fun to do! My egg was not the strongest, but I managed to smash two other eggs before mine was obliterated.
Last week the weather sun finally decided to show up for the better, and the outside temperature varied from 18 to 25 ˚C. And I can tell you that everything looks a whole lot better when the sun shines and it instantaneously boosts everyone’s mood! Needless to say, we spent some time at the lake that is close to the campus. One day I took my bike with me for a ride in the nearby forest. When I returned everyone wanted to ride my bicycle and it was fun to see them doing just that.
As for my culinary adventures, I decided I wanted to try some interesting poultry, so I bought a duck and a guinea fowl (Dutch: parelhoender). I had my dejointing skills on some chickens in the weeks before, so I was able separate the ducks into neat pieces: breasts, wings, legs and thighs. The carcasses now sit in the freezer and I will use those to make a delicious soup. I wish these meats were just as easily available in The Netherlands as here in France, because you can just buy these (organic!) birds at the supermarket!