Last Day in Paris: A Sea of Rollerblades and a Cathedral of Sound

Today I spent my last day in Paris wandering the streets to see if I could stumble on to anything unique besides doing a bit of research for our Paris tour. Paris is the kind of place where you could stumble onto anything. And today, it was a sea of over one thousand rollerbladers oozing through the main boulevards of Paris. I think they were celebrating, or promoting peace because all I heard and saw were slogans relating to "La Paix". In the middle of a cross walk, I was overcome by countless people of all sorts, shapes, sizes and colors streaming the rainbow peace flag. Even though they were happy, this was remarkably different from the gay pride parades I've happened by in the past. As everything is in France, this was well organized, with rollerblading police sprinkled throughout the crowd and ambulances holding up the rear. And just as suddenly as I was overcome by it, it was over and they were off and down the road.

After hanging out at Trocadero for a bit watching the snake of rollerbladers continue off into the distance, I jumped on the Paris RER and headed toward St. Eustache. Every sunday afternoon I had heard there was an organ recital. I was excited to hear what exactly that entailed because I knew this particular cathedral had one of the best, oldest and largest organs in the city. I got inside just before 530 with three minutes to spare, and found my wicker seat as the organist began a lengthy oral introduction to what he was about to play in French. Rather than concentrate on understanding what he was explaining, I began to look around and take in the ribbed ceilings well over 100 feet above me, and admire the vibrant stained glass. The organist finished, and began to let his fingers to the talking. I had heard the expression of "a cathedral of sound" before--I forget from where--but within two minutes, I began to understand what exactly it meant. I tried to imagine the significance of music like this that aurally reflected the physical beauty of the churches interior when both were demonstrations of cutting edge technology that only the church could afford--meant to impress commoners, and to impress upon them the rightness of the faith. For the second half of the show I closed my eyes and listened to the trills and running scales of what must have been music from the Baroque period. Don't ask me how an organ works, but I'd be intrigued to learn how the air pressure is kept constant and instantaneous.


 Newly enlightened, I left St. Eustache and found a cafe to catch up on emails, and enjoy a double espresso on Montorgueil--a great pedestrian avenue in the heart of the city. 


Katrina Alford, Concordia University - Irvine

Happy Backpackers

This past weekend, I traveled to Budapest with WSA with a couple of friends from my university abroad, and I couldn't have asked for a better trip! After arriving at the hostel, we met Bogi, our tour guide for the weekend, who was instantly friendly and welcoming. Throughout the weekend, Bogi was an amazing guide! She showed us some great places for shopping and food, as well as the top sights around the city. You could tell she loved her job and never passed up an opportunity to share about her hometown and some of its history. She was so friendly and was sincerely interested in us as individuals and did everything she could do accommodate our priorities for the weekend (whether it was food, shopping, nightlife, sightseeing, etc.) I would highly recommend WSA's guided tours for any student studying abroad who wants to explore more than their university's city!

Katrina Alford, Concordia University - Irvine ~ AIFS Richmond, Spring 2015

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