Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Giant Market... And Some Running!

So far it has been a swell weekend folks.  This weekend is the "Braderie de Lille," which is when all of Lille turns into a giant market.  Every single road and street is full of vendors and food stands and people having a good time.

"33 hours to sell and buy anything and everything at the biggest flea market in Europe.  100 km of stands, 10 000 vendors and about 2 million visitors! And don't forget the traditional dish of mussels and french fries that is the subject of a yearly contest between restaurants to see which one can build the highest pile of empty mussel shells."
Yann the man, a cool looking truck, and some Braderie items being sold
Marie-Jose trying on a majorly vintage helmet at one vendor station
It doesn't matter your age, your gender, your nationality, you can set up a stand and sell whatever you want.  I don't know why I didn't find out about this earlier and plan ahead to make a fortune selling maple syrup.  I went in the afternoon with my host family and we walked for about an hour looking at all the cool antique and vintage things (that were often pretty random.) Then we stopped for the traditional (like it says above) meal of "moules et frites," which, essentially, is a tub of mussels and a tub of french fries with maybe a cup of mayonnaise for the fries.

I forgot to take a photo, so Google helped me out on this one...
I didn't really understand what it was we were ordering till after we'd placed the order (this is probably gonna happen to me so much...) but it ended up being delicious like all the food here and I gladly proceeded to finish my portion.

After lunch, I left my host family and met up with some exchange friends and we walked around taking everything in.  It's so insane the amounts of people that are everywhere in the city.  Not just one part, or one street is busy, everywhere is full of people and vendors.  The cool thing is the majority seems to be French too, it's like one big French party! My friends and I went to a little terrace in "La Grande Place" to refresh and get some drinks.  There was this goofy guy in a yellow shirt and red bowtie who had like 4 straw hats that said "Yes We Peli'can" on them on his head and he walked around trying to get people to sing along with the mini band they had there.  I wanted a hat so badly and apparently the only way to get one was to sing.  So I sang my heart out, to some French song I didn't even know, reading French lyrics I didn't understand how to read, and I still didn't get a hat! Like I didn't know I was that bad...

Luckily Ty (from the US) has a kind heart and ended up giving me his :)
Way too pumped on getting a hat.
Later, I took the metro home alone (woo I'm so mature) to Roubaix and had dinner at the house.  Yann and Marie-Jose wanted to show me what La Braderie is like at night so at around 10pm we took the metro back to Lille.  

It was SO COOL at night! Everywhere you went the streets were crowded with people having a fabulous time.  It was ten times crazier than it had been during the day, and it honestly felt like everywhere you went you were in a giant party.  We walked around looking and laughing at everything that was going on, and then my host parents ran into friends of theirs they hadn't seen in a while so we went to their house for a visit! They had a peaceful and beautiful backyard, similar to the my host family's, and we sat there for a little while then moved inside.  We were there till half past one in the morning and I was soooooooo exhausted.  I felt so bad I kept falling asleep right in front of them! The life of an exchange student is always interesting.  We were finally home at around 2am and I practically fell into bed.

And then this morning I went for a 9km run with Yann! Yann is crazy good at running, like crazy good.  I mean I thought my running was okay because I can run 5km no problem.  Yann's idea of a fun run is a marathon.  He even runs ultra marathons (like we are talking 100km...insanity.) Anyway, it was so cool to be able to run with him, and he was able to show me a good running route so hopefully I can keep the croissants from making me obese if I get a running routine established.  

Today was another visit to La Braderie and I actually bought something other than food.  Yay! I spent most of the day hanging with friends and meeting new people once again; it never stops being cool here!!!!

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