City Lakes

I’ll be honest, the past two weeks haven’t exactly been blog-worthy. Our spring break was so cold, I didn’t want to go anywhere, and spent most of my time bouncing from friends’ dorms and apartments to my bed next to the radiator on full blast. Plus, I hadn’t known we would even have a break in February so I didn’t plan ahead, and everything was too expensive to do by the time I realized I could travel. So I stayed. Last week, I was just too busy to go anywhere, and a new, tighter budget meant I would have to make some tough decisions about the trips I could take. I went into these weeks feeling really disappointed about not being able to travel as much as I’d hoped to. But I’m happy to say I’ve made the best of it nonetheless and discovered some cool things in Lille. I went to the zoo. I took a walk through a park. I went to a concert with a friend. I hit the streets and this is what I found.

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This, to my understanding, is a reservoir in Vieux Lille that looks beautiful at night. My friend Coralie and I visited after a walk around the city, and it was completely deserted. In the foreground, you can’t see them, but there are trees, bushes, and various flowers planted in the ground where steps to the water used to be. Coralie once lived in the apartments you see on the right. She remembers a time when the trees and plants weren’t there, when people would sit and talk and sing on the steps at all hours of the day. Until people complained. “I just wore earplugs,” she said. But others in the community petitioned to have the plants planted there, and now Coralie, a vegan environmentalist, has a deep abiding hatred for them. We sat on the bank and I listened while she reminisced about her life in the apartment. We stomped on a few plants before we left. It was a wonderful evening, and I know I never would have found it if I hadn’t gone.

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This is a park by the citadel in Lille. It’s gorgeous, and on Sunday, the weather was perfect for a walk with my Irish friend Aoife (pronounced ee-fuh, just ignore all the letters). We had heard about the park, but honestly, I wasn’t really sure what the big deal was. I was raised in museums, I’m a museum girl. Give me a Tate or a Frick and I’m all over it. But a park? Anyone who knows me laughs anytime my name is mentioned in conjunction with physical exercise. But it was a nice day and I was with a nice friend, so we walked and stumbled across this gorgeous lake in the middle of everything. But we weren’t the only ones! Everyone was out, walking or riding bikes or roller-blading or walking their dogs or going for a jog. It was like the whole city had turned up to celebrate the day. Then it got even better.

We found a cave!

Of course, we didn’t actually find it and it wasn’t exactly a cave, but it was super cool and whimsical and totally looked like it was something out of Narnia. We took a lot of pictures.

And after those two nights of finding incredible things right outside my door, I realized something: that maybe the real fun isn’t traveling, but the friends we made along the way.

Kidding. I did understand that it’s okay if I was disappointed at the start. But there will be other weekends and other breaks when I won’t be so strapped for time and money. And in the meantime, I have great friends and great views to find right here in Lille. Aw, cute.

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