Sardinia and the Costa Smeralda

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HEY SQUIRRELFRIENDS. Things are rough these days. There are two super shady snakes trying to claw their way into the White House, everyone is trying to keep new friends out of their countries, and the job market for people studying ridiculously niche kinds of history is difficult for some reason. So take a load off and stare at some of these tranquil beach photos and forget all about the impending doom that is part of all our lives at the moment!

So, you probably remember some mumblings about me writing a dissertation. Well, from about the end of February until the beginning of May I was increasingly trapped behind my computer and typing away about harps, fancy French dudes, and REVOLUTION. Not really. But it made my conclusion very scary to go from tiny tinkly harps to guillotines. Anyway, after we submitted the dissertation in early May and were F-R-E-E, we still had all of May and June to work on the final exhibition, symposium, and publication. I was on the Show team and spent a lot of time going back and forth to a print shop saying sorry, actually, can I change this order for the hundredth time? I became BEST friends with the printer guy. Then we graduated on July 1st at Royal Albert Hall, where the Spice Girls perform their concert at the end of SpiceWorld (don't pretend you don't remember). After that I hung out with my parents in London for a while, then my friend and I jetted off to Sardinia to lay on the beach for a week and do less than nothing while eating entire links of salami.

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My friend and I stayed on the Costa Smeralda on the northeast coast of Sardinia. The first beach we went to was Porto Istana, which was one of the few free public beaches around. As you might expect, several years ago all the rich jerks came and bought up all the nice beaches and put their super yachts and/or pricey resorts all over the place, but Porto Astana was still stunning. The first day was overcast and windy, and my friend and I ended up with scalps full of sand, but the next few days were super sunny and everyone was out splashing around. The last day we decided to live dangerously and try another beach, called Le Saline. This place was GORGEOUS and there was hardly anyone there, but for a reason; there weren't any vendors, the sand was jagged and sharp, and it was H-O-T. We had been renting chairs and umbrellas every day but there were none to be had, and my friend and I were rapidly boiling on the sand. But we had some pretty nice views to boil to:

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Are you feeling relaxed? Good. The world is a particularly turbulent and scary place these days, but there are still beautiful places to look at, and it's totally okay to tune out of the real world for a few minutes every day and pretend we aren't living through the end times. It was really nice being at the beach for a week and pretending I had no responsibilities, but then I had to return to London, look for jobs, accept the reality that I wouldn't get a visa, then realize I had to go home, then actually move home. It's been hard coming home, but then I look through my pictures of all the places I went to and feel pretty lucky that I at least had two years to live abroad and see beaches like this. So if you are having a rough time because of the election, immigration, or just a period of change in your life, seek out some pretty pictures or cat videos or drag queen makeup tutorials and zone out for a little while. You deserve it.
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Marseille

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OH HEY! Remember how I used to have a blog? Well, recently I actually deleted this blog in a fit of anger (so many of my life decisions are made this way) but I didn't delete it forever! I am BACK and have so many lovely photos to share with you, as well as some updates on my life: I finished my MA, moved back home to Louisiana, and am now on the job hunt. I had been so busy with the end of year exhibition, fitting in last minute London activities, and packing up all my junk that I kind of fell off the face of the earth, but I have returned for good. First, I have these amazing pics from my trip to Marseille last year, which I thought were appropriate because my friend and I took this trip as a reward for finishing a year of studying and to get away from the cold, wet London weather for a bit. Also, you will now know the truth behind my love affair with madeleines! Read on for dazzling Côte d'Azur snaps and of course, historical happenings!

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Hi. This is Marseille. Marseille is a sea port on the southeast coast of France on the Mediterranean, which is known as the Côte d'Azur (Azure Coast), because the water is so blue and gorgeous it actually is insulting. WE GET IT, FRANCE. You are marvelous at lots of things. Anyway, Marseille has been an active seaport since the 6th century AD, and as such has a history of being a little sketch. But in 2013 the city got the European City of Culture Award and has been polished to a high sheen, although any port or high-traffic city like this one is bound to have some unsavory cargo moving through it. My friend Brittany and I watched The Connection before the trip, which is all about how dangerous Marseille was in the 1970s because of the MOUNTAINS of heroin moving through the city. Remember that movie The French Connection with Gene Hackman? Yeah, that movie was no joke. Most of the heroin in Europe was going through here, and you know everyone was down in the 70s. We were super scared after seeing the movie but it's all good now, I mean, most cities were super sketch in the 70s, am I right? Well, anyway, there were OLD BUILDINGS galore:

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Marseille was incredible. We went to a huge fortress-museum and I took lots of sweeping panorama pictures of the Mediterranean and all the sand-colored architecture. It was pretty hot outside and we were gently baking on all the terraces, but it was worth it to catch all the BLUES!

Also, Marseille is full of actual history and literary history, too. Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo is set in Marseille, and the main character spends almost 20 years at the island-prison Chateau d'If. THIS IS A REAL PLACE. There is actually a fortress/prison on an island off the coast of Marseille that If was based on. Unlike the book, the island is pretty close by, so if you pulled a Dantes and snuck out of the prison in a body bag that was meant for your friend, and ended up getting thrown over the cliff into the ocean when you thought you were getting buried, and you ended up getting out of the chains and swimming to the surface, you wouldn't have far to go to be in the middle of town instead of washed up on an island with some badass new pirate friends that will let you join their gang. Are you following? Also, if you haven't seen the movie they made about ten or so years ago with Jim Caviezel and Guy Pierce, you are missing out on a wonderful life. France! Revenge! Stately homes! Sneering aristocrats! NAPOLEON!  It has everything you could want.

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We really lucked out on where we stayed. Our Airbnb was across from the Opera, and we could hear the singers practicing during the day and hear performances at night. Right around the corner was this LIFE-CHANGING bakery called Boulangerie Aixoise that served the best madeleines on the face of this earth. They were dipped in chocolate, super thick, and I wanted to die every time I had one. Madeleines are shaped like little boats but they do no taste like boats. They taste like all of your hopes and dreams. We went back to this bakery almost every day and I could have lived inside of it. They also served these little anchovy pizza-tarts (lots of Franco-Italian mashups going on) that were crammed with garlic and tasted outrageous.

My only regret is that we didn't manage to get Bouillabaisse! What! The horror! For those who don't know about the glory of this dish, it's a traditional French fish soup with saffron and rouille (fancy French sauce of wonder) and it is everything. Seafood is something I DO NOT JOKE ABOUT.  I had one in Austin, Texas and it changed me as a person. But don't worry. I shall return to Marseille someday (and probably stay in that same amazing Airbnb) and I will eat bouillabaisse and madeleines until the day I die.

Next up, to keep with the Mediterranean/end-of-term theme, my trip to SARDINIA!


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