Metalsmithing - Assisted Studio Session - Guided by Emma

This Christmas season I had the honor of teaching Ashley, my boyfriend's sister, how to create her own bespoke jewelry piece for someone very special to her. We had the most fun working together and she grasped metalsmithing very quickly, she was even a natural! Her vision was a necklace with a heavier chain and a cross. 

After researching chains to purchase for the piece it clicked to me to ask her if she would like to learn how to make her own chain and cross pendant. She jumped at the idea and so we scheduled a day and conquered the task! Here are some images of the process and the finished product for you to scroll through:

I would like to extend the invite to you to welcome you to my Grand Rapids studio! Lets schedule a day and create something special for your loved one to cherish for the years to come even more so than if I made it because YOU made it! Not only did you come up with the idea for a bespoke piece of jewelry for them, you also created it. I will dedicate a day to guiding you and teaching you the ins and outs of jewelry making. For $27/hour plus material costs.

One day I would love to teach my own metalsmithing technique classes and by having these assisted studio sessions you will help me to gain confidence in my teaching abilities! Metalsmithing is such a wonderful art form and I am excited to pass it on to others excited to learn like I am! Do not hesitate to contact me with any of your questions by going over to my contact page. Hope to hear from some of you soon! Don't forget Valentines day is just around the corner!

Xoxo, Emma


Tucson, Arizona Gem, Mineral & Fossil Show - Let me treasure hunt for you!

I'm going to Tucson! In fact, here's a fun fact, I happen to be leaving one day before I would have left last year to fly over seas to Florence, Italy but don't worry, this time I won't be gone near as long!

 The last time I worked for Gary I came home with these! Sonoran Sunrise, Imperial Jasper, Leland Purple, Gembone (Dino Bone), Moss Agate, Bumblebee Jasper, and Rutilated Quartz

The last time I worked for Gary I came home with these! Sonoran Sunrise, Imperial Jasper, Leland Purple, Gembone (Dino Bone), Moss Agate, Bumblebee Jasper, and Rutilated Quartz

I am headed to one of the world's greatest treasure hunts that people come from all over to hunt for jewelry, jewelry-making supplies, collectibles, rare treasures and to find the best bargain. I will be working the Tucson Show at Gary Wilson's booth at G.J.X. I have the most fun working with Gary and the crew and learn so much about the stones. I usually end up with a tray filled with way more natural cabochons (Cabochon: a stone with a flat side to set in jewelry) than I can afford. It is so hard to put them back and usually takes hours to days for me to finally get them down to fit the budget.

Let me hunt for you! This year I thought I would extend the option to you to tell me what you want me to look for. For example, maybe you love rutilated quartz and you have always wanted a piece of jewelry with that stone in it? Or you love a certain ring design I have made but you would want a different stone set in it? For a $50 down payment up front I will find you your perfect stone or gemstone! Then, when I get home I will begin to create your bespoke piece of jewelry!  All you have to do is contact me with the following information:

1. Type of stone or gemstone by name, color, shape, or etc.

2. Size of stone (Shape if necessary)

3. What type of jewelry: earrings, necklace, choker, ring, cuff, bracelet, etc.

4. Budget for the amount you would like to spend on the stone 

5. (Optional) Best way to contact you that you respond to quickly. I would love to send images of the stones I pick to insure that it is what you are looking for.

(Once I am back we will talk design and what your budget wight be.)


I have always loved the search and would love for the opportunity to treasure hunt for you! Just copy and paste the list above to give me the information I need and I will begin scouting out the perfect stone for you. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you might have! You can reach me by heading over to my contact page.

Xoxo, Emma

So What's Next?

A lot of you have been wondering or have even asked me what is next for me now that I have graduated. I thought I would let you in on where my head is at now as I am entering into the "real world".

First off, I would like to start by saying how thankful I am for my college education. It has really shaped me into who I am today. I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life let alone who I wanted to be in this world. College challenged me to think outside of the box, to let my light shine in the world, to conquer my fears, to be passionate, to love, to make connections and to travel the world! My education gave me the tools and skills I need to move on to this new chapter in my life.

Second, I am thankful to my mom for pushing me to go to college in the first place and my family for being so supportive of me when I told them I may be a starving artist for a while... and when I told them I was going abroad to study jewelry design in Italy which may not help the starving artist lifestyle right away... and for being patient with me as I figured out what God was calling me to do.


What is my plan for this new chapter? It is the same as it has always been. I plan to take each day one day at at time. About two years ago I started an internship at Studio JSD in Grand Haven, Michigan. There I have made friends who have since become family to me. Julie Sanford is like another mom to me, we get asked all the time if we are mother and daughter.  I am thankful to have her as a mentor to me, she has been so kind and has taught me so much about metalsmithing and life in general. I work once a week with Julie in her studio and I also have jewelry on consignment in her gallery as well. Please go check it out! Who knows, maybe some day soon I will teach a class at Studio JSD. Through Julie and my work at Studio JSD I met Lisa Lehmann who was a resident artist at the studio. Lisa offered me a job as a bench jeweler to help with production. Lisa has taught me so much as far as running a jewelry business goes and working in production. I work for her a few days a week as well and I would hardly call it work. Two friends making jewelry together, singing along to a mix of worship music, today hottest hits and the occasional movie instrumental soundtrack, nah thats not work. Lisa has opened up her home to me and her heart. I am so thankful for our friendship.

So what is my plan? I will continue spending my time working with these women. They encourage me, inspire me, push me, and motivate me to follow my dreams like they did and are still doing. I love what I do. I am choosing to continue down this road God has put me on because it is great. I believe if I keep working hard each day and trust God, He will put me where I need to be. I already know this to be true because I can already feel it.


Thank you for reading, if you enjoyed what I had to say leave me a comment in the comment section below & please let me know what else you might like to hear about!

Xoxo, Emma


Thursday, Friday & Saturday, March 23-25: Athens, Greece

Katie and Megan spent Monday through Wednesday in Florence with me as I studied for and took my midterms.  It was a whirlwind of a week but I managed to do well on all my midterms.  I wasn't able to spend as much time exploring with the girls because of my classes and studying but the did their own exploring.  During the week we had many great dinners including an aperitivo.  Aperitivo is when you buy one drink for lets say about 10€ and get unlimited drinks and buffet.  Lots of places have that here in Italy and it is pretty convenient especially if you are trying to save so money.  

Thursday after my last exam we briefly finished packing and headed to the train station.  Our flight was leaving from Rome.  We made it to Greece Thursday night just after midnight.  We had set up an Airbnb with a wonderful greek man who even picked us up from the airport to drop us off at where we would be staying.  On our drive to the Airbnb he brought us around Athens showing us where things were and where the metro was.  I may say the metro was very useful and right by our Airbnb so it worked out perfect for the two nights we stayed.

In the morning we bought tickets for the sightseeing bus, like the one I did in Paris.  We thought it was the best way of transportation to see all the sights of Athens.  Our first stop was the Acropolis with the Parthenon, the temple dedicated to Athena.  Construction of the Parthenon began in 447 BC, it is the building with almost all the columns still standing.  The acropolis was one of the coolest things I have been able to see on my journeys in Europe.  I loved every second I had there.  We also has an amazing view from on top of the acropolis as you can see from my pictures. Our next stop was the Temple of Zeus which we were able to walk to from the Acropolis.  It was a nice walk of about 15 minutes on a road that took you right to it.  All of the ruins in the city to me were equal to the ones I saw in Rome if not better.  I think location had a lot to do with it, Rome is so busy and a crowded city.  Athens just had a cooler vibe, even though it is a big city it is very open with trees, cool landscape and a sea breeze!  I loved it.  I would go back in a heartbeat.  Athens should be on your bucket list.  

Next, we got back on our red sightseeing bus and it took us along the coast.  There we got off and had seafood near a harbor and then walked to find a beach.  On our walk to the beach there was a lady feeding all the stray cats.  I can still see Katie face... she hates cats... meanwhile, I was in my happy place.  The weather was perfect for the beach we hung out there for a few hour sipping on strawberry daiquiris.  Then we caught the bus on its last lap around.  The excitement of the day got to me and I was knocked out for most of the rest of the ride.  Once were got off we decided to go to the highest point of the city.  After a lot of stairs and a kind of strange elevator ride up the side of the hill, we made it just in time to see the sunset.  It was the most incredible view and God sure painted the sky wonderfully that night.   After our hike down we went back to change and get dinner.  We didn't stay out to late because Saturday was Katie and Megan's last day in Athens.  In the morning we packed up and got ready to hit the beach.  It took us a while to figure out how to get there without our red sightseeing bus but I enjoyed the challenge.  We did eventually make it there and were able to spend about four hours basking in the sun.  We all left a little bit burnt.  It had been a while since my skin had seen the sun.  The way home we were able to take a tram and we all were struggling to keep our eyes open.  We all picked up our stuff from the Airbnb and then our Airbnb guy picked us up to drop us off where we needed to go.  First he dropped me off at the hostel I was staying at for my spring break trip with Bus2Alps.  I said goodbye to my best friends and they were headed back to the airport.  They had a busy night ahead of them figuring out how to get back to Florence from Rome.  The good news is they made it safe but didn't get much sleep.  In the AM they had to get up early to catch there flight home. 

I am so blessed to have these two girls as my friends.  They crossed the ocean to visit me.  It was nice to have shared such an amazing experience in Europe with my best friends.  It was a hard week for me with it being midterms and I wasn't able to do much with them during the school week and it was stressful for me.  I just wanted to be able to spend time with them and not worry about school but I had exams to worry about... Greece was the icing on the cake for me.  Midterms were done and I could finally relax and enjoy exploring with them.  Katie and Megan if you read this I love you both and am so lucky to have friends like you in my life.  I am so thankful.  Thanks for putting up with me.  I don't know what I would do with out you. <3  Can't wait to be home and be there for you as you both prepare for the next chapters in your lives!  You're getting married! 

Here are pictures from our weekend in Athens!

Friday, Saturday & Sunday, March 17-19

Three weeks from my departure from Italy back to the States.  I am not going to lie, I am really excited to be home.  After Josh came to visit it made me a little homesick.  Today I am going to write about when Katie and Megan came to visit.  It is a perfect day to catch up on the blog... it is a holiday in Italy today, International workers day.  It is similar to labor day back in the States.  So I am sitting in a Gelateria called Amorino, sipping on cappuccino and eating a crepe.  Let me take you back to March 17-19th and my shared adventure to Capri, the Amalfi Coast, and Pompeii. 

Katie and Megan arrived Thursday afternoon.  It was an emotional moment for me to see them get off the bus.  Tears were rolling down my face.  I really missed my people and it was nice to see familiar faces.  I planned out Thursday evening to give them a perfect taste of Florence in one night since we were leaving early the next morning for Naples.  After we dropped their bags off at my apartment we headed to La Rinascente which is a department store on Piazza della Repubblica that has a secret terrace at the top with a great view of the Duomo and amazing drinks.  After that we got dinner at Osteria Santo Spirito.  I had been wanting to go to that restaurant for a while because I had heard really good things about it.  At that point in my stay here in Florence I hadn't been going out to eat for meals much to save my money, plus I knew once my friends came to visit I would have people to go with.  It was even warm enough for us to eat outside.  It was the perfect first dinner for my visitors! At night we found an Irish pub called Friends Pub and made friends with a British man and played foosball since we needed another player to make the teams even.  We even learned how to talk with a British accent, well Megan did, I am no good. 

The next morning we hopped on a train to Naples!  Once in Naples we took the metro to the ferry.  From what we saw of Naples we weren't very impressed.  It didn't help that people warned us before hand to watch your stuff closely because Naples can be dangerous, especially for tourists.  We waited for the ferry for about an hour. No matter how hard you plan you can't time everything out perfect.  So during our hour wait we sat out in the sun and enjoyed some Italian pastries, espresso, and cappuccinos.  Our ferry ride was about an hour to the Island of Capri.  The weather on that Friday could not have been better.  It was a perfect day for island adventures.  As we were walking off the boat onto the dock we caught word that the last boat to the Blue Grotto was leaving so we jumped on that opportunity.  I left my suitcase back at the dock.  The guy swore it would be safe because as he said "everyone is rich here on Capri, they aren't going to steal your junk".  Naturally, I trusted him, maybe I shouldn't have but my suitcase was still there when I got back.  The boat took us around the "corner" of the island to men waiting in small paddle boats to take us into the Blue Grotto.  So we hopped off the big boat to a much smaller boat and we squeezed through a small cave opening while laying down in the bottom of the boat to fit through the hole.  Inside the Blue Grotto everything was dark except the water underneath us glowed a vibrant blue color.  It was incredible, and definitely a must see if you ever make it to Capri.  My pictures do not do it justice so you should google it to better understand my amazement.  Back on the island we walked around what we could since we didn't have much time till our ferry left for Amalfi.  We had two amazing drinks at a place that was known for their Limoncello and then we took off for our next adventure.  Our ferry took us to Sorrento were we hopped on a bus to Amalfi.  I still do not know how this bus fit on the small narrow roads along the cliffs of the coastline but we made it in one piece, a little car sick, to Amalfi.  We looked for forever to find our hotel and couldn't find it.  We were about to lose hope when a random man on the street was like "Emma?".  I said yes? and how do you know me??? He said you are staying at my hotel! He recognized me from my picture through my email.  So we made it safely to our hotel, the Amalfi Luxury house which was very pleasant and had the most amazing view from the rooftop.  That night we had an amazing dinner at Da Gemmas.  It was super fancy and was our favorite meal in Amalfi, we even were able to eat out on the terrace with heated lamps... it was quite the place.

Here are my images from Capri:

(After the pictures I will talk about what we did in Amalfi & Pompeii!)

Amalfi was beautiful.  Most images of the Amalfi Coast are taken in Positano of the beautiful colorful houses on the cliff edges and the beach below it.  When I booked our hotel I didn't know this.  There are many cities that make up the Amalfi Coast, I thought the city Amalfi was in whole the the Amalfi Coast.  So unfortunately we weren't able to make a stop in Positano.  We were able see it when we drove through to get to and from where we stayed.  It just gives us a reason to come back some day ;).  Saturday morning we took a taxi to Pompeii.  we had the nicest taxi driver who thought himself like a dad to us.  He was so kind and helpful explaining things to us as we were driving through.  We saw Mt. Vesuvius, the dormant volcano that destroyed Pompeii in 79 AD.  This was the first Volcano I have seen in my life so it was a pretty neat experience for me.  

Pompeii was pretty incredible, the city was lost for about 1500 years until it was rediscovered in 1599 and then again in 1748 when more was uncovered.  It is one of the most popular tourist sites in Italy with about 2.5 million visitors a year.  We were a part of that.  It is incredibly sad what happened to the people living there.  The extreme heat instantly killed them, it distorted their bodies to look like they were reaching out in fear but it was actually the extreme heat that caused their bodies to react the way they did.  The city was preserved so well by the ash that the artifacts gave amazing insight into the life of the city before the eruption.  We walked the preserved streets and even explored temple ruins and houses from 79 AD.  It was quite incredible.

On our way back we stopped in Ravello to see one of the Villas, Villa Rufolo and its beautiful cliffside gardens.  It was the perfect place for posed pictures.  Then it was back to the hotel and time for dinner.  After dinner we were exhausted and planned for an early bedtime.

Enjoy my pictures!

Saturday, March 11 & Sunday, March 12: Venice

For my sake to catch up on my blogging this will be a quick blurb about what we did in Venice and then you can enjoy the multitude of images I have for you!

We left for Venice really early Saturday morning  and arrived around 11.  After travel by bus we hopped on a ferry that dropped us off not to far from St. Marks Basilica.  Immediately we were met by our tour guide who gave us a 2 hour tour of a section of Venice.  After that the six of us girls paid for a gondola ride.  Gondolas are 80 euro during the day and around 120 in the evening when it is more romantic and they last about 30 minutes.  It was nice to be able to split it between 6 people.  In a week I will be returning to Venice with Josh and we will have to split between only two people but it is so worth the experience.  I recommend getting the pictures out of the way right away so then you can sit back and enjoy the ride.  (secretly I am hoping to do the romantic night time gondola when I visit next but we will see what Josh thinks)

Later we left Venice to check in to our hotel in Mestre.  We clean up a bit and went out to get some seafood in Mestre which is just outside of Venice.  I think it was a cheaper option for API then staying right in Venice.  I had prawns which is just a fancy word for shrimp.  They were fresh and still looked like they just came out of the water but cooked.  I never had shrimp like that before so the server had to tell me how to eat them and they got a good laugh at the american who didn't know how to eat shrimp.  It was a great meal but very messy.  Then we got McFlurries at McDonalds and headed to bed.

They next day we went to Burano, another one of the venetian islands.  It was so colorful and beautiful.  We were lucky to have the weather that we had both days in Venice.  It was incredible.  Before the Island we stopped to watch a glass blower create glass sculptures.  I bought my first piece of blown glass for my home someday!  Back in Burano we spent the day walking around taking picture and practicing our modeling.  Then we had seafood for lunch.  I have been more daring and gave seafood another shot and I am beginning to really enjoy it!  We took the Ferry back which was about an hour and then took the bus back to Venice!

Enjoy my pics :)

Saturday, March 4 & Sunday March 5: Ireland

I am super excited to share these photos from Saturday, March 4 with you.  The day was just gorgeous.  It started off rainy and was a little rough but by the time we made it to the Cliffs of Moher the sun came out from behind the clouds.  The lighting was perfect and made for some very good pictures.  

So, like I mentioned in my previous blog we went on another bus tour that took us to a couple castles, the baby cliffs, and the Cliffs of Moher.  We met Gavin in the morning on O'Connel street before he stopped to pick up is tour group.  He set us up with prime front seats.  Throughout the entire trip he chatted with us and made it a pretty great trip.  Again, if you do a Paddywagon tour make sure you have Gavin as your tour guide.  You will not regret it.  He is really funny and sometimes says things he shouldn't but he always kept us laughing.  It was very entertaining.  He gave us advice at one point telling us to get a bottle of whiskey and drink it and to trust him it stops the crime.  Whiskey fixes everything even crime.  He also told us how's the craic or what's the craic means how's things or what's up.  Craic also means fun.  He told us from his own experience in the U.S. that he learned the hard way not to mention craic to airport security.  Bad idea.  They thought he was asking for a drug deal and it didn't help that he got drunk on the plane.  So he was held in custody at the airport for 24 hours.  Meanwhile, as he is telling us this whole story he is cracking up at himself.  Pretty goofy dude.

Anyway, the Cliffs of Moher were stunning.  It was incredibly windy but that is normal at the cliffs.  We were very fortunate to have sun.  We spent about two hours there and walked along the edge of the cliffs.  Not to close to the edge because if a gust of wind hit you just right I am convinced you would fly right of the edge of the cliff.

After our tour Deirdre and Granny had fish and chips waiting for us back at the house.  It was delicious.  Then we got ready to go out to Temple bar.  Temple bar is the name of the area and the area is filled with many different types of bars to go to.  Our goal was to find a bar with live Irish folk songs being sung.  The first place was crowded and the artist sang a mix of everything.  After get shoved around quite a bit we went to find another bar.  This bar had Irish music and a table to sit at.  It was perfect.  We even made some friends and had a great view of the dance floor. It was some good craic.

Sunday, we got to the airport early and slept for a while and then our flight was delayed.  While waiting in line they asked us to check our bags (don't do it, never a good idea) so we checked our bags thinking it would help us reach our connecting flight faster.  After a half hour we boarded and took off.  An hour later we about to land in Frankfurt and we had to do an emergency round about.  We were so close to landing but there was a storm right over the airport so the turbulence was rocking the plane to much.  We flew around for a half hour and then successfully landed in Frankfurt only to realize we missed our connecting flight.  We flew out of Bologna and the next flight available was at 8 PM.  There were two other girls next to us who also needed to get back to Florence and they were able to get on a flight to Munich right away that would then take them to Florence.  We heard there exchange happen and asked the man who helped us but since we checked our bags we could not go that route because it is illegal to travel without your bags with you.  You can imagine how ticked I was.  even writing about it now upsets me.  So anyways, we took the flight to Bologna but there were no trains running that late.  We were going to have to stay in Bologna and wake up early to get home and make it to our 9 AM classes.  We eventually found an alternative way home but it meant us waiting at a bus station in Bologna until 12:30 AM  and getting on a two hour long bus ride back to Florence.  A train ride would have only taken 35 minutes.  So originally if we wouldn't have missed our connecting flight we would have been home around 6 PM on Sunday, instead we didn't get home until 2:30 AM.  It was rough.  I am happy to not be flying much in the next two months.

Don't worry, I still made it to class and was able to get a nap in later in the day that Monday.

Ciao! Enjoy the photos!

Thursday, March 2 & Friday, March 3: Ireland

Thursday I brought my luggage with me to class in order to catch a train to Bologna to make it to my flight to Frankfurt, Germany.  Once everyone was sitting and the plane was preparing to take off, one of the flight attendants came to my row to ask me if I was Emma.  I said yes and she asked me to come to the back of the plane with her.  I followed her to the back minority freaking out because I had no idea what the problem was.  They asked for my boarding pass but in my panic I gave them my passport instead.  She looked at my passport and made a call to the front of the plane.  She then said sorry, there is another Emma in your row that hasn't made it on the plane.  She was just checking if other Emma made it on the plane somehow without them knowing.  Shortly after a girl came quickly down the aisle to my row and made it in time for take off.  I tell this story because it is quite the coincidence and I met yet another Emma on my travels abroad. That is 4 or 5 now.  

From Frankfurt we rushed to our next flight headed to Dublin, Ireland.  At the airport Norah and I snagged a taxi to then take us to Greenhills, Ireland which is a 20 minute ride from Dublin.  In Greenhills we stayed with Norah friend from the U.S. who has been studying genetics in Dublin the past 4 years.  Deirdre stays with her granny at a cute house that has a little shack in the back yard for her to stay in.  This way she has her own space and even a bathroom shack as well that is just a pathway away.  When we arrived shortly after midnight, Granny met us with homemade chicken curry to fill us up before bed.  It was delish.  She was such a kind sweet lady.  After our late dinner we went to retire in Deirdre's space where she had a full sized bed for us to sleep.  Before bed we booked our bus tour through Paddywagon to the Wicklow Mountains and to the town of Kilkenny.

Then we went to sleep and a few short hours later we woke up to catch a bus into Dublin to get to our gathering place for the Paddywagon tour.  The first part of the tour was driving for a few hours so we were able to catch up on some z's.  We watch the landscapes of Ireland fly by until it put us to sleep.  Ireland is beautiful.  It reminded me the most of home.  Irish people are very friendly and love some good craic.  (Craic in this instance means fun) The first stop was in the Wicklow Mountains which is one of Irelands National Parks.  We grabbed a tea and some coffee and then went through a graveyard on our way to see the Glendalough Lakes.  It was raining which is usual for Ireland but it was almost better that way.  We embraced it.

The next stop was Kilkenny and the Kilkenny Castle.  In Kilkenny we had a very hearty Irish lunch.  Norah got lamb stew and I had roast beef with potatoes, broccoli, and carrots.  It was amazing.  Norah and I laughed because Italy is known for their food but we actuallly prefer Irelands meals to Italy's.  Pasta is so good but it is hard to eat it everyday like the Italians do.  After lunch we toured the Kilkenny Castle.  It was a neat experience and the first castle I have ever stepped foot in.  It wasn't what I imagined but it was still pretty cool to see.  

On the bus ride home we slept again because traveling takes it out of you.  That night we stayed in because we had to be up early the next day to take our bus tour to the Cliffs of Moher. 

P.S. if you take a trip to Ireland I recommend Gavin as your Paddywagon tour guide.  He was hilarious and kept the trip interesting.  We liked him so much that he set us up for the next day to ride on his bus in the front seats.  He even picked us up first!  His humor and the way he talked reminded me a lot of a cousin of mine in Iowa. 


Saturday, February 25 & Sunday, February 26: Paris

Saturday morning my first stop on my agenda, after the hotel breakfast, was the Eiffel tower.  I waited in line and bought a ticket to go to the top.  As I went up there were parts that you can see out and watch the buildings and people below get smaller and smaller.  Once I made it to the second floor of the tower i started to get a little scared of the height.  This usually is not a problem for me but I think it was the openness of it, that I was outside and not inside.  I had to wait in line for a bit to get on an elevator to the top.  It was pretty windy and cold.  Once I made it to the top there was an indoor and outdoor section.  I went to the out door section and it is caged off for safety purposes so I wasn't easy to get a cool picture at the top of me looking over the city.  I spent most of my time at the top in the indoor section because I was cold.  It was incredible.  When you are on the ground looking at the Eiffel tower it doesn't seem as tall as it is.  However, once you are at the top it is quite a view with nothing even close in height in the distance.  It was a lot different than going to the top of the Willis Tower in Chicago because there are many tall buildings surrounding it. 

Up next, the Louvre.  I booked an Uber pool and headed to the Louvre.  Uber pool saved me some money but made the trips longer but in this case I was trying to save money not time.  At the Louvre I searched out as many of the famous artworks I could remember learning about in Art History as I could.  I spend close to three hours there and I could have easily spent more.  I saw the Mona Lisa, and like every one else says, yes it is smaller than you think... and really hard to get a good picture of because it is cover by glass.  It is the best known, most visited, most written about and most sung about piece of art in the world.  It was stolen form the museum twice, had acid thrown at it, it was sprayed with red spray paint and had a ceramic teacup thrown at the bullet proof glass that covers it.  It survived all of these attacks.  Most of the hype behind the Mona Lisa is the subjects facial expression that Leonardi da Vinci captured.  What was she thinking about?  I really enjoy museums and getting a glimpse at life and what it was like.  History has always fascinated me, I just was never good at memorizing dates and what happened on those dates in class.  I enjoyed listening to the story.

I stayed at the Louvre until I was starving.  The plan was to get dinner somewhere in the historic district of Le Marais.  In order to get there I could pay 7 to 8 euros to get an Uber or 1.50 to take the Metro.  The Metro was intimidating for me being alone but I toughed it out and in the end really grew to love the Metro and wish there was one in Florence.  But, Florence is too small for one, it only take about 20 minutes to walk across Florence.  I ate at La Favorite and sat across from the window.  I ordered a burger and a beer.  Leaving all of Grand Rapids greta burgers really made me realize how much I like them.  Food at restaurants back home does not exist in Florence.  So I have been on a search for a good burger.  The one at La Favorite was decent, I am not a huge fan of eggs on my burgers.  Unfortunately, I didn't know the burger I chose had one on it.  All in all it was still a fulfilling meal.  After dinner I found some macaroons to take to the hotel with me.  Then I headed back to the hotel to get an long nights sleep to recuperate from my illness.  At the end of the day my purse was overflowing with tissues.

Sunday I ate my breakfast and then took my luggage with me on the Metro to Sacre Coeur.  The Sacre Coeur is a Roman Catholic Church dedicated to the sacred heart of Jesus.  The cathedral sits on top of a hill and overlooks the city of Paris.  Unfortunately, I couldn't go into the church with my luggage but I ran into two girls, one of whom had luggage and had never been inside.  I offered to watch their luggage so they could go inside and look if they would do the same in return for me.  In the end the other girl decided to stay an watch our stuff so we could both go in together since she had already been inside.  The inside was beautiful and there was a service going on while we walked through.  It was full of people.  They even sang praises at one point.  it echoed beautifully throughout the church.  After the church I walked through the streets and found a square full of artists selling their work to tourists.  I kick myself for not getting a painting there.  I had my eyes on one and even went back a second time to get one.  I decided against it.  I will get a painting of the Ponte Vecchio instead since I live right on the corner of it and walk the bridge everyday to go to class.  Also the Ponte Vecchio is full of small jewelry shops up and down the bridge.  It is beautiful.  Enjoy walking it everyday.  Next on my agenda was to see Moulin Rouge where the movie Moulin Rouge took place.  Then I stopped at an Irish pub conveniently because I was headed to Ireland the next weekend.  The man who worked there gave me many tips and where to go and what to see.  Then I took the metro to the train station and took the train to the airport.  I still cannot believe I did all of this on my own.  I look at it as quite the accomplishment.  If I can do that, I can do anything on my own.  

Paris was incredible and I had a very good experience.  I fell in love with the city and will be back. There is still so much left to do and see in the city.  I was warned that French people can be rude to Americans but I met nothing but nice French people and was treated very well.  Thank you France for your kindness!  

Au revoir!

Thursday, February 23 & Friday, February 24: Paris

Thursday before my Italian language class I was talking with the other girls in the room about their plans for the weekend.  One friend, Annie, was planning to go to Switzerland through Bus2Alps, a company that plans weekend trips and spring break trips for study abroad students.  She was planning to celebrate her 21st birthday that was earlier in the week, while in Switzerland.  One of the other girls, Kiersten was flying to Barcelona for the weekend with her friend Celeste.  After class I set up with Kiersten that we could meet and figure out transportation together to the airport.  Luckily, I had already packed so after class I ran home to grab my bags to then meet them a the corner of the street they live off of.  On our walk to the train station I learned that Kiersten was born in my hometown, Grand Rapids!  I have been so used to telling people where I am from and no one has heard of it.  Most people don't know much about Michigan at all or that we have fresh water beaches or even the shape of the state. Which, to me are pretty basic things about Michigan.  Kiersten's friend Celeste actually grew up in Grand Rapids and went to Forest Hills Eastern.  So, this may not seem like a big deal but to me it is.  To be 4549 miles away from home in a foreign country and to meet someone from Grand Rapids here instead of actually in Grand Rapids blows my mind.  Just another coincidence like the four Emmas I have met thus far.  Yep.  There is a fourth Emma, I met her at Pilates on Wednesday.  She is from the Netherlands.  When we introduced ourselves at the club she thought I was definitely Dutch like her, with the last name Hoekstra and all.  I hope to chat with her more this week at Pilates.

Kiersten, Celeste, and I made it to FLR Airport eventually.  After buying two different kinds of bus tickets we got a taxi and split the fare.  It was nice to have other people with me.  I travelled to Paris and stayed in Paris alone.  After my two hour plane ride I split an Uber with my roommates friends who were also going to Paris.  I made it to my Airbnb (Airbnb is a app you can use to find accommodation) which was not the nicest, most clean place i've stayed in.  It was smaller then my bedroom back in Michigan with keys to a "shower" and keys to a toilet.  When I got there the host and I cracked a beer and talked.  He wanted me to answer his questions about the U.S. and if he should move there.  As a computer scientist it was hard to find work for good pay in France.  I said go for it.  After a few beers he took off for a night out in Paris.  He invited me to tag along and see the Eiffel Tower with him but I stayed behind because I was quite under the weather.  Yes, I am sick again, with a different cold.  It is the sickest I have been in a while.  I think I slept a maximum of 3 hours that night.  The next morning I did what I could to get ready for the day.  I decided to skip the "shower" haha, it just didn't seem relaxing.  The host allowed me to leave my luggage and take a key to come back later for it.  So, I found a place to hide it so they next Airbnb guest would not find it.  

I had purchased an international plan for outside of Italy so I could use my phone for its map.  Best decision I could have made as a solo traveller.  I took off towards the Eiffel tower.  I got breakfast at Le Champ Mars 5 minutes from the tower.  I had green tea and a wonderful sandwich near a window.  It was quite peaceful and nice to recuperate after night of no sleep.

Next I went to the Eiffel tower and took everything in.  Before I left I bought tickets to do a hop on hop off bus tour for the day.  So then I boarded the bus.  It was nice to sit and relax for how sick I was.  i tried sitting on the top but then decided it wasn't worth it, I was too sick.  I got off at 3 stops the first time through and the second time I stayed on the bus the whole two hours, I was cold and achy but my check in at my next Airbnb wasn't until 3.  Once I got back to the Eiffel tower I hopped off and walked to get my bag.  Sam the other Airbnb guest was already there but he didn't think it was too weird that I had left me stuff and on top of that hid it from him so he would steal anything.  Looking back I laugh a little.  Then I contacted an Uber that dropped me off at an alley we would probably call china town.  It was strange.  I found the address of my Airbnb and had been messaging my host all day and even days previous to get ahold of her but she never responded.  So, I was homeless.  Stranded.  Scared.  I went to a bar at the end of the alley that had a really neat atmosphere.  My cousin Michael would really have enjoyed the place.  The bartenders were really friendly. (In France a bar is a place you get alcohol not coffee like in Italy)  The girl bartender charged my phone for me and they guy I ordered my drink from took me under his wing.  He found me a hotel 2 mins away and checked up on me often.  After a call to Josh almost in tears I gathered myself, had one more Moscow mule and headed to the hotel.

There the hotel concierge helped me to contact the Airbnb headquarters to makes sure I got a refund.  I ended up getting a refund but I am still concerned about the host, I hope she is okay. She had good reviews on Airbnb.  My hotel was double the price of my Airbnb but at this point I was just happy to be safe, have a clean bed to sleep in and a nice shower.  I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at the Best Western Aulivia Opera in Paris, I even payed for their breakfast.  Glad I did.  

This is a long post and I am sorry, usually I keep them short but a lot happened that I want to share.

After a warm shower I threw clothes on and didn't even bother with makeup.  I needed food.  The concierge recommended Chez Jeannette.  There I order a meat dish that was amazing although I am not sure what kind of meat it was.  I tried asking but they didn't understand or have words to tell me in English.  I was told before the French people were rude or not nice to Americans but people were incredibly kind to me on my trip.  I think it was because I was alone and that maybe they couldn't tell what nationality I was.  At Chez Jeannette's First a man asked me in French if he could join me, I said no, and then not 3 mins later the two girls next to me asked me to join them.  Of course I said yes, it was a great opportunity for many different reasons.  One spoke English very well and the other knew enough but it was harder to understand each other so we went through Aurélie.  To pronounce her name she said it was like saying "oh really" in English.  We got to know each other and then they were so nice as to plan out my next two days in Paris on a napkin for me.  I learned how to use an app called Citymapper to help me figure out the metro.  I didn't plan to use the metro because it scared me.  I thanked them for showing kindness to me and wish them a good night.  Aurélie gave me her number if I had any questions and then I went to the hotel.  I got there safe and took my meds that I found earlier in the day and went to bed!

Enjoy my pictures from the bus tour!