its just a little snow

After Boston I went home to heal. I laid low, got a few simple jobs, and waited for my arm to catch back up with the rest of me. I had a great season at the Maryland Renaissance Festival selling Roses. So great in fact, that I’ve decided to go back on the road for a while. Until something more interesting and inspiring comes along. Seems I made the decision to go back on the road just at the time of the year most people are getting off of it. Winter is slow. So what’s a girl to do? Go back to Europe of course!

After adding pages to my passport…just in case…and talking a friend into going on a little adventure, I was ready to head back across the pond. Backpack packed, our first stop after a 24+ hr journy was Amsterdam. EJ, formerly known as Angelina, South Korean and former St. Mary’s exchange student, was studying there. We popped in to visit her, stayed for a day, and then ventured into Belgium. Well, we overshot Belgium and ended up in Lille, France. We stayed long enough to ride the ferris wheel and drink some vin chaud, before again heading over to Gent. Gent is nice, it rained, but we pub hopped and drank a lot of great beers. In the morning we tried to get back to Amsterdam and what should have been a three hour journey took eight because of snow. After endlessly delayed trains, and a 30 minute hike through a winter wonderland, we made it back to Angelina’s house. We only stayed a few minutes before heading back out into the elements to meet up with Chris, Sandra, and Peter (from the GEP) and their friends. The next few days were a wonderful Gepper reunion. Chris and I have decided Amsterdam should be an annual tradition- after all we’ve made it 2 years in a row now. That smells like a tradition to me!

From Amsterdam we went (back) to France, to visit Andrea and her fiance Brett in Pont Audemer, France. They live in the MOST ADORABLE place. It is a cottage behind their landlord’s home, with a kitchen (complete with operational wooden stove), small living room, bedroom, and bathroom. It is just the right size, the town is adorable, and their landlords friendly. I am so happy for Andrea. We left when they did, parting ways in Beauvais, France- they to Poland and we to Spain for Christmas. After all that snow, Spain and its sunny warmth has been wonderful. We spent one day wandering Barcelona, one day in a little village near by called Sitges, and today- Christmas- we spent relaxing on the Hotel roof and eating Tapas on Las Rambalas. Tomorrow morning, extreme morning, we fly to Portugal to visit with Jose, another Gepper.


world entrepreneurship forum

Thwarted by embassies! Boo! I went to Paris on Thursday to attempt to get Russian visas for Adam and I. I was unsuccessful. But, I’m a few hours away from getting all the forms this time (as far as I know atleast….) And everybody keeps taking my money! Every step has another fee, I feel like I’m greasing palms. When I run my country (HAHA) I’m going to let everyone come, no visas necessary. Or if I HAVE to have visas, I’m going to make it really clear what’s required. And not charge stupid fees. For everything.


Exciting news- this weekend was the World Entrepreneurship Forum on EMLyon’s Campus. I volunteered to work the form, taking notes at the meetings. Towards the end, at one of the full group meetings, a list of recommendations that the WEF was going to make to the world was read off and the entrepreneurs were supposed to vote for them. HOWEVER, they didn’t like them and refused to vote! They practically staged a coupe and a group of women who had had a similar conversation over dinner last night voiced their own recommendations that they had come up with. The other entrepreneurs liked them a lot better so they decided to formalize theirs instead. Immediately after that meeting the six women were going to meet to do so. I “just happened” to be nearby when they were getting together to go find a room to work in and I volunteered to take notes for them at the meeting. I transcribed the recommendations they formalized, and turned it into a presentation, so they could show it to the full entrepreneur group after lunch. It was awesome seeing those women work, and I was happy with that thinking my interaction was done. BUT they made me go on stage with them when they presented and introduce myself. I said “Hi my name is Erica Hession. I am a student of the Global Entrepreneurship Program- a partnership between Babson College, EMLyon University, and Ziejiang University. I was just the note taker in this process, these women (gesturing toward them) were the masterminds.”

After that the entrepreneur that was really smitten with me, Laura the VC from Austin Texas, introduced herself, and said “She was not ‘just the note taker’. She is the future entrepreneur! Watch out for this girl!” hahaha! How great is that? I talked to her again later in the day to see what the follow up on the recommendations was and when I was leaving she said to keep in touch because she wants to hear about our adventures with the program so I got her card. I’d love to work for her!

I met this other great entrepreneur too. He has run a nonprofit environmental firm in Canada for 20 years. He started it when he was young after traveling in india for a year. He came back, tried to work for a real estate agency and quit after a year to start this company- Evergreen. He Adam and I went out for drinks that evening and he had really great stories to tell and great advice to give. I’d love to work for him too. They are working on this huge project right now converting an old brick factory into a sustainable campus with nurseries, a farmers market, classes, etc. They want it to be the “Greenest” building in the world!

All in all it was a successful weekend I’d say :D

paris, the first time


I went to Paris this weekend. It was really fun and really busy because we fit sooo much in! We (Adam and I) left Lyon Friday morning and took the speed train (only takes 2 hours) to Paris. When we got there we went to the Museum of Natural History and saw some exhibits and had lunch outside in the really pretty gardens. Adam brought food for a picnic. Nom nom nom. We fed the birds too, they were the healthiest looking birds I’ve ever seen!

Then we went to the Russian embassy to try to talk about our visas but they were already closed. From there we could see the top of the Eiffel Tower so we headed that way. We wandered around it but didn’t go up because I wanted to wait for Cloe. We were tired at this point so we took a rest/nap in the grass at the base of the tower. Luckily Adam had an emergency camping blanket in the bottom of his pack so we had something to sit on and stay dry.

Then we went for more of a walk and got some coffee at a café. We wandered up this street, Rue de Montagne, that was SOOO rich. There were Aston Martins, Mercedes, and a Bugatti parked on the road! The Bugatti had Arabic plates…I really want to know who owns it! The stores were major designers like Valentino, Prada, Jimmy Choo, Dior…wow.

On our walk we wandered past other sights like the Grand and Petite Palais, statues of Churchill, sculptures, gardens, etc. That evening we met Cloe at the Arc de Triumph, a big circle that many roads in Paris radiate out from. We saw the sunset there, and the Eiffel Tower light up. It was really pretty. We met up with Cloe, dropped our stuff off at her house, and went to dinner at her favorite local restaurant.

The next day, Saturday, it was rainy so we planned to go to the Louvre. First we took the subway to Notre Dame. It is such a beautiful, imposing building. The interior is so epic too. It was kind of sad though because they just cleaned the inside and out to make it prettier for the tourists, and yet there are beggars outside. Then it started to rain so we walked to the Louvre. On the way there we crossed the Pont Neuf (new bridge) which is actually the oldest bridge in Paris.

In the Louvre there is so much great stuff that you get overwhelmed. We only spent about 2.5 hours there but our brains and eyes couldn’t take in much more! We saw famous paintings (like the Mona Lisa, Muse’s Ship, and others whose names I don’t know but whose images I recognized), Italian sculptures, Egyptian artifacts, the glass pyramid…

When we left it wasn’t raining any more so we went on a walk and found some lunch, sandwiches at another cute café. We wandered for the rest of the day and went home to meet Cloe’s mom for dinner. She took us to her favorite restaurant. It was a little local co-op with delicious traditional French food. We got wine, frois gras (it is actually delicious), duck, and other delicious things. Adam left for Lyon after dinner and Cloe and I went home.

Sunday we went to the Eiffel Tower in the morning and went up. We didn’t get to go all the way to the top because it was closed, but we got to the second story. The view was wonderful. She pointed out a lot of the buildings we had seen from the ground. We took the elevator up, but walked all the way down the stairs!

For lunch we went to Montmarte an artistic part of town where La Bohem (the art movement “children of the revolution” period) started. We had a really good lunch that was slow but delicious. Then we went to this big beautiful church on a hill that we saw from the tower. The view from the steps of the church was beautiful too. This church was pretty too, but the inside was less ornate than Notre Dame, with beautiful stone formations instead. The shape of the church was pretty, it had lots of gargoyles on the outside and such.

Finally we walked down the hill to the Moulin Rouge. It was a lot smaller than I thought it would be. By this time there was only a little while before I had to leave, so we went home so I could get my things. I took the train back in the evening and fell into my bed exhausted that night. What a great weekend. I feel I got a little taste of everything Paris has to offer (though not a good bite by any means!).


Some Pictures:

Tada! There it is!

Me and Mona…any resemblance?

What a great tour guide! Had so much fun with her this weekend. That is the Pont Neuf behind us.

i love all the free stuff you get for being a student

Archived post pulled from the travel blog I wrote while a student traveling with the Global Entrepreneurship Program (G.E.P.). It seems to start one month into my year with the program. The first month of posts seem lost to the internet ether. It is delightful to re-read posts from the beginning of my life as a traveler and blogger. Its incredible to see how much I’ve changed, and in what ways I’m still the same old wide eyed youngster…

I was really busy this weekend. I went to the Musuem of Contemporary art, an open house at the city hall (hotel de ville), Lyon’s car show, an open air market, and church at a HUGE basillica overlooking the city. Oh and I found a climbing gym RIGHT around the street and promptly signed up for a membership for my last two months here. can you believe I only have two more months in France already?

Here’s a picture of me with the new BMW Z4:

They had a Tesla at the show too (its a totally electric sports car. 0 – 60 in 3.9 sec)

Mom and I have decided to train for a marathon together. We’re going to run one in the fall when I’m back. that gives us a year to prepare. I ran 8 miles on friday, so I’m off to a good start I guess. She’s doing really well too :D

I’m going to book my trip to Italy today. I’m flying to Rome (tickets for 40 euro!!), and I’m going to stay there for a few days. Then down to Sicily to visit the family for a few days before heading back to Lyon. Soo excited for Italian food again. I can say with experience now that I like Italian cheese much better than French cheeses.