Two months ago, Iannis’ friends started planning his birthday surprise – to bring me to France! 🙂 One of his roommates proposed the idea the last time I had been there, and I agreed to try to make it work. What an amazing gift to him and to me as well – his family and friends raised the money to pay for my flight.

The surprise proved to be quite complicated to organize. After I booked the flight, they found out that the weekend I would be there was a 5-day weekend, and that Iannis had booked a train ticket to Lyon. so, what else was there to do but to book me one too? however, the plan was to have a party to present me, his birthday present, and so they had to keep him in Paris the evening that the weekend begun. They decided to tell him that there was going to be a birthday party for one of his other friends. This was a good idea, except it was made much more complicated by the fact that this birthday party was planned also as a surprise party!

I arrived in Paris Wednesday morning, and Iannis’ roommate had arranged for me to get into the apartment to shower, sleep etc., and to hide my things so Iannis wouldn’t see them when he came home from work. I had lunch with Raph, and he explained how things were to work that night. That afternoon, I also received an email from Iannis, saying “Too bad you won’t be here for the long weekend…” and I was reading it in his room! quite funny.

I spent the day in the garden of the Rodin museum memorizing Hansel and Gretel, and I walked in Jardin des Tuileries. the weather was perfect! I also had to come up with a costume for the surprise birthday party that night, so I went to a craft store in the Carrousel de Louvre, and asked them if they could help me make some butterfly wings (I wanted to represent a terrible french song that is popular right now). I spent the afternoon with them, and the wings turned out quite well. I also learned a new set of vocabulary for making butterfly wings in French. 😉

Meanwhile, Iannis was coming home from work, and he almost hit someone on his bike. by the time he got home, he was in a horrible mood. He knew that he had to leave soon for the surprise birthday party, but then friends started arriving at the apartment. He was getting pretty mad, wondering why so many people were coming to his house when they had to leave soon to go to the party.

It was at this point that Raph called me to let me know that everyone was at the apartment, and that they were ready for me to show myself. I went into the apartment building and rung the doorbell. Iannis answered the door, and he had a pissed off expression on his face (who could this possibly be now?). But when he saw me, his face went blank, and then he kissed me.

After a minute, I saw his friends peek around the corner to see what was going on. They started clapping. Iannis was flabbergasted to know that every one of his friends and family knew I was coming except him!

The rest of the trip seemed like a whirlwind, but was alot of fun. We spent most of the time in Lyon, eating well and in good company at his parents’ place, meeting with friends, and taking naps constantly. We walked all over Lyon, to a beautiful park, and along the river. I also saw my first European football game, which was very exciting. This all went too fast, and before we knew it, we were back in Paris. For the last night, I took us out for dinner on a boat, with a concert afterwards. It was a good, upbeat way to end the week – we were sad I was leaving, but mostly we were just extremely grateful for having such good friends who gave us a beautiful gift. And we’ll see each other again soon….