I have safely returned home to London from Paris! Quite the journey! We left Friday
morning from Nido at about 4:15 am to make it to St. Pancras international to take the Eurostar to Paris at 5:40 am. It started off as an adventure because one girl forgot her passport and had to jump off the bus, take a cab back to Nido and to the station before we left. She made it in record time and still cut it very close. The ride there on the Eurostar was pretty uneventful as I slept most of the way, it took 2 hours and 37 minutes. Once we got there, thankfully two girls in my group of friends speak French, we hopped on the metro.
It has to be said I felt a loyalty to Britain and given they aren’t too fond of the French I judged their public transportation harshly. It is quite dirty there, very raggedy and not well put together. I can’t describe it very well but much prefer the tube! It was interesting trying to figure it out though. And some of their trains are two decker, well most of them, like the buses here in London, which was a novelty for me. I wasn’t expecting that. Our bed and breakfast was at Vitry something or other station, not too far. The trains that would take us there were the ones that had a “o” as the second letter; so Romi, Mona or Lola. We got to the home that we were going to stay in and met Fred, he was a delight! A true Paris man, he lives there with his partner whom we did not meet. He sat us down, we gotthere about 10, and there is an hour time difference from London. Then he filled us with the brownie bread and tea or Hot chocolate. Just delicious. Then he asked us what we wanted to do that day, got out a map and outlined it all for us to make it as easy as possible. He was the sweetest man in the world!! So we went first to Notre Dame Cathedral. The architecture in Paris is very different, gothic. Inside it was enormous and the stained glass takes your
breath away. It took over 100 years of labour to complete it, and I can fully understand why. We mozied around shops afterwords and stopped for a crepe as a bit of lunch, the crepes there are unbelivable I must say! Then we stopped at a shop and all chipped in for a lock. We put all of our names on it and Paris 2012 on the other side, then we headed down to the Love Lock Bridge. The rock of the city of Love. It was fun looking at a few, one said “Anna, will you marry me?” and some others were for lost loved ones or just couples. One was a couple then attached to it was a 50th anniversary lock, my favorite personally. I was told that eventually the locks will weigh down the bidge so much some day it will collapse.
After that we passed the Palace of Justice and headed towards the Louvre. The building surround the entrance, a glass pyramid, were lovely and large. Just very different from London in a way I can’t quite put into words, less crowded by far and just gothic, for the lack of another term. I really enjoyed the gargoyles and axtra little details amongst the buildings. We went into the Louvre, down into the pyramid and it is like a little city, more crowded in there. Once we got in, you can tell it would take more than a lifetime to see everything and appreciate it all. First we B-lined for the Mona Lisa. Right after we walked in the steal doors closed and the security guards (some dressed in common clothes) hustled everyone in a direction and the sirens went off. We asked someone what was going on and she nonchalantly claimed “nothing at all, no problem”. We got to the Mona Lisa and it was closed down, the guys said for ten minutes. We found out through the grape vine that someone had tried to steal it, a national treasure. I’m sure that may happen often, maybe not, but for it to be closed for only ten minutes was surprising. I would think if that happened in the states it would be closed down for ten days.
Anyways we got in and saw it, it was a lot…smaller than I thought it would be! I hate to say that was my first reaction but it was! Then when you look at it yuo are suppose to say whether you believe she is smiling or frowning and that illustrates what kind of a person you are. Happy to say, we all saw the smile! After that we wandered for a while, it was fun seeing things I recognized and pieces that are so incredibly famous right there in front of my eyes. I saw the Venus de Milo, the statue with no arms? almost right away and gasped. Then we saw the Winged Victory of Samothrace, oh my goodness it was magnificent, to think you could simply touch one of the most celebrated sculptures in the world! There was also Hemres and Pharaohs and coffins. The Egyptians part kind of creeped me out a little bit to be honest, I think I was traumatized by the movie “The Mummy”. The Greek section was enjoyable as well, Kelsey and I walked together through most of it and made little funny comments. There was a little boy strangling a goose. I thought it was a dragon at first so we mimicked it and took a picture. Then we were both caught saying, at the same exact time, “You can’t help but stare at the….” and then right in front of us was a giant man statue, naked of course. We died laughing. After the Louvre we were very tired so we headed back to our little part of town and stopped at a supermarket for supper, I got cheese and crackers and we shared some wine as well.
The next day we woke up and had breakfast with Fred. I had a croissant and that brownie bread of sorts and tea. Then he laid out an itinerary for us again and we headed off. The first stop was the Sacre Coeur and Montmartre. It is a white dome that you can see from far away and sits at the highest point in Paris. The view was spectacular of Paris and it was a clear day which was wonderful. We walked through and it was interesting to compare that and Notre Dame to St. Paul’s Cathedral in my mind. Then we went to A mall of sorts, I can’t tell you the name, I don’t remember a lot of the French, but we got our view of the Eiffel tower from afar from there. It seemed small to me there, smaller than I expected. On the inside of the mall was a five story high Christmas tree as an extra bonus. We then wandered around the Christmas markets on the streets and we got another crepe for a late lunch. Eventually we made our way up to the Arc de Triomphe by walking up the Avenue des Champs-Elysees. It was oddly in the middle of a round about and had no touristy or colorful surroundings. Just cars going round and round it while it was in the middle. Just HUGE, a huge structure. It was built to illustrate the ego of Emperor Napoleon I, so I simply cannot imagine. From there we rushed to the Eiffel Tower to see it in the daylight and then wait a bit to see it light up. Was the perfect ending to a great day. We made it there and just wow, is all I can say. The base of the structure is so magnificent and enormous. You don’t see many things like that living in Iowa that’s for sure.
There were people walking up to the top and there were elevators going up as well. We learned it was originally made for a world fair in which they would have taken it down, but it was such a big hit that they added supporting structures and kept it. I loved walking underneath it. Again, unlike in London it wasn’t too crowded. So we walked down the green strip to get a good view and watch the lights slowly shine as it got dark. So glad I got to do this, so thankful. It was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend! At the top is a restaurant, which I hear isn’t the best quality, we didn’t climb it though. The top also has a spot light that twirls and shines for miles. It is so beautiful <3. For supper we went to the Latin Quarter and ate. I got something, which I have no clue of the name, recommended by one of the French speaking girls in my group of friends. It was a bread with egg and ham and cheese. I thought it was really good. I tried some of Jess’s hot wine as well which was really good! We headed back to the bed and breakfast after that and sat and talked for a few hours before bed. Had many many laughs & retold stories. For breakfast, since we left so early,, Fred had Orange Juice and Gaufres (waffles) waiting for us to take on the way. Delicious, hopped on the Eurostar and made it home! I am a tired girl who has a lot of homework or papers to begin, 18 days left on this side of the pond, can’t believe it. Hope all is well, love you!