Three Nights in Paris
Trip Start Mar 01, 2012
26Trip End Apr 30, 2012
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Paris… A city that is on everyone's list to visit (or at least should be), and after this short 3 day stay, it is easy to see why. I am going to preface this blog with some words of advice… If you are a fan of museums, extravagant palaces, french baguettes, the metro system, and love, at least 1 to 2 weeks should be dedicated to marveling the obvious and not so obvious landmarks that make Paris the city of love and culture.
We arrive on the train, are rushed down to the metro stop where we contemplate for about half an hour how to get from point A to point B.. Finally we are literally shoved onto a train (I kid you not, someone two handed bulldozed Bridget onto the train since apparently we arrived during rush hour, causing a little blonde girl in front of Bridge to get smashed and almost forced to tears--not sure which blonde was more upset, Bridge definitely concealed it a little better)..
*Side note: I am going to keep score on Paris v. Garrehy's since there were multiple times along this trip when our visit felt more like a combat against outside forces than a leisurely sister getaway (if there is such a thing).
Score: Paris-1, Us-0
We finally arrive at our place after about 45 minutes of metro traveling that was accompanied by more shoving, but no blood was drawn so no harm no foul. After traveling down a hallway that seemed at that point in time to be a hidden passageway to the depths of some secret corridor (later we realized that it was more like a stroll, but exhaustion can really alter one's perception).. Finally we are settled in a contemporary room with a T.V. that also functioned as a mirror, and a bathroom that had a loud speaker which was connected to the T.V. (excessive since 1 minute away from the T.V. should not warrant enough distress to make one think "Man, I can't believe I am missing 60 seconds of Jimmy Kimmel live. There must be a way around this situation"). But it befitted the room, and we felt extremely privileged nonetheless..
Score: Paris-1, Us-0
Since 2.5 days barely gives us enough time to spend in a regular city, you can imagine how hard we tried to stretch the minute in Paris.. We immediately hopped down town after a quick turn around and started our sightseeing of old fortresses and hidden garden walkways that really gave the trip the romantic vibe we were hoping for. After touring the 12th District and strolling along a mile of flowers, we headed to our first French meal of our lives, and were not disappointed. While Julie and Julia shed a great light on French cuisine, we have come to realized that dinner in France is not just about food but about the experience.. Every restaurant/cafe is meant to serve as a second home, allowing every customer to feel as if their own mother is in the kitchen, concocting the most decadent meal to satisfy every taste-bud they possess. We were fortunate enough that dine at a place where our pseudo-parents in the front and back of the restaurant were kind enough to walk us through the menu in english, and then decide our meal for us since chef knows best. It was a marvelous experience that probably goes down as one of my favorite dining experiences.. Fortunately enough, this was immediately followed by a stair climb to what felt like the top of Paris, giving us our first view of the entire city… Definitely a sequence of moments that left a smile on my face (and hopefully Bridget's as well) for the rest of the evening.
Score: Paris-1, Us-2
Wake up and get ready for an extremely long day (which makes deciding on outfit choices almost impossible since you are trying to suit up for walking tours, climbing stairs, and museum time all in one bout)…. Finally we make it out of the hotel, when steps away from boarding our first metro, I realize that I left my phone in the room (even though it is of little value since I can't really do much with it, but seeing that fact that the case contains my entire identity and bank account, it is something that no one should leave behind).. So Bridge and I part ways, crossing fingers that I will somehow find my way to the start of the tour (we felt optimistic for some odd reason)..
Score: Paris-2, Us-2
Fortunately, I am able to navigate the through the city after retrieving my most valuable item besides my passport, to find Bridge standing in front of our English tour guide who literally is the unborn child of Harry Potter and Frodo. We start our tour right out of the gate, stopping in front of the Notre Dame de Paris, bringing back vivid memories of the classic Disney movie with the Hunchback man who lives in the bell towers and falls in love with a whore (or dancer, whichever version you prefer).. We then walk along the river and then peruse the streets for the next 3 and a half hours, enjoying the city landscape and really interesting facts and historical narratives… It also helped that the guide was from London, making listening to all the information that much more enjoyable (can't hate a good British accent)..
After covering most of the central part of the city, we sprint off the the eiffel tour where we are met with downpour and an hour long wait to climb one of the most recognized historical monuments in the entire world.. While both Bridge and I lost all the feeling within 70% of our body due to a combination of rain and cold wind, the view from the second tier was surreal and something that every person needs to experience. We were fortunate enough to run into a couple from San Francisco at the top so that both pairs of californians could get snapshots at the top.. Always convenient when you find someone from American to trade photographer roles with, let alone San Fran..
We then speed walk over to the Louve, one of the most famous museums known to man. Fortunately, we were able to beat the line by going through the underground entrance, allowing us to spend as much time as needed to marvel at the famous artwork, including the Mona Lisa and some other statues/paintings which have been referenced in some class or another. I think the best part about the whole experience was tourist:painting ratio.. Most huge museums like this are stuffed with people all trying to look at the same piece of art, which makes it a "Who has stronger elbows and Pushey personality" situation instead of the casual/leisurely experience that it should be… However, since Bridge and I maximized the Louve's extended hours and got there at 6, the 3.5 hours of walking around was much less interrupted by annoying shoves than expected and made it much more enjoyable.. I think the most interesting part was in viewing the Mona Lisa… Every time the Louve and Mona Lisa are in the same sentence, it usually is accompanied with words such as "Disappointing" or "too small", something negative.. With such low expectations, I was surprisingly in Aww when I stood in front of this portrait of a women who is as famous as Lady Gaga and Oprah. I think the best part, however, was not the painting itself but the mass amounts of people that were just staring at it, while I visualized thought bubbles above their heads of a various assortment of statements that made me secretly laugh to myself… Some might view this as borderline childish and immature, but I thought I was just making the best of a experience that everyone warned me was going to be a huge let down..
Score: Paris-2, Us-3
We then head off to a late dinner at a restaurant that was recommended on trip advisor by someone from Danville (same place, same mind, same taste in good cuisine was our assumption).. And we were not disappointed in the slightest.. Even more intimate then the first night, our food was literally cooked in a kitchen that was in the center of this 5 table restaurant and was interesting enough, warmed up in a microwave.. Now I know what you are thinking, it seems impossible that a restaurant should even be allowed to use appliances that start with "micro" and end in "wave" to cook food.. However, to our surprise, the meal felt fresh and was actually quite delightful (I think our meals just needed some extra heat after receiving some time on the chopping block.. Our waiter then insisted on dessert (which was not met with much resistance) and both Bridge and I ended the meal with the unbuckling of the first pant's button in order to sit properly while we waited for our check.. The word "full" is a complete understatement to what we were experiencing..
Score: Paris-3, Us-3
Wake up with sore legs from the 13 hours of standing/walking we did the previous day, but we trudge on since Versaille is waiting for us 30 minutes away.. After an hour of traveling (metro, train, walking, speed skipping) we finally arrive at the golden gates of this famous palace where the treaty was signed after WWI and Marie Antwonette splurged on luxurious things while the people of Paris starved (similar to some political hierarchies today).. As we stroll up to the front, gaping at this large line that we were told by Rick Steves to bypass since we bought the Museum 2-Day Passes, we asked a gentlemen where is our line to get in (assuming of course that we were special or something).. He then points to the same line which both Bridge and I took pictures of about a minute prior, taking a snap shot (laughing along the way) of what we thought at the time was the large headache we were avoiding… Oh how foolish we were--and pissed too.. While we know to not always believe everything you hear, we figured if it is in writing in one of the most famous travel books, it must be true--lies
Score: Paris-4, Us-3
Fortunately, it was only a half-hour wait, but we were still quite behind after the longer than expected travel time, so we try to be as efficient as one can be at one of the most talked about palaces in the world… this 8 mile by 8 mile estate (which is technically speaking larger than San Fran which is 7 mile by 7 mile, just to give you an image of this place) contained luscious green grounds and summer homes for almost every queen/king that resided (why you have your summer home within the same estate is beyond me, but I guess if your land is as big as a city, you mine as well have more than one house within your borders)…. It is a beautiful place nonetheless, and definitely something that we recommend seeing on a sunny day.
We then rush to the train station where we see that we have 5 minutes until it departs to the city, but then of course, obstacles interfere with our plans.. As we attempt to go through, our tickets are rejected, and we did not have any small cash to buy another ticket so we are forced to wait in a line which inevitably disallows us from boarding that train… We then wait another 15 minutes, head to our next destination which is the famous D'Orsay, containing Van Gough and other adored Post-Impressionist art.. Once we get there, we realize that we only have 45 minutes to tour the entire museum (an impossible task I assure you).. While I go straight to Van Gough, Bridget gets lost and sees paintings that were not originally on her list of things to see, but we reconvene to continue our adventure of fitting in the entire city of Paris within 2.5 days (very stupid idea, I know, but we are young and are hoping that are mistakes will evolve into lessons or something of the sort).
We still don't have our tickets for the next day so we make a pit stop at the train station (more like an long extension) before we go onto our next destination point where we are supposed to meet our walking tour guide of a more secluded/old part of the city on the hill.. Finally we arrive to the line to buy tickets and realize that there is no way in heck we are going to have enough time, so we bag that plan and head back down to the metro (more like run) so that we are not late to our tour… Important note: we have eaten a banana, a bar, and some nuts and raisnens as both our bfast and lunch…it is now 5:45… yes, the situation has reached what some might view as the climax…emotions were high and the animals within us were about to draw blood from anything that ticked us in the slightest
Score: Paris-5, Us-3
FINALLY… we get to our tour, hop briefly into the nearest starbucks, literally paw at anything that has the combination of fat, cabs, and some protein, and then stuff our faces as we start the walk. Fortunately enough, the food calmed the fires of our heightened emotions and we were able to enjoy the entertaining tour of the small hillside which housed every famous artist who eventually committed suicide, was driven to insanity or just had a horrible life with a horrible ending… We were lucky enough to have a 2 hour excursion without rain, and as an extra bonus, we ended with a free glass of wine at the cafe where the move "Amelie" was shot… The tour was as cheap as the free glass of wine, so we broke even basically (minus bridget who didn't drink her glass for reasons which you are well aware of at this point in the blog….but she still enjoyed the trip so it was a win:wine)
Still in need of tickets for London, we head back to the train station and met what felt like roadblock #43.. The ticket office was closed and we were about to weep in the middle of the station, when a nice, gay, drag queen with long legs and a Paris Hilton dog to match (he/she had the best eyebrows in paris, and a weave that shined better than hair in a Loreal commercial)… He approached us and asked if we needed help, which we said that we basically figured out by that point that we were screwed so there was not much to be done… He then tried his best to grab anyone's attention that he could get so that we could get some help, but he sadly failed even though his high pitch voice could probably be hear by the pigeons in London,.. He then asked is we had any euros that we were not exchanging since we are heading to the land of pounds, but we told him that we were going to Dublin shortly after… We then attempt to press buttons on a screen that said random things, when the beautiful drag queen approached us one last time and said that there might be ticket offices upstairs that are still open so we should try that before giving up.. We said thank you and he said good luck without asking again for anything, just offering us help out of the goodness in his heart (bless his soul and beautiful weave).. If it weren't for him, we would never have talked to an actual ticket teller, we would have never found out that there was a French holiday this weekend, which every French person for some reason is headed to London (cheapest vacation is to London was the explanation he told us, but you will see later why I find the "inexpensive" aspect seem a little far-fetched and a bold face lie).. Due to this exodus our of Paris to even a more rainy place, there was absolutely NO availability for the next three days (tickets have been booked for weeks apparently) EXCEPT for the first train out in the morning at 7:13… If the early morning wasn't enough of a heart stopper, the price of $250 per ticket (more expensive than a roundtrip trip to LA, a months worth of gas, an iPad, but less than buying a car which was our only other option at the point in time since the 10 hour bus trip was a sad no) definitely drained any form of life/hope that was left in us after an overwhelming day… And the cherry on top was that we had to be there at 6:30 which means we had to leave our place by 5:30 since the Metro has been a tad inconsistent, which means that 4 hours of sleep was in our near future… We thanked the gentleman---who also thought that the price was a tad steep so he helped us to see if we could find any plane flights from Paris to London (no flights available, surprising)---and headed downstairs to look for our favorite drag queen to thank him for saving our trip (sadly not our wallets) but after failing at that (theme of the day) we headed home which was something we knew how to do somewhat decently..
Score: Paris-7, Us-3
And what may you ask was our first plan of action after a situation where your unexpectedly pay a large sum of money? Buy a picnic with whatever is left in your wallet, which for us was equivalent to a fruit juice, rice pudding, sliced carrots, crackers, cheese, and grapes.. meal of losers
Wake up after what felt like a brief nap, sort our stuff, and attempt to leave the city that cleaned our entire bank account…. However, Paris had one last great trick up their sleeve and decided to delay the metro, turning off the signals that gave a timetable of the line we were trying to take, forcing me to ask the attendant for help, which of course she replied "Only French" so fortunately we ran into someone who told us to just be patient--probably God's personal messenger at that point in time--and we finally were greeted by the beautiful metro and then boarded our train to freedom!