Paris - The City of Love!!

Trip Start Feb 07, 2008
Trip End May 08, 2008

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Paris!! Where to begin?! The beginning would be good enough I guess :) ...

We (Mackenzie, Sarah, Jessica, and myself) departed from the dorms at about 5:20am for our 2 mile trek to the train station and realized that we weren't going to make it in time for our 5:58am departure. So thankfully, for who knows why, there was a taxi there right when we needed it and I experiend my first real taxi ride**(my "firsts" from here on out will be denoted by the *asteriks* :) So we made it in time and began our train ride* but it was so dark that we couldn't see much so we either snoozed or read for almost the whole ride. We had to change trains in Liege and accidentally got on the wrong train, but we didn't know until about 15 minutes out of Paris when we encountered our first angry French man*! He just made us pay 10 euros and we got to stay..I don't really want to think of the other option in that scenario..hah!
Upon our arrival in Paris we were greeted by a huge train station, very cold weather (not for SD I know, but still...), french speaking individuals, and the supposedly city of love awaiting us. We found a map and made our way to the motel we reserved on the internet to find 6 flights of spiral staircase staring at us--this is only the beginning of the "butt-busters" we encountered here though! Without a care in the world, we set off to see Paris and with a few guiding words from our very French, but English speaking receptionist. Our first stop--the Tourist Office. I did not enjoy this at all! First, the office was a glass box the size of an average bathroom and there were about 9 people jammed inside--I of course was the last one to squeeze in. After getting yelled at in broken English by the receptionist there to either stay in or go out of the automatic doors that keep opening and shutting I asked for my Museum pass and got shunned for not having any paper money under a 50 euro bill. At this point I was assured that all French men were very angry individuals. It will get better bet!
Our tour guide who has studied up on Samantha Brown's Passport to Europe on the Travel Channel, Sarah, guided us to the Metro which I think saved my legs from completely falling off from all the walking we went through this weekend. The subway ride* was interesting. Keeping balance, avoiding pick pocketers, watching for stops, and just observing the odd mannerisms of the French was all quite a sensory overload. Once we popped up from underground though, it was all worth it! We were looking straight at the Arc de Triomphe. It was pretty breathtaking! It is supposed to be symbol of Napoleon's achievements and has a whole bunch of history that I felt bad not knowing. I also shows a pretty good panorama of the Champs-Elysees (a really expensive popular shopping street where we had some yummy sandwiches). At the top of the 284 stairs we caught our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, but it was so foggy, that we could only see about half :(. It was still pretty spectacular though!
At the outside of all these tourist attractions there a gypsies everywhere that you go. Evidently I looked like a good target because they always flocked towards me and me being me, always felt a little bad for them but by the end of the weekend Sarah taught me to just look down and say NO! haha!
Next, we caught the metro again and went to the art museum* Musee du Louvre. This is where I felt pretty stupid because I didn't really know what this was...Mackenzie was obsessed with it though and made a good tour guide. I guess the whole movie The Da Vinci Code is dedicated to it--I really want to see it now. There was sooo many beautiful sculptures, paintings,--everything that is was pretty overwhelming and we were all silent for the couple hours we were there. I actually saw the Mona Lisa!!! It was smaller than I imagined, but still pretty cool--she followed us with her eyes wherever we went. We also saw the Venus de Milo (the statue of the lady with no arms) which was pretty cool as well. I feel as though I should say my favorite part about the Louvre was a painting or something, but mine was definately the ceiliings of the building which were immaculately ornate!!
After the museum we headed across the Seine River to the island where Notre Dame is located. This is what I was most excited for (except the Eiffel of course) It just kept reminding me of Hunchback of Notre Dame but the gypsies there were nothing like Esmerelda :) The inside was just amazing! It's hard to even put into words. We did a quick walk-around of the church and then stayed for mass which was all in French, but we still kind of knew what was going on--and it was probably one of th e most spiritual masses I've ever partaken in which was kind of ironic! The choir was made up of young boys and girls, probably around 14 years old, but they sounded like angels!! I was thoroughly impressed if you can't tell :)
By this time, we were pretty tired so we wandered our way back to the hotel and called it a night after recapping the day with each other and feeling blessed to have this wonderful opportunity!!

End Day One

In the morning, after enjoying the view of Paris from our 6th floor window balcony the girls and I set of to the Sacre Coure--the tallest point (besides the Eiffel Tower of course) in Paris. It was just a short walk from our hotel and oh boy was it worth it!! We had to walk through a narrow cobblestone street filled with little shops to get to the stairs that led the way to the top of a green grassy hill where the old church was. As we were climbing, we started to hear beautiful music and turned to find a man playing the harp at the base of the church. The view was spectacular and we just sat in front of the church soaking it in for a good hour or two. We couldn't take pictures in the church, but that was just as beautiful. I feel like I've said beautiful way too many times in this entry but it's the only word that seems to do justice!! There is a video of this and I hope that it conveys some of the "sereneness" of this area.
Wanting to get our money's worth of the museum pass we purchased we headed off to the Musee d' Orsay. Again--beautiful!! We were all pretty drained when we got there, so it was kind of nice just to walk around quietly in the museum and take in the beautiful artwork. I got to see some Claude Monet paintings which I could probably stare at for a couple more days (I think I have a newfound passion for art??) The museum was the old train station and it was just a huge open area--pretty impressive.
Next stop--Eiffel Tower!! We stopped to grab a bite to eat and none of us could resist the hamburger and fries special....but hey--they were FRENCH fries :) (I also had some FRENCH Onion Soup..hehe) and we did have to stop and get a crepe at the base of the tower--mine was chocolate banana and very delicious.
It was sooooo cool! The Eiffel Tower seems to be something that you always say that you want to see--but I actually did! It still just seems so crazy and it hasn't really set in that all this is really happening--I am so thankful for this opportunity!! It was pretty cold by now and the lines were really long for the climb to the top. We started off in the free line for the stairs but they closed it 3 people ahead of us :( so we moved to the elevator line. There we met some U.S. students that were studying in Madrid, Spain and made pretty good friends with them-it made the 2 hour wait seem a little faster and it was nice to share our experiences thus far. We got to the top of the tower at the PERFECT time--it was just dusk and the sun was setting--SO gorgeous! Paris--the city of love was ours for the taking up there. We decided that it was fitting to order a beer and drink it at the top, which may be the best tasting Heineken I've ever had :) The light show started when we were at the top and we also got to see it again at the base when we left--beautiful!!
Overall I would say that this Paris trip was amazing and that it would be hard to beat it, but I have a feeling that I am going to have many weekends like this for the next three months and I am so excited!! Our train ride home the next morning was beautiful and we got to see some of the vast countryside of France and Belgium and when we arrived we came to the consensus that we were glad to be home. Funny how we have only been here a week and we have all grown so close and are able to call Maastricht our home--very comforting :) Mackenzie and I were on a "Parisian High" all day on Sunday when we got home and yes everybody else who went to Amsterdam and don't remember their trip were jealous of all the wonderful stories we continue to share.
This was a pretty long entry and it has actually taken me about 2 days to complete it, so I really appreciate it if you have read this far--I love all the comments you leave and I wake up every morning hoping to find new ones :) I miss all of you and America but I am having the time of my life here and I wouldn't trade it for anything!!!

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kylieodell on

I read your entry this morning as I was waiting for the iron to heat up, once again for my maternity pants. I'm sure my hormones played a part, but I got all teary reading your stories, so I had to wait to look at the pictures until later! I'm so proud of you and I'm continually amazed by your talents...chalk another one up for your writing skills! Don't stop loving your new experiences for one minute, and continue to keep us glued to our computers waiting for the next update! I love you and miss you! Kylie

fredelthomas on

Missing you...

Your travel blogs are wonderful! Thank you for sharing. Sorry Jason and I haven't been online much lately. We are just trying to get in the swing of things after the move. Jason said he got to talk to you and I made him tell me everything you said word for word!

So glad that you are having a great time and getting to experience some truly amazing things! God's creation is so beautiful! We love you and we are praying for you! There has been multiple times where we are just laying in bed and after I think Jason is probably asleep he'll say, 'Can you believe Kelsey is in a whole different country and a whole different time? Seems like another world.' We are thinking of you often...

Jalen is feeling lots better this week after her bout with RSV and seems to be adjusting well to her new room and everything.

Can't wait to read more!

Love ya,

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