Paris - The City of Love!!
Trip Start Feb 07, 2008
21Trip End May 08, 2008
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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
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
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
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
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!
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!!!