Finally made it to Paris this past weekend. I met a few guys from Holy Cross on Friday night and we came back to St. Andrews yesterday. I’m actually pretty impressed that we met up with no problem seeing as two of the guys were coming from Copenhagen, one from London, and of course me from Scotland. We’re getting good at this traveling thing.
I flew Air France, which is pretty appropriate I guess. It’s actually funny – the stewardess came by asking me what type of sandwich and drink I wanted and I had to check to make sure they were free. I was so used to Ryanair and EasyJet, which practically make you pay to use the bathroom (exaggeration), that I had forgotten real airlines don’t charge you for a cup of water and a small sandwich. It was one of those small planes that’s propeller driven and of course I was sitting right next to one – loudest and most turbulent flight of my life, but there was a lot of free alcohol on the flight so that made up for it.
Finding the hotel (that’s right – hotel – not hostel) was quite the adventure. We thought it was about 600 yards from the main train station, and we were even more pumped because we thought it was in the direction of the Eiffel Tower. An hour and a half of walking later and we realized our hotel was nowhere near the Tower, and in fact, it wasn’t even in Paris. In order to get to the hotel, we had to find a cab that was willing to leave the city limits. Anyways, we finally made it to the hotel, which was ten times better than most hostels we’ve stayed at. Not to mention we figured out the next morning that we were only 100 feet away from a metro stop which makes life a lot easier.
One of the guys I was with had a family friend who grew up in Paris so she took us around on Saturday
morning and part of the afternoon. Our first stop was this area called Monmartre (may or may not be the correct spelling) and the Sacre Coeur. Monmartre is this rustic little area of Paris that still has the old time feel. Plenty of street artists, flower vendors, bakeries, and all that good stuff. The Sacre Coeur is this massive church that you climb a miles’ worth of steps to get to, but it’s worth it because from the church, you get a view of the whole Paris skyline (it was raining when we were at the top, but still impressive none the less).
We spent the rest of the morning making our way around different parts of Paris, mostly the smaller parts that I can’t spell or remember the name of. We hit up this restaurant for lunch that had a deal where you get three courses for 10 Euro (come to find out, that’s how most places in Paris work for lunch). I was just pumped because I’m cheap and that was a great deal. Patricia, the woman showing us around, ordered frog legs for us to try. I’m not big on eating amphibians, but when in Paris… They weren’t that bad, they basically tasted like fishy chicken. Didn’t hate them, but definitely wouldn’t order them again.
We checked out some of the better known areas in the afternoon. We hung out in front of the Louvre for a little while – the glass pyramids are as cool as they look in the Da Vinci Code – walked past the Presidential Palace and the American Embassy (which apparently you’re not supposed to take pictures of), and started making our way towards
the Arc de Triomphe. The Arc is at the end of the Avenue des Champs Elysees, which is this never ending (but prestigious) street where a lot of the luxury cafes, shops, and cinemas are located. The walk was actually so long that we had to take a break half way up and get a crepe.
I could go on for a long time about how awesome crepes are, but I’ll just leave it as this – a crepe with Nutella is the closest you will ever get to heaven for less than 4 Euro.
We finally made it to the Arc which as just as impressive as you would think. It’s literally this massive arc in the middle of a 7 lane roundabout (with no actual lanes). I can’t put my finger on why I liked it so much, but it was definitely worth the hike up the Champs Elysees. We didn’t make it under the Arc because we didn’t want to die crossing the chaotic oncoming traffic that had no regard for other human lives, but if I ever get back there and the traffic doesn’t look deadly, I’ll try and go underneath it.
We had some dinner that night, nothing too special then headed over to the Eiffel Tower. Let me tell you, it totally lives up to all the hype, and it’s easily my favorite attraction in Europe so far. It’s awesome to look at, even in the daytime when you are basically staring at a tangled web of brown steel, but at night when it’s all lit up, it’s really unbelievable.
We walked underneath it and then crossed the Seine River to look at it from the Palais de Chaillot. We watched it flash at 10, and we were so amazed (it is legitimately mesmerizing), we ended up staying there for another hour just so we could watch it again at 11 (there are thousands of strobe lights that flash every hour on the hour). It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever witnessed, not even exaggerating. It was one of those moments which makes me really appreciate this whole experience.
That’s only about half the trip, but I think it’s enough for now. I’ll put the rest up in the coming days, along with a new photo album or two.