Monday, March 4, 2013

Paris!

I feel like I've been a crazy person, doing all of this traveling during tutorials! I've had to cram in these trips on weekends because I'm not staying after to travel and if you're already in Europe, you might as well see all you can, right?! I have seen some of the most beautiful things, things that I never thought I'd see. Things that many people never get to see! I could cry thinking about how blessed and thankful I am! Oops, now I actually am crying haha! But anyways haha let me tell you about my weekend in Paris :)

On Friday morning, Amanda, Sarah, and I left our house at 6am to catch our bus at the end of our lane. Unfortunately, it was just the bus to the bus station in London where our bus to Paris was leaving from. But we made it to London at around 7:45am, checked in, and waited until our bus got there at around 9:45am. We were really nervous about taking another long bus trip, based off of our first experience to Scotland (still laughing about how horrible that was as I write this). But, we decided a few weeks ago that going to Paris for 55 pounds roundtrip was worth it, even if the bus ride was horrible! Thankfully, the bus ride was great! It took about seven or eight hours to get there, but not all of that time was driving (it included the time to go through customs as we came into France, the time in the chunnel/underwater crazy thing haha). We took up the last row on the bus, which consisted of five seats, so we all sprawled out and took turns napping on each other haha! When we got there, we were just excited to see the Eiffel Tower. We had planned on checking into our hotel, buying a bottle of wine, and walking over to the Eiffel Tower to celebrate Sarah's birthday. However, this is not what happened. Sometimes, things go wrong...

When we got off the bus, we took the metro (or subway) to get to where our hotel was (side note: we became masters at the metro this weekend, AND all the signs were in French! Impressive haha!). When we walked up the stairs from the metro, we saw the Eiffel Tower and cute little cafes all around. I felt like I was in a movie :) It was wonderful! We walked about five minutes to our hotel that Amanda had booked. It was on a cute little street and we found it pretty easily. But that's when it all went wrong haha! We walked into the hotel and waited as Amanda checked in. Amanda had booked a double room, something any smart and thrifty person would have done! We were fine trying to fit into a double bed, but apparently French law isn't so keen about that. They told us it is actually illegal in France for more than two people to stay in a double room (I'm not sure how accurate this is haha). We knew we couldn't stay at the hotel because the cost of a single room was really high and obviously that wouldn't be in our little budgets haha so I started freaking out, thinking about how we'd have to sleep on the streets and possibly be kidnapped--I think I've watched "Taken" one too many times haha! Thankfully, the man working at the desk was nice enough to call around different hostels for us. We were able to find a three person room at a hostel that was in a district of Paris pretty far away because the city is so huge. Because we weren't very familiar with the metro system yet, we walked...for about three miles...in the dark...in Paris...with signs that were only in French...in a place none us had ever been. Haha it was quite the adventure! Before we headed out though, we stopped by the Eiffel Tower because it was right there and it was SPARKLING! The city was so quiet and it felt like it was just us there! It was so amazing!


Pictures really don't do it justice! It was so much bigger than I imagined! I was just in awe! So after standing there and admiring it for a while, we decided it would be smart to get started on our walk before us. We got to our hostel about two hours later, which was actually nicer than we expected! But at that point, all we really cared about was having a roof to sleep under. We all were wiped out and fell asleep after climbing into bed.

On Saturday, we woke up and get ready to head out to find our free tour company (the one we used in both Edinburgh and Dublin). We didn't want to walk to wherever the tour was meeting, so we figured out how to take the metro there and made it just in time! Our tour guide's mom is American so although he had a sweet little French accent, he knew how to relate things to us, especially because he had lived in Florida for five years. He was funny and we really enjoyed him! We didn't learn as much about the history as we have on the other tours, but it was still helpful and time well spent :)

The beautiful river!
Fun bridge where people "lock" their love and throw the keys in the river!
We learned this began after an episode of "Sex and the City" when Carrie and Mr. Big
were on the bridge together haha! So many people do this that a man comes around
and breaks locks so the bridge doesn't break haha!
The Louvre! Such a beautiful museum!
:)
Me, Amanda, & Sarah :)
Proud to be a tourist haha
A view of the Eiffel Tower from afar!
We got to go inside this museum for free with our Oxford Student IDs and see the 360 degree "Water Lilies" by Monet! I didn't take this picture haha but it was amazing!
Yay!
:)

After the tour, we found a little pastry shop and got dinner/dessert to go. We were freezing (the wind/being by the river had us so cold during the tour!) and wanted to get back to the hostel asap! Sarah and I both got chocolate eclairs and oh my goodness it was so wonderful! Maybe it was the fact that I haven't had any good dessert since being in England (no offense England), or maybe it was just that amazing, but I was wishing I had more! Mom, you would've been all over that haha! We got back to the hostel and called it a night.

The next day, we woke up earlier because we were on a mission to see the inside of the Notre Dame and the Mona Lisa inside the Louvre before we had to head back to the bus station at 1pm--and we succeeded! We walked inside the Notre Dame just as mass was starting. Sarah wanted to stay for mass, so Amanda and I headed out to the Louvre after a few minutes of taking in the beautiful Notre Dame. We got to hear some of the amazing singing before we left...wow! Just incredible!




It was only about a fifteen minute walk from the Notre Dame to the Louvre, and it was a beautiful sunny day so we were happy to be outside! Apparently the first Sunday of each month is free museum  day in Paris, so we were afraid we wouldn't get into the Louvre in time before we had to head to the bus station. The sign said the line took about 90 minutes, but thankfully it only took 30!
Such a beautiful day!
The wonderful Louvre!
:)

Mona Lisa! Success! 
I can't remember the name of this statue...but I'm sure you recognize it haha
The ceilings inside the museum were so beautiful!
Famous little bookshop called "Shakespeare and Company" :)

After checking off the Notre Dame and Mona Lisa, we were ready to buy baguettes for lunch and get back on the metro to head to the bus station. We got there and successfully made it back on our bus (although on the way back it was packed with people and we had to wait forever to get through customs at the border haha). We made it back to our home in Oxford before midnight!

I'm learning more about myself as I travel! I'm learning that I'm less of a city person than I thought. I came to this conclusion after realizing Ireland has still been my favorite place I've visited, which seems so crazy! Ireland doesn't have any big fancy monuments or beautiful architecture like Edinburgh or Paris, but it makes up for it in its people and beautiful scenery! I loved Paris and thought it was a beautiful city! I did find the stereotype of the people to be true though haha and the more I travel, the more I appreciate the warmth and hospitality of people, something I feel like is a LOT more common in America than in Europe. I know when I see someone in the states who looks like they're lost/a tourist or asks me for directions, I get so excited to help them and begin to list off places they should eat at or things they should see! The only place I've been that resembles that hospitality is Ireland, which is another reason I appreciate it that much more! You can live in the most beautiful place in the world, but if you're just a "blah" personality or believe tourists who come to see your beautiful city aren't worth your time or effort, then who cares where you live! Your city might be visited even more if you valued that people want to understand and see your home, just saying ;) I appreciate people so much more than ever before! So thank you kind people who help lost tourists all over the world! You are greatly appreciated! :)

I really enjoyed my trip! It's hard to grasp that I actually just went to Paris for the weekend haha! And in four days, I'll be leaving for Rome! So exciting! First, I just have to write two papers and then I'm ready to go! Yay! I hope you all have a wonderful week! Love and miss you! Counting down the days until I'm home! :)

Love,

Kaylee






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