À Paris: La Première PartieLondon, Spring 2013

PARIS. That is all.

No, but really, this weekend felt nearly like an out-of-body experience, like I was just witnessing another person walking around Paris and seeing the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame…

But it was a real thing. Two of my friends here on the program and I set out on an overnight bus Friday night, which let me tell you is not particularly fun, but it is cheap. Thinking we could sleep for 9 hours actually turned into having to get off the bus multiple times in the middle of the night, first for a passport check, then to get on a ferry to take us from Dover to Calais, across the English Channel. It was the biggest ferry I’ve ever seen, more like a cruise ship, with bars and restaurants and slot machines. We were a bit disoriented and seasick.

But then we had all of Saturday to pack in a ton of sights. We checked into our hostel, which was quite near the Basilique du Sacré Cœur, so we went to see that first, stopping at a sunny café for breakfast, which mostly consisted of different varieties of bread. Delicious bread. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that it’s not just a stereotype that there are baguettes everywhere. Everywhere! Next, we walked the Champs-Élysées toward the Arc de Triomphe (even as I’m typing this, it doesn’t seem real!). It really is an amazing street, and of course LaDuree is there!

Then, the big kahuna: The Eiffel Tower. We walked there, and mostly everywhere that day, because we got blessed with the BEST possible weather—mid-upper 50s and sunny! We couldn’t remember the last time we’d seen a sunny day. That’s one downfall of London. I actually got a bit of a sunburn by the end of the day! Anyway, had to take some pictures in front of the Tower of course, then we waited in the queue to go up! I don’t know with what to possibly compare to being about 1000 feet in the air, except being 1000 feet in the air. On the Eiffel Tower. We even witnessed someone proposing up at the top! So cheesy and cute. We managed to fit in the Louvre as the sun set, and ate dinner across from the Moulin Rouge in the evening! By that point we were totally wiped out.

I was slightly nervous about communicating with people with my poor French, but it was totally fine. English will mostly suffice. The Metro is simple after mastering the Tube, or really any city public transportation. And we found that the stereotype of the French being mean or snooty to Americans was not true for us. In fact, if anything, they had a very forward friendliness and slightly creepy sense of personal space. I cannot tell you how many times this weekend we were asked to be in pictures with people (or not asked) simply because they knew we were American. Okayyyy, Parisians…

That’s day one. There will be a second part to this, since there is so much to say and so little space! Look out for la deuxième partie!

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