An American in Paris

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

"There are only two places in the world where we can live happy: at home and in Paris" - Ernest Hemingway

I'm finding it hard to believe that I just spent a weekend in Paris! To tell you all about it, I'll write two separate blogs. One for Friday, our class day, and one for the rest of the weekend. C'est bien?

So, Friday. The day started with my alarm going off at 3:30am. This was not an accident - our class had a 4:30 meeting time for a 5:20 train. Ouch! But I was going to Paris, so seriously - how could I complain?

Because the tube isn't running that early, we walked about a half mile to St. Pancras Station which serves the Eurostar - a high-speed passenger train which connects London to Paris. I'm very jealous of Europeans and their trains - it's so easy to just hop across the continent! If I lived here, I think I'd want to visit a new country every month. "What - go to Germany for the weekend? Don't mind if I do!"

The train ride lasted about 2.5 hours and included passing through the Chunnel, which honestly wasn't as exciting as I thought it would be. Being able to say that I've done it is cool, but the actual experience wasn't anything to gush about. I'm not sure what I was expecting - glass walls where I'd see whales swimming past? Well, no - not exactly. :) But just...something. All well - c'est la vie!

Despite my disillusions about the Chunnel, Paris itself certainly did not disappoint. The day's jam-packed agenda included the Louvre, a bus tour, the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame, a boat ride and dinner. There are way too many things to talk about, so I'll just give you the highlights. If you want to know more, I will tell you in person. But be warned - I'll probably talk your ear off. :)

Louvre - Huge and overwhelming with more than 35,000 pieces of art in a space of 650,000 square feet. We didn't have much time here, but I managed to see some highlights - like the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo and the Victory of Samothrac. It was all incredible, and the building was like a piece of art itself.

Bus Tour - We got tickets for a "hop on/hop off" bus which took us all around the city and included an audio guide to point out the highlights. This was an excellent way to see see a lot in a short amount of time, and the view from the upper level was gorgeous. It was also a nice place to soak up the sun. :)

Eiffel Tower - I was surprised by how excited I was to see the Eiffel Tower. I just stood there in amazement and wondered how in the world I could be there. We didn't have time to go up, so I came back the next night to do it (more on that in the next post).

Notre Dame - Grand and gorgeous. Didn't have time to go in here either, but I made sure to come back the next day. Again, I'll talk about this in my next post.

Boat Ride - This may have been my favorite part of the day. I never imagined that I'd ever be floating down the Seine. It was more lovely than I could ever say.

Dinner - We enjoyed a four course, traditional dinner which was accompanied by some oh-so-French guitar and accordion music. The guitarist, whose name is Napoleon, was a HOOT! Also - I tried snails!! They were super chewy and not completely awful until I visualized what I was eating. Then I choked.

Friday was our only class day and we were given the option of returning to London or staying in Paris. Most of us opted to stay in Paris (of course!) so after dinner we navigated our way to the hotel. This took quite some time and involved a lot of walking back and forth. I think we caused quite a scene because at one point, some people sitting on a park bench started singing "America." Ha.

It was an incredible first day in the City of Light, and the rest of the weekend was as equally wonderful. More to come!

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