Okay! FINALLY I can write my post about Paris! This was my first trip traveling outside of Ireland to another country. So I was definitely a bit nervous because it’s so strange how independent you become when you’re living and exploring new places. I have learned how to plan a trip pretty much on my own! You know…booking the flight, seeing what buses run where, metro stops, maps, etc! It’s a lot of work but completely worth it and I was very excited to go on my first big adventure since I first came here. And Paris was a place I have always wanted to travel to.
Our flight was pretty early Saturday morning (6:30AM) but the thing is…our flight was from Dublin airport which is a 4 hr bus drive away so I had to leave campus around 1 AM….I didn’t get much sleep haha! And I had to make sure that I had everything with me. I’ve been living out of a single backpack! So you can’t forget anything. That’s where those check lists come in handy. Our flight wasn’t too bad. Ryanair is the cheapest flight available, so a lot of students use it frequently. They are pretty reliable but you get what you pay for, no extras. As soon as we landed (1 hr flight surprisingly!) it was FREEZING! I wasn’t expecting that because I always look up the weather beforehand and it was supposed to be 60 and sunny. They just have a lot of fog in the morning. Kaitlyn and I got a bus to the city and when we arrived, wow for the first time in a long time I felt LOST. Usually I have a good sense of direction, but they just drop you off and you go. I speak NO french…maybe one or two phrases to get me by but nothing substantial. But I had no idea where the metro was, how to work it….where to ask for directions, nothing. It was a feeling I wasn’t used to, but hey that’s a good thing. I have learned from this experience that feeling uncomfortable is good. Otherwise life would be just too boring. I was determined to find this metro and when I finally did the woman at the ticket place spoke no english! Ah! Luckily, I was meeting up a group of girls in Paris and they came a day earlier, so I knew they probably had figured out the system of everything already. From a phone call or two we made our way to the Lourve to meet up the girls! Gosh, the Paris metro…one of the most confusing things ever. But when you get the hang of it, you’re golden.
We got on the right line and made it to the Louvre! On the way I also saw my first gypsy. You have to be extremely careful because pick-pocketing is really common in big cities and they are the prime suspects. But anyway, Paris is absolutely beautiful. The city (even though the natives think differently) is so clean and has so much character. What I thought was the most impressive aspect of Paris is the architecture. There’s no adjective in my mind that could do justice to the beauty of these buildings. And I first experienced that feeling when I stepped into the area by the Louvre. I met up with Ellen, Lauren and Melanie! (We went to Dublin and Blarney Castle/Cork together) We decided that we were hungry and heck…I wanted to Paris food! We stopped by a small cafe and I bought the best lunch. I got a French baguette with grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato and fresh mozzarella. AND A CHOCOLATE CROISSANT. Aka “Pain Au Chocolat”. Let’s just say I was in heaven. For all those that know me, you know I love my pastries. I told myself I’d have one or several at least every day I am in this dream-like city.
We did a bit of shopping, and to be honest every store sells the same stuff, it’s just the good deals you have to look out for. I bought some really cute gifts! And I got myself a beret which I love! Totally wearing that at home. It was such a beautiful day out and our next stop was the Arc de Triumph. I didn’t get a chance to go into the Louvre but that was for Sunday. So the Arc… when you first see this landmark it’s in the middle of a roundabout. When I first saw it, I was like “How the heck do you get there?!” Because traffic is insane and I literally for one moment thought people just had to cross it! But of course there was an underground tunnel to bring you to the middle of the traffic circle. The day beforehand it was Verterans Day and to France the celebration of the end of WWII so there was the eternal flame that was guarded by men in uniform and there was a small memorial. It was really beautiful. The Arc was also stunning. There were words engraved into the landmark and also intricate carvings. It was lovely.
After that, our next stop was the EIFFEL TOWER! Oh, I was anxiously awaiting to go there. We timed it so that we arrived just as the sun was going to set. That way we would get a beautiful view of the entire city! And oh my gosh, the line was long. I think we waited about 45 minutes which wasn’t horrible. But we saw a sign that said the top of the tower was closed. LUCKILY, when we arrived at the front of the ticket booth, they opened it up because the sun was setting! So I got to go to the very top of the Eiffel Tower! Can I just say….this structure is phenomenal. Absolutely breath-taking. From looking at it far away… to being at the very tip, thousands of feet above the ground. It was one of the most memorable moments in my traveling so far. I could just stand there for hours. And it was just getting dark so we could see all those beautiful lights. Also, at dark they turn on the lights and the Eiffel Tower twinkles for 5 minutes every hour on the hour. I was so lucky I got to see that too! It was such a magical moment. You could see pretty much the entire city and it was so romantic! I was just waiting for someone to propose or…. something! Maybe I watch too many romantic movies, haha!
It was worth every single cent. Sigh, I love Paris!
I know the girls wanted to see the Sacre-Coeur “the Sacred Heart” Cathedral, so we walked up quite a bit of steps I might add, and found it successfully! It was again another wonderful piece of work. I didn’t get a picture of the outside unfortunately because it was dark out but if you look it up, you can marvel in its beauty. And last but not least… we went to go see the Moulin Rouge! Yes! Just like in the movies. It was a very interesting street we walked on. I want to compare it to the red light district haha. Lots of strip clubs, sex shops and well, you can imagine. I kinda forgot that the Moulin Rouge is basically a burlesque/strip club because in the movie they make it seem so much more than that. But it was a good sight to see. After a very long day of traveling we were back off to our hostel the St. Christopher’s for the night. FUNNY STORY. So I am going back to the hostel. And there was a bit of mis-communication and all in all, I didn’t have a room. Yep, for the first time I didn’t have a place to stay. It was completely my fault and will NEVER happen again but wow. I was growing more and more by the minute! So my friends were so kind enough to let me sleep with them for one night because there were only 2-3 spots left and for all I know those people could have came. Then they’d have to kick me out. I was really lucky that night. Hey, no one ever said traveling was gonna be gonna go smoothly and easily! You live and you learn. And now I can laugh at it. But besides that minor bump in the road, it was a pretty fantastic day.