At 4:45am on Saturday morning, it was pretty surreal to wake up and know I would be in Paris soon. When the cab called at 5:20 to say he was downstairs, Kira and I had to book it, but we made it to the airport, through security, and to our gate smoothly with time to spare. I’m not going to lie, we were pretty proud of ourselves for making it that far! The Paris airport was a little different. I had directions to the hotel but we definitely needed some guidance. Luckily we found a nice worker that spoke English, and he showed us exactly what to do. When we got off the metro closest to our hotel, we got a little turned around but finally made it to our hotel and checked in. We went to a cafe down the street while our room was being prepared, and I had my first official Persian breakfast of a croissant, hot chocolate, and fresh orange juice.
After getting settled in our hotel, we headed to meet our friends at the Place de St. Michel for our walking tour. There was some miscommunication, and we never got to meet up with them though. Our tour led by Nancy, a British girl, consisted of us walking all over Paris for three and a half hours. Yes, it was long and cold but well worth it. We were able to see the highlights of Paris and hear what made them so special without having to navigate the city on our own.
First, we walked to the Seine River where we saw Notre Dame in the distance. We didn’t get a chance to go in, but I would like to if I ever come back to visit. We continued down the river and saw an old palace that was turned into a prison where Marie Antionette was detained. There were a few statues I can´t remember, and then we came to the lock bridge. It is said to bring good luck and eternal love to those who write their names on a lock, hook it on the bridge, kiss, and throw the key into the river. Unfortunately, the bridge was not made for this, so every 6-9 months the authorities chop some of the locks off and make room for more. It was a really cute bridge though and so interesting to see the variety of locks.
As we continued on our tour, we stopped outside of the Louvre with the famous pyramid entrances. I would also like to go inside there one day. We walked through the gardens that are behind the Louvre and got to see a view of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. We finished our tour in that area, and Nancy pointed out a fountain that was featured in the movie “The Devil Wears Prada”. At this poin,t I started talking to a pair of Brazilian boys about American football and Peyton Manning, and I can’t tell you how happy it made me! Silly, I know, but actually talking to someone about football and not futbol was worth getting excited about.
Nancy also told us her Top 6 things she would do in Paris if she only had a weekend. One of them was a riverboat cruise which she conveniently had discounted tickets for. We liked the idea, so we bought them from her and headed to the port. We didn’t have time to eat dinner before so we picked up some drinks, Oreos, and chocolate that Kira recognized from her childhood in Germany for the ride. We were worn out and walked for almost an hour to find the port. Needless to say, I was so happy I could almost cry when we made it and had an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower. We managed to get good seats and enjoyed taking pictures as we ate our snacks. It was really neat to see some of the same buildings from the river and the bridges were beautiful. Getting to sit down wasn´t so bad either!
As our cruise ended, we began talking to a group of German boys who told us about a Christmas market on the Champs Elysees. Kira had been telling me about these since we were in class together last semester, so we had to visit. The boys offered to show us where it was, so we decided to go and finally get some dinner there. It was so neat and surprisingly a sweet taste of back home. There were lights, lots of vendors, and American Christmas music. It made my heart so happy to hear Bing Crosby´s voice floating through the air! We walked around for awhile, tried Gluhwin (a mulled wine from Germany) and ate some french fries. Before we headed back to the hotel, we stopped to sit at a bus stop bench right across from the Arc de Triomphe. It was a perfect ending to our one night in Paris.
Sunday, Kira and I both woke up with terrible colds. I guess that´s what you get when you stay up for almost 24 hours and roam Paris all day in the cold. Oh well, it was worth it. Our big plans for the day were to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, but first we stopped for breakfast. The three things I wanted to eat in Paris where a croissant, french fries, and a crepe, so to round out my trio, I had a delicious nutella and bananna crepe. As we walked leisurely to the Eiffel Tower, we bought postcards and took pictures. I´m trying to buy postcards for all the important places I visit to include in the scrapbook my mom and I are going to make of this experience. Tickets had been sold out online, but we lucked out and only had to wait an hour in line to go up in the tower. I got a little jittery as our elevator kept climbing and climbing up the sky. Once we got out onto the top floor though, I was awe-struck. I could see so far that it felt like I was looking out of an airplane. The craziest thing to think about was that it was built to be a temporary structure. We took our obligatory pictures with the Red Towel and of the landscape then headed back down.
Our final plans for the day were to spend time shopping and eating lunch in the Montemarte district. We had been told that this area was quieter and had more of a village feel and that it did. We didn´t have any recommendations other than the district, so I picked a metro spot that looked close to some of the featured buildings. We didn´t feel very comfortable there, so we took the next one on the line and found a quaint little square that was much more what we had envisioned. We found a cute and cheap bakery/cafe where I got a tomato and cheese stuffed bread and Kira got a baguette sandwich. As we sat on a bench eating lunch, we noticed a lot of people going into a courtyard across from us, so we wandered inside. There we found a wall where the phrase, “I love you” was written in hundreds of lanugages. It was a cute little surprise for us, and afterwards, we just roamed the streets and browsed some of the shops. I wanted to buy something unique and special from Paris for myself and my sister, but nothing really jumped out at me. More money to spend in Barcelona I guess!
After a full day and a half in Paris it was time to say, “Au revoir Paris”. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to see Paris, and I really enjoyed my short time there. However, I was incredibly happy to back in Barcelona and to see the Toscas. I´m so very thankful that I am so comfortable here, and I am really hoping to make the most of the 12 days I have left!