Monday, April 7, 2014

Passport to Paris

Bonjour everyone!

Now that classes are over, until exams in May of course, it is the perfect time for some traveling! This past weekend I took the opportunity to spend a few days with a friend in Paris. My aunt has told me many great things about the City of Lights and everything she said was true. Even though I speak no French since I took Spanish in high school, I still fond it very easy to maneuver with only English and a few French phrases.

The night we arrived at the hostel was more of a chill night than sightseeing, but was probably some of the most fun I've had in a while. Just sitting down in the hostel's common room, drinking, eating, chatting, just having a good time with my fellow travelers was an absolute blast. One of the best things about traveling is meeting people and swapping stories and adventures until late in the evening.

In order to not make this blogpost as long as my 3000-word history essay, I'll touch on some highlights from the places I visited:

Friday's itinerary included the:
Musée de l'Armée in Les Invalides - an Army museum that was more interesting than expected,
The Effiel Tower - as incredible as I'd imagined even though we didn't actually go up it due to the line/wait/desire to see as much of Paris as possible. It's stunning and a must see.
Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine - the museum of architecture right across front he Eiffel Tower. We didn't go inside because by that point I was getting hungry, not hungry, hangry. Funny enough, there was a protest going on outside of it that would have made entrance a little uncomfortable anyway. Wish I spoke French so I knew what they were protesting!
Arc de Triomphe - at the western end of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées was the Arc de Triomphe, another of Paris' most famous monuments. It was under construction but nonetheless gorgeous. I wanted to cross the road to get to the Arc up close, but I wasn't willing to play human frogger to get there. And to be honest, I was to hungry to think straight to find the safest way across.
Avenue des Champs-Élysées - a walk along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées is an absolute must and I definitely think you should walk the entire thing. We stopped for food at a cafe and were seated at a window so it was the perfect place for people watching. I would have loved to have also shopped, and I couldn't help myself but do a little browsing in Zara, MAC, and Sephora, but I was actually good. For once...
Obelisk of Luxor - at the other end, the eastern end, of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and in the center of the Place de la Concorde lies this stunning Egyptian monument. Fun fact, before the obelisk was there, a guillotine stood in it's spot. Creepy.
Galeries Lafayette - Simply a massive high-end department store. We actually didn't have this on our mind to see but ended up passing it on our walk to see the opera. Probably the best for my bank account.
Paris Garnier - Our final destination, the national Opera house and one of the most famous in the world. It's best known for being the setting for the Phantom of the Opera, which also happens to be my favorite Broadway show. Now it is primarily used for the ballet. 

I woke up Saturday to an absolutely gorgeous sunny day for some adventures that included: 
Musée du Louvre - we headed straight for the Mona Lisa to make sure we saw it before touring the rest of the museum. I would suggest that to anyone else traveling and for my fellow study abroad students DON'T FORGET YOUR ID. And I don't mean your USA University ID; your study abroad uni ID. I forgot mine and they wouldn't accept my PSU ID + my student visitor visa for my free entrance and I had to pay. Lame.
I was actually more enthralled with the rest of the museum than the Mona Lisa, notably the ceilings and the Egyptian artwork. If I could have, I would have spent the whole day there. There is just so much to see.
Pont Neuf - translates as 'new bridge' but it is actually the oldest bridge in Paris.
Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris - 100% exceeded my expectations. Simply stunning. It did feel a bit weird taking pictures as people were inside praying so I tried to avoid getting people in the pictures out of respect. A couple actually got married there, or around there, the day we went as we saw a bride and groom as we left. Pretty neat to see.
Pantheon - A mausoleum for elite Frenchmen and women that was under construction when we went that houses Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. I know most people find mausoleums freaky, but I've always found them pretty cool.
Jardin du Luxembourg - the second largest public park in Paris where Cosette and Marius meet in Les Miserables. The perfect place to kick back with a glass of wine and a book or a picnic with friends. And yes, I had the entire soundtrack of Les Mis going through my head.
Sacre Coeur - Our last stop as it was the closest to our hostel. Before we even entered, there was this street performer doing this balancing/dance act thing on a post with music and a soccer ball. Everyone outside had their eyes on this guy and for good reason, he was phenomenal to watch. Once again, it felt odd taking pictures in a place of worship as people prayed but it was stunning to see nonetheless.

My contribution to the hostel's chalkboard. 

Sunday morning was met with angst as I had to wakeup early to get to Orly airport to catch my flight but all was well once I got my macarons and eventually landed back at Heathrow. If you want to see a few more pictures you can check out my instagram on the left.

All in all it was a trip to remember and I cannot wait to go back an spend more time at my favorite spots. And I cannot wait until my next European adventure!

Until next time


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