Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Weekend in Paris


I don't even know where to begin with Paris. I left at about 11:30 on Friday morning by train with my housemate Amy. We tried to buy tickets for seats next to each other on the train but Amy bought the last normal 2nd class without realizing it which left me with a suspiciously more expensive 2nd class seat even with a reduction card. I still haven't figure out why it was more expensive. So my ticket was Car 20 seat 28 isle seat. Not too difficult right? WRONG-O. I got on car 20 and there was no seat 28 anywhere all the seats were in the fifties. I walk back and forth across cars a few times looking for seat 28, by this time I was feeling a little frustrated and a bit embarrassed that I couldn't find my seat. I asked a poor middle aged women who just told me it was on the other side of the car which it wasn't so i decided to just pick a seat in the front of the car. I found a seat in the isle across from these girls yapping on cell phones and one lone man but this nice girl sitting at the table on the other side stands up and offers me the window seat by her without talking which I found odd. I guess she knew I wasn't French. I'm glad she let me sit there because the other girl talked on her phone the whole time and even put it on speaker phone for a while even though you are supposed to have you phones on silent while on the train.  When the train attendant came around to check tickets I told him in French that I couldn't find my correct seat and just sat here. He couldn't care less but he was nice and told me that they were the tiny fold out seats in-between the cars without arm rest, no seat numbers and extremely uncomfortable looking things for future reference. Why I had to pay 12 more euros for that I have no idea.  So I rode on the train for an hour and half, next to girl who wouldn't talk but who would hand things to me from time to time while she was reading her French graphic novel that I kept peaking at and an old sleepy man who took up a lot of leg room.

For Aunt DJ

Upon arrival in Paris, Amy and I, with a little bit of trouble, found our hotel room and checked in. I was overall pleased with the hotel room for paying about 32.50 Euros per night per person.  We then decided to walk to the Eiffel tower because we could see it when we were trying to find the hotel. After about a twenty to thirty minutes, passing old schools, Ecole Militaire and strange people we arrived at the Eiffel Tower and started snapping pictures. I think I have more pictures of the Eiffel Tower than anything else. There were also a lot of people trying to illegally sell you mini towers, mechanical dogs and other knickknacks.

The Louvre at Night

We then crossed the Seine and started walking along it were a photo shoot was being conducted. We kept walking to see the bridges and other things along the Seine and without really intending to, we walked an hour to the Louvre where we where to meet Leah and Anna. Even with the walking we were early and they were late so we decided to look around the outskirts of the Louvre. We took a peak at what I am going to call the Love Locks Bridge  but it is the Pont des Arts bridge right outside the Palais du Louvre and I found out later, where Leah and her Fiancé put a lock the day before. We also ventured to cheesy tourist shops outside as well. We then met up with Leah and Anna and began to explore the Louvre. We didn't see all of it but it was really interesting to see paintings that I had studied a few weeks before, in past humanities classes and be able to talk about them like I knew something. ha-ha

After the Louvre we went to eat at a restaurant called  cafe Louise or something like that. I had Ratouille with poached eggs which were delicious. Then I had my first metro experience, while it is nice to have cheap transportation, it smells like pee and can be creepy. We made it back to the hotel but not without a few interruptions from French creeps which are worse than the ones in Angers.


The next day we rose early to get to Versailles with Anna and Leah, which was still crowded right after opening at 9am. Versailles was probably my number one thing to see while in France and it was great being able to do so. The chateau and the grounds were unimaginably huge. It was really baffling to be in a place where such grand people ate, drank, slept, walked, lived, loved, thought and fought. We left Versailles around 4 and Amy and I got off the RER near the Eiffel tower so we could wait around to take night pictures. We stopped in small Cafe/Brasserie place where all the workers were really nice and the food was pretty good. We than went to walk around and try to find a pastry. We went around and under the Eiffel tower where we witnessed about 100 illegal knickknack sellers run like they were being chased by Godzilla. However, it was just one cop on bike. The knickknack sellers wandered back less than five minutes later. It was a fun site to see.  We ended up at another cafe closer to the Eiffel tower to get Crème Brulee. The crème brulee was out of this world but the people were less than friendly. Besides the greeter with whom we spoke French with, everyone else just assumed that we didn't speak a lick of it and were not very nice but I suppose they do get a lot of tourist. We got our pictures and went in for the night.

Sacre Coeur

On Sunday, we fit in seeing the Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Coeur and Le Pere Lachaise Cemetery where Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and others are buried, all before leaving at 3:30.  We went to the top of the Arc de Triomphe which was a work out but the view was totally worth it. Sacre Coeur was beyond crowded and a little sketchier than other tourist spots but it was beautiful. We also saw legit photo shoot number two there and an outrageously dressed famous man who was being interviewed and taking pictures. My camera died there at sacre Coeur but not before getting a funny picture of a live statue. Unfortunately, I did not get any pictures of Pere Lachaise.

Amy and I made it back to the train station at about 2:30 but all the 2nd class seats where sold out and we had to buy 1st class which was really nice but not worth it. However we did make it back to study for our history test on the Revolution.

Tip for future Study Abroad students: You can get into any federal monument for free with your visa and/or student ID card. Think about this before purchasing the ISIC card which would get you discounts on a lot of the monuments if you paid for them.

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