I'm splitting the Paris blog into 2 segments, because I don't have time to put it all in one post. Too much detail would be excluded.
Paris, je t'aime. C'est la plus belle dans la monde.
But, for you to really understand any of this, you should check out my pictures first:
On Friday morning, I left with Elizabeth and Kathleen on the 6:20 (yes, AM) Eurostar from London to Paris, but the adventures didn't wait until we crossed the channel. As Kathleen and I discussed where we were going to get our morning dose of caffeine in France, a waiter came by with a breakfast menu.
"Breakfast," quoth I. "I didn't know we got breakfast on this trip!"
"Ah, but this is first-class," quoth the waiter.
Turns out we bought first-class tickets by mistake, with no extra dent to our wallets! I don't know how it happened, but it made for a lovely trip. Upon arriving in Paris, however, our comfy seating was yanked from under us; we had to walk 3 miles to pick up our metro passes at this tiny souvenier shop on the Seine. Luckily, the path Google Maps laid out for us took us by the Opera (Gorgeous!) and some other cool buildings that I could not then, and still cannot, tell if they held any importance. For all I know, I was ooh-la-laing at an elaborate storage shed.
After grabbing our tickets and checking into the Hotel Bertha - which I highly recommend for a cheap, friendly stay in Montmartre - we took our first big excursion to the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. It's a beautiful green space located off the typical tourist track, where lots of families go to hang out for the day. A gazebo at the top overlooks the Sacre-Couer and gives you an amazing (and amazingly FREE) view of Paris. On our way into the park, a local realized we wanted to hit up the Pere-Lachaise cemetery; he recommended the 26 bus, but alas, we got lost exiting the park. It didn't bother me, though, because it meant I got to test out my rusty french. I walked into a small patisserie, and the following conversation ensued.
"J'ai besoin le bus."
"Uhhh...le bus Vingt-six."
"Oui. Tournez a droite, et puis...etc etc"
"OK. Awesome. Thanks...uhh...Merci!"
"Au revoir! Bonne journee!"
It was terse, yet effective.
We hopped on the bus to our next stop, what I liked to call "the place where cool dead people go to hang out." Oscar Wilde, Chopin, Moliere...the gang's all here! It's almost like a city of tombs, with its own road signs and blocks within the cemetery. I've never seen anything like it in my life, particularly Wilde's grave, on which hundreds of women (and perhaps men, knowing what we know about Wilde) have left lipstick kisses.
Our final stop of the day was the Jardin des Tuileries and the Louvre, which are neighbors on the Seine. Tuileries is a beautiful park with a carnival; nothing says Paris to me like a carousel with adorable french children spinning in front of a historical art museum. The entire city is like an amusement park, really.
The metro is Space Mountain, the Champs-Elysees is your arcade, and the Eiffel Tower is Cinderella's Castle.
Because we were each at a different energy level, we decided to split up for an hour and explore the area on our own. I went for a walk along the Seine, where I saw the Tower for the first time.
To be candid with you, I cried a little. It was something I never thought I'd see, and there it was, with the river sparkling beneath it and the sun shining above. Even the sketchy homeless guy who followed me for about 50 yards couldn't ruin my moment with Paris.
At 6, we met back up for Free Friday Nights at the Louvre. If you're under 26, you can get in free-of-charge between 6-10 every Friday during the year; it's something you should definitely take advantage of if you're ever in town! I think seeing the Venus de Milo up-close was my favorite part of the museum. It's absolutely breathtaking. Of course, the Mona Lisa was a close second, but the massive crowds surrounding her portrait made it more difficult to enjoy. With achy feet - really, really achy feet - we made our way back to Bertha around 8:00, where we just chilled out and watched a French/Russian period drama (tres interessant) before bed. It was a great day...but didn't hold a candle to what came on Saturday and Sunday.