Visiting Paris in June

14 June 2010

I hate dirty, obnoxious birds. My sisters can attest. I don't like fearless birds because it scares me when they fly at me. The birds in London and Paris don't move for anyone. Finally, when you're one foot away from them they'll fly. By then, they're feet from your face and I feel as though they're flapping germs, bacteria and terrible diseases onto my body. Gross!

Day 13: Paris - Monday, June 14th
We arrived in Paris via the Eurostar. It was great! I was a bit nervous for the underwater part, but everyone was right: I could hardly tell we were under water. It's just dark and your ears pop and then suddenly you're on land again! The ride was quick, painless and our seats were very comfortable.

Immediately after getting off of the train and wandering through the station, I began to feel a sense of discomfort. I didn't feel welcome or excited like I did when we reached the other cities. This initial feeling was obvious to me, and it hasn't died yet. We made our way around the station with Holly speaking French as much as she could.

We made our way through the subway system and eventually found St. Christopher's Inn hostel. It was a bit of a challenge, I will admit. But we accomplished it with plenty of time to spare! In fact, we took an evening tour with New Europe Tours to Montmartre later that night. It was a fantastic experience and for 10 Euros, it was very affordable for a budget trip. We walked through small Parisian streets, stopping at Van Gogh's house, scenes from the movie Amelie, Paris' only vineyard, Sacre Coure and much more. To cap off the tour, we joined the other tourists for a few bottles of wine at a Montematre wine bar.

My first impression of Paris is not what I expected it to be. Honestly, I don't enjoy the atmosphere of Paris. I feel rude not speaking their language, and I feel as if I am insulting them by speaking with such a poor accent. And it appears that the relationship between men and women is much different here than in the U.S. I feel as though men are more aggressive in their approach to women, and it's just not something I'm used to. I think the sites are fabulous, though. And the food is incredible. I'm loving French cuisine.

Holly thoroughly enjoys the city and loves all of the sites. To me, Paris is nice. But from what everyone has told me, I was expecting much more glamour and beauty.

Day 14: Paris - Tuesday, June 15th
We splurged on a hot chocolate today and nearly collapsed. It was SO good! It was pure melted chocolate in a cup. I could invest in tons of that stuff. We also tried a baguette sandwich with chicken and together we housed a giant, chocolate crepe. Both of them were absolutely amazing. We could eat all day in Paris. Away from the Seine, the streets smell incredible. There is chocolate everywhere! French cheese and chocolate put American delicacies to shame. We should really learn some culinary techniques (and food processing tips?) from the French.

Before long, the bickering began. It was about time. I mean, Holly and I had nearly two weeks of one another, inseparably. The longest breaks we got from one another were sleep and showers. And since we're not conscious while one of the two is taking place, 15 minutes in a bathroom without the other just isn't enough time to ourselves. The fighting was mild throughout London but it came on full force in Paris, especially with my hesitation toward the city. On a number of occasions, she threatened to leave me in Paris. (I mean, really? It was my least favorite place. Couldn't you have threatened that in Edinburgh?) I called her a brat, she yelled at me more and by the end of the night we forced ourselves to break the silence. It's just what sisters do.

Tomorrow we're exploring the city with Kate, a girl we met in our hostel. She's a doll, a little southern belle, really. She's from Georgia and moved to Paris a few years ago as a student. She fell in love with it and came back many times for vacations and school. She's here researching materials for her dissertation and offered to show us around for the day!

Holly and I explored the Latin Quarter today, which I actually enjoyed. We found a number of shops that were definitely our style and quite a few bakeries that struck our attention, too!

Kate met up with us in the afternoon to show us the Pantheon, the Luxembourg gardens and the Louvre. We heard a rumor that students can get into the Louvre for free after 6 p.m. So, we waited about an hour to get in only to find out that the offer is only valid on Mondays. The museum closed at 6 p.m. It was highly upsetting.

Tomorrow we're checking out the Champs de Ellyse and the Eiffel Tower!

Day 15: Paris - Wednesday, June 16th

It was kind of dirty. I guess I wasn't expecting it to be sparkling, but I thought it would be anything other than dirty. The Eiffel Tower was a little less exciting than I anticipated. The crowds were unbearable; there must've been a school visit that day. And the people who sell mini Eiffel Towers were beyond obnoxious. We left as soon as we finished taking our pictures and headed toward the Champs de Ellyse.

This was pretty neat! We checked out the Arc de Triomphe and continued down the strip from there. It was so fancy! We popped in and out of shops as we strolled.

We met some guys from Michigan University earlier today and one of them exchanged numbers with me so that we could meet up for dinner later. I had heard of a fun fondue restaurant in Montmatre that I wanted to try before leaving the city, and they were up for the adventure. We met them outside of our hostel that evening and were joined by a few of their friends who were currently studying abroad in Paris. They were a really fun group!

We took the subway to Montmarte and finally found it: Les Refuge de Fondue. It's a tiny, hole-in-the-wall restaurant held up by graffiti-covered walls. Tourists from all over the world sign their name or a message on the walls. It was incredible. The places is so small that the women have to climb over the tables to sit against a narrow bench along the walls, and then the waiter pushes the table up to your stomach to make more room for the aisle.

We were given a plate of mini appetizers, a huge pot of delicious cheese, an endless basket of bread, a pot of steaming oil and a giant bucket of diced steak. Oh, and we each had bottomless wine out of baby bottles. (I stole mine as a souvenir!)

It ended up being my favorite night in Paris. Tomorrow we'll be up before five to catch our train to Amsterdam. Let's hope I have a more enjoyable stay in Holland.

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