Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Paris (Day 1 - 3)

So here we go... the adventure of a lifetime commences... how am I supposed to capture the amazing experience I have had over the last 16 days? How to I begin to express the magnitude of my time on the continent?

Here is my attempt, although there is talk of a Europe Party and slideshow extravaganza in my future... either way, I'll impart what I can on the blog :)

So May 17 begins with a grumble and a half asleep attempt at gathering my last bits of stuff to pack and a shot out the door. Time? 4am. I roll my little suitcase over to Phoebe's room where her light still appears to be out... not good. Luckily I wake her up, she's a fast person in the morning and not more than 5 minutes later we're off. Taxi to the airport, we get to Heathrow a smidge after 5am in order to prepare for out 7:25am departure. Heathrow has done it again however and we are TOO early for our own good. Luckily they have couches the shape and color of ones liver, so rest does ensue. At least we are safely in the airport and our plane will arrive shortly. Did I forget anything? why yes... my phone! This is not the only thing I will realize I forgot... nothing as important as that, but in true Miranda fashion, I had to forget SOMETHING important.

But we arrived in Paris safely!!! YAY!!

Charles De Gaulle airport is not the height of airport efficiency though... the airport information is not actually able to give you information about said airport and it would seem that once you exchange your cash, no ticket machine is able to take your bills (only coins) and the candy shop is unable to take and break your paper money... LAME! I seriously walked up to the candy shop to get a snickers, handed the lady my 20 euro and she simply scowled and shook her head... why thank you madame, I feel welcome in your country already... feel the love France.
So we wandered around the airport and were going in the direction of the exit when all of a sudden we were blocked off by a security guard. We couldn't understand him, but we were basically forbidden to enter that side of the airport... we put 2 and 2 together and the announcement over the loud speaker for someone to pick up their unattended bag by the photobooth for the last 10 minutes, probably had something to do with that... odd. Oh and there were no toilets at the airport.
After navigating our way through the Paris Metro (nothing too different from the London tube, which has been mastered already) we got to our hostel!!!

That is the statue outside our hostel... don't know who it is, but I loved the sight of her!! To reward us for the stressful traveling and the successful arrival, Phoebe and I quickly found the nearest crepe stand and enjoyed the taste and smell of Paris... and Nutella!!

After dumping our bags in our 5th floor walk up hostel room we headed for the Louvre!!! It was raining and dreary outside so I was not up for seeing the Eiffel Tower in the gloom.

I have to say that for the most part, tourists in Europe are all in it together it seems... especially tourists NOT our age. We met these lovely Canadians at the Louvre who kindly offered to take our picture and we chatted with for a moment... if the French aren't readily welcoming... the other tourists in France will be!
I cannot begin to tell you the wonderment that is the Louvre. France was top on my list of places I was excited about going to to in France. I have dreamed of seeing these places for ages, so the Louvre was just one dream come true out of the many that followed!!! We were also pleasantly surprised that we got in free because we were studying in England, which is considered a European University!! SWEET! Some hightlights for you!

and here she is!! I don't know what people were going on about how she was so small and not impressive... she rocked in my mind.

Finding a rare moment in the Louvre where no one is around you...

Napoleon's apartments... not THE Napoleon... but one of them... he lived at the Louvre. That would be sweet... I'm not gonna lie.
It was in Napoleon's apartments as I looked out the windows that I caught my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower... I literally giggled out loud in excitement... It solidified the fact that I was in fact in Paris!!!! I cannot describe my joy... definitely a highlight moment!
I LOVED the statues... I think the statues are my favorite things in museums.

Well we did the Louvre in 2 hours... they say it takes 2 weeks, but we knew what we wanted to see and we knew what we didn't... surprisingly Mesepotamian art and middle eastern tapestries are just not my fancy.

This is not the arc de Triomphe... in fact Paris has several arcs, all in a straight shot. This is outside the Louvre, but it is also the entrance to the Champs Elyse.

The Champs Elyse

There is the Arc de Triomphe

And the staircase to the top... there were A LOT of stairs... I still am not use to stairs.

There is PARIS from the top of the Arc de Triomphe

One thing we also learned in Paris... one cannot do what one wants... one is at the mercy of the Parisians... there was a strange lady who in fact didn't work at the Arc who refused to allow us to enter the bathroom... every time we'd step towards the door of the ladies room, she'd literally shield it with her body... I have no idea what was going on... so we left. Oh and the guards at the entrance to the arc de triomphe greeted us in chinese... do we look chinese?? I was confused so I smiled a cheesy smile, said "Hi" and they fell into hysterical laughter... strange.
As we left the Arc De Triomphe we discovered a memorial ceremony taking place at the bottom... I have no idea what it was for...

This is a picture of me blowing my nose with my new 50 Euro tissues... I am so Posh! or whatever the French equivalent to that is.

Next stop... the Moulin Rouge!!!

This part of the city has tons of adult shops... Oh and also a children's playground... hm.
After a photo op at the Moulin Rouge we hiked up the many stairs to the sacre Coer... the second highest view of the city after the Eiffel tower

Up by the Sacre Coer are countless artists and people selling stupid souvenirs and they literally attack you when you walk by... some guy walked up to me grabbed my wrist and started braiding a friendship bracelet onto it... when I refused and walked away I could hear him mocking me... ugh!

The Sacre Coer

A picture of this spot was once on a Calendar of mine... I got to take this picture myself... so fun!

The Metro stops look like this...

Speaking of Metro... the Paris Metro doesn't name their lines like London... they simply have the numbers... so Phoebe and I took it upon ourselves to name them. Mainly the names were chosen based on the color of the lines as shown on our Metro map -
#1 urine line (both based on color and smell)
#2 Regal Line (it was a royal blue color)
#3 Asparagus line (self-explanatory)
#5 Fanta Line (like orange Fanta)
#8 Dilly Line (like Lavender Blue Dilly Dilly... from Disney)
#11 Poop line (the lines we rode most often were the Urine Line and the Poop Line... they connected to each other too)
#12 Jungle Line (like the jungle green crayon in the crayola box)
#13 New Born line (it was baby Blue and I think a crying baby was on it too)
Those were the only lines we rode.
One thing about the Paris metro is you have to take a chance when trying to find your platform because there are minimal arrows to point you in the right direction... so you just have to take a chance and walk a ways till you see an arrow of some kind telling you that you made the right choice.
Also on the Metro we were met with the fine people of Paris... like the toothless man who stared at me over Phoebe's shoulder and the raving derelict who spoke to himself and had a running commentary for the ride which made him laugh heartily.
So thus ends our first day in Paris. We got back to our hostel to discover we didn't have a working lock on the door... no worries since we were on the top floor and no one aside from us who had to would want to climb the stairs that high. I also was met with the coldest shower of my life!!!! I cried and screamed through the whole thing. Phoebe then discovered after me that there is a button to turn on the hot water outside the actual shower... so that was the last cold shower I had.
We shared our room with another girl from Asia... she didn't speak English, so whatever.

The next day we awoke to begin our adventure. I had set the alarm for 7:30am and when I woke up I discovered that the clock on Phoebe's phone/alarm had not been changed to Paris time, so it was actually 8:30am!!! No matter, we got up, had a free breakfast of apple sauce and bread and we were off to our first stop - The Place de la Bastille!

The Bastille is no longer standing, so they have this memorial for the many revolutions France has seen in it's time.
After the Bastille we rambled through the street Market, found nothing good, and then moved on. On our way to Norte Dame we stumbled upon signs for Victor Hugo's Mansion!! We were in fast pursuit... this was NOT on our tourist map... and we were rewarded with a lovely plaque commemorating Hugo's residence... I love Victor Hugo... for those of you who don't know, he wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame as well as Les Miserables... a true son of Paris!!

Then on to Il du Cite which is an island on the Seine where the Notre Dame, Consiergerie, and St Chapelle is.
The Consiergerie! Where Marie Antoinette was held before her execution... in front is Napoleon Bonapart's bridge

The Notre Dame Cathedral!! If you look closely you may be Quasimoto in the Bell Tower


There was quite a long wait outside for the climb to the top of the Cathedral... I think we waited over an hour. But is was well worth it! In line we also met a mother and son from Salt Lake City... the son attended ASU from 2000 - 2004!
The after the 422 steps to the top, we were rewarded with this -

The gargoyles are spectatular!!

When we got out of the Cathedral we discovered a lovely man feeding bird out of his hand... the birds were flocking around him and were all over his arms. Phoebe and I wanted to do this too, so we took from of her sandwich bread and held it out... no birds came. Then the man came over and gave us some of his bread and in French explained to us that the birds didn't like my red nail polish... so I hid my nails a little bit, held out the bread, and TAH DAH!

That was probably my HIGHLIGHT of Paris... it was so unexpected and SO cool!
After the Notre Dame we skipped the St Chapelle because the queue was atrocious! We instead walked around St Michel, which is where Phoebe stayed when she was last in Paris... it was SUCH a charming part of Paris and felt so Parisian

Then on to the Pantheon

The Pantheon was originally a church, but is now the burial sight of Victor Hugo, Voltaire, Jean Moulin, Alexander Dumas, and the like. We did not however see their graves. We did however see the famous pendulum in the center of the Pantheon

The pendulum simply swings back and forth, but it also seems to rotate around the center... this proves that the earth is rotating, because the pendulum in fact is not... you can read more here.
It was also at the Pantheon where I lost my map of Paris... bummer.
Down the street from the Pantheon we found a McDonald's with free internet!!! Thank you American Fast Food!!!
After the Pantheon, we were making GREAT time and we were able to stroll and shop on our way to the Eiffel Tower... I bought a cute top!
We finally made it to the Eiffel Tower in the later afternoon.

We made our way up to the 3rd level and took in the view... the second highest structure in the world sfter the Empire State Building in New York... another dream come true to stand in that spot! The elevator ride up about gave me a heart attack because it just kept going higher and higher... and its a glass elevator. I felt like Charlie Bucket plummeting to space with Willy Wonka!
View from the top!

From the 3rd level we watched a rain storm roll through Paris

We didn't want to go out in the rain, so we sat ouside the 2nd level cafe and had a dinner of pizza and waffles (mine had chocolate on it) for dessert... AMAZING!

On the lift back down to the ground we were on an elevator with around 25 small children. The little boys near me kept talking and laughing in French and trying to get mine and Phoebe's attention... the little flirts. Phoebe and I decided to speak in the most exaggerated native accents we could. I went for California Valley Girl and Phoebe went for the heart of the outback... the little boys found this incredibly entertaining.
Every time someone stared at us, Phoebe and I started saying "xenophobe" to warn the other that we were being observed. This became incredibly funny as we danced and filmed our dance video... turns out that people in Europe gawk and like to pay attention to us as we dance... we had become so use to the anonymity of England.
By the time we got down it was dark, so we decided to save our photoshoot in the front of the tower for the next day... as we walked back to the tube we did get to see it sparkle!

I can see why Paris is so romantic!
Tonight we got good showers and developed a code for when someone walked in to our room (because we had 2 new girls in our room)... the code was... "code". We're not terribly original.

Our third day in Paris found us at the Palace of Versailles outside the city!!!
I always pictured the Palace out in the country with space all around it... turns out there is a huge car park right out front!

The Queue to get in was HELLA long... over 1.5 hours. But it was sunny and I wore a tank top and soaked in the Vitamin D. The cost of admission was 25 Euro, but it was worth it. We got entrance into EVERYTHING the palace had to offer plus an audio guide!!

Highlights of the Palace
the chapel

The multi colored state apartments - interesting note: the king and queens rooms were for public display always in France... the queen even gave birth with nobles and the court milling about her room... awkward!

The Hall of Mirrors... the most famous room in Versailles... this is the room where the Versailles treaty was signed bringing WWI to an end... and subsequently starting the path to WWII... fun times!

The BEAUTIFUL gardens!

The famous fountains

Marie Antoinette's mini village where she would pretend to be a shepherdess... remember she was only 13 when she moved to Versailles and married Louis... still just a little girl. This is the house i have chosen to be mine

Prancing through the mini village gardens

After spending 6 hours at Versailles seeing EVERYTHING, we made our way back into Paris to say goodbye and have a photo shoot by the Eiffel tower

Goodbye Paris!! We grabbed dinner at a local market and then ate it on our hostel room balcony overlooking the picturesque alleyway! We had a new girl in our room... she spoke spanish, so I got to practice my Espanol... we'll see how Spain goes next week.

Next stop... DISNEYLAND PARIS!!!


Anonymous said...

Great post! How fun to see your photos of the same places your uncle and I visited 35 yrs. ago! Love, Aunt Etna

Aaron said...

i love the condescending stare from the lady watching you prance in the Versaille gardens.