Weekend in Paris
The past week Barcelona has been celebrating La Mercé, a weeklong festival celebrating Mare de Déu de la Mercè, a patron Saint. Due to the endless parties and events, I had five consecutive days without class, my internship or any responsibilities. You know that that means? I have time to finally take a trip somewhere! A lot of my American friends were heading to Germany for Oktoberfest. After realizing that it was way too expensive and that I’ll be in Germany in just a few months for Christmas and New Year’s I decided to pick a different location, Paris. My friend John decided to tag along. I was excited to be off on my own, but in the end it was nice having a travel buddy along my side. Okay moving on…here is how I spent my time in the magical city of Paris!
Day One: After pulling yet another all-nighter (oh well I’ll sleep once I’m back in the states…) we arrived in France! And after an hour and a half bus ride (thanks to Ryan Air being very cheap but dropping you off at sketchy far away airports) I was in Paris! The metro was much more confusing than the one in Spain but eventually we found out way to the Peace & Love hostel. Very tiny, but still very cool. After whipping up some yummy food (yay for saving money!) we grabbed our cameras and decided to wander around the city in our sleepy confused states. First stop was Notre Dame. John was especially pumped about this magnificent structure. It was so intricately decorated, we spent a long time walking all the way around and taking way too many pictures. My favorite parts were the gargouilles!
Next stop was the Eiffel tower. It was spectacular! Way bigger than I had previously imagined it. We explored and looked at it from different distances and angle, but ended up sitting in a park right next to it having to lean back to see the entire structure, my mind was blown. After a lot of ooo-ing and aaa-ing, we headed back to our hostel to crash for the night and try to catch up one sleep. Oh I forgot to mention that I had my first (and definitely not last) Nutella crepe! So delicious.
Day Two: John and I parted ways for the day since we both have extremely different interests. He headed to the Catacombs while I went off to the Musée d’Orsay. I got there crazy early and was one of the first people in. One great thing that I discovered about Paris is that European students get into practically every museum for free! So I saved 11 euros and was a happy camper. I did pay for an audio guide which I don’t regret, it had a ton of interesting information about the paintings and sculptures that I would have never known without it. Since I was alone, I took my sweet time wandering around the first and second floor filled with French art created between 1848 and 1915. By far my favorite part of the museum was the fifth floor were the impressionist collections were displayed. Monet, Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh, the list goes on and on.
Once I finally had enough art, I met up with my friend Heather from PhilaU who is studying in France for a year. Lucky girl! She took me to the chic neighborhood called Le Marais. We spend the afternoon wandering around the cute streets, eating crepes, and shopping. What can you expect from two fashion majors hanging out in Paris! Later on she took me to her swanky apartment in the wealthy part of the city. She was sweet enough to cook me a fabulous dinner which included fancy French pasta, shrimp, wine, chocolate mousse, and of course a baguette.
Next, Heather, her roommates, and I headed back to center city to check out the Louvre. We got there at an incredible time, just as the sun was setting. After taking a million pictures of the famous pyramid, we entered the museum (for free!). We went straight for the Mona Lisa and only had to wait a short time to get to the front of the crowd. It was very surreal to see it in person, but after a minute or two we left the crowds and explored other parts of the museum. At this point I was completely exhausted so we focused on the ancient Egyptian art and called it a day. That night I went out with a cool guy named Paul who I met in the hostel. We met up with Heather and some of her friends and went bar hopping. Unfortunately drinks in Paris are outrageously priced, so we split a few rounds of shots, talked, hung out, and called it a night. It was a spectacularly jam packed day!
Day Three: Saturday was less busy but equally as exciting! John and I grabbed a classic Paris hostel breakfast of Nutella and a baguette and headed on a train toward Versailles. We arrived at the peak tourist time, but in no time we were in the spectacular palace. We leisurely walked around the house listening to the story behind each extravagant room. Each area more decorated and royal than the next, we couldn’t help but take a ton of pictures. John was all about the panoramas which turned out really cool. After a few hours we went outside for our picnic lunch which gave us some much needed energy. We checked out the royal gardens from afar but decided not to pay the extra entrance fee.
We returned to the hostel for a siesta, and I woke up feeling as good as new. We hit the grocery store and what I thought would be a simple dinner turned out to be a three course meal. Who knew that John could cook! And thank goodness our hostel had an awesome kitchen with everything that we could need….well expect a cork screw. After our yummy feast, we packed up some drinks and our cameras and headed to the Eiffel tower to check it out at night! Emerging from the metro the first thing we saw was the beautiful structure with a pretty golden glow. We walked away from the masses of people and headed towards the side of the structure. Once closer we could hear some loud music, which turned out to be a live concert about five minutes across from the tower! It was about to end once we got there, but it was still a neat surprise.
Back at the Eiffel tower we started talking to some nice Americans about Paris and the incredible stuff that we have been doing. John and I were about to leave when they told us that in just a few minutes the Eiffel tower was about to put on a show. I was confused since it was already beautifully light, but they were right. At exactly 11 o’clock the tower started to twinkle. It took my breath away. No matter how many pictures and videos I took, nothing can compare to seeing it in person. Five minutes later the tower returned to its normal glow and we headed home. It was quite the evening.
Day Four: I woke up on Sunday feeling sad that it was my last day. But that meant I needed to fit in as much as possible so I was out the door relatively early. My travel buddy tagged along as I went to the Bastille market to meet up with Heather (my personal Paris tour guide). We wandered the fresh food and produce stands for a bit before deciding what to eat. Heather and I branched out and tried some awesome fried veggies and John got his first breakfast crepe. Once we were nice and full we spent hours looking at the all cool stands and listening to the fun street music. The market was filled with great accessories and clothing, my favorite stand was a guy who made one-of-a-kind hand beaded jewelry. It was a little expensive but I ended up getting myself a small pair of yellow beaded earrings, I was especially excited about this purchase. I also got lucky with a few cheap gifts for some loved ones back home.
After an awesome morning with Heather she had to leave us to do homework and sleep since she had class early the next day. We made a plan to meet her for dinner later that night though. Next, John and I took the metro to the Louvre so he could see the iconic pyramid. We people watched for a bit and took a nap in the park out front; I was surprised to wake up to a yoga class happening right next to me! After our snooze fest we started to walk from the Louvre to the Arc de Triumphe. This walk had to be at least two miles. We walked pretty slowly and stopped a few times to watch some awesome street dancers. Eventually we made it to the arc. It was definitely bigger and more impressive than the one in Barcelona, so I’m glad we made the journey.
After yet another nap in our hostel, we meet Heather in her favorite area Le Marias to have a fancy French dinner for our last night in town. The restaurant was very tiny and filled with French people; I was pleased with Heathers suggestion. After wine, bread, cheese, salmon, chocolate mousse, and a few hours of laughing and talking the night came to an end, and so did my time in Paris. We were up the next morning by 4am on our way back to Barcelona. My short adventure in Paris was unforgettable; hopefully I get the chance to return on day.