Monday, June 23, 2008

An American in Paris

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I had a great trip to Paris, full of lots of exciting adventures. In the interest of giving you all as many details as possible, I think I will divide my trip up by the days to make it a little easier to read (and to make it easier for me as well).

We started out early Friday morning and went to the train station. The train ride was somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half and we went through some beautiful country sides. We arrived at the train station and left our bags with Audrey's father, who was nice enough to meet us at the train station. (Audrey is from Paris and is a girl on our trip. Her parents were nice enough to let us stay in their apartment outside of Paris for the weekend and Audrey acted as our tour guide for the trip, which was wonderful.) From the train station we immediately got on the metro, transferring a couple of times (at one stop I actually recognized the metro stop from when I was in Paris four years ago, which I thought was crazy). Finally, we arrived and rode the escalator back up to ground level and immediately we saw the Arc du Triomphe, which was much bigger than I remembered. After taking numerous pictures there, we strolled down the Champs-Elysees, which is one of the main streets in Paris and is famous for its wide, tree-lined sidewalks and high end stores. We stopped and had lunch along the road. I had a chicken sandwich, which was delicious. For some reason, sandwiches in France are just better... it must be the bread. After lunch, we continued our stroll down to the Place de la Concorde, which is where heads rolled back during the French Revolution and now the Place has an obelisk which Napoleon brought back from Egypt.

From there, we walked to the Musee d'Orsay, which is a museum devoted to the works of Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. The museum is in a renovated train station, which is absolutely beautiful and huge. I had been to the Orsay the first time I went to Paris, but I decided to go again because we had been rushed through that time because the museum was closed. I was glad I went back. Even though I remembered most of the works there, I still enjoyed seeing them again and actually getting to spend some time looking at some of the intricacies of the works. My favorites were the Monets, Renoirs, and Degas. There was also a whole room devoted to van Gogh, which I absolutely loved (as you probably know from my previous post on the van Gogh museum in Amsterdam).

After the Musee d'Orsay, we reconvened and headed over to the Eiffel Tower. Even though I had been there before, I was again shocked at how large the Eiffel Tower really is. We split off into groups and those who wanted to go up the Eiffel Tower did. I decided to go even though I had already been and it was just as great this time. Last time I was there it was fairly cloudy and it actually started raining while we were up the Eiffel Tower and this time it was cloudy again. I guess I just bring bad weather with me. Anyways, we spent lots of time walking around all the different floors of the Tower (there are three floors), taking pictures, and enjoying the view of Paris sprawled out before us.

Once we had descended from the Eiffel Tower, we had dinner at a restaurant around the area. We eat out pretty sparingly when we are in Brussels so a meal out is a wonderful occurrence. I had a wonderful dish of chicken and French fries. I also tried an escargot, which was surprisingly delicious. I had some problems getting it out of the shell, but once I figured it out, it was great. They cook them in some delicious garlic sauce so they basically just taste like garlic.

After dinner, we walked back over to the Eiffel Tower and sat down on the Champs du Mars. There were a bunch of people there, but we found a spot and sat down in the grass. From there, we had a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower and we watched the sunset.

Then, we walked down to the Seine and got on one of the boat tours. The boat took us down the Seine past many of the Paris landmarks, which were all lit up for the night. It was beautiful. There were a lot of people walking along the banks of the Seine or just sitting and relaxing and enjoying the Paris night. It was wonderful and beautiful.

Once the boat ride was over, we had to catch the train out of Paris to Audrey's town and apartment. The train ride was about 45 minutes and we were all exhausted from a day full of adventure and walking all around Paris. Once we got there, we had to walk about another mile to Audrey's apartment. The apartment was a typical European apartment, very small. All of the girls slept in the living room on mattresses. We all passed out because we were so exhausted.

Well, that's all for day one of our Paris adventure. I will post more later about the rest of the trip. In the meantime, I've posted the pictures from Paris online if you want to take a look.

Love to all,

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