Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Weekend in Paris...ain't no thang

I feel like I am constantly living in a dream. Tomorrow I will wake up and none of this will have been real. I still can't get over how easy it is to just up and leave for Rome or Paris for the weekend. And once I actually get to these cities I still have to pinch myself multiple times to even slightly be convinced that I am not in a fairytale world.

Now begins the adventure in Parigi (Paris):
My friend Tera and I, in order to save some money, booked our flight to Paris with the well-known airline amongst poor exchange students called Ryanair. However, with every opportunity there is always a sacrifice that must be made. In this case we sacrificed sleep.

Friday, October 24th, 2008
At 2:00 A.M. Friday morning I woke up to shower and pack for Paris. And by pack, I mean I threw a change of clothes and my toothbrush into my book bag and headed out the door. Then at 3:00 A.M. Tera and I took a Taxi from our dorm to Milan Central Station where we got on a bus departing at 4:00 A.M. to take us to Bergamo airport (about an hour away). We arrived at the airport in plenty of time for our 6:30 A.M. flight to Beauvais Airport (an hour and a half outside of central Paris). When we landed at Beauvais the sunrise was just starting to peek up over the horizon and it was a beautiful sight. We had to walk from our plane outside to get inside the airport and we were both quite shocked with change in temperature from when we left Milano. IT WAS COLD!!! Neither one of us had packed more than a light sweater and we were already wearing those. But we braved the cold for the time being and boarded yet another bus into Paris. Keep in mind on each new form of transportation we would find our seats, put in our ipods, and pass out trying to store up as much energy as possible. But just before passing out on this final stretch we looked out the window of the bus to see a huge, beautiful rainbow! Welcome to Paris!

We arrived in Paris around 11 and headed straight to the Louvre where first we got some breakfast. Tera ordered her first crepe filled with bananas and nutella (chocolate hazelnut creme thing for those who don't know). Mmmmm. Then we headed inside the Louvre where we ventured through France, Asia, Greece, Egypt, and ended at the Mona Lisa. The Louvre is a massive museum with sooo many rooms and really confusing maps. We saw about all we could see having been up for 10 hours already. Then we went outside where we took pictures of the famous glass pyramid and again realized how freezing we were gonna be if we didn't purchase some more clothes. That's when we decided to go shopping and I ended up buying a new coat and scarf and Tera bought a hat and scarf.

With our body temperatures back up to normal we headed to the Notre Dame. We ended up spending a lot of time in this magnificent cathedral mostly because it was so beautiful but also because when we went back outside it had started to rain. mawww. We re-entered the cathedral and just relaxed inside for over an hour. Possibly taking a wee bit of a nap, but I think for both of us, it was a perfect opportunity to just reflect on our amazing experiences since we've been abroad. I really wanted to go up in the bell tower but unfortunately, we missed the cutoff time for the line.
Once the rain had ceased and we had somehow found the energy to stand up, we left Notre Dame to go see the Eiffel Tower. We had about 2 hours before we were supposed to meet Kristen (my good friend and roommate for the last two years and soon to be future roommate back at IU in the spring who is studying abroad in Rennes, France). The sight of the Eiffel Tower blew me away! It was just getting dark so they had it all lit up. It is currently blue and has the stars because France is hosting the European Union and it will be this way for the next 6 months. I'd always seen pictures and read about the beauty of the architecture of this tower but until I saw it for myself I never truly appreciated it. I just kept saying, "It is so big!" And of course its size made it very difficult to get a majority of it in a picture. But Tera and I managed to entertain ourselves by having a little photo shoot and trying several different angles, etc. I feel in love with the Eiffel Tower.

Then it was finally time to be reunited with my roomie (ahhh a little piece of "home")!! We met each other under the Arc de Triomphe which was an area buzzing with traffic and people. Thanks to Kristen having a family friend living in Paris, for the rest of the trip I was spoiled rotten. Kristen's grandmother has a friend named Claude who was kind enough to let us stay at her home for two nights. But first we met up with her son Laurent and his wife who took us out to a very expensive dinner. I had a delicious filet mignon which was the 2nd cheapest thing on the menu. Then we went back to Laurent's apartment, which was on the top floor of a building across the street from the Eiffel Tower!!!!, to have some coca-cola light and chat for awhile. We got to go out on his balcony and gaze a little longer at the fantastico blue tower! Then we walked a few streets over and went to Claude's apartment (just around the corner from the Arc de Triomphe). Claude is the president of a company and is obviously very successful as her home was very classy and filled with famous pieces of artwork. We had our own separate "apartment" that was connected to hers and since Tera and I had been up now for 22 hours we went straight to bed.

Saturday, October 25th, 2008
The next morning, Tera left to meet up with a friend of hers also studying in France and Kristen and I linked arms and hit the streets of Paris! Of course, we first headed back to see my new love (the Eiffel Tower) where we had plans to go to the very top. However, between the enormous line and the fog that loomed over much of Paris for most of the day we decided it wouldn't be worth it to wait and pay and end up not being able to really see anything once we got up there. Instead, we went to the Musee D'Orsay. This museum was installed in the former Orsay railway station, built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. So the building itself could be seen as the first "work of art" in the Musee d'Orsay, which displays collections of art from the period 1848 to 1914. Afterwords, we went to a small cafe and each ordered a galette (a buckwheat crepe) filled with ham, cheese, and egg. At one point during our meal Kristen looked up at me and smiled and said, "Just in case you forgot... we are at a cafe IN PARIS!" La mia vita è un sogno! (My life is a dream!) Following lunch, we walked to where Moulin Rouge is and stayed just long enough to take a picture. Nearby, we walked up a bazillion stairs to see the stunning Sacré-Coeur basilica of Paris. The sun peeked out for a little bit while we were there and we sat on the stairs where a huge crowd had formed to hear a man who was playing his guitar and singing American songs. Then we went too.....STARBUCKS!!! :D where I got a java chip frappuccino to hold me over for the next two months.

We met back up with Tera and headed back the apartment for a little nap before my favorite part of the whole trip began. Claude (our host) was born, raised, and obvs still lives in Paris, so she was really really excited about getting to show us around the city of lights that night! First, she took us out to dinner at a Chinese/Thai restaurant which although wasn't very French, it was still very yummy. Then she told us to bundle up because she was going to take us driving in her Porsche convertible and show us all the sites!!! ahhh! It was sooo amazing! I couldn't stop smiling the whole time. We drove around and Claude was our tour guide who told us about everything we were passing by. She ended the tour by parking near the Eiffel Tower and we waited until 11pm when the tower is illuminated with sparkling white lights. A perfect end to a perfect weekend.

1 comment:

Señora Robeano said...

I can not believe you are there! UGH! so jealous! We miss you terribly, but its only a bit more now before we are all together enjoying the texas sun. Love you.