Monday, February 22, 2010

Travel Week 1: Paris, Paris, Paris

My time in Paris seems like a daze. By this point in our travels we were worn out. Paris didn't make a great first impression on me. The subway system was more confusing, dirty, and smelly compared to London's. The weather was equally as dreary. For a city with some of the most beautiful attractions in the world it left a lot to be desired. We found our way to Hotel Des Arts Bastille in the Montmartre district of Paris. It was tucked away but super close to the metro which is extremely important for globe trotters such as us. We ate pastries every morning at the same pastry shop on the corner. My favorite was a croissant that looked like a bear claw covered in toasted almonds and filled with an almond chocolate. Sarah, Lindsay, and I saw the Notre Dame first thing. It was absolutely stunning. We stopped at a cafe for lunch and Sarah and Lindsay both thought they ordered salami Panini’s when actually they ordered salmon. Miscommunication? I think so. I got my very first real crepe with bananas and nutella! It was amazing. I loved every bite. We shopped and shopped until we were so worn out we needed a nap to rest up. We decided to go to the Louvre after six because that's when it was free. Now for all of you art connoisseurs out there plug your ears because this may hurt, we went through in a record setting time of thirty minutes. I think we should get a medal or something because we still saw my girl Mona a.k.a the Mona Lisa, Venus, Mary Magdalene, and countless other pieces. After the Louvre we met up with more CIMBA students who were in Paris as well at the Spanish corner for drinks. Sarah and I headed home around 12:30 because the trains stop running at 1 am. We made our first two trains but missed the last one and had to take a taxi the rest of the way. It was a bummer to say the least. The next day we were up early to take a day trip to Versailles. First things first though, the group we were with wanted to go to Starbucks. It was my first Starbucks since leaving America. Ironically this coincided with the first day of Lent. Now, I'm a Catholic and I gave up coffee for Lent so this was God's true test of faith to me. I passed. I ordered a wonderful hot chocolate. But for a coffee addict this was true torture. Versailles may have been the highlight of the trip for me. I am a bit of a history nerd and love period movies-Marie Antoinette-so this was right up my alley. The palace was magnificent. Unfortunately my camera jammed right before we went into Marie's private house. We spent about four hours there and I don't think we even scratched the surface. It was stunning. That night Sarah, Lindsey, and I got a classic French dinner con fritz. The rest of the trip was spent climbing the Arc de Triomphe, all 284 stairs, and going to the top of the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower was huge. It was so surreal to actually be at these legendary places you always see pictures of. We had lunch right across from the Tower at a pub called Eiffel 34. I got the best walnut and goat cheese salad. The goat cheese practically melted in my mouth, it was so creamy. Poor Lindsay got sick from her French onion soup and couldn't make the trek to the Moulin Rouge for dinner with us. Anna, Sarah, and I went to Moulin Rouge and had yet another savory meal. Let me tell you sitting across from the Moulin Rouge made for some pretty interesting people watching. Then it was up early and off to Venice. We got on the wrong bus to Mestre and ended up on the island close to Rialto, crossed the bridge and grabbed a train. It feels so strange to be back, yet comforting to be back in Italy. It is quickly becoming my home away from home.

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