Oh Paris. A place filled with so much beauty and so many baguettes. This was my first trip and after finding a $70 dollar flight it was a weekend that I couldn’t pass up. After three years of high school french, I was elated for the opportunity to visit the city of lights!
The Journey: Myself and four other girls packed small bags and prepared ourselves for our first flight while abroad. We left Thursday afternoon, and realized just how easy it was to get to the airport using public transport [take the a line all the way to the end, and then the 119 bus drops you right off]. Our flight was late, and dropped us off at the paris airport around 9 or 10 pm, which encouraged us to take an uber to our hostel. Unfortunately we had a bit off a rough time at our first hostel, Trendy Hostel (it was gross) so we ended up moving to St. Isaacs Hostel Inn Gare Du Nord in the city of Paris. Our dissatisfaction of the first hostel was actually a blessing in disguise, because our new hostel was so much nicer. Both in comparison to our miserable first hostel of Paris, and all the hostel’s that I have stayed in since, I would say that it is one of the nicest. They have a bar/restaurant attached and breakfast included everyday [that consisted mostly of baguettes and nutella, so trust me, I ate a lot of baguettes and nutella].
The Experience [Highlights from my time in Paris]: The Free tour:We decided on the last day, Sunday, to do the free walking tour advertised in our hostel. The tour, organized by Sandemans New Europe took us all over the city and showed us all the beautiful sights accompanied with interesting information. It was raining a bit for our our, but it didn’t bother me much, as I enjoyed seeing the city in the rain. If I could do something different, it would be to take the tour at the start of our weekend, in order to get his recommendations and remember where else i would want to return to. Nevertheless, I was extremely glad that we chose to do it, and for a free tour (tipping encouraged), it couldn’t have been better.
The Eiffel Tower: Amazing. I could not be more in awe of a man made object, that I was while standing in front of the enormous eiffel tower. It was way bigger than I expected, and so beautiful, especially when the twinkly lights turned on when it got dark. One evening we walked from the Notre Dam to the Eiffel tower along the Seine River, and that was one of my favorite memories. It was cool to go across the bridges, see all the booksellers lined up, and the people reading or on a picnic by the water. Before we got to the eiffel tower, we stopped to get some wine, pears and macaroons (typical tourists). It was an awesome experience to sit and chat along with many others, enjoying the view, and we even got to witness a proposal.
The Louvre: I could have spent the whole weekend in this one museum. So grand and so filled with beauty. Nothing could be better than the moment that we realized our EU student university cards gave us free entrance. I was astonished by the number of exhibits, and while the Mona Lisa was unimpressive, so many other fantastic art pieces made up for it. I particularly enjoyed the Egyptian Exhibit and kept my eyes out for any art pieces that made appearances in the game of Masterpiece. Overall, a beautiful place with an amazing building and surrounding architecture [the glass pyramids].
My time with Kenzie and Spencer:On the last evening of my weekend in Paris, I was able to go visit Kenzie! After making it through the metro system, I eventually got to her area, which was cute and definitely reflected a more ‘livable’ paris. Her apartment was on floor six (whew), and to be frank it was the cutest thing that I have ever seen. All white with beautiful hardwood floors, it’s decor definitely made up for its teeny size. Made me a bit jealous, because I have a hard time loving my horribly decorated apartment living room (brown wood floors, 2 futons- one pink, one purple, and bright orange and yellow curtains. Seeing Kenzie, however, was even more enjoyable than exploring her apartment. It was so easy to reconnect and we [literally] talked for hours. We both couldn’t explain how nice and refreshing it was so see each other, like a piece of home that finally allowed us to take a long relaxing breath. Nothing beats the familiarity of someone who knows you well, and just gets you. Rather than going out for dinner, Spencer and Kenzie made us all dinner of chicken and vegetables, and even that homemade meal made my heart so warm.
Things I did not enjoy about Paris: So no trip is perfect, but this one definitely had some bumps accompanied with little life lessons, especially as one of my first big trips. Lesson number one: don’t travel as a group of five, it is so so hard to keep track of everyone and what everyone wants to do. Lesson number two: really thoroughly review your hostel before booking. I think I felt rushed that we were either not going to get a hostel, or miss out on good prices.That is why I settled pretty quickly on our first hostel, which did not turn out to be a winner by any means. Lesson three: We knew that it was supposed to be expensive, but coming from Prague we still had sticker shock when we tried to find good meals. Granted we were just tourist girls yelping up places to eat, but the high places were in no way welcomed. Lesson Four: Okay not quite a lesson, but as a premonition to other travelers, I did not feel safe in Paris. There are so so many gypsies who are consistently badgering you about signing a petition (a common pick pocking scheme- look it up if you come to Europe), and so many times walking around the underground that I felt very uncomfortable. This being said, I was extremely vigilant, and did not take a breath of relief until we landed in Prague. Lesson Five: Don’t schedule your flight for 7 am. Just don’t do it; a four am wake up call accompanied with the hassle of getting to the airport in a foreign city is just not fun. Despite a miserable Monday morning, however, it was nice to get back early to Prague and enjoy a good long nap.
Overall, it was a fantastic weekend. I still count Paris as one of the most beautiful places that I have ever visited, especially when remembering the stunning white buildings and wide streets. I enjoyed so much that the city had to offer, even including a lazy morning spent journaling at the park below the Notre Dame and exploring the little surrounding shops. Would not trade this weekend for anything, and I am glad that I got to begin my semester of travels in the city of lights.