Thursday, January 19, 2012

Holiday Trip '11-'12: Paris

I'm sorry I've been absent so long... Dead week has finally arrived in Germany. It look a lot longer than normal to come around, and it did a good job of sneaking up on me. I took a break from my floor plans (which WILL be done today) to edit some of my photos and get this whole holiday trip coverage back on track.

So here we go! Paris was especially hard to be selective about photos. So bare with me here.

That sunset has zero editing! It was seriously amazing.
I have an obsession with the goddess Diana.
Real mummy!!!

 This Parisian trip was seriously all over the place.We had mostly good times, but some bad times too. I came into Paris on my own on December 28th by bus from Bruges. Bruges happened so quickly, and I had no internet access, so I'm not going to lie, I was a little unprepared. I know I was getting off the bus in Paris... but where in Paris? I knew where my hotel was but had no sense of the scale of Paris. And peoples, Paris is huge. The width of my finger on the map could have easily been three miles. Maybe even more, I'm no map expert. So I get off the bus and it's late afternoon.. after coming out of the bus station, I look for an information booth, yet they are all closed. I still have no idea why, unless 12/28 is a French holiday that I've never heard of. A young bus driver approached me as I probably looked visibly confused walking in circles and looking at maps posted by the street. His English wasn't perfect but we managed to get on the same page. He looked up the distance on his iPhone (I really wish I had one in that moment) and said to me "damn, that's far". Haha, great!

I eventually made it to my hotel after lots of walking around and asking people on the street. Christine and Amanda had already been in Paris for two days, and their stuff was in the hotel room we had reserved, but they were not! I met up with them at Notre Dame an hour later after some more getting lost on public transit (Are you seeing the trend? It keeps going...). By this time it was dark and sprinkling, but oh my goodness, Notre Dame at night was so beautiful. There was a large Christmas Tree all lit up and was all so romantic. Which is exactly what every single Parisian man must have been thinking too, because poor Amanda and Christine were frequently approached by creepy guys who didn't speak English. We exchanged some hilarious creeper-stories as we walked to the Pont de Arts Bridge to see the Locks of Love, and then on to the Eiffel tower. There we were approached by a group of three men who relentlessly tried to get to know us, though we weren't giving them much to work with, haha. Eventually we just abruptly turned and walked the opposite direction from where we came, and ended up at Trocadéro; a beautiful view of the tower where we could take pictures and avoid the huge crowds underneath the tower. 

On day two, Christine and Amanda stayed behind in the hotel in the morning in order to work on some homework and business stuff. I met up with Hazel who is staying in a local apartment with her wife, best friends, and sister and brother in law. We all went to Versailles and had an amazing time; her group was incredible -- very inviting, and so interesting to talk with. We bought the all-access tickets so we got to see the main palace, the gardens, and Marie Antoinette's private house. It was like a dream. Sophia Coppola's version of Marie Antoinette is one of my favorite movies ever visually, and it felt like being right in the scenes (for good reason, it was filmed there!). We were on our way out through the gardens when the sun set, it was perfect timing. That pink sunset was just screaming Marie. 

Day three, we were reunited with Garrett and we took a trip to the Louvre. We literally spent the entire day there. Easily. At this point, my feet had taken a real beating from all the walking of the trip as a whole. Garrett and Amanda felt the same, and we took frequent breaks much to Christine's dismay. We admired her energy. 

Day four was New Years Eve, and we decided to take it a little easy considering we expected to have a long night ahead. We lazed around the hotel in the morning and met up with some of Hazel's group (sans Hazel) for a tour of the Marais distract -- a once aristocratic district taken over by industrial enterprises after the Industrial Revolution. Our tour guide was adorable and so French, haha.

We went back to the hotel to change, and then headed out for dinner. It was the most amazing dinner of my entire life; Duck Confie with roasted potatoes, escargot (yum!), some rose wine and a meringue dessert. I'll post pictures in a food round-up soon!

The night quickly turned sour after that. We met up with Hazel's group, whom are still awesome haha, but the countdown was a little anti-climatic. We went to the Louvre for a good view of the Eiffel Tower, but sadly nothing happened at midnight. Not even a countdown of any sort, so people were randomly cheering in small groups as their phone told them it was midnight. We found a little more excitement as we walked along the main street and some cars were honking and people were shouting. The group of us walked and walked for maybe an hour through giant crowds making our way to Champ de Elysee because we heard there were clubs and bars, and that was the direction of the general crowd. We went into a small, already crowded bar to have a drink with Hazel's crew. We had a lot of fun and laughs, and made plans for when we're all back in California again. I can't wait to hang out with Hazel and her wife in SLO! After one drink we split ways, and Christine, Garrett, Amanda and I looked for somewhere to dance. We didn't find anything except a club of senior citizens dancing to "Celebrate Good Times", so we kept walking towards the arch. 

Suddenly there were people running towards us covering their noses and mouths. Confused, we looked around and saw some guy yelling and running in the street as riot police in full gear were spraying him with pepper spray. Then we felt it -- burning in our noses and mouths, so we turned around and walked briskly away. At this point we lost the will to party.. sadly.. and attempted to get home. Garrett needed to get to the airport for an early morning flight so we said goodbyes and good lucks. 

Myself and the other girls found to our horror that every metro station around us was closed, and piles of people were sitting at all the bus-stops, waiting for night buses that didn't seem to be coming. Our hotel and may others we met along the way assured us public transit would be working (and free!) on New Years Eve.. but it was not. I'm still not sure why. But after many failed attempts at hailing cabs, renting bikes, and hitchhiking, we ended up walking towards our hotel (that was near Versailles, probably close to 20 miles away) for three hours and then waiting 2 hours for the normal day trams to start running, then taking the tram for 30 minutes, then walking another 30 to get to our hotel. We were exhausted, and pretty miserable. And we didn't really get the cool New Years Eve experience. But we were able to laugh about it the next day once we were in our right minds again. Poor Amanda didn't get to sleep because she had to go straight to the train station to catch a morning train for Dessau.

My last day in Paris turned it around as Christine and I woke up right before check-out. Feeling a little rested we walked to Notre Dame once again and took in it's beauty in daytime. We had a leisurely breakfast, read magazines, took pictures in front of gargoyles -- a typical girl's day. We spent the afternoon walking through small streets and finding any new food we hadn't gotten to try yet, and buying little knick-knacks for our friends and family back home.

Before we knew it, London was on the horizon!

If you made it through all that, you're a champ! High five!

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