After my adventures in Rome, I went to Paris for a few days with Katie! It was so nice to get away with one good friend for 3 days – and it was even better that our “getaway” destination was Paris, France!
Our very first night there, we dropped our stuff off at the hostel and headed to the Eiffel Tower – yes, the Eiffel Tower. We had tickets to go halfway up the beautiful monument at 10:00 that night! We took the metro and got off at a stop slightly around the corner from the tower, so we couldn’t see it right away – but as we rounded the bend and I laid my eyes on the Eiffel Tower for the first time, I teared up. It was beautiful, shimmering and appearing so majestic against the black night sky. That’s when it hit me that I was in Paris – one of the most impressive cities in the world! After overcoming the shock at seeing the tower for the first time, we headed to the base to take the lift up it! Although it was freezing cold, we still loved it up there. We were able to see the entire city from one of the most famous city monuments in the world! So, needless to say, it was very, very cool.
The next day we took a short walk through part of the city to the opera house, in order to find our “Hop-on-Hop-off” bus. (On this little walk we found a Starbucks – which may have been the highlight of the weekend for Katie, I kid you not!) We found our tour bus and rode part of the loop around some the touristy parts of the city. It was so so very cold, but Katie and I stuck it out and rode on the top of the bus – we are tough troopers who wanted to do Paris the right way! The first stop we made was at the Louvre Museum! It was neat to see the beautiful art in there, especially the Mona Lisa. After wandering around in there for a little, we headed out to the bus stop…where I ended up running into a childhood friend. I hadn’t seen Haley since first grade when she moved away, but there she was walking around in front of the Louvre too! What a small world!! After a couple moments of shrieking like little girls and a short catch-up session with Haley, Katie and I headed to our next destination – the love bridge!
At this bridge in Paris, it’s a tradition for couples (and more recently, friends/sisters/whatever) to buy a lock, put their names on them, lock them on the bridge, and throw the keys into the water to symbolize their commitment to each other forever. Romantic, right? So…Katie and I did it together! (I know what you’re thinking – not exactly the same as eternal love, but we thought that a good friendship is something to commemorate as well!!) On our way back from the love bridge back to the hostel, Katie and I hopped on a Ferris Wheel that overlooked the city. At this point in the day it was dark, so it was really cool to see the city at night again from another point in the city! We had a perfect view of the Champs-Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe.
The next day was probably the coldest day I have ever experienced. But that’s okay!! We still rode on the top of our tour bus and squeezed everything we could into that day! We went to the Notre Dame – which was one of the sights I was most excited to see. It was so beautiful. We waited in line to get inside, and I’m so glad we did! I loved being able to wander through the columns in the cathedral and feeling its sanctuary envelope me. I’m not a very religious person (I consider myself more spiritual than anything else), but I still really appreciated the beauty of this church. I even lit a candle and said a silent little prayer. It was very special. Katie and I then grabbed lunch at “Le Quasimodo,” a little cafe where I had a delicious traditional French sandwich with a crepe for dessert. Yum! On the bus again, we got to see more of the popular tourist attractions and then we hit Champs-Élysées! We were very excited to walk along the street because it was all decked out for Christmas!! We even saw Santa Clause and drank hot cider – so it was legit. Christmas in Paris definitely put us in the holiday spirit!
On our final day in Paris, we visited the Palace of Versailles. I loved it! I was really blown away by how enormous the palace was – and even more astounded by its gardens. I can’t even imagine how beautiful it is during the summer when everything is in full bloom, because it was already gorgeous in the dead of winter. Not to mention is was just an incredible amount of land – trees and gardens as far as the eye could see. I looked at that and thought – this was someone’s backyard?? Woah. It helped me begin to see why people hated King Louis and why the French Revolution occurred. I mean, how can a ruler live like that while his people are homeless and starving? I thought it was so awesome to be in the same space that the revolutionaries stormed in rage centuries ago, as they fought to change their country. I love history!
After Versailles, we started the journey home. My weekend in Paris with Katie was very much needed. I loved being able to travel with just one good friend – it’s much more relaxing to me than traveling in a larger group! What I really loved about being in Paris was all the cool people Katie and I got to meet. We met a group of people from Germany, a man from Algeria, people from all over the United States, and a group of guys from Brazil. It was really fun just sitting in the hostel after a long day of sight-seeing, making friends with people from all over the world. Just another perk of traveling!