So, pretty much I love Paris. I have started writing about it like ten different times but it just boils down to this - Paris was amazing. Not only was the city absolutely beautiful but I got to experience it with my best friend Keri (from Gordon)! It was even better than what I've seen in movies and pictures! From the shutters on the windows to the pastel colored apartment buildings with flowers in the window sills and cute little cafes and flower shops at every corner and the sparkling Eiffel Tower...I could just go on forever! But I'll save it for another post :)
When I found out that me and Keri were going to be in Europe at the same time my imagination kinda went wild with all the places that we could meet. Since Keri is studying in Barcelona we joked around about meeting in Paris because it was about halfway between Spain and Maastricht and even, I quote facebook, "meet me under the eiffel tower?"for my birthday weekend. Very soon our European banter became a reality! As I was sitting on the train at 7 o clock in the morning heading to Paris I was still in disbelief! I mean, it's not everyday that you just catch a train to Paris and meet up with your best friend under the Eiffel Tower for your birthday (that still sounds absolutely crazy to me, by the way). The reality of it is still sinking in. I felt like I was in a movie or something!
Stepping off the train at Gare du Nord (one of main train stations in Paris) felt like I was just walking into a dream come true! There I was with just me and my backpack arriving in Paris all by myself. If it had been in a movie there would have been dramatic music playing in the background as the camera panned the train station and everyone was all of a sudden in slow motion and then every person would break out into song and dance because 'hello people! we are in Paris!' ...but instead I was just pushed along in the crowd of people living their normal, everyday European lives.
My next task was to figure out how to get from Gare du Nord to Le Tour Eiffel. I found the closest map of the Metro lines. (The metro is like the subway system that can take you anywhere you need to go) I just stared at the map for a good ten minutes because I had no idea how to read it or what stop I was at and which stop I needed to get to. Then I walked around to only return to cluelessly staring at the map with hopes that what I was supposed to do next would just hit me. That didn't happen. So I went to the information desk to get some help. I took three and half years of French so I'm not fluent but could read most of the signs and carry on a decent conversation. But after hearing many horror stories about how mean the French people can be, especially if you speak English, I was really nervous to talk to them. I played the safe card and politely said bonjour and may I ask a question in English. I received a smile, map of the city and instructions on how to get the Eiffel tour. Success! Although as soon as I was actually on the metro I totally forgot what I was supposed to do. So I just got off at a random stop in hopes of being able to see the tower.
The Eiffel Tower was no where to be found when I got to street level, but there was a cute little French lady strolling by with her walker. I asked her which way to the Eiffel Tower, in French of course, and a huge grin came over her face as she pointed and gave me instructions. I was closer than I thought, the tower was just hiding behind a building! As soon as I saw it I got really emotional - I didn't like break down in tears but I was definitely a little choked up. I don't really know why, and it's ok if you laugh a little. I just still couldn't believe that I was in Paris, looking at the Eiffel Tower. After I had my little moment I made my way through the gardens to the bottom and eagerly awaited the arrival of my friend. Her plane was late and I ended up just chilling under the tower by myself for about two hours, but hey, I'm not complaining!
She eventually found me, I guess my red hair kinda sticks out, making me an easy target to spot and then we walked around and sat and talked for an hour or so with a fantastic view of the tower. I felt like someone should have taken a black and white picture of us from the back the tower in the background and made it into a postcard. But it was great to catch up before heading to the hostel to drop our bags off.
Our hostel was in Montmartre, right by the Moulin Rouge! We just walked around the area and then stumbled upon the Sacre Coeur, giving us an amazing view of the city! We did some more walking around the streets and then hit the sack at 8pm. We were both exhausted and wanted to get a good nights sleep before our first full day in Paris! Okay, well there's day one of Paris! There is more to come :)