Hello everyone, and happy weekend!
Well, I only have a few more days of recap posts from my study abroad trip last year. I remember thinking this at the time, too: that experience really did go by so fast!
As I mentioned before, I was so blessed to have so many visitors. My dad flew over to England with me, my friend Sarah visited for a long weekend, and my mom came and spent a week in England with me. In early December, my boyfriend Dan came to visit. He had never been out of the country before (except for Canada, but many Michiganders don’t count that as “out of the country” 😉 ), so this trip was especially exciting. I met him at Heathrow on a Friday morning. Unfortunately, I had class that day that I couldn’t miss, so while I was there, he caught up on some sleep.
Dan got as much sleep as he could during the afternoon, which was a good thing, because at about 7:00 p.m., we had to take the train to Victoria Station to catch a coach bus to Paris!
I was so excited for this trip. I actually found two relatively inexpensive tickets through a student-oriented travel website. The tickets included the cost of the coach, Chunnel train ride, hotel room for a night, and a boat trip on the Seine. Not too bad for under $200!
I will be honest – that Friday night was rough. We got on the coach a little after 8:00 p.m. and spent the night on it. Normally travel time from London to Paris would not take so long, but our bus driver stopped occasionally for some rest. So, Dan’s first night in Europe was spent on the uncomfortable seats of the coach, trying to get some sleep! (I think he was so jet-lagged, though, that he could have slept anywhere. 🙂 )
At about 5:00 on that Saturday morning, we woke up to the voice of our guide telling us to get off the bus for a little while and stretch.
It was chilly and dark and 5 o’clock outside!
Little did I know, we were at the Arc du Triomphe!
My camera doesn’t do a good job in the dark, but it was just beautiful. Chilly, dark, and early morning, but beautiful nonetheless.
After piling back on the coach, our driver gave us a mini tour of the city. I was still half asleep, but we passed some amazing things – practically every landmark in the city! I didn’t get any good pictures (we were moving pretty fast and my camera couldn’t pick up any good shots) but it really was a nice way to start the day.
I think I must have fallen asleep again, because the next time I was woken up was at about 7:30 a.m. We had stopped at a public restroom along the river to freshen up before exploring.
The only complaint I have about the company we went through is that they did not really give us a good itinerary. I had no idea that we were going to begin walking around on our own until I saw the coach driving away…
But that’s ok. They left us just footsteps from this breathtaking view:
Our guide gave us a half hour to go and find some breakfast. We were to meet her back at the Eiffel Tower at that point to continue our exploring.
Dan and I actually ended up spending a lot of time with another couple from Michigan. (There were so many fellow Michiganders at Kingston the same time I was!) So, the four of us headed out to find some breakfast.
I often say that my favorite time of day is early morning, before everything comes to life and gets hectic. Paris was a perfect, beautiful example of just why I love this time of day. It was so calm and, in a way, comforting to watch the city wake up.
Have you ever seen the Disney/Pixar movie Ratatouille? It’s about a rat in Paris? Well, guess who I saw…?
Kodi and Eric (the other couple we were with) found breakfast in the form of crepes. Very French, very eggy. Not good for me. So Dan (who decided to pass on the crepes) and I went breakfast-less, which, in retrospect was probably not a good idea – I get cranky without food!
Then again, it’s quite difficult to be cranky in Paris. 🙂
After about a half hour, we met up with the group to walk along the river toward the center of the city.
I’ve been fortunate enough to visit many cities within the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Italy, but I have to say: Paris is one of the most gorgeous cities I have ever visited.
At this point, we were given the choice to go into the Louvre or continue on to explore the city. This might seem like a crazy decision to some of you, but Dan and I decided that we wanted to move on. The website we got the tickets through had made it sound like the ticket into the Louvre was included in the price. When we discovered it wasn’t, we decided we didn’t want to wait in long lines – we’d rather walk around Paris. Yes, the Mona Lisa and many other beautiful works of art are housed inside, but looking back, I think we made the right choice.
I was very “hangry” at this point (I’m hypoglycemic, and therefore get cranky when I don’t have food for a while), so Dan and I stopped at a tiny restaurant we found for a sandwich.
A ham and cheese sandwich on a baguette. The baguette was spread with butter, and Dan and I both agreed that was one of the most brilliant and delicious ideas ever. It could have been because we were so hungry, but that sandwich was just amazing. 🙂
We then spent a few hours taking a relaxing walk along the beautiful river…
Before arriving at the incredible Notre Dame cathedral.
We actually ended up finding Kodi and Eric again, who were kind enough to take a picture of me and Dan in front of the cathedral. Talk about a good photo opportunity!
Then, we all went inside.
I walked out feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, and ready to continue on with my amazing trip around Paris.
Stay tuned for part two, and please have a fantastic Saturday!