Sunday, June 13, 2010

A la France!

Ah Paris, the land of great food, great wine, and basically expensive everything. Out of the trip so far Paris is the city I believe I could return to the soonest. There simply is so much to see. I was telling a friend there: "Take a random building in Paris, and put it into any average US city, and it would be a huge tourist attraction". This held true as everywhere we walked there was some sort of historic landmark or some random thing plated in gold. Also important to point out that I really can't speak French so it was a lot of asking if people speak English. On that same note don't answer gypsy ladies if they ask if you speak english cause they'll hand you a paper asking for money. Anyways, the trip was amazing and I really do love that city. Despite being warned about Parisians and their snooty ways I only came in contact with one or two really obnoxious America-haters (the ticket checker at the Arc de Triomphe saying, "Don't you Americans have anything to see in your own country? Why do you have to come here?") and the rest were quite friendly. We even made friends with a taxi driver who played some B.I.G. on the way over.

I think it's also important to point out that when writing blog entries from places I've been I do it to a soundtrack. With Barcelona I was listening to this song and the resulting songs in the related video section. Right now I'm listening to some Ratatouille In order to get the full experience of my blog, therefore, I would highly suggest you listen to these songs as you read. Actually, here's a link to the playlist. Enjoy. It starts playing weird songs after like the 10th or something but just replay it from the beginning.

Now, without further ado, to the story of my journey!

We arrived in Paris promptly four hours late. Surprisingly after over a month in Europe I had yet to experience any delays with flights. Specifically, Spanish flights are known for being late because Spaniards in general have a reputation of being late. So we (meaning Erika, Kelsey, and I who were all traveling together) hung out in the airport for a bit. Crazy enough I ran into a few people I knew either from Madrid or from UCSB and the time passed by a little bit faster. I wanted to get a magazine but the magazines were 8 euro which was ridiculous. We were afraid we wouldn't be able to check into our hotel and Kelsey had a friend studying abroad that we were planning on meeting up with but despite all this we got to the airport and bused into Paris. This is where we first met Sami, the French cab driver who had a taste for East-Coast rap. He drove us to our hotel which amazingly enough was only a 5-10 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower! We were all pretty much stoked for the weekend. But after getting ready we headed off in a taxi to meet Kelsey's friend Brendan. He was with a bunch of other students from the Paris program and they ended up being one of the major groups we all hung out with for the journey. We went to a bar and then a club, and that club had the best music I've heard in a club so far in Europe. I know I know that's saying a lot cause I've definitely seen my fair share of clubs, but the throw-back music and the hits they played made everyone scream with excitement at each new song. Needless to say we had a great night and randomly got into Sami's cab on the way back! What are the chances? Well a little later you'll hear my rant about Paris cabs.

So we woke up early with plans for the next day and headed to one of the many outdoor restaurants next to our hotel to have a little Petit Dejeuner. It was delicious. Oh! I almost forgot! The weather. So turns out it was supposed to rain all weekend in Madrid and it was likely to rain in Paris too so we were all a bit worried. FriDAY though was absolutely gorgeous with blue skies and sun! It was crazy and we were crazy lucky too but we made the most of it. First things first we headed to the Arc de Triomphe. This gives an incredible view of the whole city. Along the way we saw basically every designer store imaginable. I'm not one on fashion but Kelsey and Erika knew each one and supposedly they're good at making clothes or something. So we walk down the main street to the Arc and, after the rude ticket man, walk up a gazillion stairs and get to see a breathtaking view of the city. 360 degrees of unobstructed views of France; it was amazing. From there we could almost pick out where we wanted to go. I wish I took a full 360 degrees panoramic but no worries another time.

So from the Arc (which was built to welcome back Napoleon's troops) we went to the Eiffel Tower. We grabbed a baguette (Turkey too! Turkey is NOWHERE in Spain) and ate out on the lawn in front of the tower. It was so relaxing and fun to watch all of the activity all around. At 3 pm they were starting the bike tour we wanted to do and they met in front of the tower. When the tour leader arrived (a man who's transferring to UC Berkeley this year) we walked to the Fat Tire home and got ready to go. I'm really glad we did this tour cause it not only got us around the city in record time but we got to learn the history too! I tried to incorporate a bit in the captions of my pictures but we learned a lot of really interesting info. Also cool about the bike trip was we got to meet other tourists. This is where we met Shawn, an Australian traveler. During the tour we did something the guide called "dominating" basically meaning taking up a whole lane or sometimes two lanes of the road. This was pretty intense when we went through some main streets and as he said "the honking cars are just telling you to enjoy your tour!" We went as far as the Louvre before we turned around and headed back around 4 hours total for the tour. It was the perfect day for a bike tour and I definitely want to do one in Berlin as well.

Next on the list was to meet up and watch the France-Uruguay world cup game! I was really excited to see this in the home country and even though the game itself sucked it was made better by the fans. France is not going far in this tournament if they keep playing that way, but for dinner I had this delicious HUGE crepe. In Cannes I really didn't get many crepes (usually only paninis and baguettes) but the two foods I'll miss most from Paris are the crepes and quiche! Aw I want one right now....Okay back on topic so following the game we went and had some wine on the river Sienne right next to the Notre Dame and across the way there was some sort of concert. A lot of people were packing the stairs and the musicians were playing American cover songs. After the wine (which is ridiculously cheap and delicious) we went to another bar/club and spent the rest of the night there. The nightlife in Paris can't really compare with Madrid...but it was still really fun with the whole group from the other study abroad in Paris. When we left we tried to hail a cab (this is the story I was talking about) and guess what? All of the cabs passing were FULL. We stood at a taxi stand for literally 30 minutes and not one cab stopped. We weren't the only ones, and people were trying to go further up to get a cab but to no avail. There were literally NO cabs for anyone. the only chance was to stand at a place where people got off and then try and get the cab driver to give you a ride. We really didn't know what to do. To make matters worse, it started to rain! So we were wandering around in the rain trying to find a cab when a million were passing but none were empty. Really disheartened we went to get hot chocolate and some warmth back and ended up passing out for an hour at the cafe. when we tried again luckily Erica begged a taxi driver to take us and we got back home. Absolutely ridiculous. I can't believe they have such a bad taxi system in Paris!

The next way we all went separate ways. Erica and Kelsey went to a museum and I hit up this Russian Festival they were having in front of the Eiffel Tower and the open market festival a little distance away. Erica ended up coming and meeting up with me at the Louvre and we then randomly ran into Shawn underneath the Louvre. Fun fact of the day: there is an entire shopping mall underneath the Louvre. Next to that pyramid? An Apple store. So all three of us then went to Notre Dame cathedral. I didn't go in and if I came back to Paris I would definitely make a point of going into more museums and cathedrals but I definitely wanted to spend this trip exploring the city. Then, supposedly next to Notre Dame there is an amazing ice cream place that has a million flavors. After spending forever looking for it we got some ice cream that to me at least seemed just as good and then we relaxed in the park and listened to a band.

Erika then went her own way and Shawn and I decided to go to the Sacre Coeur a huge cathedral up on a hill. The view up there was stunning and the cathedral lived up to the hype. It was a long walk up but it was completely worth it. My favorite part of the cathedral was its street performers. One man was juggling a soccer ball up on a light pole. Another group put on a dance performance. I wanted to spend forever up there but had to get back for the game and dinner so I headed back to the hotel.

We all met up with the other group again and had the most amazing dinner ever. Up until this point we'd kind of avoided the nicer places, but Kelsey, Erika, and I all made a pact to have one fancy meal while in Paris. I had this salmon with rice that was served with this amazing sauce. I want to eat that forever. Then we went to the back of the Eiffel Tower to watch the big USA England game on a big screen. It was crazy putting together the idea of sitting behind the Eiffel Tower surrounded by people drinking wine and eating baguettes while watching one of the most anticipated games of the World Cup. We couldn't go into the main area with our food and drinks so we stayed outside the gate but it was still an experience. I was really happy with the score, even though we got a bit lucky with Green's mistake. Most supporters were American but there was a huge American England fight in the main area that broke out in the middle of the game. I thought the French didn't like America, but turns out they don't like England even more. Also of note: the Eiffel Tower sparkles for 5 minutes every hour. Originally the bulbs were put in for the new millenium and they were only supposed to last a year. But after the response they put in 10 year bulbs which will be ending soon. Just another fun fact from the bike tour. Anyways I'm heading to Mexican food now but I'll try and read over later to see if I missed anything. Au Revoir!!

PS That's basically it. and update on trips: Munich is out and I will be staying in Berlin until the 11th then I found a cheap trip to Milan. PS is 30 pounds less or more than my baggage? Cause I'm afraid my bag will be too heavy for Ryannair when it's all set and done. aw enough worry. Good night!

1 comment:

  1. Aww! Reading your Paris post makes me miss that city so much! I can't wait to go back too...we'll have to compare stories and memories once you get home. Love reading about your travels...keep on having a blast!