Wednesday, July 15, 2015

J'aime Paris

On Monday while working in the vines, I just got this stir crazy feeling which grew into the idea of traveling to Paris that coming weekend. The plan stuck in my head and I found myself looking up transportation and travel tips that night. I then found out two other girls from my program were already planning on seeing Paris that weekend and then plans really began to take shape… I was to go to Paris Friday after work and return to Bordeaux Monday!

This trip was terrifying and exciting all at the same time. After many recommendations from my host family, I decided to take a Bla Bla car to and from Paris. Bla Bla car is basically uber for long distance travel. I signed up for my rides and messaged them to see where I was to meet them and just hoped I would be able to find them and go with it. Friday's ride went very well and I arrived in Paris around 9pm right outside my hostel. I was here alone until Saturday around 3 when my friends would get there. I checked into my 8 person room in the hostel (which I had all to myself Friday night but was full Saturday and Sunday night) and set out to explore a bit. The hostel was in a perfect location just minutes from the Louvre and the river. I just walked around and found some dinner (and of course ice cream). I wondered upon the river and I spent some time just sitting on the bank watching the sunset and seeing the city light up. I fell in love with the city right there and the love just continued to grow all weekend. After meandering around a little more and stumbling across the famous glass triangles of the Louvre, I headed back to the hostel and called it a night in preparation to get an early start the next morning!

Saturday morning after breakfast, I headed out into the streets of Paris with no particular goal other than to get lost and see what I stumble upon. It was amazing. I just walked and walked and when I found something cool I explored it. And when I found something that looked good to eat, I ate it. I was so content and felt so independent and just happy. I also ventured over to see Notre Dame and the love lock bridge which was pretty cool. After a wonderful morning, I headed back to the hostel for a quick nap and then to wait for my friends Navada and Kim to get here! From there we walked and saw some more sights… we started at the Louvre, walked through the park and up the big shopping street to the Arc de Triumph and ended up at the Eiffel Tower. From there we were all so hungry so we searched the surrounding neighborhoods for food and settled on takeout pasta and ice cream which we ate sitting underneath the Eiffel Tower. We sat there and watch the sunset. We also got some good people watching in and even with the relentless vendors coming up to us selling "beer, wine, Champagne, cigarettes" we were able to relax and enjoy the view. We also got a nice surprise that night when a 17 year old magician came up to us and, after assuring us that he was not asking for money and he just wanted to practice, entertained us with incredible magic tricks! We were all so amazed and he was so kind it just made our night. We took the metro back to the hostel because we were all very tired of walking and fell asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow.

Sunday morning we were up early to get a jump on the lines at the Catacombs… we were told that the line gets long very quickly which it did so going early was a very good move! After waiting about an hour and forty-five minutes, we were admitted to descend into the ground where we were greeted with an artistic display of the remains of 6 million deceased Parisians. It was really cool, in a grotesque way. We then found a café to buy sandwiches and pastries for lunch and took them to the Garden of Luxembourg for a picnic in front of the grand palace. It was such a beautiful park and filled with people lounging and eating everywhere you looked. We stayed there for almost 3 hours eating and lounging and people watching. We then continued our journey to the Notre Dame and love lock bridge so the other girls could see it. We stumbled upon some really cool street performers that were roller blading to swing music so we got an ice cream and sat and watched them. We ended that day with another dinner picnic back at the Eiffel Tower and stayed there to see it light up and sparkle. It was so amazing and all I could do is just sit there in awe of the beauty. I was so content and happy.

I ventured back to Bordeaux in another Bla Bla car Monday. It took us 7.5 hours to make it back to Bordeaux though because this car stopped every single hour so that the driver and one of the passengers could smoke. We also stopped and ate some awful lunch at a truck stop. But the passengers were nice and very good at English so that helped. After hearing why I was here, on of the passengers proceeded to say to me: "You must be crazy or brave or a little bit of both to come to a country where you don't know the language and hop in a car alone with complete strangers to spend a weekend in Paris." Upon thinking about that I guess that is kind of true… it was crazy and brave at the same time but I enjoyed it so much. And I know that this trip to Paris did have an impact on me that will effect me for years to come. I was so content by myself and I loved my independence. I did it all by myself and even loved every minute. It was a really cool weekend.

After my car finally got back to Bordeaux, Bre was waiting for me there so we could spend the day together! We had about 2 hours to see the city before our trains were to head out for home, so equipped with a map and a determination to see it all, we set out to be sprint tourists. We saw wonderful statues, amazing churches, and breathtaking palace squares. We ended the afternoon enjoying a glass of wine on a table outside because you cannot go to Bordeaux and not have wine! It was so nice to see Bre again to be able to catch up with her. I also know she really enjoyed the bit of time where she could speak English all the time considering her family does not speak much else than French. It was brief, but wonderful.

When I arrived home Monday night, Jackie took Lousia and I to see the fireworks for the 14th of July in the neighboring town. Tuesday, being a holiday, I got the full day off so I enjoyed it by sleeping in, going on a run, and sitting by the pool relaxing. I also was invited to go into St. Foy with Wilfred and the German from their German sister town they are currently hosting for a dinner with the delegation. I once again found myself in a new crowd of mixed cultures and languages that extends far beyond France. I sat across from this sweet German lady who after talking for the length of dinner, she gave me her address and phone number for the next time I come to visit Germany! I'll be keeping that one for sure! After dinner, we were treated to another fireworks show which I highly enjoyed.

It was an amazing weekend and I cannot believe I only have a little more than none week left! I am very excited to go home and get back to my family and friends there along with some of the food and costumes I really miss but also know I am going to miss the friends and family I have gained here. It's bitter sweet but I am trying to keep myself enjoying every single minute of life here and embrace everything that is thrown at me. Ce la vie.
night time view over the Seine River

the Louvre 

Notre Dame

Eiffel Tower at sunset

my new friends in the Catacombs

Night time Eiffel Tower

Bre and I take Bordeaux!

14th of July celebration

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