Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Paris ≠ J'adore, C'est la Vie.

Well, as most of you have figured out, much has happened since my last post. I was excited to be finished with my final paper and to be off to romantic Paris. I came back and quite unfortunately, disappointed and angry. The looming cloud over my head has finally dissipated but since this blog is an honest account of my time abroad, I need to revisit those awful emotions again. So I will divide this blog up into 2 different days at a time so that it will maybe be easier on your eyes. I will, however, leave one pretty big situation out of this blog for certain reasons. It was a pretty upsetting one, but I don't feel it is appropriate to post here... hope you don't mind. But without further ado...

The trip to Luton airport Wednesday night went by pretty fast since I was pretty anxious. We left the pub in Brighton at around 7:00 pm after a friendly meal with our tutor and made it back to campus by 7:45 pm. My company consisted of a classmate who shall go unnamed. We went to his room to gather up his duffle bag, last minute directions, and refreshments for the trip. I caught myself acting like a mom when I had him check for his passport (which he would have left had I not reminded him), tickets for the train, and confirmations for the flight as well as the hotel. I just wanted to make sure I wouldn't be traveling alone or have a companion stranded and confused about what to do.

Well we headed off, took a train for about an hour and a half as well as a bus to the airport. After that we attempted sleeping from 12:00 - 4:30, which went unsuccessful since I was anxious about missing our flight. Basically, I got no sleep all the way to Paris, but I didn't mind. I was excited and too filled with feelings of responsibility. My classmate was constantly falling asleep and I had some natural instinct to stay awake for the both of us.

Day 1
We made it safely to our hotel with the kind help of an elderly French woman, and I knocked out for an hour before taking a shower. It wasn't long before I got a really upsetting phone call and had to go down to deal with it. (This is the part that I'm going to leave out.) After that situation, I was completely upset that my classmate suggested we go out to blow some steam off. Our first stop? The Arc de Triomphe. Getting there was pretty easy. I quickly realized that much of Paris smells like Pee and is pretty shady-- even where all the tourist attractions are. Aside from all that, however, the Arc was absolutely amazing. It's in the center of a roundabout and it automatically commands attention and authority. Perhaps more than the Eiffel Tower. We walked beneath it and looked at the amazing carvings and took a few snapshots. We then headed back to the metro station to get to the Eiffel Tower and get some crepes.
It wasn't long before my classmate realized he carelessly placed his metro card worth 50 euros in his sweater pocket which could easily blow out in the wind. Why anyone would do that as a tourist, I don't know... but I was definitely more careful about something that small, light, and expensive as that. He started screaming uncontrollably in the station a few times which I awkwardly had to watch as other people gawked at us. He ended up buying a few more tickets that could only get you in certain parts of Paris for another 12 Euros (all the while making a scene at the machine as I gladly watched from afar). When we got to another station, he managed to buy the actual euro card. This time, his card was only 20 euros, which he boasted to me in the most nasty way possible and laughed at me "You got jipped!" That wasn't annoyingly rude or anything, but I just laughed it off and replied along the lines of "Yea, it's too bad. Although we both did need that card to get out of the airport." I was so tempted to remind him that he got the same card I did because we needed it, but something clicked in my mind and I found out his metro card wasn't going to allow him to go through all the zones in Paris. So again, he needed to head back to buy a different metro card. The 50 euro one. Oh, what the prideful get themselves into.

So altogether, he spent over 120 Euros just on travel purposes. Can you believe how crazy that is?? Whew. We finally made it near the Eiffel tower, got some chocolate crepes, took some pictures by the Eiffel and headed home. Heading home was difficult and annoying because my classmate kept wanting food but then changing his mind on whether to eat or not for a half hour, but we eventually made our way home.

Day 2
The next morning, I was excited for a new day. We woke up at 6:00 and got to the Notre Dame around 8:00. It was a beautiful site to behold from outside, especially as the sun was finally beginning to dawn on the building. There was no line when we got there and walked in easily.

I honestly wasn't expecting much out of this place, but by the time I had made my round around the entire bottom part of it, I was amazed and reminded of its history. I absolutely loved the gothic structure of the building, the chandeliers, and holy places along the sides of the cathedral.
Walking down the aisles and in the silence made me want to get on my knees and actually have a conversation with God about my struggling faith. That's how amazing this place was.
It was a truly amazing experience to walk around the Cathedral with very few people inside of it.

After walking out, we wandered around and my curiosity brought my attention to the bell towers. Hate me for this, but I was thinking of the Disney movie and wondering what the bell towers looked like. Could we actually make our way up there? I was expecting more than just the bottom of the Cathedral (which I was expecting to be bigger from my preconceptions). It turned out we could actually walk up the bell tower. We waited for a half hour for them to allow us to walk in. For security reasons, they only let 20 people through every 10 minutes. We walked al the way up. All 400 steps, which my companion noted to me several times but didn't remember saying it.

We saw "Emmanuel," the biggest bell in the tower. It was absolutely amazing to take a gander at. Every time I see something so old and historical, I can't believe I am looking at something from a long distant past. You know it's good when the things you look at make you ponder what living in those times would be like.
The entire time going up and down the tower and even during lunch, my classmate continually reiterated the plans for the day and changing them as he saw fit. It got quite annoying and I just went along with his string of tangents; I learned to tune him out after a few hours. Getting to the Louvre was even more frustrating. "Sortie" means exit in French and there are signs in big bold letters-- you just can't miss it. Then there's the entrance where you have machines to swipe your metro card, which clearly is the way to the metro. Well, this guy didn't know which way to go, so I just politely smiled and pointed in the direction of the machines without saying anything. He, on the other hand, spoke down to me as if I was an idiot and said I was going the wrong way, so we walked toward the exit incase for some magical reason he was right... literally 10 seconds into walking, he realized "Oh wait, it's where the machines are! This says the exit!" Then proceeded to make it my fault that we walked in the direction he wanted to even though I motioned toward the correct route in the first place. But to avoid conflict, I just walked in silence behind him.

I was so happy when we made it to the Louvre. This was a place where I could just walk in silence and not have to deal with any problems.

I didn't exactly want to speed through something that takes a day or more, but seeing as I only had 4 days, I needed to. We saw all the things you'd expect like the Venus de Milo, amazing French paintings, and amazing relics from ancient times.
We were meandering throughout the huge sections of the Louvre and among our first stops, we saw the Mona Lisa encased in a small gallery to one of the side rooms. It took a while to get to the front in a huge and tough crowd. I waited patiently and courteously, however. It wasn't worth getting hurt over or angry burning eyes on the back of my head. I eventually made it to the front, got some pictures, then looked at the painting for only but a few seconds before letting others have their turn. I'd hate to say this, but I think the painting is just a bit over-rated. Perhaps I'm not as cultured as I would think I am, but it really seemed like many of the other paintings. I mean, I saw other paintings where eyes followed me wherever I went. With the Mona Lisa, I didn't get to walk in front of her and pace around to see whether her eyes were actually magical and followed me. I guess that's why I didn't think much of the piece, but at least I saw it. If I ever go again, maybe I'll take another gaze into her eyes and rethink on my opinion.

We continued to trudge along the long halls and I fell in love with many of the sculptures including the ones of Athena, Artemis, and Diana since those are my favorite deities of all time.

We saw many other things, but I think it's just one of those things you have to go and see for yourself. I can't exactly explain everything for something that takes a day or more to get through normally. All in all, I was impressed and so very satisfied with this part of the trip. We made it through the Louvre in about 4-5 hours! I think I had the legs of Zeus by the end of that day. Walking up 400 steps and probably another 500+ more from the Louvre.

We got back to our hotel hungry like lions. We got directions to places to eat, but my classmate wouldn't listen to me... so I just followed him. The stubborn guy really just thought I was full of lies or really incompetent. Maybe both. So we went back, asked for directions again, and then he realized he was wrong. When he figured out I was right, he called me a jerk, even though I didn't say anything... Sometimes, I wonder how trips can turn out so annoyingly terrible when you're just taking the backseat and kindly letting everyone run the show just to avoid conflict...

Anyway, that's my blog for the first two days of Paris. :) And, if you're curious about that person reading this blog, I've taken all measures to make sure this won't be seen.


  1. What the hell??? This guy is ridiculous! Was it just you and him? You should've just ditched would've much more enjoyed Paris and being a very competent person, would've found your way around just fine, save yourself time, AND not feel bad all the time. I'm sorry the dillhole made your time miserable =(

  2. Yea, unfortunately it was just us two. The other people who were supposed to come either didn't get enough money in time or were staying with their relatives in Pairs.
    Everyone I've talked to has said the same thing about ditching him, haha. I really should have, but it's so not in my nature to do something like that :( Sometimes, I wish I just had the guts to put my foot down when it comes to what I want. :/ It gets worse, too, but I'll have to update on that later (tonight probably).