But first: Edinburgh pictures are finally up - they are buried under the "this weekend" ones. Definitely had a fun Thursday night last week. We went to everyone’s favorite place of tomfoolery and lowered expectations, O’Neill’s! Before we left, Ellen, Laura, Liz, Jenna, Traci and I killed off numerous bottles of wine and had an impromptu dance party. Then we hit up O’Neill’s and had a stereotypical O’Neill’s kind of night…I won’t tell you what that entails.
I had been considering going to Oxford on Friday, but the weather was kind of weird so I stayed in the city. Traci, Ellen and I went to Chinatown for lunch and had some excellent food. Since Chinatown is right next to Leicester Square, we went and bought tickets for Les Mis that night!! Ellen, Billy, Liz, Laura, Traci and I went and it was, of course, really really good.
Saturday we got up and made it to St. Pancras and were off to Paris! Jenna, Laura, Ellen, Traci, Liz and I took the Eurostar/Chunnel, and it took about 2 hours to get there. You’re actually only underwater for 20 minutes. And oddly enough, my ears barely popped…they popped a lot more when we went under regular tunnels. Weird. Any ideas as to why that is? Chunnel experts out there?
So we got into Paris (Gare du Nord) around 11:30 and went across the street to a café for lunch! After some pizza and water and map-studying, we walked to the Sacre Coeur. We were accosted by the dudes trying to sell you friendship bracelets and steal your stuff, as is tradition, then walked up allllllll those stairs and took in our first views of the city. It was really pretty. After we walked down we navigated the metro and found our hotel!
We stayed at the Best Western Etoile Friedland Champs-Elysees, which was the same place that I stayed with my parents when we came for Thanksgiving my senior year of high school! It was a really great little place. We threw our bags down and walked up the road to the Arc De Triumph, took some pictures, then walked the entire length of the Champs Elysees, through the Tuillerie Gardens and spent some time in the Louvre! We saw the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and of course lots of other beautiful pieces of art! After the Louvre, we got back on the metro and went to the Eiffel Tower.
The line took a really long time to get through, but finally we were on our way up. You have to change elevators on the 2nd level, so we got off and took some pictures there. That level is roughly 400 feet up. Then we got in another line to go to the very top, which was about 900 feet up! The elevator ride was the only part that got to me…it’s the same feeling you get when you’re going up those theme park rides…which I suppose isn’t the feeling you want. It was a bit unsettling but exciting at the same time. Once we got up though and walked around I forgot all about how high up we were. The views were absolutely amazing, and I was able to spot all the things I had visited that day, and then all the things we were doing the next day!
After we got back down on the ground we walked to this really nice Italian place for dinner. It was kind of expensive, but it was really nice to sit, order a bottle of wine to share, eat some deliciously decadent pasta and just relax after a long day of traveling and walking. After dinner we walked back to the Eiffel Tower – along the way we passed by the (unofficial) Princess Diana memorial, which is over the tunnel where the accident happened. The flame statue was actually a memorial to symbolize the French-American friendship – it is supposed to be the replica of the flame of the Statue of Liberty. But since the accident happened right underneath it, people started leaving flowers and other things there, so it has become the unofficial memorial for Diana. I remember seeing it last time, and this time was still just as moving. It was just so crazy to think that we were standing in the spot where this insanely awful thing had happened.
We walked back along the Seine towards the Tower and it was dusk by the time we got underneath it again, so we got to see it light up and sparkle. Apparently French people don’t like that, but we being tourists loved it! We got some soft serve and just stood and gazed up at the blue-lit Eiffel Tower for a while. We walked back to our hotel and crashed! It was such a long day filled with excellent tourism, and it definitely wore us out.
Since Ellen and Traci had a different hotel, we met up at a neutral metro stop Sunday morning. We went to a café and had crepes and café au lait. Very French and VERY delicious. After breakfast we rounded the corner…and went to a pastry shop and got more French deliciousness. I got an almond chocolate croissant and it was possibly the most amazing thing I’ve ever eaten. After our two breakfasts we hopped in line to go visit the Catacombs! They were pretty cool, and as you can see from the pictures…kind of eerie! (Side note: it was fun to think that in our weekend, we had been to the very top of Paris, and the very bottom!) After the catacombs we took the metro again over to Notre Dame! We walked around inside then did a little touristy shopping, then ate lunch at a little café nearby. We got Croque Monsieurs and frites, it was SO GOOD. After lunch we had to head back to the train station to head home, unfortunately.
It was a really great trip but I was definitely happy to be back in London. I know approximately 5 words and 2 phrases in French, so I felt a little lost – even though we were only there for two days. But Paris is an incredibly beautiful city and I would love to go again. After I learn some French.
As if this blog post isn't long enough...tonight was a lot of fun too. Ellen, Liz, Jenna, Laura, Sharon, Traci and I went out to Wagamama for dinner because Ellen has to leave tomorrow to go home early to be with her dad when he has surgery. So we had dinner, then went to Sainsbury's and got more candy and ice cream than anyone should ever eat. We took it back to the apartment and all hung out in our room and watched Dodgeball and Family Guy. It was a really fun night.
And now, I'm tired as all get out. But I'm trying to not think about it too much because I want to make sure I squeeze the life out of every minute of this week, as it's my last one!