Sunday, November 9, 2014

Paris Inception

It's like a dream within a dream, but it's me, Paris, visiting Paris (see what I did there?!).

So, as you probably know (if you've been keeping up with my blog recently) this is my first trip outside the UK since moving over here for grad school. And boy, was it needed. I still can't wrap my brain around the fact that in Europe you can be on a train for an hour or two and be in a completely different country and culture than where you boarded the train. 

Thursday November 6

I got one bucket list item off of my list this weekend, I rode the Chunnel to Paris from London! It was very exciting, I was speeding through the English country side, then I fell asleep, and when I woke up I was speeding through the French country side. It is a very convenient way to travel though, especially now that flights are so stingy on EVERYTHING and busses take FOREVER. 

I did quite a bit of daydreaming out the window while training through France. It was obviously not England anymore. The landscape and buildings within the small towns were different than those in England (And my UK phone no longer had cell service). So of course, I do what every single girl does when she is in the French country side. I dream of the grey stone cottage I will someday have. I'd like it to be on a bit of land, not too much, just enough for a few hens and a dairy cow. I could plant a little garden and grow fresh fruits and vegetables, eat fresh eggs and churn my own butter (not an easy task). That's about as far as my dreaming went, but it was obviously circa when women wore bonnets and aprons around to do their chores. Mainly, I was dreaming of a simpler life.

Then, the train arrived in Paris, shoving any daydream of a slow and quiet life quickly out of my mind. I thought my time in Paris would be painful on my heart, my last experience in Paris was the most romantic one I've ever had. However, I loved getting off the train and waltzing through the city like I own the place, I mean, I basically do, my name is on literally everything. 

So, I dropped off my things and headed straight the the Iron Lady. (BIG HUGE shout out to my friend Amy for letting me crash at her place for a long weekend!)

This is what happens when your mom asks you to send her a selfie and you're in a crowd of tourists and trying to be conspicuous... however, I don't know if I would necessarily dub it a selfie fail..?

Then I walked along the Seine to the Tuileries and toured the Musee de l'Orangerie. I might have to do a separate post on the art I saw this weekend, because, oh my.

An eye-catching installation in the Tuileries 
Musee de l'Orangerie!!!

Then, after experiencing the FABULOUS Monets I went straight to the Musee d'Orsay. Which, is a very large museum, but it has a magnificent collection. It's probably good I went by myself, because if someone came with me they would've been super freaked out by my art nerdiness. 

View on my walk to the Musee d'Orsay, Paris during the golden hour!
The Orsay is a fabulous space (as is the Orangerie). The building is architectually stunning and the layout of the museum is rather interesting. I have this fantasy that I will one day meet a cute guy in an art museum. We will be looking at the same artwork and it'll be the cliche guy-saw-girl type story. I was thinking the Orsay would be the absolute greatest place for this to happen, but it didn't. So. Back to reality. Actually, fun fact, I've never actually dated anyone who really appreciated art, I don't know how that keeps happening. 

So, after I was done at the Orsay, my phone was at 6% battery and I was still a 45 min walk from the hotel and passed by many a photo opportunity.

Don't worry, still managed to snap this bad boy
Thankfully my phone didn't decide to die until I was in the hotel elevator. Then I went out for pizza around the corner with Amy and one of her coworkers. And that concludes my first night in Paris, besides trying to figure out Friday's schedule (so much to see, so little time). 

Friday November 7

I started the day off a little later than I planned. Staying up late the night before had me dragging to get myself out of bed by 9:45. Then when I was ready to head out and about I had a last minute freak out session over the the fact that I can't speak French. So I didn't get out the door until around 11:30. 

I went straight to the Arc de Triomphe (it was on my way)

I literally popped out of the metro to snag this pic then ducked right back in to catch the next train.
and then headed up to the Sacre-Coeur in Montmartre.

It's a long steep trek up to this guy, but totally worth it!

I walked through the Sacre-Coeur and then watched a group of three guys sing outside the basilica for 20 min or so (their name is Les Presteej, and from what I can gather they were on the x-factor!). When they were packing up to leave I bought their CD, so now I have some rad local French music!! I wandered around Montmartre for the next hour, not in any particular direction, and came across the square where back in the day some famous artists such as Van Gogh and Picasso ruled.

Today, artists still paint here. Mainly its a tourist trap, but there are some actual artists who are trying to make a living and create amazing works!
Once I wandered back down the hill I found the nearest metro and sped off to the Notre Dame.

Notre Dame selfie say hey!! This was also taken because my mom texted me "where are you today?"
I sat outside for a while and munched on a granonla bar. Then I found the Shoah Holocaust Memorial (Shoah means calamity or tragedy in Hebrew). And wow. It was very powerful and moving.

What interested me most was not the museum itself, but the fact that the area is under very tight surveillance. The entire area is surrounded by a barred metal gate, resembling a prison, but not to keep people in, to keep them out. Visitors have to enter through a side door which opens directly into the security screening, where bags and jackets are x-rayed. It is so sad to me that a people trying to remember a horrible and massive tragedy must still be on guard to antisemitism today.

These are the only pictures I snapped. I didn't know if I was allowed to take pictures and I wanted to default on the side of respecting the memorial. This is in the center of the courtyard, and is the first thing visitors see when walking into the complex. It can also be viewed from the street. It is a piece comparable to the chimneys seen within concentration camps. Listed on the piece are the names of the extermination or death camps, two of which I have visited, Dachau and Mauthausen. 

The Shoah focused on the Jews specifically in France during World War II. It looked at the progression of antisemitism predating, during, and after WWII. As always, these types of places take it out of me physically, mentally, and emotionally.
So, after I had spent quite a while within the Shoah's walls, I headed back to the hotel and Amy and I went out to dinner and gorged ourselves in crepes (Which is basically what I survived on this weekend).

Savory crepe perfection!
Walking through the city and along the Seine after our amazing meal, we ended up at the Eiffel Tower 7 minutes before the hour. So we watched it twinkle along with the other tourists. I don't think that would ever get old. 

It was a whirlwind of a day. Yesterday I walked everywhere and my feet were so sore, today I metroed everywhere and witnessed my first public display of urination, courtesy of a homeless man in the metro. I have already noticed so many differences between Paris and London. Both are amazing and have so much to offer. No offense Paris, but London is cleaner, smells less like urine and body odor, has the oyster card (which I now fully appreciate), has cleaner and newer modes of public transportation and.... that's all I got right now. Oh yeah, everyone speaks English! But there is no Eiffel Tower or Mansard rooflines and definitely no hopeless romantic feel, nor as good of food!!

Saturday November 8

Amy and I had been planning to go on a day trip outside the city on Saturday, and we finally settled on visiting Chateau Fontainebleau. My Home Furnishings professor from my senior year of undergrad would be so proud (she ALWAYS went on about ALL the houses and palaces we HAD to go see as SOON as physically possible). So, we headed out to the train station, our first obstacle of the day. 

Let me set the background.

Friday night we searched away on how the heck we were supposed to get to Chateau Fontainebleau. The two different sites we found were just helpful enough to give us a vague idea of what to do, so we were honestly just hoping to find the correct train, much less make the train. It wasn't on any of the rail maps we were looking at, which we took as a bad sign from the get-go.

Once at the station we actually bought tickets successfully (by ourselves) and then resorted to asking someone for help after wandering aimlessly around the station (we seriously had no clue where to go). Amazingly enough, we got to the right area of the station only 30 minutes before our train left, which was pure luck if you ask me. Then we hopped on the train, and thankfully no one came through to check tickets because we failed to validate them, a huge no-no of train travel (take a mental note all you soon-to-be world travelers!). 

We made the short 45 minute train ride and caught a bus that took us straight to the chateau.

Chateau Fontainebleau in all its glory!

It was amazing, as it always is, to see pictures from a text book come to life. Everything was larger than life and the colors were amazing.

The Throne Room 
What I have claimed as my own private library and study space, and, if we are being honest, future home
Amy caught me trying to open secret doors within the chateau, they were all locked (side note, has my new haircut always looked like a bowl cut from the side and I just didn't know?!)

The grounds were beautiful and we even saw a swan duke it out with a tourist's yappy dog, safe to say the swan won, they are terrifying beasts (if you disagree I have a rather scarring experience from my childhood that I would be more than happy to share). Amy and I both agreed that swans and dragons are not too distantly related. 

Perks of not adventuring alone: having someone to take pictures of you instead of resorting to the selfie, I seriously need a selfie stick, like yesterday

Once again, Amy caught me red-handed, this time attempting to take an artsy picture, which can be seen below... 
My attempt at an artsy (maybe even hipster?) picture
We ate a late lunch at a cafe and took the bus and train back to Paris (this time we validated our tickets!). Then we metroed to the Champs Elysees and waded through the swarms of tourists, because what else is there to do in Paris on a Saturday night?

Arc de Triomphe!!!
We walked and walked and walked, making it to the edge of the Touleries, where the square with the obelisk is located and where Marie Antoinette was beheaded. We went to the Opera House and to La Madeleine and then walked up and down streets until we found a place that sold macarons, don't ask how many I bought and then ate within 3 minutes.

La Madeleine
We found a cafe that suited us and ate a late dinner.

We felt VERY accomplished, mainly by the fact that we got to Chateau Fontainebleau successfully
On the way back to the hotel we got crepes to go and saw the Eiffel Tower glitter one last time, that's all a girl need in life right? A chocolate crepe in hand and a little bit of glitter. 

I am holding a nutella and banana crepe. Be still my heart.

Sunday November 9

Amy and I got up with the sun to head to the Eiffel Tower one last time before I had to catch the chunnel back to London. I wanted to take another jumping pic...

We didn't get much sleep the previous night and got up really early so the struggle was real, as you can see in the picture. Then Amy and I parted ways and I was off to the Eurostar.

Update: I somehow miraculously stayed awake the entire trip and was under the English Channel for approximately 22 minutes. The rest of the train ride was through the French and English countrysides. Coming back to England felt much more familiar than going to France, but coming back to London did not feel like coming home. Which I find rather interesting. In Italy I quickly felt at home in my apartment with my five other roommates, and felt so much more at ease after a long weekend away to get back to my Florence home. I don't know what is different this time around, maybe it's the fact that I don't have my own apartment but am instead living in dorm style housing (this is my best guess, I'm 23 for crying out loud, I'm over the whole dorm life, it's been done, I've moved on).

I'm going to give one last shout out to Amy. I loved seeing her this weekend and am so thankful that she shared her bed with me, put up with my indecisiveness when it came to choosing restaurants, and was up for whatever the weekend had in store for us (and mainly for talking boys and singleness with me).

The past year of my life has been a journey of coming to grips with my singleness. I needed to come to Paris this weekend and re-learn that I am confident in my singleness and confident in the fact that this is my life now and that I can and will live my dreams one day, weekend, city, and country at a time.

No comments :

Post a Comment