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paris: day 5.

My second day on my own was ironically the one I spent the most time lost. My first stop was going to be the Opera, but I got distracted by the famous Galeries Lafayette department store. And once I found my way out again, I was in a more expensive part of town and felt very out of place. Eventually, after wandering too far and getting turning around, I found the Opera. Unfortunately they were preparing for an opera (I think) and everything but the front facade was covered and the front had tons of delivery trucks so it was monumentally disappointing.

Next up was to find the Holocaust Memorial. This proved quite difficult as the metro stop I got off confused me and it took me about an hour to find it, and even when I did, it’s quite small and unassuming that I literally just stumbled upon it. The security was the tightest I’ve seen, even more than the Louvre. But I spent a good amount of time there enjoying the exhibition in the basement (and feeling when the metro trains went by) although most of it was in French.

The plan was to meet the Harringtons for dinner at the Notre Dame metro stop, but I got there about 3 hours early. Thankfully I found Shakespeare and Company, which was the first English bookstore in Paris. It is an awesome place of wall to wall, floor to ceiling books. Upstairs there are a few seats for reading and I parked myself there until it was time for dinner.

We ate at a Fondue restaurant, not far from Notre Dame. It was definitely a very French experience, and was great fun. I thought the night would end there, but Michael took me to the next suburb over to a jazz jam session! It was awesome. Michael played drums on a couple songs and I even got to see a jazz harmonica player and jazz flautist! Good day indeed.

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paris: day 4

My first day on my own.

Bus to the train station > train with one connection > the Eiffel Tower.

It was pretty stinking awesome. I decided to climb the stairs because the line was about a hundred times shorter. 360 steps later I arrived at the first floor. Circling it, I didn’t think it could get any better, but it could. 360 more steps later the second floor and it’s amazing views left me in awe. Then after a good bit of a wait, the elevator took me to the summit. It had just started to rain, so the views weren’t as good as they could be, but they were still amazing. I loved it. After climbing down I got a crepe (ordered it in French!) and walked in the gardens and saw some other sites.

Metro > connection 1 > check out Les Invalides > metro > connection 2 > Concord

Concorde Square is where the oldest monument in Paris stands. It was also the site where hundreds were beheaded before the Revolution. It also is at the tail end of the Champs-Élysées, with the Arc de Triomphe at the other end.

Climbing the Arc was definitely the best thing I’ve done yet. The views and watching the traffic around the roundabout were really cool. And the prices at the gift shop weren’t outrageous, maybe cause they are three quarters of the way up and they figured you’ve already paid a little.

metro > RER train > switch lines > bus ride home: success!

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paris: day 3.

The first Sunday of every month a lot of the museums in Paris have free admission. We took advantage of a couple of them. First, Joe Joe and I hit up the highlights in the Louvre, including Winged Victory, Venus di Milo, The Wedding Feast of Cana, and of course… the Mona Lisa. It was the most underwhelming and disappointing thing I’ve ever seen. Completely stupid.

Anyway, the Louvre it self is a maze. The pyramid thing is really cool, but the rest of the museum is impossible without a map and improbable with one. Thankfully Joe Joe knew it somewhat.

Then we hit up the Champs-Élysées, which is the most popular street in France. There we met the boys and went to a 2-story McDonalds, where the food and the restaurant in general is better than America (in my opinion). After lunch, Michael and I crossed under the massive roundabout to the Arc de Triomph. We didn’t climb it though, and I decided to climb it another day.

Joe Joe and I then went to the Musée d’Orsay, which has a lot of impressionists paintings including Van Gogh and Monet. I really liked it here, especially cause Joe Joe loves her Impressionism and told me about a lot of them. At that point we were exhausted and heading home for Bengals football and an early bedtime.

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Paris: day 1 and 2.

Determined to keep my busy (and hence, awake), we took the bus and metro into Paris and headed straight for the Notre Dame. Coming up from the metro station and experiencing the city for the first time was awe-inspiring. Joe Joe and I went up in the towers and saw the main belfry, and it was amazing. I touched the gargoyles!

We then walked around the Latin Quarter and got a crepe with Nutella and bananas – yum! After a lot of walking and taking in the city, we headed back to the ‘burbs and had for dinner – wait for it – pizza hut. Michael did have me eat some goat cheese, though. After some visiting, I gladly hit the sack after being awake 37 hours.

Saturday morning sent all of us into the city to experience Sacré-Coeur. Although it was raining and we had a stroller, it was utterly amazing. To get off the metro, look up the road and see this monstrous hill with this huge church is break-taking.

After Joe Joe and I continued on and had lunch at a French cafe. It was my first time to order in French and have French food. That’s right – I ate French food. Take that, haters. We then did a little shopping and took the metro to the Pantheon. When we arrived we were pleased to find the sun had come out so we walked through the Luxemburg gardens. I’m glad I’m here in the fall to see things like that while the leaves are changing.

And then we rounded a corner and there it was – the Pantheon. I must say having Joe Joe with me made me enjoy it so much more because she was able to read the amazing history to me (everything was in French, which stinks for most American tourists). After a few hours we headed home, and are now watching the UK football game! Later tonight Michael and I are heading back to the city for Nuit Blanche (White Night) which is a yearly celebration of art and culture that goes all night. We are expecting crazy and weird things. I’m excited. Au revoir!

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Paris: arriving.

After an uneventful flight from Cincinnati to Charlotte and layover in Charlotte (MUCH better than my other experience in Charlotte…. but that’s another story…), I boarded my plane to Charles de Gaulle airport around 5pm EST. I knew I was going to have to sleep most of the flight and stay awake the entire next day upon arriving in France in order to avoid jetlag, but the necessity of the situation got to me. I took two Benadryl upon boarding and was horribly sleepy through dinner. I then slept on and off for about an hour. I thought we’d be halfway across the ocean by then, but we still had 5 hours to go. I then unsuccessfully tried to get comfortable enough to fall asleep for the next 3 hours. I then decided to just watch a movie until we landed at 6:30 am Paris (12:30 am EST).

Working my way through the airport, immigration, and baggage claim was interesting, but nothing to call home about. After I exited and scoured the terminal for Michael, I met a man who saw my BCM shirt and struck up a conversation with me. His son goes to UoL (pity), and he kept me company for the next hour as we both waited for our rides, who were stuck in traffic.

Then Michael and I began the 90 minute trek from the airport (north east of Paris) to their apartment in Massy (south west of Paris). He took me for my first Parisian patry experience and got me settled in the apartment. It’s amazing what a shower and fresh set of clothes does for you. Its currently 5am EST and I’m still going.

I’m eagerly awaiting Joe Joe and Sawyer’s return from school in about an hour and then we head into the city for the rest of the day!

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