Thursday, September 12, 2013

Birthday in Paris

A 4:00am wake-up call does not sound particularly enjoyable; but when you are with your friends and are waking up to catch a train to Paris, a 4:00am wake-up call cannot come soon enough. After waking, the four of us soon found our way to the London train station, grabbed a bite to eat, and waited to board our Euro star train. The train was nothing fancy, but we were able to go take it under the English Chunnel. You don’t really realize that you are under a major waterway besides the few obvious clues such as the beautiful English countryside view from your window disappearing into darkness and your ears aching from a slight pressure change within the train.

Packed and Ready to head to Paris via London

When we arrived in Paris it was pouring rain. We braved the weather and, with our suitcases in hand, took off for the hotel. I’m just going to say it…we got lost. We are wandering around Paris looking for our hotel, lunging our luggage around in the rain. Needless to say, all of our clothes and belongings became drenched. Eventually we ran into some students who are apart of the Gonzaga-in-Florence program that were able to point us in the right direction. Turns out, the metro that we had taken from the train station had delivered us a block away from our hotel. I believe sleep deprivation, excitement, and external conditions are to blame for our confusion.

Opening Tour is offered by Gonzaga-in-Florence for all of its’ fall semester students. This is a time to see and become educated about some key places in Europe, bond with other students studying abroad, and become introduced to the European way of life. This fall, Opening Tour began in Paris.

Maddy, Sam, Courtney, and I all met up with the rest of the Gonzaga-in-Florence students who are studying abroad, at Hotel Concorde Montparnasse. I met my new roommate for the time we will be spending in Paris, Mattie, who is journalism major at Marquette University. We seem to have a lot in common and it was great getting to meet someone from another university.

The day that we arrived in Paris, I turned 21. Talk about having one of the best 21st birthdays, ever! We had a GIF (Gonzaga-in-Florence) group dinner, and then Courtney and I walked down to the Eiffel Tower to see it lit up at night. After, we went out for drinks with a few friends at a local bar and had a great time just enjoying each other’s company. It was also fun getting to interact with some of the locals. I definitely did not have the traditional, American 21st birthday experience, but who am I to complain….I got to spend it in Paris with friends!

The Eiffel Tower

Quick "selfie" shot with the Eiffel Tower 

The morning of our first full day in Paris, most of the students went on a three-hour bus tour that took us around the city. Similar to the bus tour we took in London, it was an excellent way to get to see a majority of the city and gage what places and attractions would be fun to return to.

A cute market that we passed on the bus tour

Miranda and Mary enjoying their tour :)

Sam and I

A pretty view that we passed on the bus tour

L'arc de Triomphe (quick fyi: photo was taken while sitting in the bus)


Myself, Mary, Miranda, and Sam in front of the Eiffel Tower
(The skies were beginning to clear up for us!)

After the bus tour, some friends and I ventured to this local crêperie. Our experience was not as enjoyable as we had hoped. …It was definitely interesting if anything else. There was some sort of meat on my plate that was grey in color and looked similar to an onion ring, which you could pull apart. It also smelt kind of bad. But we would not allow this culinary experience effect the rest of our day out in the city. We soon wandered around towards the L’arc de Triomphe, then returned back to the hotel where I preceded to take a nap that lasted well into the next morning.

Arc de Triomphe de L'Étoile

Rectifying our prior crêpe experience (Nutella and Banana)

Feeling refreshed and ready to go, a group of friends and myself made our way down to the Luxembourg Gardens, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Key Bridge (where couples from around the world come to place a lock on the bridge to symbolize their love), Shakespeare & Co. Bookstore (a small, English bookstore that is run by young writers who are traveling the world), Moulin Rouge, and Sacré-Coeur. For dinner we met up with the school and when to Restaurant La Coupole for dinner.

Sam, Courtney, Myself, and Clara at the Gardens

Luxembourg Gardens and Palace
The girls outside of Notre-Dame

Keys from the Love Lock Bridge

Courtney and I 

View from the top 

Clara and I infront of Moulin Rouge

Annika, Kelly, Courntey, Sam and I all finished our trip off with a bottle of champagne under the Eiffel Tour. It was simply magical.

Champagne and a sparkly view... Au revoir!

Although Paris is a fairly small city that can be explored by foot, I would love to come back to be able to see even more of it, such as the Louvre, the Palace of Versailles, and the Musée d’Orsay.

Now, off to Strasbourg!

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