A Parisian Introduction (Europe Day 5)

Wednesday September 9th 2015

Our first morning in Paris, France began with a little traditional European breakfast downstairs in our hotel. The night before, I had noticed a plastic square  window (in place of a tile) on the floor of the lobby that allows you to see the tables below. It’s a little freaky at first but I guess it helps let light into the basement of a dining area.

I ate a peach, a pain au chocolat, some cheese, meats, and downed some orange juice. Pumped to explore country number 3, I threw on my jacket and climbed back upstairs to the lobby to meet up with our group. Once the last-minute breakfasters gulped their coffee, we stepped out into the chilled morning air.

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Once our shepherd, Kathy, shuffled everyone onto the tour bus, (she counted heads multiple times and ran back and forth from hotel to bus to obtain lost sheep), we set off to pick up our Parisian guide, Ms. Emmanuelle.

As we drove around the city, (and by drove, I mean we scooted and sat in traffic a lot), Emmanuelle gave us the lowdown on places to explore and historical buildings. We made a brief stop to walk through the Jardin du Luxembourg  and saw a little Statue of Liberty replica and the Luxembourg Palace. It’s amazing how dusty some pebbles can make your shoes.

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But the gardens were lovely and locals were sitting with their coffees and newspapers, enjoying the beautiful morning. We even saw some groups of school kids standing in circles throwing balls around. I’m not sure what game it was but I could have hidden somewhere amidst the laughter and people for awhile to read or write.

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Our next stop was the Eiffel Tower… well, sort of. We went out to that ledge tourists take pictures at and took pictures like tourists. Everyone has to have those experiences of being the annoying people snapping shots with monuments. I mean, pics or it didn’t happen, right?

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After the bus tour, the majority of our group went off to the Palace of Versailles. The rest of us broke into smaller groups. Amanda, Amber, Jenevie, Tamara, Emily, and I set off to find food. After circling around the Eiffel Tower and reaching our breaking point by the Musée du quai Branly, we wandered back to a café we passed earlier and went inside.

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The Brasserie de la Tour Eiffel was cute and picturesque. Jenevie suggested we all share the escargot appetizer. Most of the girls had never had it before so it was entertaining to watch the reactions. My snail absolutely refused to come out of its pesto-butter slippery shell. I ended up cracking the thing open.

After lunch, we went on a quest for macarons and literally ended up walking allover the place. I couldn’t even begin to tell you what streets we traipsed up and down- growing sweaty and a little frustrated. I remember the road named for Franklin D. Roosevelt and the statue of Benjamin Franklin. And there were posters of the Kennedys allover the city. (There was an photo exhibition going on). But honestly, the sun was out, we were getting hot, and the feet were starting to hurt.

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Eventually we surfaced on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees and came across the castle that was an Abercrombie & Fitch store. I’m not kidding. You can Google it for pictures. There was a gate and stone path leading to the entrance- not to mention that strong scent of air-conditioned cologne. But it was our saving grace! You see, with the help of a very shirtless (and American-sounding) model at that front gate, we found Ladurée.

{click here to read about Ladurée via my food blog}


After grabbing macarons, we walked up the end of the street and crossed over to take pictures of the Arc de Triomphe. There we ran into Nikki and Danyel. After we walked back down the hill to the stores, the girls did some shopping before we found our way to the metro.

And this is where I almost died. No, but really…

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First off, we had 9 stops to get through. Simple? Yes. Easy? Nope. Now if one were riding this said train through a desolated part of the world, it would probably be comfortable and scenic. When you are riding it through Paris, France during the peak of the afternoon? Not so much.

The train we climbed into was full BEFORE we even got on. We stretched ourselves in interesting ways to fill in the dead space between other peoples’ bodies. As is obvious, bodies generate heat and the word ‘cool’ has no purpose inside this metro car. And then some guy’s butt was in my face. Sometimes being short is rather unfortunate. This was one of those times.

So there we were, drenched in sweat, gripping whatever we could (not that it mattered, you couldn’t move) and praying the NINE stops wouldn’t take too long. Did I mention I’m claustrophobic?

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When I got back to the hotel, I collapsed on my cot and spent an hour alone, eating macarons. It was the best feeling in the world to not have a butt in my face. Whenever I’m having a bad day, I’ll recall that journey… Thanks for that life-changing experience, Paris. Thank you so much.


After some chill time (no Netflix… just literal introvert detox time), we were off to celebrate Jordan-Alan’s birthday! Yup, you heard right! Another birthday to celebrate in Paris!

We took “a short 20 minute walk” (in Kathy terms) that felt more like 30+ (as was verbalized by Karina) over the canal and through the sketchy part of town to an Algerian/Moroccan restaurant. Our group filed into the upstairs room and sprawled out at the three long tables.

After much deliberation, (and assistance from a customer who translated some of the menu and gave us the wifi password), buckets of couscous and vegetables appeared. They were topped off with meats and it was quite the feast. I had chicken with mine. It was the first real-food dinner I had in Europe and was pretty delicious!

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Following dinner, the majority of our group went off to see the Eiffel Tower. The NYC girls, Nadia, Kathy, and I spent the rest of the night chatting and sipping drinks by the canal. The weather was wonderful and the company was even better. Those girls know how to have a good time and make you laugh. It was the perfect conclusion to a second night in France.

CRCH



Our continued prayers go out to Paris and all those involved in the recent tragedy of 11/13/15. May God’s love be with you, always.
This post’s song is dedicated to all those victimized by the terrible events of this past month.

In the Sun | Aron Wright


#PrayforParis

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