Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bonjour, Paris!

Paris. The city of love, the city of lights, the city I was most excited to see on this trip.


Arriving here on a budget-friendly 7 hour overnight bus might not have been the height of glamour, nor was getting lost in Parisian Chinatown finding my hostel, but by God, I made it. We went immediately from the hostel to Disneyland Paris, because who needs sleep when you can have roller coasters?


I promptly got these sweet Minnie ears (clearly hoping to distract from the most hopeless bags under my eyes I ever have sported), and we hit the town. Highlights of DLP were the fun Halloween decorations (Europe doesn't go hard during the 2nd most wonderful time of the year, but Disney sure does), some taste-of-home Ben & Jerry's sorbet, finding fun Disneyland Paris secrets (like the sleeping animatronic dragon under the castle!), the Phantom of the Opera-inspired Phantom Manor, the surprisingly intense Space Mountain 2, and the horrifyingly incomprehensible French Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

MEGA highlights included meeting the illustrious tri-lingual Jack Sparrow (I made my poor friends wait in line for like half an hour, BUT IT WAS ALL WORTH IT)

(I don't remember the last time a worse picture of me has been taken, but hey, we're all mermaids)

And the 20th Anniversary light show on Aurora's castle at the end of the day. I have never seen something so technologically impressive in my life. The story is that Peter Pan has lost his shadow, and he needs to chase it throughout various Disney movies. The entire castle was transformed into a movie screen/fireworks foreground/pyrotechnics hub. They made the facade into a waterfall, the city of Paris, and the jungle, among other things. All of my old (Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, Jungle Book) and new (Ratatouille, Princess and the Frog, TANGLED!!) faves were represented. Tears may or may not have been had during the lantern scene and rendition of "I See the Light" with the famous kisses montage. I'll never tell.

(Here we are in front of the unlit castle, which was still pretty impressive. Being a giant is rough sometimes).

I caught some flack for deciding to take a day out of Paris to go to Disneyland, but honestly, it was a no brainer for me. If you know anything about me, you know that I'm a big Disney/amusement park fan, and I've never really gotten a proper day at a Disney park. The girls and I have been planning this trip for about a year and, barring some mishaps with the Parisian Metro system (what is it with me and trains? Thanks for the help, kind French mother and flower vendor), it was essentially flawless. I never knew how easy it was for four 20 year olds to conquer Disneyland!

We promptly collapsed, then woke up the next day to find some Parisian bargains. Shopping and a long, lingering lunch at a Parisian cafe was just what we needed to rejuvenate. As a bonus prize, we found a Starbucks serving PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES!! (This is important because pumpkin flavored things in Europe are elusive to the point of not existing anywhere, ever. They are missing out).

(My French name. My second barista got it right, and pronounced it "ah-knee," which is how I now demand everyone pronounce it).

That night, we saw the Eiffel Tower (!!!!) Our lovely hostel employee told us the best stop (not under the Tower, but nearby it), and the sight of it lit up against the night sky hit me like a ton of bricks. I literally had to catch my breath.


Also, it sparkles every half hour, if the sight of it alone doesn't do it for you. We had a lovely dinner at a French cafe down the street (I had the most amazing cheese plate...I will be dreaming about camembert forever....) then made our way up to the top. For October, it was unreasonably cold in Paris, and going to the top of an incredibly tall structure didn't help much.

The view, however, was breathtaking. It was like a dream.

The next day, we took a free guided walking tour through the city. Our tour guide was an incredibly friendly and informative expat from NYC with a master's in French history. So we pretty much hit the jackpot as far as free tours go.



(The Quad and honorary members

declared our eternal love on the Love Lock Bridge)

We learned, we ate.


(This is my standard order at every American restaurant, and god do the French do it better. I will be dreaming about this for the rest of my days)

And then we went to Shakespeare and Company! It's one of the most famous bookstores in Europe, started by the brassy Sylvia Beach in the roaring 20's. It's meant to be a haven for Americans in Paris and for starving artists looking for a place to stay. Her original location played home to Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Stein and Man Ray, and the new location on the Left Bank has housed Ginsberg and Burroughs, among others. It's absolutely trembling with history, and as a bunch of writing majors, we knew it was a must-visit.

I got a sweet cover of This Side of Paradise, with the signature stamp. I was a happy camper.

Sunday's schedule included a jaunt to the Louvre (of course!)


Where we saw the Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory, and some nice Egyptian art.

And a trip to Europe's largest flea market, which we only saw like 1/10th of because we obviously don't know how to read signs and the neighborhood we were in was, as I described it to my travel writing professor, "the Bronx with a spritz of cheap French Perfume." Still, we got some good deals. A couple of members of the group were tired and wanted to head back to the hostel and chill out, but Lexie, Lindsay and I were off in search of good crepes. We decided to take an impromptu jaunt to a different stop on the Metro that was allegedly Montmartre, and we were so glad we did.


We saw the Sacre Couer, we saw an amazing view of the city, and we finally saw honest-to-goodness Midnight in Paris Paris, the Amelie Paris I had been dreaming about, with the winding cobblestone streets and the cafe tables on sidewalks. As my mother had warned me, some parts of Paris are better than others. I blithely ignored her, of course, but I had been underwhelmed by a lot of the neighborhoods we were walking around. But this...this was Paris. It was an amazing way to end the weekend.

I set a very high bar for Paris, and while it wasn't a flawless trips, there are moments I will remember forever. I can't wait to go back and do it right!










No comments :

Post a Comment