Sunday, June 01, 2008

June 1 - Paris


I have dreamed since I was a little girl about going to Paris. About the Eiffel tower and all it's romance, the city of lights, the city of love. But somehow reality never lives up to the dream and that was the fate of Paris.

We woke up at a ghastly 4am to catch the train to Paris. We had just a few hours to tour the city and we wanted to make the most of it.
May I say that the train was the best form of transportation I have ever been in. I think we were in business class, but still, it was so clean and comfortable and they served us a really good breakfast. If I ever get back to Europe, I'm going everywhere by train.

Of course, the worse part about Paris are the French. I'm not one of those 'freedom' fries kind of people, but honestly, the French need to chill out a bit. I know very little French and tried to use that as much as possible and be polite and not come off as a "Stupid American". But some people can't be pleased. I was trying to buy a piece of gum at the station and the lady was chattering away in French. I asked her "Parlez vous anglais?" and she rolled her eyes and sighed heavily and then replied in English to me. I'm sorry I'm not fluent in French. Please forgive me and my stupid education. But thankfully, she was the only really rude person I ran into during my short time in the country.

First stop into Paris was of course the Eiffel Tower. And it was everything I dreamed it to be.
The only problem was that we didn't get to stay there long enough. I could have spent a whole day looking out at the city and then having coffee at one of the cafe's inside. The tower is supposed to be (in my mind) a romantic experience. The problem is, you can't get very romantic with your inlaws standing next to you. I don't fault them, it just changed what I thought my first visit would be. But the views were great.

After the Eiffel Tower we had just enough time to see Notre Dame. But because of time we had to do a rush through tour. On the way we stopped at a cafe and I got some crepes (yummiest thing ever) and bought a beret from a sidewalk vendor. And yes, I wore it. How can you not have a real live french beret and then not wear it?
We barely scratched the surface of Notre Dame. Just enough to take a few pictures and hang out for a bit in the gardens.

And then we had to bit adieu to Paris. A very brief 4 hour visit. I hope I can return someday and give it more time. We didn't even get to the Louvre or Arc D'Triomphe.

The train ride back was better than the train ride up. They served us a nice dinner with complimentary wine and champagne (Yay french!). If your glass was even partly empty they would come by and fill it back up without asking.
We had a good share of alcohol and probably acted more like stupid loud Americans than we had the whole trip.
We realized that business class actually meant that because we were surrounded by people in suits and working feverishly on laptops. And here we were, foriegn tourists acting like fools.
Oh well. We had a good time.

It was our last night and I had one last thing I had to do before I could go home to America.
Our train let us out at King's Cross station and for any Potterheads out there, you know what I had to do.
I couldn't find it at first probably because I'm a muggle and have no business looking for it, but I asked a station worker and he pointed me in the right direction. And there it was, Platform 9 3/4. The way into Hogwarts for all you non-Harry Potter fans.

Earlier in the week I had run across a Hog's head pub, and found Charing Cross road (and what I suspect is the hidden entry into the Leaky Cauldron, but of course, I can't see it, because I'm a muggle) but Platform 9 3/4 is the climax.

And so concludes our whirlwind but wonderful European vacation. Another 12 hours on a plane and we are home.

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