The Eiffel Tower
I just went to Paris by myself. How brave am I? I was nervous all week about going by myself but it was still something I really wanted to do. I thought it would be better to go by myself then with other people because I would be able to do what I wanted, when I wanted and not have to worry about the things that everyone else wanted to do. I could also go at my own pace. I was right. I had the best time by myself.
I left on Thursday after my business class. I got done at 2:30 so I went straight to the train station, and off to Paris.
The train did not get into Paris until after 8pm. I had thought about not going until early Friday morning, but I decided Thursday was better because that would give me 2 full days in Paris. After I got off the train I went to find my hotel. I think the Paris subway system is a mess. Many of my friends think it is good, but I have been in many subways all over Europe now and I have to say the Paris’s is the worst. I had to change trains 3 times to get to my hotel.
The Mulan Rouge
Luckily my hotel was in a wonderful location. It was about a 10 minute walk to the Paris Opera. The other great thing about the location was that it had 2 subway stops a half block in each direction.
It was a good hotel. I had a single room. It had a full size bed that was very comfortable, and a TV. The bathroom was very small, but I did not need a ton of space. It was very nice. I would stay there again, and I would recommend it to others. The only bad thing was that breakfast was not included and it was expensive. However, there were about 10 pastry shops all over the area.
So Friday morning I woke up and grabbed 2 pastries and an orange juice and went to the Eiffel Tower. I sat on a wall along the river and ate my pastries and just looked at the tower. It was beautiful. I had thought about going to the top, but the weather was not very good and the sign on the entrance said that visibility was very poor. It was very cold outside. The sky was filled with clouds, but it did not rain.
It sprinkled for about 5 minutes, but not enough to get anything wet. It was nice to just sit along the river and watch the people around the tower.
As I was sitting there I saw one of those double-decker busses that do the tours of the city. I had wanted to go on one, but I had no idea where to get on. So I watched it for a minute and it stopped next to the tower. So I bought a ticket and took a tour of the city. I sat on the top open deck even though it was very cold. I just put on m gloves and draped my coat on my legs. My sweater was enough to keep my top warm. My face got very cold but it was worth it.
I took as many pictures as I could. When I was eating my breakfast I noticed that I had very low battery power on my camera.
Then I realized that I had forgotten to bring my charger (when I got back to Strasbourg I found that I even left part of my charger in the United States and now have to wait for mom to come out and bring it with her). I was able to get pictures of everything I wanted to, but I would have taken more pictures of everything normally. Luckily I was able to get the essentials before it completely died on me.
Place De La Concord
The bus went all over the city. I saw the Louver, the Musee d’Orsay, the Opera, the Madeline, Notre Dame, and so much else. Once I am able to get my pictures I will send them to you. This tour is one of those tours that you can get on and off as much as you want. So I stayed on the bus until I had gone completely around, then I started to get off. The first place I got off at was Notre Dame.
It was beautiful. I went inside and took a little tour. I did not climb the tower because there was a very long line. I am very impatient and do not like lines. I wandered around the Ile de la Cite (where Notre Dame is located) for a while. They had some cute souvenir shops and so I did some shopping.
After that I wandered down the river for a ways until I found this cute little area that was full of restaurants and souvenir shops and the largest bookstore in Paris. I had lunch at this little pizza place. I sat and had pasta. The waiter kept watching me. I don’t like to eat by myself, people look at me weird. It was still nice though. The pasta was very good. After that I wandered some more along the roads where I found a Starbucks. So I got a hot chocolate to carry around with me.
I was very cold, so the hot chocolate was great.
It actually tasted better than any Starbucks hot chocolate I have ever had. I don’t normally like Starbucks. It was funny when I was ordering the drink because the guy taking my order could not figure out how to spell my name. It was very funny. He asked me what my name was and I said “Kim.” So he wrote something down and showed it to me and I tried to correct him but it was difficult. He tried to speak to me in English, and so I spelled it for him in English but he still did not get it. Then I spelled it for him in French, but I think he was still thinking in English. He had tried writing my name 5 different times before he just handed me the cup and pen. I wrote K-I-M, and he looked at it and went “Oh!! KEEM.” That is how my name is pronounced in French. I’s are pronounced as E’s. I don’t know why I did not even think of that because everyone here pronounces my name the French way. My host mom and all my teachers say it that way. I guess I am just used to them calling me that, and I don’t know it is not the same as Kim.
So with my hot chocolate in hand I walked along the river for a while because I really had no idea where I wanted to go.
Then I decided to check out the jarden de Touleries (the Touleries gardens). It is located between La Place de la Concord and the Louvre. I could see that in the right season this would be a pretty place to spend some time. It is not a garden so much as a forest. There are not many plants and flowers, but there are an abundance of trees. I could see it would be beautiful but at the time I was there, there was not a leaf to be seen. I sat down on a bench for a little while and listened to my music and watched all the people. Then I decided that I would like to see the Luxembourg gardens.
I searched on my map for a very long time for them, and it turns out that they are a little far away from the main city area. But I decided to go anyway. I got on the subway and made my way over there.
The gardens were beautiful. Even in the wrong season. There were huge bushes and the lawns were very green. The trees all had their leaves too. I think it will be even more beautiful in the spring when the flowers are blooming. I sat in the garden for about an hour. I really wish I had brought my book. It would have been nice to just sit there and read. It made me think that if I had been doing my study abroad in Paris I could have spent a lot of time in this garden doing homework. It was such a relaxing place.
Le Arc De Triomphe
Finely it was getting dark so I decided to head back. If I had had friends with me I might have gone out in the evening, but I do not particularly want to go to a club or bar by myself. It just did not seem like fun. So I stopped at a grocery store on the way back to the hotel and grabbed some food for dinner. I was back in my hotel by 7pm which seems a little pathetic, but it worked for me.
The next morning I started out as usual and got my pastries and orange juice and sat on this little bench near the pastry shop and just watched the people while I ate. Today I had decided to go to see the palace of Versailles. Little did I know that it would be a huge ordeal to get there. I think I spent most of the day lost. The way you get there is you take the RER (which is a kind of commuter train), but I was confused as to which train would take me there and what stop it was I was supposed to take. I finally asked a woman which train and she pointed me to the right platform. However, another train came before the one I was supposed to get on, and so I got on the wrong one. It was a very long time before I realized I was on the wrong train. Finally I got off and had to backtrack on another train until I got back to a stop that would let me get on a train going in the right direction.
So I got on another train, this time sure that it would be stopping at the right station. On the map it has a stop for the city of Versailles and a stop for the Chateau de Versailles, so I was going to get off at the second one because that was the palace. However the train never stopped there. I was so confused. The next stop was the last one for the train so I had to get off. I was so lost by this point that I was about to cry. So I went up to the desk where they sell tickets and asked to go to the Chateau de Versailles. She gave me the ticket but did not tell me where to go. So I am searching the map and can not figure it out and so I went back up to the lady to ask what train and what stop to get off at. She pointed me in the right direction and told me to get off at the city of Versailles and then switch trains to this other stop.
I got off at the city of Versailles and could not find the other train that was supposed to take me to the palace. So I went to the information desk to ask how to get to the palace. She whipped out a map and told me it was a 15 minute walk from there. I was about ready to pull my hair out. The walk was a very nice one though. It was a beautiful day, the complete opposite of the day before. There was not a cloud in the sky and the sun was out and I got to use my sunglasses. The city of Versailles is very cute. It is small and they had the cutest little shops.
The palace was amazing. The palace itself was almost exactly like I thought it would be, but the area surrounding it was not. There are shops and other buildings built right up along side the palace. I had thought that it would be secluded and a little bit out of the way of everything else. However, it still did not detract from the magnificence of the palace. I walked up the long drive and through the gates that the villagers had destroyed to get to Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI. I have no pictures of the palace because of my dead camera. I am very upset about that. I think what I am going to do is look them up on the internet and then save them to my computer with the rest of my pictures. No one but you guys ever has to know I did not actually take them.
I took an audio tour of the palace. It was amazing. I love audio tours because you can move at your own pace and you don’t have to strain yourself to hear what the tour guide is saying. I was a little bummed out with the hall of mirrors. It is the most famous room in the palace and half of it was under renovation. It was very disappointing. The inside of the palace is incredible. The decorations and the furniture were incredibly extravagant. I don’t know if I could live in a place that was this fancy, but the size would suit me very well.
After I took a tour of the palace I went out in the back and wandered through the gardens. They were absolutely amazing. I can’t even imagine what they would look like in the spring in full bloom. I wandered around the gardens on the upper level for a while and then moved down to the lower, bigger level. On the lower level there is this huge lake. Along the lake are more gardens. Now they have little restaurants and sandwich places. I bought a sandwich and a soda and sat along the lake. There were a lot of people sitting on the lake enjoying their lunch. I guess it is not so much a lake as a huge fountain. So there is this cement drop off and the water is about a foot or two beneath the top. I sat along the cement area and hung my feet over the edge and rested them on this little step. There were about a billion ducks and 2 swans. No one was feeding anything to them so I did not either. I did not see a sign saying that we couldn’t but I did not want to get in trouble.
The ducks were so funny to watch because they were begging for everyone’s food and playing with each other. The Swans were the spawn of satin. They were very pretty but one of them snapped at my foot when I would not give him some of my sandwich. After I finished eating I wandered around the gardens for a little while longer and then I headed back into the city of Versailles. I wandered around the city for a little while just to check it out. There is not really much to do there. It had some tourist shops but otherwise it was nothing spectacular. It was very cute though.
I went back to the train station to go back into Paris. I was so confused, again, about what train to take back to the main city. The only ones they had on the board were Paris Montparnasse. Montparnasse is the main business center. It has the only high rise in Paris. So I decided to just take this one. I get to the train station there and realize that they do not have a subway track anywhere near where we were let off. This was the train’s last stop too. I asked for directions and then ended up getting back on the same train and going back to where I started from. I got off at another station though. One that I knew was on the same track as the one that would take me into the main city. I got on another train and finally made it back into the city. Man had it been a long day. Good but long.
I got back into the city around 4pm, so I went back to the area where the Starbucks was because they had some cute shops around there. I got a crepe from a vendor and wandered around for a while. I never used to like crepes until I came to France. Now I love them. I think there is just something different about the way we make them and the way the French make them. I did some souvenir shopping and around 7pm I made my way back to my hotel.
The next morning I took my time getting ready and I watched some TV. Then I checked out of my hotel and went to the train station and back to Strasbourg. I had such a good weekend. I enjoyed going by myself. The only thing I did not like about being by myself is that I would have liked to go out in the evening to a bar with friends. It would have been nice to just hang out. But I am still glad that I did this.