Thursday, April 30, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Hi guys! So I know I'm running a little late... very very late, but I still want to tell you guys all about Paris, and about my past weekend. I realize I'm not putting in enough day-to-day details, either. I'm a bad blogger : ( I went to Paris last weekend because I received a cash voucher from the airline I flew with from Frankfurt to Florence back in January, since I had to switch flights (mine was overbooked). So, I had 175 extra euros, which I used to pay for the entire flight, luckily. The unlucky part was that none of my roommates had the extra cash lying around, or had other plans for the weekend. Soooo since I wanted to go to Paris since French class in junior high, I decided to just go for it by myself! I was a little nervous, but it turned out fine, so in the end, I was actually pretty pleased with myself. I planned the entire trip, booked two different hostels, made thorough itineraries for each day (I flew out of Florence on a Wednesday, skipped my Thursday class, and flew back Monday morning... necessitating 5 nights), navigated the metro system, and managed not to spend an obscene amount of money. My first day was a travel day, since I had a layover in Munich, and I didn't get in til late. The next morning I had to walk to my next hostel, which was pretty confusing to get to. Walking the back streets of Montmartre was interesting, though, and I got there in about half an hour. The hostel was nice. There was a view of the Sacre Coeur from the terrace, which was right outside my room. The first night, my roommates were two older men who didn't speak English. But whatever. The first day, I forced myself to wake up at around 8 (quite early by my standards), had to go seek out a hardware store so I can get another damn converter (the italian one didn’t work), and ate free hostel breakfast consisting of coffee, apple juice (jus de pomme), and a single croissant. Then I had to pack up and navigate the streets to find my next hostel. After that, I got dressed and made my way a few blocks uphill to the Sacre-Coeur, a big white basilica on the top of
Montmartre (the village area of Paris I'm staying in) Hill. It was pretty. Then I walked down to the metro, bought a pack of tickets, and made my way (pretty
impressively skillfully) to the place I wanted to go.
Anyways, then I was at the Place de la Concorde, which led me into the Jardin des Tuileries, a garden/park that was pretty at one end and not so pretty at the other. I came out at the not-so-pretty end and was kinda underwhelmed but that was ok cause I was hungry and looking for food. After that I found the Musee l'Orangerie, which is kinda tucked away in the gardens. I LOVVVEEED the museum! They had tons of Impressionist stuff, some early Picasso, Renoir, Matisse, Cezanne, etc. There was a Paul Guillame room that was all miniature representations of his apartments in Paris and his art collections, which was cool to me and
kinda nostalgic cause of my dollhouse : ) I’ll have to show you guys the pics. Then - the Monet waterlilies! Sooo amazing! Words can't describe. They are HUGE first of all (like 30-40 feet long maybe 10 feet tall) and I've loved Monet since I was a kid so it was really cool to see. After that I meandered along the Seine until I got to the pretty part of the Jardins, walked through those, and turned onto the Champs-Elysees, which was packed with people and really wide and busy and not as pretty as I thought it would be. It was about a 20 min walk down that street to the Arc de Triomphe, which was included in my fancy "museum pass" I bought for 48 euros for 4 days so I got to climb that and from the top there were really pretty views. That was about all that was on my itinerary so I took the metro to the grocery store and then home, cooked
dinner in the hostel kitchen, and sat on the terrace and read some more. I decided on Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast”, his memoirs from when he lived in Paris in his 20s. I ended up meeting this guy who's also traveling alone, also from the Bay Area (Marin). I chatted with him and this guy from Indiana for a while and then went to bed early. So. Boring details- I woke up early and got on the metro to the Ile de la Cite, a big island in the center of the Seine, the river that runs through the middle of the city. From there I used my handy museum pass to get into the Conciergerie (French castle from like the 1100s to 1400s and then used as a prison... Marie Antoinette was held there before she was executed... I saw her cell) the Sainte-Chappelle (pretty huge stained glass windows), and the Notre-Dame, all of which are on the island. I got into the building part of the Notre-Dame fine, which was lucky cause the line was huge but I snuck in. hehe. Then I had to go out the side door to stand in line to climb the bell tower (you know Quasimodo and all that Victor Huge stuff) and the line for that was fat too but I couldnt cut : ( Anyways I got in ok and saw the bell tower, the gargoyles, and went up to the top and all that. After the Notre-Dame I went and got lunch and took it down to the bank of the river to eat.
Have you seen Ratatouille? I was reminded of that movie when they're running along the river. It looked like that. Then, I walked through the Sain-Germain neghborhood (cute, artsy, small streets) to the Jardins du Luxembourg and the Luxembourg Palace. I wandered around in there for a while, and actually got up the nerve to ask someone to take a solo pic of me (my first of the trip) but she pushed the power button instead of the take a picture button. I figured that was a sign that it wasn't meant to be. Then I walked back through the St-Germain and kinda into the Latin Quarter and tried to search out a cheap-looking cafe to sit at. In FLorence if you pick one of the cafes on the famous piazzas or that look super nice they don't have menus (or if they do no prices... and you end up paying an exorbitant amount for anything). I was nervous the same thing would happen here so I went to the trouble of walking to a remote area and finding a place that didn't look that nice. Get the check for my cappucino... 5 euros. SO frustrating when I'm cooking dinner at my hostel every night to save money. After the stupid cappucino (I did sit and read at the café for like an hour... LOVE love love Hemingway.) I walked to the Montparnasse district and to this business tower there that's super tall and you can go the top (museum pass!) and it has pretty views of the city. I wanted to see it all lit up though so I killed more time walking through the mall (for once I didn't even want to buy anything) and then sitting and reading in the waiting room until it was dark, which wasn't til like 8:45. By then I went up to the top, snapped some pictures, etc. It really was gorgeous and the sunset was pink over the dark almost black cityscape and the Eiffel tower was all lit up... I tried to stay up there longer but it was late and I was starving and my feet were so tired from all the walking and I was tired from being out since like 9:30 am. So I hopped on the metro, went to the store, and home to immediately eat. My current roommates (a young Italian couple from Rome) wanted me to go out with them which was nice but I was just sooo tired. The next day, it rained, and I took the metro to the Eiffel Tower. I didn’t end up climbing it, cause it was pretty expensive and the lines were so long, plus I figured I had seen the views from the Arc de Triomphe, the Notre Dame, and the Tour Montparnasse, and the view from the Eiffel wouldn’t have the tower in it, obviously, so I skipped it. Then I walked to the the Musee D’Orsay, which was reallyyyy cool. So much neat stuff. They had Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, Monet, all kinds of modern art… it turned out to be way too big for me to see everything in one day. I was tired, and lonely, I think, so I left after a couple hours and got some food. Then I walked around for a bit, headed back to the hostel, and took a nap. The Italian couple invited me out to dinner with them, and with our new roommate, a guy traveling alone from Canada, but I already had food to make for dinner, so I said I would meet them out. I took the metro by myself, which was interesting, but it was pretty easy to meet them. We went out in the Latin Quarter, which was packed with people and bars and restaurants and was really interesting. At one point, we accidentally ended up in a male strip club, and I also tried absinthe, which was lit on fire… woo! It was really fun, and the couple was so nice. The next day we all went to the Versailles Palace and gardens together, which were AMAZING. I’ve been here for so long that it takes something really cool to blow me away again, and the gardens did. They were so huge, and gorgeous, with such cool little fountains and statues hidden around every corner. We ended up exploring those gardens for a couple hours all in all. Then we toured the castle, which would have been 25 euros without my pass, so that was nice. We had to take a local train there, but that was interesting too. Then I went back and packed, cooked dinner, said goodnight to the couple, and finished my second book (Zodiac) and started in on the third I brought. Then I had to wake up at 4 am to fly back! All in all, it was really relaxing to walk around by myself and do exactly what I wanted to do for the whole weekend. I was glad I met the Italian couple, though, because I started to crave company. I flew in on Monday, had a great week in Florence, and left on Thursday night for the Amalfi Coast. More to come! Plus pictures! I LOVE you guys!