First of all, I would like to apologize for the long delay. I am officially back in Kansas, but this past week has been so hectic. I’ve been to Paris, turned 20 years old, flew across the Atlantic, and have started work all in the past week! I planned to update my blog day by day in Paris, but I had no internet access, which made that task impossible. So, I will just give you a recap of my adventures in Paris while they are still vivid in my mind.
My first day in Paris, last Friday, was entirely dedicated to exploring the Louvre. After wandering the streets of Paris for an hour and nearly getting killed by a moped racing down the sidewalk, we (my friends, Carolyn, Kylene, and I) finally found the Louvre. The museum was really a spectacular sight. The seventeenth-century architecture of the art museum was starkly contrasted by the modern glass pyramid which stood in the center, surrounded by fountains. Once entering the museum through the pyramid, the ticket line surprisingly moved quickly, and we were off to see the Italian paintings. Our goal was to see the Mona Lisa, but we ended up being distracted by the Greek sculptures and Mesopotamian statues. When we did finally spot the Mona Lisa, she was surrounded by hundreds of eager tourists, who also wanted to capture a glimpse of this iconic portrait. After taking a very blurry photo of the painting, we continued to wander through the Italian painting section and finally, through the French paintings. We saw “The Consecration of Napoleon” as well as “Viva La Vida.” After spending four hours in the Louvre, we decided to purchase our dinner at Forum de Halles, a place where local vendors sell baked goods, fruit, meat, etc. We purchased a baguette as well as some fresh strawberries then headed back to our hotel to eat our goodies, relax, and watch French television.
Day two in Paris was definitely the most exhausting, but it was perhaps my favorite day. Our goal was to hit most of the major iconic spots along the River Seine. The morning was spent at the beautiful gothic cathedral, Notre Dame. It was mind-blowing to think construction had began on this cathedral in the 12th century, and it is still standing today. The stained glass windows, glowing candles, gargoyles, and vaulted ceilings gave me goosebumps as I wandered freely throughout the cathedral. Perhaps the most amusing part of exploring Notre Dame was the recorded “Shhh!” which was played over the intercom, reminding people to keep their voices low. From Notre Dame, we headed straight towards the Eiffel Tower, which was quite a long jaunt. When the tower was in close proximity, we decided to stop for lunch at a café to rest and refuel. After our brief break, it started to rain, and we decided not to go to the top of the tower. Instead, we just stood underneath it in awe of its enormity. The French sure knew how to commemorate their country’s centennial as a republic in a grand way! We snapped a few photos around the tower, then walked through the maze of streets to the Arc de Triomphe. Honestly, we did not spend much time there due to the fact it was extremely crowded and it cost a fee to actually go underneath it. We briefly admired it then followed the Champs-Élyseés to our final destination, the Place de la Concorde. This elegant plaza truly has strong historical significance. It was the place in which Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI were executed by the Jacobins during the French Revolution. I was immediately reminded of one of my favorite novels, The Scarlet Pimpernel, where Sir Percy bravely rescues French aristocrats from the blade of the guillotine. After walking around the plaza, we took the Metro back to our hotel and fell asleep.
On the third day, we took a day trip to the Palace of Versailles. It took nearly an hour just to get to Versailles. The lines were incredibly long, but the weather was perfect! It was about 75 degrees, and the sky was a bright blue—certainly the best weather for snapping photos of the palace. Unfortunately, we had to wait two hours just to enter the palace. Once we began our tour, it was very stuffy and uncomfortable due to the large crowds. However, I was still able to enjoy the beauty of the bedchambers, the Hall of Mirrors, and the gardens. Despite the large crowds, visiting the palace for the day was totally worth the extra effort.
The following day was very relaxing. We bought some French pastries, strolled along the River Seine, and visited Notre Dame one last time. One Eurostar ride, two planes, and a short drive later, I was back in Lindsborg celebrating my 20th birthday with family. I am still in shock of all that I have seen and done. Although I am back in Kansas, I hope to post one last time to give some concluding thoughts and reflections regarding this life-changing experience.