Oh boy. I feel like I did so much in Paris and have so much to share that I don’t even know where to start. I’ll try to be concise while still telling everything that happened… here goes!
The flight to Zurich was AWESOME. It was my first real international flight and I was in awe of how nice it was. The seats had places to rest your head on each side and each passenger was provided a blanket and pillow. No one was sitting behind me so I didn’t feel bad leaning my seat back and I also took that seat’s pillow 🙂 haha.
However, I didn’t feel the best on that flight. I didn’t eat anything all day due to stress from packing/no time/nervousness so my stomach wasn’t feeling very good. They served dinner shortly into the flight and while it was good, I only managed to eat a few bites each of my lasagna and salad. As the meal was getting over, I started to feel really sick to my stomach. I tried to sleep because I couldn’t get out with our trays down and food on them, but as soon as they were cleared I went to the bathroom and threw up EVERYWHERE. I almost didn’t make it and then had to clean my own vomit off the back of the toilet, the walls, my knee… it was terrible. I managed to go to sleep for the rest of the flight though, I had some orange juice for breakfast, and then when we got off the plane I had a sandwich at the Zurich airport. I think that the time our plane left (7:1 pm) was perfect- I had NO jet lag! Seriously none at all! It was amazing.
We had a short layover in Zurich and then had a two hour flight to Paris. I slept the whole time and then once we arrived, we got our luggage (none lost! Woo hoo!), I bought a phone card, and then we took the train to Gare du Nord, the train station where Courtney had a train to Lille at 6:30. After searching all over for the luggage lockers, lugging around our super heavy suitcases, we found them, put our stuff in storage, and went to get something to eat. We got crepes and then went in a McDonald’s to use the free WiFi. I was able to update my blog, text my mom through my email, and email the woman I was hoping to stay with. I found her through CouchSurfing and made plans to stay with her, but then her dad went into the hospital and she wasn’t sure she would be able to host me. A little stressful, to say the least! I emailed her and she emailed back quickly that yes, I could stay with her for two nights. She gave me directions to her apartment.
After that, Courtney and I went back to the train station where we got our stuff out of storage. She and I parted ways as she went to catch her train, and I was officially left alone in Paris! I managed to follow my host’s directions to the bus stop, got on the bus, got off at the right stop, and found her apartment. She let me in and was SO nice from the minute I arrived. I was understandably nervous (first time in Europe, first time CouchSurfing, she only spoke French, etc.) but she was so nice that I was immediately put at ease. We left to walk down the Champs-Elysees and eat dinner at this restaurant called le Paradis du Fruit- Fruit Paradise!
When we returned, she went to bed and I used her Internet on my laptop for awhile to catch up with people. The next morning, she had to go to work so I rode the bus with her until l’Arc de Triomphe. The first thing I did was take more photos of it. I saw people across the street taking photos under l’Arc, but the street around it is HUGE and super busy– I couldn’t figure out how they got there!! Did they fly?? Run across the street?? I kept walking in a circle around it until I finally saw this sign:
I found the tunnel under the street and took some photos of l’Arc close up.
My camera has a screen that flips out, so it’s nice to be able to see yourself, but when people see you struggling to take a photo of yourself by holding out your arm with a big camera, they take pity on you and offer to take a picture of you, so then you get a photo like this:
I took my time walking down the street, seeing everything, taking plenty of pics. I stopped at Orange, a big cell phone company here, to buy a Sim card for my phone since the one I bought at the airport wasn’t working. They started getting me set up and showed me that there was one more thing on my phone I needed to do to make it recognize the Sim card, so then my one from the airport started working. I didn’t want to buy the more expensive Orange card so I peaced out of there without paying for anything. 🙂
I continued walking down the Champs-Elysees.
At one point, I decided to stop and get some lunch. I found a burger place that had free WiFi so I got a chicken sandwich and sat down to eat and get on the Internet with my phone. I typed out an email and then lost service, so I got up to stand in the middle of the restaurant about 10 feet away where I was sitting to send it. As I was waiting for it to send, a woman came in from outside, sat down at my place, and started eating my food! I couldn’t believe it! After her first bite she looked furtively over her shoulder and then continued eating. I debated saying something but 1) I was almost done with my food and 2) she must have been really hungry so I just let it go. I did take a picture of her though:
I walked down to the end of the Champs-Elysees, then continued walking the same direction to la Place de la Concorde. I snapped a pic of l’Arc from the middle of the street, so you could see some of the Champs-Elysees:
On the way to la Concorde, I saw this statue:
La Place de la Concorde is basically just two fountains with a big obelisk in the middle.
You can see the Eiffel Tower better from there.
After that, I continued down to the Jardin de Tuileries. It’s a really pretty garden.
I took some panoramic photos, but my computer is having some problems stitching them together. Hopefully I’ll get that corrected soon.
I continued walking that same direction until I hit the Louvre.
I debated going in the Louvre, but I only had 2 hours before I had plans to meet another assistant, whom I had met on Facebook, at the Notre Dame. The Louvre is HUGE so I decided to leave it for another day.
I kept walking until I reached Notre Dame, a huge cathedral. I had some time before I had to meet the other assistant so I sat down on a bench in the sun and called my mom, dad, grandma, and Nick. It was so hard to wait to call them once I got my phone working, but with the time difference I really can’t call until 1 pm at the earliest!! Mom and Dad didn’t answer, although I talked to Dad a little later, so I left them both voicemails. Grandma was absolutely SHOCKED that I called, and of course it was wonderful to talk to Nick. I was a happy girl!
Entry into the cathedral is free.
After that, we decided to go to the Jardin de Luxembourg, another garden. We took the Metro.
We mostly used our time there to sit, soak up the sun, and talk- Kaylin was previously an English teacher in Korea for a year!
After some time there, Kaylin and I headed to the train station at Montparnasse, which is the one big building in Paris. Later, someone told me that it’s illegal to build buildings taller than a certain height, because they would block the other buildings. Montparnasse is the one exception, I guess because it’s not in the middle of Paris.
On the way, I stopped and got a crepe since SOMEONE ate the rest of my lunch. It was topped with just sugar and butter but it was SO good. There was orange and lemon zest in the batter. When I tried to describe it to my host that night, I learned that the French word for batter is pâte.
I took the Metro by myself back to the stop by Melanie’s (my host’s), then got a little lost getting back to her apartment. Seriously, the Metro system is SO EASY to use here, and that’s coming from a small-town girl who has hardly ever used public transportation. After 2 days I felt like an expert. While wandering around trying to find Melanie’s apartment I stopped in a clothing store to see if the woman working could show me where I was on the map of Paris I had. I started by saying I was a little lost (in French of course) but she was NOT having it. She kept saying no, and called me a loiterer, and shooed me out of her store. That was the one instance I had with someone in Paris being rude to me- everyone else was exceedingly nice or at least cordial.
I made it back to Melanie’s place and she was already home from work. She was kinda bummed because her dad wasn’t doing any better in the hospital, so she didn’t feel like going out- originally we had talked about going to Montmarte, where the Moulin Rouge and Sacre-Coeur are. I was super tired from literally walking around ALL DAY so I relaxed for awhile, then headed out to explore her neighborhood by myself and get something to eat. She gave me directions to a cool nouveau-riche neighborhood near her, so I went there first. The buildings weren’t anything interesting but she told me about a park at the end of the street that was cool. I got there, but there weren’t a lot of lights, it was getting dark, I didn’t see anyone in there, and there was a homeless man sitting at the entrance… all warning signs! I turned around and hightailed it out of there. That was the only time during my whole time in Paris that I felt anything close to danger, and it wasn’t even bad, because there were plenty of people around. But I knew I shouldn’t go in that park alone, so I didn’t.
I got some Chinese food to eat and learned that the word for egg roll in French is nem. I bought a brownie at a little patisserie for Melanie because I knew she liked chocolate and was sad about her dad. Then I headed back to Melanie’s, hung out with her and used the computer for awhile, and went to bed.
So those were my first two days in Paris. Next up: my last day in Paris, the train ride, and my arrival in Nice!