Oh, Paris. I don’t even know where to start.
Disclaimer: Paris was Jordan’s absolute dream. She has been dreaming about visiting Paris since she was three years old and I wish there was a way I could show you all her excitement because it was one of the most precious and pure things I have ever seen in my life.
I feel like Paris is one of those things that you have to do at least once in your life. I feel like you need to be able to say, “I’ve been to the Eiffel Tower” or “I saw the Mona Lisa in real life” before you die. So, I decided to go to Paris.
We left our second class early in order to get to the airport on time for our flight..but we didn’t realize just how long it was going to take us to get there. In total, it takes about 2 hours to get to the Madrid airport from Alcalá. We ended up being very rushed for time and panicked a little because we were worried we would miss our flight. Luckily, security in Europe is much more relaxed than it is in the United States. (I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing, but in this case it was a good thing because it only took us about 10 minutes to get through the line and through the sensors.) We walked to gate E84, which is what our boarding pass said but our gate got switched to D54 or something like that, so we raced back across the airport from where we just came to get to the right gate. Our plane ended up being delayed an hour and we had plenty of time to wait until we could board, so we got lucky there.
Originally, I had been told that the people of Paris were very rude and that they hate Americans. I was told that they know English but won’t speak it to you because that’s just how much they hate American tourists. But we quickly learned that that was not the case at all. In fact, we learned that very shortly after leaving the airport.
Once we got to the airport, we asked a security guard how to get to the train station. He told us we needed to take a bus, so that’s what we did. We had to wait a couple of minutes for it, and in doing so we saw that we would need to pay for the bus, which was fine because you have to pay for almost every public transportation here, except for the tram that runs from T4 to T1-3 in Madrid. So we got prepared to pay but we weren’t sure exactly how much it was going to cost. So when we got on the bus, we tried to ask the driver but he didn’t say anything, he just looked at us. So we went and sat down. To our surprise, he didn’t yell at us or anything. We got off the bus at the train station and went inside to try to figure out how to get to the closest station to our Airbnb. The train station we were at was super sketchy and the ticket machine was in French and we couldn’t figure out how to work it. There was nobody around either which made it even more sketchy.
Finally, a man in a suit and a briefcase came inside and told us (in English) that the trains were not working at this station. He asked us where we were going because he had called and Uber and if where we were going was close to where he was going, we could just ride with him and split the cost (25€). We weren’t staying too far from his place and so he offered us again the chance to ride with him, or we could take the bus back to the airport and then take a tram to a different train station and then we would have to connect to the metro and it just sounded like a lot of work. So he spoke with his Uber driver and asked if it was alright if we joined the ride and we would just get out where he did. The driver was fine with it because either way he was getting paid and he was going to the same place so he didn’t really care.
The man in the suit introduced himself as Francisco and told us he was a pilot for EasyJet. At one point he asked us why we didn’t have coats on and we explained that we came from Madrid and it was warm when we left. He got so excited when we said we were from Madrid because he was from there! We learned later that he moved from Madrid to London to Paris, which is where he currently lives. He was very, very nice! I definitely asked him within the first 10 minutes of being in the car how to say ‘turtle’ in French and he taught me.
We got to the stop and got out of the car. We thanked our Uber driver and then started walking. Francisco walked us all the way to the metro station nearest to his house, showed us on the map where we were and where we needed to go. We thanked him and then asked him how much we owed him, to which he told us not to worry about it. We were so surprised and overwhelmed that both Jordan and I almost cried. We told him we could pay him and that it really was no big deal and he told us that there was no need and that we just should do something nice for somebody else someday. We thanked him again and again until he headed back towards his house or apartment or whatever it was he lives in, and we headed down to the metro.
We got to our metro stop and decided we wanted something to eat for dinner. Everything we saw though was either closed or only open for drinks, which was weird to us because it was only 11 pm but in Spain everything is open late, especially on the weekends. We went in to a little alimentation shop (convenience store) and fine-dined like true college kids on a 2-liter of Coke, some bananas, some little wheels of cheese, Pringles, pretzels, and chocolate chip and nougat cookies. We actually ended up going back to that little shop the next night to buy noodles, butter, garlic salt, and spaghetti sauce to make noodles for dinner at our apartment instead of going out to eat. We spent maybe 10€ total on that which lasted us for two nights, instead of spending at around 10€ each to eat dinner out both nights.
We made it to our Airbnb which was this cute little apartment flat that had a GIANT bunk bed on top and underneath was a couch that doubled as a second bed. The bed on the top was a queen-sized and Jordan really enjoyed that while I slept on the couch. It was fine because we weren’t really home much except to sleep and shower so it didn’t bother me any.
The first thing on our first full day in Paris was go to the Eiffel Tower. Jordan was so excited to see it in real life! We ended up spending about 5 hours there, looking at it from all possible different angles and we went up to the very top of it. It was cool (literally and figuratively) because we could see over all of Paris and point out where the other things we were going to see were, and because it was really chilly and windy and I didn’t have a coat. Jordan made it a point to “touch” the Eiffel Tower itself (and of course then I had to do it too just to say I did it).
We also went to this cute little diner just a little ways away from the Eiffel Tower and had a really nice breakfast that consisted of coffee, croissants, bread, orange juice, and an omelette. We were pretty hungry after not having much besides junk food for dinner. We did this in the middle of the five hours we were there, and of course we went right back after we finished eating.
After we went to the top and came back down, we went across a bridge on one side of the tower to get a better far away view so that we could get some better pictures because it’s hard to take a good picture when you’re so close to something so massive. On our way there, we stopped for some crêpes and OH MY GOODNESS. They were amazing! I had one with Nutella in it and it was heavenly. I 10/10 recommend that if you ever go to Paris, get some crêpes by the Eiffel Tower because they’re heavenly. There were a lot of street vendors around the tower trying to get you to buy various things like Eiffel Tower keychains 5/1€. They were really annoying because they had them on a giant ring and they would shake them at you to try to get you to buy them. At first we were polite and told everyone “no thank you” but after a while we got annoyed and just started saying “no.” or just plain ignoring them.
After we decided we were done at the Eiffel Tower for the day, we decided we would go try to see a couple of other big spots with what we had left of our day. We went to the Arc de Triomphe, which was neat for me because I had looked into doing a project about it in high school so I knew a little bit about it. It still amazes me that a plane flew through it!
Next, we went to the Moulin Rouge just to say that we saw it. We didn’t pay to see a show or anything because it was over 100€ for anything and we weren’t that interested to pay that much money to see a show. After that, we went and saw the Sacred Heart Basilica. We didn’t go inside there either but we saw it from a distance and it was pretty neat!
To end our day, we headed to the Louvre because anybody under 26 can get in free after 6 pm on Friday. I didn’t realize just how excited I was until we got there. We were a little early and so we took pictures outside as the sun started to go down. We got approached by a man who asked if he could use some of Jordan’s water for his napkin because he had gotten pooped on by a pigeon. We ended up talking to him for about 45 minutes just about random things like where we were from and where we were studying and what we were studying. He told us about Shakespeare and Co. which is located by Notre Dame and he told us we should check it out since we were in a creative writing class. Jordan told him about how she wants to teach English abroad and he was very helpful and insightful about that and about where she should consider going to do that! He was very, very nice, and again we were surprised because of our previous thoughts of the people of Paris.
The Louvre itself was AMAZING. I absolutely loved it. We went just to see the Mona Lisa in real life (like a lot of the other people), but we wandered through some other areas and I loved it. I found a turtle (imagine that) and a sculpture that I remembered learning about in my art history class at UD! The museum wasn’t too busy and we actually got pretty close to Mona..close enough I could take a selfie with her so that was cool. We ended up spending about 2 hours there which was longer than we had anticipated but I wasn’t mad about it at all.
On Saturday, our first adventure was Versailles and the palace. We got there around 11 and the line was HUGE. We waited in line for about an hour/hour and a half and by the time we got to the front, the size of the line had doubled. So we were glad we got there when we did, but also wished we would have gone a little earlier. (Oh well, you live and you learn.) The palace was pretty neat! I wish we would have gone on a guided tour or gotten the audio guide or something because I didn’t really know much of the history or what I was seeing. What I did know about, though, was the famous Hall of Mirrors where the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919 to end WWI. It was crazy beautiful with all of the mirrors and the crystal chandeliers. I took a mirror selfie because I felt like I had to. After the Hall of Mirrors we went out to the Royal Gardens but they weren’t very pretty because everything was dead because it’s winter. Maybe someday I can go back when it’s in full bloom and see it in all of it’s glory.
After Versailles, we went back to Paris and went to the Notre Dame cathedral. We didn’t go inside or go up to the bell towers because the line was really long and we didn’t feel like spending the money. We walked around it and listened to the nice accordion music a man was playing nearby for money. Then we went to Shakespeare and Co. to see what it was all about! It was cool but we didn’t buy anything.
Next, we went on a mission for macaroons. We felt like we should try them because “when in Paris” but we didn’t want them from Ladurée because they were very expensive. After searching for about 45 minutes, we finally found where we wanted to get them from and we both got a little box of 5 different ones. I got a purple one that was black carrot(?), caramel brûlée, coffee (lol imagine that), chocolate, and raspberry. They were interesting! I think the raspberry one was my favorite. I also got a cup of organic coffee (a latte) and it was in that moment when I realized that I officially like unflavored lattes better than flavored lattes now. So hooray for saving money in the future!!!
Our last mission was to see the Eiffel Tower at night because how could we go to Paris and not see the Eiffel Tower at night???? It was so beautiful. I don’t even know how to describe it. We took pictures with it and of it and then as we were starting to head home for the night, it began to sparkle and it was so beautiful. I actually yelled “WHOA” without even thinking because that’s how caught off-guard and how pretty it was. We didn’t spend 5 hours there this time, but the time we did spend looking at it all lit up was worth it.
Overall, Paris was beautiful and now I can say that I’ve been there, and I’ve done that. I would go back someday! Probably not right away, but someday I’ll make it back there.