This blog series was originally written and published in 2014.
The first full day in Paris is complete and I have a lot to tell!
In the beginning the breakfast in the hotel was very tasty. I ate a croissant with Nutella and strawberry jam, which was incredible. I also found a delicious new green apple-flavored yogurt that I like so much more than the yogurt at home, which contains curiously indelible “fruits”. My plan for the future is to eat as much as possible for breakfast so that I don’t want to eat as much later. Of course I want to enjoy my time in Paris and try as many foods as possible, but I also spend five weeks in France on a minimal budget – I have to be sensible!
Our day started with a bike tour with Fat Tire. I have to be honest. The thought of cycling through the busy and possibly crowded streets of Paris was extreme – and I mean, terrifying – terrifying. I can hardly consider cycling through the NCSU campus! However, as soon as we turned the corner and I saw that the Eiffel Tower protruded through the skyline, I was immediately relaxed and lively at the same time. Someone in my group put it perfectly – cycling in this beautiful city was liberating and empowering. It rained slightly throughout the tour, but to quote Woody Allen: “Paris is most beautiful in the rain.”
I’ve learned a lot from the tour, but I’m not going to bore you all with the details. Some quick tidbits:
- Louis XIV was obsessed with his calves, which can be seen in the statue above Les Invalides.
- An eruption of the Lakagígar volcano in Iceland caused panic in France in 1788 and possibly escalated the tensions that led to the French Revolution when people thought the world was going to go down and many harvests were poisoned by the ashes.
- The bridge next to Pont Alexandre consists of the foundation of the Bastille prison.
Okay, enough with the facts! We also visited the Sacre Coeur in Montmarte, which was interesting but also a little terrifying. I had been warned of the “String People” and was trying to hide my hands from their handles, and yet one grabbed my arm under my jacket! It honestly frightened the strength with which he held me, but I kept saying no and refusing his questions. The church itself was very pretty and the view was incredible. However, it definitely looked different from the movies. After our torture with the string people, we decided to walk around the back path and saw some nice streets and houses covered with greenery.
Later that night, some of us took the subway to the Luxembourg Gardens, where trees were strangely formed. We went through the Latin Quarter in search of a poem recitation that we had heard of, but found no luck with. Instead we had dinner in an Italian restaurant which was delicious and the waiter was very nice! I had my first glass of wine in France, un verre de vin rosé.
After dinner, we took a long hike on the subway to see how the Eiffel Tower was lit and sparkling every hour on the hour. There were so many street vendors saying weird English idioms to get us to buy little trinkets, and it was interesting how a sign warned us “for our safety”.
All in all it was a very long day and I’m ready to crawl into bed!
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