I just took my first weekend trip...to Paris. Yes, it was beautiful.
My flight in Barcelona was delayed an hour so I eventually got into Paris-Charles de Gaulle at around midnight. I spent the weekend with a friend who’s studying in London for the semester. Since it was really late at night when we arrived, we had to take a taxi to our hostel. Right away, a language barrier was present. The taxi driver didn’t speak English or Spanish, so my friend had to communicate with what French he did know. We get to the hostel at around 1 in the morning and go to our room to find that we have a 60-year old Australian roommate. That kind of struck me, because I thought hostels were mainly for people my age, but I guess anyone can rent room, lol.
We were both hungry so we found a local place that was still open. Right away, the cook at the counter knew that we didn’t speak French and he just started smiling. My friend asked him if he spoke Spanish, and he said that he spoke it but not very well. He asked if we were from Madrid and I said “no, I’m from Barcelona,” to which he responded “MESSI!!!!” It was so funny and we all just bursted out laughing. The entire time we were waiting for our food he would keep on naming off Spanish and Barcelona football players. It was a very funny experience, and I guess it’s good to know that I can pass for a Spaniard, lol.
Friday, we decided that the first thing we need to see in Paris was the Eiffel Tower. We finally got to it and it was so much more impressive in person than it is in pictures. I used to think, “Oh the Eiffel Tower, it’s just a big piece of iron,” I didn’t really understand why people use to go gaga over it; now I understand why. I couldn’t stop staring at the damn things, it was so mesmerizing. The tower seemed to follow you everywhere in the city because you would look up and be like “oh, there’s that tower again.” After the Tower, we then just strolled through Paris, looking at beautiful buildings that neither of us knew what they were.
However we eventually made it to a spot that we knew very well, the Louvre. It is ridiculously big, I had no idea that one museum could hold so much art. We actually visited it on Saturday and we literally spent about 7 hours there and I’m pretty sure that we didn’t see everything. However we did get to see the most famous lady in the world, the Mona Lisa. She was protected behind bulletproof glass and you couldn’t get within 5 yards of her. It was something to see with my own eyes and that alone was worth the price of admission. Some other highlights from the museum were Venus of Milo, Napoleon’s apartment and the Code of Hammurabi.
We also visited Notre Dame on Friday. It was a very impressive cathedral and we made the wise decision of climbing to the top of the cathedral in addition to going inside of it. The view of Paris from the top was absolutely precious, even though it decided to rain. You got to see a lot of the gargoyles and I just loved looking at each and every one of them.
We also made our way up Champs-Élysées (an extremely ritzy avenue) up to the Arc de Triomphe. The walk up there really sucked cause it was raining and it only continued to get stronger as the night went on. By the time we got back to the hostel, both our sweatshirts were soaking wet, as was every other article clothing we were wearing. However, Saturday turned out to be a much better day.
After the day at the Louvre on Saturday, we went out night with two girls from our hostel, an American and German. It was such a fun night, we went to see Moulin Rouge, the famous cabaret that was the birthplace of the can-can. We didn’t go in though because a show it costs close to 80€ to see a show…Later, we headed to the Eiffel Tower to watch the light show. At every hour on the dot, the Tower sparkles as if millions of diamonds are reflecting the light of the city. In actuality, the Tower has 20,000 light bulbs that keep the show running for at least a good 10 minutes. It was the perfect way to end my time Paris.
Here are some things I noticed about Paris (some in comparison with Barcelona)
- Lots of gold: Seriously, the whole city was filled with bling bling. It was on bridges. It was on statues. It was on rotunda of buildings. I was in shock that they just have actual gold on public monuments.
- You need money: Paris is very expensive. Walking down streets most meals cost about 13-15 Euros while in Spain I can get 3 plates of tapas for that much. You need to bring a lot of money to Paris if you want to eat decently, and it’s definitely not meant for students on a budget.
- Police: After my trip I found out that the US issued a travel advisory to Americans in Europe, which explained why the whole city was crawling with French SWAT. All the major attractions had groups of 3-5 SWAT guys walking around in full uniform, some with machine guns. They were definitely on high alert and I was a little bit paranoid when I saw 10 cop cars fly down the street with sirens a blazing.
- Architecture: All the buildings in Paris pretty much looked the same; they were all constructed with the same style. It was very pretty to look at, but I prefer the diversity of architecture (Gothic, Modernism ect) in Barcelona.
- Quiet atmosphere: Just walking through the streets or riding on the metro I noticed that it’s a lot quieter here than in Barcelona. We were riding the metro at 1am on Saturday and literally no one was talking. In Barcelona, the metro is crowded with groups of young Spaniards talking loudly, laughing and having a good time. Everyone just seemed a little bit more subdued in Paris. I’m not judging or anything, it was probably the thing that stood out the most for me.
Although it was a very nice city to visit I could never live there. First of all, I don’t know the language (parlez vous an…do you speak English?”), it’s ridiculously expensive and I love living in Catalunya too much. That being said, I'm glad I made the trip up there and it was a really good experience.
Until the next time, au revoir Paris! (pictures can be viewed here)