Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The City of Lights (France Part 3)

After our jaunt through southern France, we were off to Paris, the city of lights! We traveled by train very early in the morning, which took just under 3 hours. Once there we braved the subway (or should I say metro? - my first time ever on a metro/subway, by the way) till we made it to our great hotel for the week. It was so nice to stay in one place for awhile. 

Then we were off! There was so much to see! OOO LA LA! PARIS!

"Paris holds the key to your heart!"

Joe got to hold Evie as we walked through the streets of Paris to Notre Dame.

Our first stop was lunch and then Notre Dame! It was huge and there were so many paintings and stained glass to see - most of which were faded, but they were still magnificent. The gargoyles were creepy and all identical - as far as I could tell. Inside we talked to some nice British people who were there to escape the craziness of the Olympics.

Me and Joe outside of Notre Dame - one of my favorite Paris stops! Might be because one of my all time favorite Disney songs is 'Out There' from Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Inside Notre Dame - beautifully gothic.

After Notre Dame we walked through Paris, right past the Louvre and through some gardens, to get to the Arc de Triomphe. We walked right along the Seine river watching the people hustle about and seeing cute little book stands with overpriced French books and mini beaches with bocce ball, beach chairs, and sand castles. It was adorable. We saw a few break dancers on our way as well.

It took a lot longer than expected to reach the Arc de Triomphe which honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. It has all of the names of the French victories and generals inscribed on it's surfaces and also includes the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War under the arch. We got to go on top of it the Arc which provides a great view of Paris. 

While up there Joe received the answer to a prayer. Earlier, he had messed with Will's camera for a few seconds in order to take a picture and the camera - a very nice camera, I might add - stopped working. Unbeknownst to anyone else, Joe prayed that we would be able to find someone who could fix the problem. On top of the Arc, we ran into a Swiss couple on holiday who had the same camera! Luckily, they spoke English and Mom asked them if they would be able to fix Will's camera! He tinkered with it and told him that it was probably the lens and then told Will how he could fix it!

The view from the Arc de Triomphe. We yelled "TIOMPHE!" off the top of the Arc.

Joe and I on top of the Arc - our first view of the Eiffel Tower!

Kristen next showed us the best spot to take pictures with the Eiffel Tower:

The family in front of the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately, Dad was taking the picture.

Mom and Elise looking snazzy and cute.

Baby Evelyn is in Paris!

Victory is ours! We found it!

"A little romance in the spring?" Uh, I mean... summer?

After dinner, Kristen, Will, and baby Evie headed back to the hotel and the rest of us headed to the Eiffel Tower! Elise and I wanted to walk the first part and then take the elevator the rest of the way to the top, but we got in the wrong line so we all ended up taking the elevator up to the first stop and then all the way to the top! In retrospect this was probably a blessing since it took hours. A few of us were a little nervous about being up so high, but the view was unmatched.

Me and Joe on the Eiffel Tower - this was the first level. The bars made me feel a LOT better about being up so high. This level was actually my favorite, but it was cool to go to the tippity-top.

After getting down we had another prayer answered. We were separated from the rest of the family and didn't know whether to look for them or just head home. Apparently, Mom prayed that they would be able to find us and we were reunited for the journey home in the cold rain.

The next day we went to DISNEYLAND - PARIS! Joe and I woke up early because we were so excited and were on our way! Unfortunately, we got on the wrong metro and had to circle back to where we started, but we did get there! I think we went on the most rides and attractions ever done in one day - 16. (This includes Adventure Isle, Indiana Jones, La Cabane des Robinson, le Passage Enchante d'Aladdin, Pirates of the Caribbean, Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, Les Mysteres du Nautilus, Space Mountain: Mission 2, Star Tours, It's A Small World, Peter Pan's Flight, Big Thunder Mountain, Phantom Manor, Crush's Coaster, Tower of Terror (x2), and Rock'n' Roller Coaster). We did so good and it didn't hurt that at Disneyland if a member of your party gets sick or injured during your visit they will let you pick 5 rides in any of the parks that you want to have faster than fast passes to! We were able to have each of us go to the exit of the 5 different rides and get directly on the ride - faster than the people with fast pass tickets! Unfortunately, the reason we got these passes was because one of Mom's legs were swollen and red! But Disneyland was great - they drove her to and from the hospital and gave us the great passes! Luckily, it turned out to just be a bad bug bite. Ouch!

Evie's first ride, "It's A Small World." 

Before our last ride we watched some of the parade in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle and then after the ride we watched the awesome water/light show on the castle. It was MAGICAL and AMAZING!

The following day was Louvre day! It was GIGANTIC. I was blown away - I felt like you could spend weeks in this museum and still not see everything. I was totally overwhelmed, but there were many nice pieces to look at, including the original Mona Lisa. Joe's and my favorite parts of the Louvre were the Roman and Greek sculptures. Joe also loved the Egyptian section and looking at the more religious paintings with his dad.

Me with some sculpture heads.

Joe with the Code of Hammurabi - the first written law. How fitting for the new Law School student.

After we had all had our fair share of the Louvre, (I hate to say it, but as much as I want to be, I'm not too much of an art person - but it was still enlightening and fun!) we walked past the bridge with all the love locks on it. I don't believe we did anything else this day because we were all so tired, but the details are a bit fuzzy so if I'm wrong let me know family!

Mom and Dad on the Love Bridge. Awwww...

Me and Joe on the Love Lock Bridge. Love. True love.

Our second to last day was half spent in Versailles seeing the palace where King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette lived. It was remarkably kept and very posh. My favorite was the gardens - beautiful. Joe picked some small flowers from them for me. Shhh... don't tell anyone. Once again, we were separated from everyone, but after much struggle and many misdirections we found the train and made our way back to Paris.

Elise, Dad, and Ned at Versailles.

At this point we went back to the hotel to see if the family was there. They weren't so we made our way to Sacre-Coeur because we knew they were going to go there at some point that day and we found them! But first, as we crossed the street to the church a large man grabbed my wrist and kept asking me where I was from. He was speaking English, but I was in a cross walk and caught off guard so I had no idea what was going on. I tried to get away, but he wouldn't let go of my wrist. Joe noticed what was going on and shouted at the man to let go of me. It turned out that this was one of the many men selling cheap trinkets and string bracelets around Paris and he was trying to tie the bracelet around my wrist so I would pay him for it. Anyways, I got away and Joe was telling him he was going to punch him in the face! The man and his friends, a bunch of them had gathered at this point, started yelling back that they would punch him in the face! At this point I was half way up the stairs and shouted for Joe to come up with me. We darted up the stairs and got away. Whew!

We found the family - they had just finished going through the church and were getting the string bracelets tied on their wrists! haha It was nice to see them, but they were going to head back to the hotel at this point and call it a night so we separated from them again and went in to Sacre-Coeur. I wasn't too impressed with it; partly because all of the peddlers everywhere and partly because of what happened prior to us entering. However, the view of Paris from just outside Sacre-Coeur was gorgeous. On our way out we slipped out the back way... just in case those men were watching for us.

That night we wandered around Paris looking for the Pantheon - no one could tell us where it was! On our way we found the Paris Opera House, Saint Madeleine church, some government building with guards all around it, the Palace of Luxembourg, some yummy gelato, and, finally, the Pantheon! This building is the resting place of Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Marie Curie, and many other famous Frenchmen.

Our last day in France we arrived at the entrance to the catacombs, but the line was hours long so Elise, Mom, and I decided to go shopping instead, while Joe, Ned, and Dad went to the catacombs. It was a successful shopping day with many cute pieces of clothing bought! As for the catacombs, Joe told me it took about 45 minutes to get through and there were piles and piles of bones lining the walls. He had to lean over the whole way through and apparently there were a lot of pessimistic comments written on the walls like, "If you've seen a man die a painful death then you know what awaits you." There were also some biblical phrases. He says it was weird, but he's glad he did it. He got to talk in Japanese to two Japanese girls while he went through it about why Ned was in France, so he really enjoyed that!

After our shopping spree and the boys brief dance with death and a quick tour through the Museum D'orsay we met up at Berthillon, an ice cream shop, which supposedly has the best ice cream in France. The hard thing was that there were maybe 10-20 ice cream shops on this island with this same name! We eventually found each other though and met up with Will, Kristen, and Evie and got some yummy ice cream. Joe especially loved the salty caramel flavor while I enjoyed granny apple. 

When I think of Paris, especially the Eiffel Tower, I think of this song.

Our trip to Paris was drawing to a close so Joe and I decided to make one last trip to the Eiffel Tower to see it's lights illuminate the sky. We had awhile to wait so we spent as many euros as possible on cheap street food and desserts, headed to the best view of the Eiffel Tower and waited. This was my very favorite moment of the whole trip - we ate, we laughed, and we kissed. We had a wonderful time waiting for the lights. In front of us a little French girl name Madeline danced around, she was so excited to be at the tower. Her family took pictures of her with the tower and we laughed and told her she was cute. She then gave us each kisses on our cheeks and said au revoir. 

One of the most beautiful sights - the Eiffel Tower sparkling at night.

It was a truly beautiful night and a beautiful trip. I am so grateful to the Meservys for taking all of us to France. Joe and I had a wonderful time. Au revoir.

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