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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I Saw France, But Alas No Underpants

Just a casual night of champagne, Nutella and French cookies beneath the Eiffel Tower. No big deal.

This past weekend when I stepped off the plane onto the ground of Beauvais, I thought to myself, "I'm actually smack dab in the middle of nowhere." The newly assigned motto of Beauvais courtesy of my friends Tori and Hannah: "Welcome to Bee-vus, home of the beaver." (Disclaimer: Motto must be spoken in a southern accent in order for the full effect to sink in).

After an hour and a half shuttle ride with a man who couldn't understand me when I said "Strasbourg," I took my first step onto the road's pavement and inhaled deeply. Yes, I was officially Parisian for a weekend. Despite being broke and having to shove all of my belongings into a backpack because of Ryanair's wonderful baggage size requirements, I was in Paris. I was in Paris, France. Wait, I'm sorry, did you not get that? Let me repeat: I was actually blessed enough to be able to take a weekend trip to France with my friends. Don't worry, it took me a while to let that sink in too.

After settling in at our hostel "Arty," a few of us took the metro downtown to the Eiffel Tower where we bought cheap champagne, three jars of Nutella, a box of French cookies and went ham underneath the beautiful piece architecture that Paris is notorious for. And though we were approached by creepy Moroccan men who asked if they could have some of my Nutella (which was an obvious and firm N-O), having a night picnic beneath the tower was surreal. Note to all men: If you ever have a lot of money in your lives, you should take your wife/girlfriend/friend/sister/mom/grandma/female to the Eiffel Tower for a picnic. It might just be more magical than Disney, and that's next to impossible to beat. 

Just having a blast with my best friend Eiffel.

We finished the night off with the Arc de Triomfe and a stroll down Avenue des Champs-Élysées, and I tried acting like a know-it-all and taught Tori and Hannah some French phrases because I obviously speak French. This was especially not my brightest idea when we stopped in a little food shop equivalent to fast food and I tried ordering in French. I had no idea what the cashier was saying, and I just stood there like a bobble head and nodded at everything he said to me even though some things weren't yes-or-no questions. When it comes to speaking foreign languages, I like to think that it's the thought that counts.

The next day was an early rise at 7 a.m. consisting of watery coffee, a very grumpy Leah, and the realization that I somehow broke my toe and now had to hobble around for the remainder of the day like grandma-meets-girl from The Ring. We still managed to metro into the city center and arrive at the Louvre right at 9 in order to avoid people traffic. The Louvre is magnificent in the morning when the crowds are thinned out, so I decided to spend the next two and a half hours taking selfies with some of the artwork. 

Here are some of my favorites:

But honestly, is Mona a boy or a girl? The world may never know...

After the Louvre it was lunch time! And what better choice when in France than to get Chinese food? I was craving vegetable rolls, so sorry but I'm not sorry. It turned out to be the best lunch decision ever, because we found *drum rolls* Ladurée Macarons! We weren't able to find their most popular location on Avenue des Champs-Élysées the night before (that location always has a line down the block), so stumbling upon a Ladurée next to the weird Chinese restaurant was pure bliss for me. Plus there were only 3 people in line ahead of us, so it was a win-win situation.

Take a look:

While we were in Ladurée our luck decided to take a break for the day and stretch its legs, because it started raining. Even better, I forgot my umbrella back at the hostel and I wasn't wearing a jacket with a hood, so I improvised and wrapped my scarf around my head like a bonnet. Thankfully no photos were taken of this shameful fashion statement, but for a good chunk of the day I strolled around Paris looking like a mixture of a pioneer and Little Bo Beep.
Life: 1, Leah: 0.
While the scarf-hat was in full effect, we went to Notre Dame (which apparently is currently celebrating 850th anniversary) and the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore. Unfortunately no photos are allowed to be taken inside the bookstore, so I had to snap a quick pic of the sign and run into the shop.

By the time we left the bookstore, two things were happening. One, the rain was letting up (and to think I didn't even have to do a rain dance) and two, we had absolutely mastered the Paris metro system. Seriously, I would have zero doubts in my ability to get anywhere via metro. I felt like a pro, and it felt great. We took the metro back to the Eiffel Tower because we were going up to the top that night. Nobody goes to Paris and doesn't actually go inside the tower, it just doesn't happen.
Remember how I said I broke my toe? Well seeing as I always have such brilliant ideas, I decided that it would be grand to walk halfway up the Eiffel Tower via stairs. Luckily I wasn't insane enough to power through the whole thing via stairs, but I still trekked up 669 stairs. And that, my friends, is a lot of stairs. After shooting up to the very top via elevator, we were on top of the world. I didn't want to come back down. People say home is where the heart is, but if that were the case then I'd be making camp at the top of the Eiffel Tower for the rest of my life.
My trip to Paris was an incredible adventure that I wish could have been longer. But it's funny, because whenever I travel and come back to my beautiful Sevilla, I truly feel at home and back where I belong.
I guess home really is where the heart is.
Until next time,


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