Overall it was a long and hard but exciting day. I woke up at 3 and couldn't fall back asleep. Then my milk had gone bad so I had to force feed myself dry cereal. Getting to the train station via the night bus and checking in for the train/going through customs was all very easy.
The Eurostar train is pretty comfy and very smooth. Of course I got about 20 minutes of sleep during the entire journey (about 2.5 hours). I didn't even realize we were in the Chunnel until I saw glimpses of daylight, cars on the right side of the road and french signs. I had thought we were still in England and it was still dark out. I wasn't expecting a sign or anything indicating we were in it but I thought I would notice (even though you're only in the Chunnel for about 20 minutes).
Once we arrived at Gare de Nord I made my way to the Museé du Louvre, stopping at an atm on the way to take out some euros. The building(s) themselves are quite beautiful and extravagant - as they used to be a palace. The pyramids were pretty sweet too - a little touch of Rochester in the middle of this foreign city. I arrived at a great time because I didn't have to wait in line at all. There were a large amount of Japanese groups all throughout the museum, often blocking the way. The museum is in a horseshoe shape, since it used to be a palace and they are not known for their practicality. This made it rather difficult to get around the place. Sometimes you would have to double back to exit the room or hall you were in. At other times it would be quicker to walk across the courtyard, if you were allowed to do that. A lot of the staircases and/or escalators would only go in one direction or only span one flight. Basically it is set up very badly. I did get to see some pretty cool stuff including the Venus de Milo, Mona Lisa and a bunch of items from the Levant. The Mona Lisa was cool except that you were prevented from getting any closer than 15-20 feet by a permanent wall. You couldn't even appreciate it from that distance. The pieces from the Levant, mostly pottery, were pretty similar to the stuff we have at the PEF.
After wandering around a bit in the museum shops, I left the Louvre and walked through the Jardin des Tuileries heading toward the Avenue de Champ-Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe but didn't walk all the way down. At the end of the gardens I crossed over the Seine and followed its south bank towards the Eiffel Tower. All of this in the pouring rain and heavy winds (which weren't present when I entered the Louvre).
Now to the Eiffel Tower. This was an overall disaster. First the top was closed so you could only go to the 1st and 2nd levels (about 1/3 of the way up). It was only after I bough my ticket for the elevator (hoping that i could stay dry by taking the elevator instead of the stairs) that I realized how impossibly slow the line was. So I got completely soaked and cold waiting in line for the elevator for probably close to an hour. Once we got up to the 2nd level it was so wet and windy that I didn't even walk all the way to the rail to take pictures. So I snapped a few from a distance then went inside to attempt to warm up/dry off while looking at souvenirs. I didn't buy any gifts, partially because I didn't want to get anything wet, but I did get a hot chocolate and a croissant. the line to take the elevator back down was a complete circle around the center and would take at least an hour before you could take it down. So I decided to take the stairs since I was already 100% wet. There were some pretty great views from the stairs but again, wet and windy. I finally made it down (and soaked my leather gloves while bracing myself against the wind).
So then I made my wet, cold way to Notre Dame. This walk to over an hour (it seemed so much shorter on the map). At one point I stopped under an awning and realized that my gloves were leaking blackish purple water and had stained my hands. When I got to Notre Dame I went inside, struggled to get my gloves off and into a plastic bag so they wouldn't stain anything, had difficulty getting my fingers to work putting coins in a machine for a guidebook, then sat down. I took off all my wet stuff and spread it all over the seats. It was then that I discovered that my passport and return ticket, which had been inside my jacket in case my purse got snatched, had gotten wet as well. The passport was a little wrinkly but not too bad so I put it in my wallet to flatten it out. My ticket was another story. Since it was printed on regular paper, not boarding pass card-stock stuff, it doesn't handle water well. Luckily the portion with the barcode was pretty dry so I tore the wet parts off and folded them up separately. After sitting there for about 20 minutes I didn't feel any more warm or dry so I put all my stuff back on (still wet) and walked around.
I left Notre Dame and crossed back to the North side of the Seine and went to this indoor shopping area that Fili had told me about. I was hoping for somewhere with souvenirs and stuff but was glad to go anywhere warm and dry. So I wandered around the stores a little bit until I got to H&M and found a pretty cheap sweater. I tried it on and instantly felt warmer - I was sold. When I saw myself in the mirror I noticed my lips were blue - literally blue. Not even the purple color that kids lips get after being in a pool. They were blue. I knew I was cold and wet but I didn't realize it was that bad. So I also bought a pair of knit gloves and a pair of wool socks, in addition to the sweater, all to change into on the train back to London. Once I was done shopping I used the center's wifi until Fili came and got me for dinner.
It's funny that we live about 20 minutes apart in America and the first time we see each other in several years is while we're both studying in other countries. It was really great to see her. We got dinner close by. I got a bowl of soup (which helped tremendously) and this dish that Fili said was very french. It was slightly fried pieces of goat cheese on top of a piece of toast on top of a salad. It was very delicious and surprisingly hearty. I am definitely going to make this at home - it was so delicious and simple.
After dinner Fili went to class and I made my way back to the train station. I was going to get a crepe somewhere but wasn't hungry when I passed by creperies near the restaurant and unfortunately I didn't find any near the train station. Once inside the station, which is more confusing and old school than any of the London stations, I tried to print out a new boarding pass at one of the machines (I wasn't convinced that my efforts had salvaged enough of the ticket for entry). This didn't work, I think the machines were just for the normal French Transit, but my ticket still scanned at the checkin area. I had no problem going through customs. I had been worried because Ellie had trouble coming back from Paris and other people had problems coming into London. None for me. Hopefully this will also be the case when I go to and from Barcelona this week.
On the train I changed into my new warm stuff and felt much more comfortable. Unfortunately I didn't sleep on this train either - no matter how hard I tried. We arrived at St. Pancras and I caught the next bus back to the flat.
I got back to the flat around 11. I took off all my wet clothes and spread them, along with all of my wet belongings (purse, shoes, passport, map, camera, guidebook etc.) on the floor with a fan pointed at them, hoping that they would dry by the morning when I have to pack for Barcelona. I took a warm shower then put on dry clothes and finally felt completely comfortable for the first time since I had left the Louvre 12 hours prior. I skyped with Dad for a little bit, explaining my rough day. Then I got into my very warm and comfy bed.
Barcelona better be warm and sunny.