This past weekend Hull's International Student Association took two charter buses to Paris for the weekend. We took about a 5 hour bus ride to the southern most tip of England, then took a 2 hour ferry over to France, then got back on the bus for about another 3 hours. We were not incredibly excited about the bus ride, but we figured it wouldn't be that bad. Of course, it was a double-decker charter bus which was different than we had seen, but we didn't really realize that being on the top would mean extreme heat, but we realized that about 2 hours into the trip. It was absolutely terrible. I am used to being on long bus rides because of things like Caravan, but this was by far the worst bus experience of my life. Once we got to the ferry, we all scattered trying to find some place semi-comfortable to lie down and sleep while we had some air and some space. The ferry ride was not too bad. It was a really big boat, so you didn't feel the rocking or any of that, plus I was asleep for most of it. We finally got to Paris around 10:30 Friday morning. We weren't able to get into our hostel until after 3, so we began our trek through Paris to find all of the things we wanted to see.
Our hostel was pretty far out of the city, so we figured out the metro and went to the Eiffel Tower. It was a lot different than I though it would be. It was weird walking out of the metro and just seeing it sitting there. I imagined some big shiny silver thing ( I know, dumb of me), but it was more bronze-ish color. It was really cool though. We walked around the area around the Eiffel Tower and found a café to get some famous French baguettes. After eating, we walked along the river and went past the Louvre, Notre Dame, and some other cathedrals and museums. Everything is pretty far apart, but along the river, so it was a lot of walking, especially after such a long sleepless night. Friday night, we had free entry into the Louvre, so that's what we did. It was very pretty seeing everything all lit up. It was so huge inside, you could probably spend days looking at everything. Of course we saw the Mona Lisa and so many other sculptures and paintings that would be the size of the wall.It was pretty neat and I recognized a lot of the artwork so that helped a lot.We got to see the crowned jewels, which were beautiful and paintings of King Leonidas and his 300 men (the movie 300). It was just huge! We spent a lot of time just walking around and looking at the various paintings. Even the ceilings were painted intricately, I took some video on my camera so I will upload those onto my blog page. But the Louvre was definitely worth seeing and if we had more time, we would have probably spent at least a day inside. We went to dinner afterwards and tried some French wine. I do not really know the difference between good and bad wine, but it was pretty good. We all heard that you cannot go to France and not try their wine, so we had to!
Saturday morning we went to the Sacre Coeur cathedral. It was beautiful! It was so big as well! We happened to "run into" Alan Rickman there! He was with his family, so we didn't bombard him for pictures, but we did follow him around a bit through the cathedral. At one point, he turned around to wait for the ret of his family and he gave us the "Snape- glare" and for anyone who knows Harry Potter, it was the exact same look! Apparently,the FAFTAS were Friday night, but we failed to make it to our third red carpet in 3 weeks. But somehow, we still managed to run into someone famous. Funny how that works! But we walked around the Sacre Coeur, which gave an amazing view of the whole city and then we went to the Eiffel Tower to actually go up to the top. We went to two different levels of the tower, and both gave views of the whole city as well. They showed where different buildings and cathedrals were so we were able to look and see everything and anything we wanted.It was definitely worth the line to get up and the cold once we got up there! Saturday night, we went on a boat tour of the city. The river runs through everything and so all of the "big attractions" are right along the city. Everything was lit up and looked beautiful. Every night at the hour, the Eiffel Tower sparkles (I have a video of that too) and so we got to see that twice while on the boat. We went past the statue of liberty, and then of course, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, The Louvre, the Musee d'orsay, and lots more. I had been told to either go in the Eiffel Tower at night or do a night boat tour, so we went with the tour and all loved it. After the tour, we went to st. Michele, an area that was lined with fun little restaurant type places. We went to two different places and it was actually a lot of fun. It was relaxing to just sit and they played music like they would be playing at clubs, but it was a much more calm atmosphere. We had a lot of fun but it turned into a late night because we struggled to find a taxi when it was time to go home. But eventually, we made it home, thankfully!
Sunday morning, Caitlin and I got up and went to mass at Notre Dame. It was beautiful inside and seemed like a never ending cathedral. The ceilings stretched on forever and the stained glass windows were everywhere. They had many little room type things with different saints in each and there were candles everywhere that you could buy and then go in front of the saint of your choice and say a prayer. Mass was good, it was in French for the most part, but it was still interesting to hear. It was kind of stinky because they allowed tourists to walk through the cathedral even while mass was going on, so it was a little bit distracting. But we were excited to be able to go church there. Afterwards, we went to the Arc de Triumph and the Arc de la Defense. The Arc de Triumph was huge! You could barely even fit it into a picture. It was just what it looks like in all the pictures you see. The Arc de la Defense was pretty cool to. I had never really heard of it before, but it was just a huge square in the middle of the city. You could go to the top of it if you wanted to, but we decided not to since we went up the Eiffel Tower. We stayed at the Arc de la Defense for a little while and it was nice because it was pretty calm around it and so there weren't as many people pushing past and all of that. But after we went to the Arc de Triumph we headed back toward the area of our hostel so we wouldn't have to rush back because we were supposed to meet at 6 to load the bus. We got some traditional French food for dinner, consisting of a toasted ham and cheese sandwich with a fried egg on top. It was actually pretty good!! So we ate and then dreaded getting back on the nasty 15 hour long trip home. The bus trip home was the extreme opposite of the ride there. We were actually freezing cold rather than hot but it was not too bad!
All in all, I loved Paris. I had heard that it isn't that great of a place, but I really enjoyed it! We had a lot of fun and got to see a lot in the short time we were there. I really enjoyed it. This week we actually have a pretty relaxing week. We are going to Wales next weekend to see a friend from high school but I just have two classes this week so it's not too bad. But I will update you with more later this week! I added some videos so check them out