Our third stop of our European adventure was Paris, where we stayed with my friend Suba. I met Suba and Elise when I was in Iceland on exchange last year, and they showed us all around on the weekend.
We got to Paris close to 11:00 pm, and Elise and Suba met us as the train station. I was so excited to see them again! Elise had driven, so on our way to Suba's house (they both live just south of Paris actually), I was able to catch a glimpse of Paris at night. Beautiful! But the traffic is crazy. I would not want to drive there, that's for sure. Cars are just zooming all around, and there are crazy roundabouts, people pull up super close - it was madness to me! Winnipeg traffic looks really really really tame now in comparison to here. Elise and Suba took us over to their friend's flat for a few minutes and then to Suba's house. And that was our night. Nothing too exciting other than the fact that we were in Paris!
On Saturday, the four of us took a train into Paris and spent the day seeing the sights. First stop: the Eiffel Tower! Meghan and I wanted to go all the way up to the top, but they were not selling tickets to that part anymore - only to the second level. So up to the second level we went, which was still pretty high. Fantastic view from up there! The sky was clear so we were able to see quite a distance. And the city just goes on and on and on and doesn't end. I guess thats what happens when you have 2.5 million people living in a city.
We went on a boat ride down the Seine river, and were able to see the different landmarks from the boat, which was really nice. And we visited Champs Élysées which is a really really busy shopping street with the Arc du Triomphe (I am not sure exactly how it is spelled) at the end, which as another crazy roundabout surrounding it. Notre Dame cathedral was another stop and Montmarte (the white church). Such amazing architecture. The buildings and the bridges were gorgeous! And some were so big. Like Notre Dame - huge!
For lunch, Suba and Elise made sandwiches that we brought with us, so we ate lunch in a park staring at the Eiffel Tower. Then later that day we bought ice cream and sat along the Seine river staring at Notre Dame. I loved it. I think that is what life is all about - being able to take a break and enjoy the beauty that is all around you. Whether it's staring at a field of golden wheat swaying in the wind in Manitoba, marveling at Iceland's rugged landscape or enjoying the history of Paris, just always make sure you take the time to enjoy it. Life is too short to not take advantage of those moments.
That evening, some of Elise and Suba's friends met us for dinner and we went to a crepe restaurant. I had a crepe with ham, cheese and mushrooms. Mmm mmm good. And after dinner, they took us to a bar called Latin Corner. I am pretty sure that it was the best bar I have ever been to. It was filled with ladies, and for good reason - the servers were all young, good looking men who were wearing nothing but their boxer briefs. Yup, a pretty good place. We had the best looking server (or at least we thought so), and I got a kiss on the cheek and picked up (literally, not figuratively. I was trying to get a picture with him and the next thing I know he had me in his arms) so I was not one to complain! Definitely a fun place for a girls night out!
On Sunday, we went to Elise's house for lunch. It was a traditional French meal, which started with cantaloupe and ham for the first course, followed by lamb and pork with potatoes and apples, followed with five different kinds of cheese and baguettes, and finally a dessert that had a pie crust and strawberries on it with a sort or custard layer. Sooooooo good! And the wine! Her dad brought out a bottle of wine to go with the meal, which was great. After the meal, Elise and Suba took us to an area where there are lots of stores and after that to a nice park. Since it was Sunday, Elise had to head back to Dijon where she goes to school, so we had to say goodbye to her that evening. I was sad to have to say it since it was so nice to see her again.
Yesterday, Suba, Meghan and I went to the supermarket quickly so that Meg and I could get some food to take on the train since we are currently on our way to Madrid. In my opinion, French grocery stores have to be some of the best ever simply on account of the fact that they call sell alcohol. The number of bottles of wine there was fantastic. And so cheap! I saw 1€80 for a bottle of wine. How can you go wrong with that? It was just as cheap to buy a bottle of wine as it was to buy the juice we got. Anyways, after getting our food, we journeyed back into Paris for the day. We went to the Louvre, but didn't go in. We just looked at the pyramid and the building, then continued on our way. It is such a huge museum that it basically takes a day to go through it, and since we weren't in Paris that long we decided not to go in. We would rather wander around the city, which is what we did. We did a bit of shopping - I got a little purse and hat - and ate lunch along the river again.
Meghan had another job interview yesterday too (it was actually with the same company from when we went to McDonalds in Amsterdam - something had been miscommunicated on their end, and they had to reschedule to yesterday. So in Amsterdam Meghan didn't actually have an interview. Anyways, back to the story...) and so we had scoped out a Starbucks in an area since we figured we could go there because Starbucks has free wi-fi. But when we got there, it was quite loud and so we decided to move to another Starbucks we had passed.'so we get there about 10 minutes before the interview is about to start, and I go order a drink since we figured we should probably order something if we are sitting in there. When I get back to the table, Meghan was having a slight panic - the Internet was not connecting for her. So we're down to about five minutes til it's show time. Not good. Meg decides she will go ask why they know it's not working - turns out you have to pay for wi-fi at this Starbucks, but another girl in line tells us that a pub just around the corner has free wi-fi. And with that, we ran out the door and down the street, looking for the pub. We find it with a couple minutes to spare. But it's not so quiet, which is not good. Luckily for us, Suba asked the waitress if there was somewherew quieter and the server took us to a back area. Meghan and I both pull out our iPods, trying to connect to the Internet. And guess what... It's not working either. So now it's time for the interview and we don't have an internet connection for Meghan to use. Definitely not good. Not good at all. Meghan was able to find a phone number for the company contact and quickly called from her cell phone saying she was trying to find a connection that works. Then, since that place wasn't working for us, we took off in search of another place with wi-fi. As we were walking down the street, I had my iPod out - I wanted to see if we could find a signal somewhere near any other pubs or restaurants. Just 30 seconds outside of the pub we were in, I found a wifi signal that didn't have a password requirement as we were standing in the street. (It was a quiet little walking street.) Meghan tried getting it to work on her iPod but it wouldn't. So I handed Meghan my iPod, she logged into skype, and that is the story of how Meghan did a job interview on the side of a street in Paris!
Once Meghan had successfully completed her interview, we met my friend Helene for dinner. Helene was an exchange student from France who came to Winnipeg in the fall, and she spent Thanksgiving weekend with my family. So it was so nice to see her again too!! It was great to catch up with her.
Finally, it was back to Suba's house to once again repack our bags. And this morning we are off to Madrid! We caught a train at 9:15 am from Paris and we should arrive in Madrid around 10:00 pm tonight! Suba went with Meghan and I to the train station and there I had to say goodbye to her. Or better yet, I should say "See you later!" is more appropriate than goodbye.
It was soooo nice to see Elise and Suba again - I missed you girls so much! Thank you for everything!!! You girls are the best! And Helene, it was so nice to see you again too! (Good luck with the rest of your internship - I will keep my fingers crossed that you get offered a job when it's over!)
A bientot, Paris!