Sunday, January 30, 2011

Remember that one time in the Metro

Wow! What a couple of days! I can’t believe all that happened – I am literally still in a daze.  To be honest I should still be sleeping since I didn’t sleep very much this trip to Paris.  Let’s start from the beginning shall we.

After Ethics on Thursday – where I was completely dominated by my teacher, I tried to answer a question and apparently my answer was the one she was looking for and she proceeded to ask me about 5 more questions and I had no idea what she was talking about – that might be the last time I answer a questions.  Anyways after Ethics Elizabeth, Mary Katie, and I walked back to our houses together – Mary Kate came with me and dropped her laptop off at my house because she lives so far away.  Let me back track and tell you all that our flight left at 8:20 and we got out of class at 5:15.  After I poured out my school stuff and packed up my bag, Mary Kate and I walked to Elizabeth’s house, since it was on the way to the metro stop we were going to.  We thought it would be a better idea and quicker to walk to the Pink Line metro instead of hopping lines.  Well none of us knew how far the metro was and we were a little pushed for time since we met up with Elizabeth at 6.  We found the metro stop and got on the train with no problem at all – even though the walk in the metro stop was a little long.  We met a girl on the metro from SLU and talked to her a little bit – she was going to Switzerland with a couple people I know.  Anyways when we got off the metro we tried to extra the stop, but you needed some sort of ticket since we were leaving the Madrid zone.  Oh I forgot to tell you, the three of us were basically running to the metro stop and once we found the metro we were basically running to the train we needed.  We were all sweating A LOT! Back to the story we bought the exit ticket and we were on our way to the main part of the airport.  Elizabeth and Mary Kate looked at the board to see what gate we were at while I put or shoved all the food Gloria made for me – she made me two sandwiches and a burrito, four pieces of fruit, and cookies.  It was exactly what I needed – some “mom” love.  We had about a ten minute fast walk to security which was a breeze – there was a little line but that was all the issue with security.  Then we found our gate where I was welcomed by some friends traveling to Switzerland.  We put our stuff down and ate our dinners, went to the bathroom, and then boarded the plane.

 Elizabeth, me, and Mary Kate on the plane ready to start our Paris adventure.
You know how everyone says "When going to a foreign country do not attract attention to yourself".... Well I was kind of doing the complete opposite - but that is why you all love me!!

Madeline had directions on what train and metro we needed to take to get to our hotel – we all thought it would go rather smoothly – not really the case.  We took our time getting off the plane, taking pictures, going to the bathroom, when we should have been running to catch the train we needed.  Side-note we didn’t have to go through customs because it was just another EU country.  Anyways we finally made our way to where the train to take us to the Paris metro departs – however, none of us have tickets and the train last train is just about to leave.  So we miss the train – we have NO idea on how to get to the metro now.  Surprisingly I was a lot more clam then I normally am – I am normally the person who is worrying, but I was calm because I knew I could always get a taxi.  We found a very very nice man who worked at the airport and spoke English to explain to us what we were supposed to do now.  We had to get on the airport train and transfer terminals; once we arrived at the terminal we bought a bus ticket and got on a bus to take us to the Paris metro.  This is where the real adventure began.  We ran to the metro train we needed to make sure we didn’t miss it – it was an adventure.  When we got off that train we needed to switch lines – this was interesting and a moment I will never forget.  We once again found someone to help us.  This very nice French guy was suppose to lead us to Line 4 – little did we know the adventure that was about to come.  Apparently we need to buy a metro ticket before because there was no place to buy when where we were and we needed one to get to the line we needed – very very strange.  The French man had a pass that he used to get through the gates – the door opens when you use a pass and then closes.  He told us to line up behind him and run through the gate.  Well… I was third in line and as I am trying to run through the door/gate it closes on me.  Let me try to get you to picture this in your mind.  The doors are small – only one person at a time and they are similar to an automatic door – when you use your pass the door will open.  So the door shut on me before I was all the way through – it was basically like running into a glass door.  Surprisingly I was not hurt at all – I just a really good laugh out of it and so did everyone else!

Well we finally got off on all the right stops for the metro and began to look for our hotel.  This again was an adventure – I feel like everything in Paris is an adventure.  Street signs in Europe just suck – there is really no polite way to put it – they suck.  We even stopped legit French people on the street and they didn’t know where the street was that we needed to get to.  We finally decided to go into McDonalds and ask for directions – they spoke little English but just enough to get us to our hotel!! We made it to our hotel!! And it was not as bad as we were all expecting! We had three beds – all different sizes – for four girls.  I shared a bed with Elizabeth!! Side note Elizabeth and I are becoming close friends! It is great.  Anyways below are some pictures of the adventure and the hotel!!

 This is when we should have been running to the train instead we decided to take pictures and enjoy arriving in Paris - it led to an adventure and a good story for sure!

We made it to the metro - excitement, scared, worried... there was a lot of emotion going around.

Success Hotel!!!!

Pictures of the Room!! It was not bad at all!

Elizabeth and I ready to start our first day in Paris!!

We had a game plan for the day and it was time to get it done!!  Our first stop of the day was Basilique de Sacre-Coeur – or the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.  This is a must see if you ask me.  When we got off the metro stop we came across this way that had “I love you” in practically every language possible – it was beautiful.  Walking to Sacre-Coeur there were a few – well maybe like a lot – of stairs.  The majority of people in my group were complaining left and right – but I have come to understand (or at least I am trying to understand) that complaining doesn’t help you or get you anywhere in life.  So we complain about how cold it was in Paris or how many steps we had to climb or we just all suck it up and appreciate the opportunity we have to travel Paris at being 19 years old.  The first time I had a real view of the Eiffel Tower was on my way to the Sacre-Coeur – I saw it from the plane but that doesn’t really count.  This church was gorgeous – I couldn’t take pictures instead so you should all go there yourselves and see what I am talking about.

The wall of love!

First real view of the Eiffel Tower.

Our next stop of the tour of Paris was Notre-Dame.  The view was amazing.  The church was completely different from the Sacre-Coeur.  Both beautiful in their own way.  Since I didn’t have a tour of either of the churches I can’t really tell you more than what you all probably already now so I am going to leave that out.  What I want to touch on is my experience when I walked into them.  I got chills in both of them – I don’t believe it is because it was cold outside and then we came inside where it was warm.  I think there was something more there.  A feeling.  Not really sure how to explain it.  But the beauty of the churches is unreal – and they are all built for one person – God.  After seeing something like that there is no doubt in my mind there is a high power – God and Catholic is the correct religion for me – again it was just a feeling I got.  In all the churches I had the opportunity to sit down and say a pray of thanks.  Going into the churches is an experience I will never forget.

Girls in front of Notre-Dame

Making some bird calls in front of Notre-Dame.

When leaving Notre-Dame I had an adventure.  I was linked arms with Megan and Elizabeth I was on the outside.  We walked past a gentleman I would say around the age of 45 who literally came up to me and snorted at me and kept walking.  I grabbed my purse and screamed!! I had no idea what was happening.  Another great adventure.  Our next stop on the list was Arc de triomphe.  It is this huge arc in the middle of a crazy round-a-bout.  It is like a free-for-all around it.  Car horns are a constant noise.  The arc was really neat.  To get on the round-a-bout part there is an underground pathway so you don’t have to play frogger across the street.  Again if I got to do Paris over again I would like a guide so I know some of the history behind all the monuments I saw and I would choose to go in a warmer season – the cold and wind were not very fun – but I still didn’t complain because I was in Paris!

Group in front of the Arc.

Well after the Arc de Triomphe we walked down the  Champs Elysees – it is a very famous street for shopping.  Personally I didn’t buy anything, but it was neat to walk into the stores and look around and warm up.  Something to note is everywhere I have gone shopping there has been the store H&M – I think it is kind of weird.  My favorite store was the watch store –Swatch.  If I didn’t get my watches as dirty as I do and I wanted to spend 50 euros on a watch this is where I would go.  They had some of brightest color waters and they were all very fun!!

The famous street.

My new car.

Favorite store!!

3D TV!!! Looking good!

As you keep walking on Champs Elysees you will eventually end up at the Louvre – the very famous museum!  This is where I saw the Mona Lisa! To be honest I did not find the Mona Lisa to be anything of that much excitement.   There were numerous other paintings that appealed to me more.  Don’t get me wrong I understand the importance of the painting, but it just isn’t my sup of tea.  The Wedding Feast is also in the same room as the Mona Lisa and I thought it was way more impressive than the Mona Lisa.  Some of the paintings in the Louvre are huge!! I have no idea where the artist would even start to paint one of them and how the paintings are transported from place to place – it is amazing.  By the time we got to Louvre it was about 6 o’clock and we were all getting tired.  If I get the chance to come back to Paris someday I would really like to spend more time in the Louvre and see all the sculptures.  The group I was with mainly wanted to see paintings, which I was completely fine with! I also would like to have a tour guide or an audio so I can understand more of the meaning on the paintings and artwork in the Louvre. 
Me in front of the Louvre.
The Wedding Feast

The epic Mona Lisa.
 Last but not least on our first day in Paris we went to see the Eiffel Tower.  When we were on the metro and I saw the Eiffel Tower it was then that it finally hit me that I was in Paris!! The Eiffel Tower at night was gorgeous!! There are no words to describe the excitement that came over me when we saw the tower! We didn’t stay too long since it was already after 9.  We headed back to our hotel and ate at a little café/restaurant there.  At this point we were all very hungry, tired, and a little crabby.  Our group had split up after the arc so I was only with a couple people the rest of the night.  We accomplished a lot in one day and we were all extremely tired! I was very excited to go back to the room and get a goodnights sleep.

My first time seeing the Eiffel Tower :)

Going up the Eiffel Tower!!

The view was amazing!!

Taken on my last night in Paris... Goodbye Eiffel Tower :(

 However, I started feeling sick – like a cold.  My nose started to run and my throat got scratchy.  Friday night I got about 6.5 hours of sleep.  On Saturday we were suppose to leave around 9:30am however it ended up being around 10:30 – I was a little upset at first but I realized it worked out for the better.  Saturday was a lot more low key.  Megan, Elizabeth, and I went back to the Eiffel Tower to go up it – we were a little disappointed to find out the top was closed for renovation, but we still decided to go! The elevator was an adventure.  The line was only about 15 minutes long – not bad at all.  Then we got in the elevator and it went to the second floor, but the doors didn’t open.  Then we went down to the first floor and the doors didn’t open then back to the second floor and after a while we finally got out of the elevator.  A little scary!  The view was amazing – I cannot even imagine going up to the top of the Eiffel Tower and seeing that view!! After we went up and took a bunch of pictures we just decided to walk around, find something to eat, and shop.  We had a great time even though we were really tired and cold! We experienced Paris!
Chocolate Crepes! Yummy!

Last meal in Paris - Croque Madame - Bread then jam then bread then melted cheese then eggs - it's a French thing.  Oh an of course a glass of wine!

Getting to the airport to come back to Madrid was not as exciting as coming from Madrid.  We spent the night in the airport – I would really not recommend this.  It was cold and uncomfortable but it was free so that is a plus I guess! So Saturday night I got about 2.5 hours a sleep, so that makes the three day trip total about 13.5 hours of sleep!! I cannot wait to go to bed tonight!!
Sleeping in the cold airport!!

The sunrise on the way back to Madrid - it was better in person.

Things I learned in Paris
1.       Traveling with friends is fun and stressful
2.       I like having a background knowledge of the places we see
3.       I am a master at the metro
4.       Sleep is very important
5.       Making the best of all situations is a must
6.       Make sure you smile and have fun!
7.       Enjoy every moment of the trip – the good and the bad – the bad moments might make the best memories – remember that one time in the metro… when you got smashed in a door
8.       Make you have everyone before getting on a metro and have enough time to get on the train – we almost lost Elizabeth – she didn’t get on the metro because we ran to catch it and she missed it – I tried to pull the down open – I was like a mother after my child!! Haha. I told her the stop to get off on and it was all good!!
9.       Try not to worry and just have fun!!

Tomorrow I will give more a reflection on my experience in Paris but that is all for now.

Paz y Amor.  God Bless

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