Friday, Jan. 22, 2016
Our flight to Paris was scheduled to leave from London Gatwick Airport at 4:45 p.m. and arrive at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport at 7 p.m. It is only an hour flight to Paris, but there is an hour time difference between London and Paris. At 1 p.m. Korrie, Tori and I met Kenzie (who was coming from her class at Hamilton House) at Kings Cross St. Pancras Station to catch our train to the Gatwick airport. When we got to the turnstiles we decided to ask a worker if we purchased the right ticket to board the Thameslink train to Gatwick, but it turns out we did not. The workers at the station were very helpful about getting us the right ticket we needed. So after a little bit of confusion, we had our tickets and were on the train to Gatwick.
The train took us right to the airport terminal, so we quickly got off and made it through security, then had a late lunch before our plane departed. When it was time to board our flight, I was shocked to find out that I had to walk outside, on the runway, to board our plane. Like I mentioned before, I have very little flight experience so climbing up a set of shaky metal stairs into the back entrance of an airplane is certainly not the ideal situation for someone who isn’t a frequent flier. Once I made it on the plane and got comfortable, I fell asleep and the next thing I knew, I was in Paris.
At the airport we had to wait in line at immigration since we were entering into a different country. After a wait that felt like forever, we made it through and were on our way to our hostel. The difficult part was finding our way to the hostel. Since we were in France, most people obviously spoke French so it was difficult trying to follow the directions we were being given by people who barely spoke English. Although I have some knowledge of French from high school I am by no means fluent, and I only know a few basic phrases. Fortunately, a man at the information desk at the airport pointed us in the right direction tracing out our route from a train at our terminal. So we got our tickets and boarded the train.
The Metro was a lot dirtier than the Tube and smelled terrible. If this is what public transportation was like in other countries, I was grateful I was staying in London. Luckily, it was a short train ride and we made it to our hostel without any problems.
After we got settled into our room, it was almost 9 p.m., but we went out to dinner at a small French restaurant. The menu was all in French, but our waitress (who could obviously tell we were Americans) was nice enough to translate the menu for us. The food was amazing, but the bread was to die for. I think I ate a whole loaf just by myself. It was the perfect way to spend the first night in Paris.
Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016
Our second day in Paris started early in the morning and went all day. We walked all across the city and saw so many amazing sites. I ate traditional French dishes, practiced my French speaking skills, got called a “stupid American” by an angry French man, saw some of the greatest works of architecture in the world and still didn’t take enough pictures.
In the morning, we ate breakfast at our hostel then asked the front desk for directions to Notre Dame. We purchased an all-day train pass from the Metro station so we could make it to as many places as possible during the day. Our first stop was at Notre Dame. It was a lot bigger than I expected it would be. My pictures inside don’t even do it justice!
Love Lock Bridge
After Notre Dame we took a detour to the Love Lock Bridge. There was a souvenir store right across the street from the bridge so I purchased a lock, a marker and tried on some berets, just for fun. Finding a place to put my lock was a lot harder than I thought it would be, but I finally found the perfect spot, then kissed my key goodbye and threw it in the river behind me. Fun Fact: It was here where an angry French man called me a “stupid American.” He apparently hates that tourists come and pollute the bridges with locks because it makes the bridges look “ugly.” I could see his point, but I didn’t like being the target of his frustration.
Our next stop of the morning was the Louvre. We decided not to go into the museum just because we didn’t have the time. If I do end up going back to Paris, I’d definitely stop back here and see the Mona Lisa!
Stay tuned for Part II of my visit to Paris!