...but not to my heart! I did not like Paris--at least at first. It took a while to grow on me. It's still not my favorite city. It doesn't hold a candle to London or York or Dublin or Galway or pretty much any town in the UK :), but I grew to like it the longer I was there. We left London on Saturday morning and caught the Eurostar for a ride through the Chunnel. I never even knew we'd reached the Chunnel, until suddenly we were in France... the French countryside was really beautiful, but so very different from the English countryside (and the Irish countryside, and the Welsh countryside--wow, I feel so well-traveled!). The train ride took about three hours. It was a really nice, roomy train with huge windows, so when we weren't underground it was a really good chance to see a little bit of France outside of the city. The train ride ended pretty quickly. The moment I stepped off that train was the moment the culture shock hit, for the first time on my entire adventure. Our entire first day in Paris was like hitting a brick wall of Parisian culture. It was so overwhelming. Immediately after getting off the Chunnel we dragged our bags through a Metro station and caught a few trains to the Arc de Triomphe.
|It's so big! Way bigger than I was expecting. And it was pretty. :)|
As soon as we got out of the Metro we were completely immersed a mile deep in Paris. It was super duper stressful to me personally, but it was probably good because it made me more comfortable in the city the other four days we were there. We grabbed dinner at a cafeteria type place, then we headed to Mont Marte. This place is crazy! There are tons of shops, a million artists--many of whom would come up to us and tell us how beautiful we were. They were dying to paint us. :), and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of people.
The very large centerpiece of the area was Sacre Couer. It's a huge basilica and the highest point in Paris.
|The view of Paris from the steps in front of Sacre Couer. I had no idea how crazy big this city is. It goes on forever.|
|My friend Emily and I in front of the view.|
Something really iconic about this area is all the illegal street performers and merchants. This guy is standing on a pillar that has like a 75 foot drop on the other side. He was really talented. He never dropped the ball and he didn't fall to his death, so I was impressed.
The illegal merchants are everywhere. None of them have permits, so they keep all their merchandise on a blanket. When policeman come around, which they do all the time, they just scoop up their stuff in a blanket and book it. These people can get pretty crazy. Their is one group of girls that stand around with clipboards and try to get you to donate money to them because their mute, but if you pay attention you can see them talking to each other all the time. Their were also these guys from Guinea selling these bracelets. Their pretty persistent. They try to grab your arm and put string around your fingers to make these bracelets, and then they try to charge you like ten Euro for them. Kaity and I were avoiding them the whole time we were there, but later we decided that we wanted one because, well, they're pretty sweet.
|I got red, white, and blue because those are the colors of both the UK and France. I thought it was appropriate. :)|
It was crazy! Juan, who had gotten one before us, told us that it would be fine as long as we told them up front that we'd only give them a Euro for a bracelet, and weren't pushovers. As soon as we walked up to them we were ambushed. For some reason, Kaity didn't really have anyone fighting over her. But there were like three guys fighting over me. It was intense. I picked the one who had the colors I liked the best. While the guy was making it he was asking me where I was from and when he found out I was American he decided that he wanted me to be his American girlfriend. It was really awkward and I got out of there pretty fast. But I got a really cool bracelet out of it. It fell apart like a week after I got back, but I still have it. :) The funniest thing about this whole experience was that my "boyfriend"/the guy who made my bracelet, got arrested literally two minutes after I left.
After we got our first taste of delicious baguettes and stinky, yet surprisingly tasty French cheese, we headed back to our hotel and recovered from our first day in Paris.