Nantes - Beirut
Easter weekend was fast approaching and I had just gotten back last Sunday night (March 28th) from an incredible 9 day trip to Greece. I was still kind of playing "catch-up", if you will, with life. My sister, Rachel, and her boyfriend Andrew got into Paris on Friday morning and I planned to meet up with them later that evening. I got into Paris about 6:30pm and had to take an hour long bus ride into the main part of the city. Ryan-Air (the cheap airline that all the students travel with in Europe) flies into all these small ass airports that are located out in the middle of nowhere and it takes a costly bus ride to get into the main city in that area. Once I finally got into downtown Paris, I realized that the easiest/quickest way to meet up with Rachel and Andrew at our hotel would most definitely be a cab ride. So I coughed up and grabbed a taxi and took it to our hostel. It was great getting to see Rachel (and Andrew!) as I don't get to see her enough as it is because she lives in Washington D.C. and I am usually in Omaha, NE or Chamberlain, SD. It had been a pretty 'roller coaster' past week for me to, so it was great to see some familiar faces since I've been abroad and family at that. We decided to grab a bite at a nice little restaurant that was near our hotel. It happened to be an Italian joint (of course), but nevertheless it was really good. We also had our first of several crepes with nutella at this place.
The next day we woke up early and decided to make it to Versailles, which is just outside of Paris. After a short, 40 minute metro ride into Versailles, we were greeted what seemed to be the Easter tourist special in Paris/Versailles that weekend. There were quite a few people standing in line to get into the palace at Versailles, but surprisingly it really didn't take that long at all. The palace was beautiful, pretty much everything you would expect from a palace that played host to Louis XIV, XV, & XVI located in one of the most historic and wealthiest parts in all of Europe. Rich people had it pretty sweet back in the day. I found it rather comical that Louis XV was such a partier and even hosted parties in his bedroom in the palace of all places. Not sure as to what exactly those parties entailed, but I'm sure your imagination isn't too far off. The hall of mirrors was definitely the most iconic area in the palace and pretty amazing. After the palace, we decided to briefly look around the gardens located behind the palace. You could literally walk around those gardens for days they are so vast. They were pretty magnificent and I couldn't help but be reminded of one of my favorite childhood stories/movies, The Count of Monte Cristo. I had no problem envisioning a french masquerade ball being held there back in the day.
After Versailles, we grabbed a sandwich at a place located pretty close to Notre Dame cathedral. Notre Dame cathedral was pretty fantastic. Definitely one of my favorites I have seen while Europe (and trust me I have seen my share!). Andrew pointed out to us that the best view of Notre Dame is actually from the side/behind it. It was a beautiful church and once again the history of the Catholic church astounded me. After the cathedral, we walked over toward the Louvre. We sat outside of it taking pictures and decided that we needed to find the place where we would be doing the wine tasting seminar, so we decided to put off doing the Louvre until tomorrow (Easter). So we found the wine tasting place after some 'clever' navigating and fund that it actually took place down in a cellar. The wine tasting was fantastic, as was the guy who hosted. I felt as though I actually learned quite a bit and got to try some fantastic French wines, including a champagne. There was one wine that really stood out to all three of us as our favorite, but I cannot recall the name of it so maybe Rachel or Andrew could help me out with that. It was fantastic though. Maybe my favorite wine that I have had. The wine tasting was great and we all walked out of there having our fair share.
After the wine, we decided to make our way towards the Eiffel tower. We decided to walk and it ended up being a pretty decent hike, but in the end it was well worth it. The Eiffel tower was stunning to say the least. I am kind of glad we decided to do it at night as the ambience that it gave off was rather gorgeous. We eventually got in line to go up to the top and it goes a lot higher up than you might think. The Eiffel tower was the biggest surprise for me that weekend as I had actually underrated it going in and was taken by it after viewing its grandeur in person. While in line at the Eiffel, we met a couple on their honeymoon that had been here the past two nights in line and had still yet to make it to the top of the tour. Hearing that, I was just glad that we made it up there. After the tower, we made our way back to the hotel and stopped for a kebab along the way.
The next day, we found a church near by and made it to mass. I have been to my share of mass in Italian, so hearing it in French was even more of a blur. Either way, it felt like mass and it was Easter Sunday. The plan after mass was to make our way to the Louvre and then it would be time for me to get on the bus and head back to the airport. Unfortunately for us, the line to get into the Louvre literally went on for miles. I did not have enough time wait in line and expect to be able to see all I wanted in museum and make my bus to get to the airport. So we took our blow to the chin and missed out on the Louvre while we were in Paris. Andrew told the Mona Lisa looked like a third grade finger painting anyway, so that made me feel better. The way I look at it, I sacrificed the Louvre for my soul as I did Easter mass as opposed to the infamous French museum. In all honesty, yes of course I wanted to go in the museum and see some of the masterpieces that are Van Gogh's Starry Night and what not, but I have been to so many museums since I have been here, at the time it was just kind of like, okay whatever. Besides going to mass on Easter was much more of a priority to me anyway and really the trip in general wasn't really about Paris for me. It was much more about getting to see my sister and Andrew and getting to spend the weekend with them. I was put in charge of what we were to do until I had to leave so I decided that we should dine-in at an authentic little French cafe getting coffee and crepes. I was a big fan of it and was glad we were able to have the French Cafe experience.
My trip to Paris was great. It was a short weekend trip and quite honestly I didn't have near enough time there, but I plan on trying to make it back at some point in my life. Paris was a beautiful city, rich with culture and history. It was definitely the most romantic city I have ever been to. The French culture fascinates me as it seems to be quite romantic in general. The language is beautiful. At the time, being in the most romantic city in the world wasn't necessarily ideal for me, but by the time it's all said and done, I will make it back there to experience the romanticism at its best.