11.25.2016 Bonjour Paris

Forever in my mind will I associate Paris with the idea that dreams where made to come true. I’ll get to this later but here I experience the unexplainable feeling that anything is possible. My soul was touched in Paris.

I don’t know why I have been procrastinating writing the rest of the posts for so long. I mean seriously who wouldn’t want to write about their adventure through Europe? Well better late than never, I’m not going to let myself just put this off. These posts are long but this is truly my journey, this is how I felt, and these were my thoughts.

To begin. I arrived in Paris relatively late on the 23rd. After getting out of baggage claim, I was expecting to have my passport stamped. In the moment I was a little worried that I screwed something up and in turn would not be able to leave (I wouldn’t be complaining though). To help ease my thoughts I walked over to a Relay café in the airport and got a coffee and a sandwich because I was also a little hungry anyways. I figured at this point there’s not much more I can do, and eventually I was reassured through a quick text conversation with my mom and a couple google searches while I still had wifi.

Since the Charles-de-Gaulle airport is about 50 minutes from the city itself, the easiest option and the most cost effective is to take a train/ metro into the city. Even though I took the metro from Athens to the airport, this time I had to change trains about 3 times making it a little less fool-proof aka 3 more times to mess up. This was really my only option though because a taxi would have been WAY too expensive. So I put my big girl pants on and followed the signs for the RER B to the city.

After purchasing the ticket from the window I proceeded down the stairs and prayed that I was getting on the right train. I was surprised with how user friendly the metro system is in Paris. It was SO simple. You basically follow the sign that is clearly labeled with all the stops that metro takes until you get to your correct train. Even for an American tourist who had been up all day, who has also little to no experience taking the metro, this was EASY. Trust me.

It took me a little over an hour to ultimately get to the stop closest to my hostel: Aloha Eiffel tour hostel Paris. If you plan to stay here the directions listed out on hostel world are excellent!

The first moment of magic occurred as soon as I was a couple steps out of the metro. I immediately was faced with the incredible architecture on buildings one would probably consider insignificant. Then after a couple more steps I noticed the top of the Eiffel Tour lit up in between buildings. Even writing this two months later I still get the chills thinking about it. My energy level, spirit, charisma, you name it, was instantly boosted.

Shortly after I found myself at the hostel, got my stuff settled in my dorm bedroom and then walked to me my friend Heather who was studying abroad in France at the time.

The walk was absolutely brilliant. The streets were lit up giving it even more charm and every so often I was blessed with another sneak peek of the Eiffel tour.

The walk was a basically one road that I just had to follow down to reach the campus, which the study abroad group was staying at. Our plan for the evening was to take the lovely Paris metro to the Eiffel tour and walk around the grounds to see it lit up at night.

As soon as we got out of the metro, walked over and started to try to take some pictures I was shocked to find out that that not only is it lit up at night, but on the top of every hour it actually glitters for roughly 10 minutes. I had no idea that this happened. I have been to Paris more than once before, I have no idea why I didn’t know this. I simply thought that it was only lit at night (which is already outstandingly beautiful enough).

This is what I like to call the Sparkly Eiffel tour feeling. I cannot even begin to explain but like I said there is something about this that makes you feel like anything is possible. It literally felt like something inside me ignited. I think in that moment there was this even greater, newfound sense of hope that sparked in me. I was so moved by this I could have cried if I wanted to.

We continued around the grounds of the structure taking time to catch up and tell stories, which also allowed us to see the sparkles one more time. Once we finished our lap, we walked back to the metro to where she was staying. I walked home form there because I already knew the way and would be best oriented. As I was walking back to my hostel I saw the sparkles again from the distance, peeking out between two buildings. I’m not kidding when I said I had to stop, take it in and let it permeate for a couple seconds. Knowing that this feeling was possible caused me to question why people should feel anything less than this sparkly Eiffel tour feeling.

I went to bed with a smile on my face and an inspired heart.

The next morning, Heather and I had planned to meet at the Notre Dame at around 9:30. Our plan was to tour the Notre Dame, go to the Christmas market, follow the Champs d’Elysees to the Arc De Triomphe, and then continue on to the Eiffel Tour again.

On my way to the Metro, I passed a café called AM Martinho and got myself a quick little breakfast. Before the start of my trip I had joked with my parents that my Thanksgiving meal was going to be a pain au chocolat and a cappuccino, so you can only imagine what I ordered. I also decided that I would be brave and test my French. To my surprise I actually ordered successfully, and was able to answer the worker’s follow up questions. I think that also helped make the coffee and pastry taste even better than they already were: sweet, sweet victory.

I was able to successfully take the metro from the area of my hostel to the area of the Notre Dame. I am not lying when I say that Paris makes the metro basically foolproof. I found myself in a bit of a pickle; however, when I got out of the metro station. See, I knew I close to the Notre Dame, but I realized that I didn’t really know which way I had to go except for hopefully near the little river.

Ultimately I did walk the wrong direction for a couple blocks, but quickly turned around without getting discouraged, once I felt like it was not the correct direction.

Eventually you will see the waterway and the Notre Dame itself, and if you’re like me, you will also get the butterflies.

In typical Hannah fashion, I was a little bit early so I had the opportunity to walk around the area in front of the church and take some pictures until my friend arrived.

Once we met up we went inside the church.

I have been here before yet I still found myself blown away and beyond impressed. Both the interior and exterior are so grand. To say that this cathedral is exquisite would not be dramatic at all. The craziest part is to think that this and many cathedrals of the same stature were constructed long before the wonderful technologies we have today.

Once we finished touring the inside we decided to pay to climb to the top. I couldn’t help but be excited as I thought of Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This is something I would 100% recommend doing. Even though I have traveled to Paris before, I have never experienced the view from the top of the Notre Dame.

You will be climbing something like 433 steps to the top in a spiral staircase that happens to get narrower and narrower the closer to the top you near so if you are in any way shape or form claustrophobic I wouldn’t recommend but it is definitely worth it.

I actually enjoyed this view probably more than climbing the Eiffel tour and the Arc de Triomphe. This is because the view from the here is high enough that you can see EVERYTHING while also getting to see the Eiffel tour in the view, which I found to be super cool! When you go to the Top of the Arc de Triomphe it is a very great view and definitely worth it, but it is a little harder to see everything. Obviously climbing the Eiffel tour is awesome but I think seeing the Eiffel tour from a view was probably cooler. If you have the chance, I would say do them all; but, if you can only choose one I would definitely recommend seeing the view from the top of the Notre Dame.

After our decent, we got back on the metro to the Louvre stop so we could walk from the Christmas market to the Arc de Triomphe. Paris is an awesome city to walk because you really can’t get lost. You can basically see the top of any major landmark you are trying to get to at all times, which is really convenient.

The Paris Christmas market was huge and my far probably the most Grand that I experienced during my trip. I did not make any purchase here except for on food. The best thing about those 433 steps was that it justified everything I was about to try at the Christmas market. I tried a cheese and potato dish, a mushroom and onions dish, potato pancakes, and a glass of mulled wine. My taste buds were so satisfied. As we walked out of the section with a lot of food vendors in one place and continued down the road, we passed a crepe stand where I realized that because I was in Paris I just needed to get a crepe. So I continued to enjoy that as we proceeded.

Eventually the market met up with the famous Champs d’Elysees, which was very neat to see. As well, the view of the Arc de Triomphe was also very clear at this point.

Due to time and money we chose not to go up, I was just happy to see it again because I have very vivid memories of being at the Arc with my Mom, brothers, and Grandma.

Getting to the Eiffel tour from the Arc was extremely simple because like I talked about before, you can quite literally follow the top of the Eiffel tour as we proceed through the streets. Even though we had seen the Eiffel tour the night before, it truly is a different experience during the daytime. For one it is far more crowded and two there is a different atmosphere (all good of course). All I really wanted to do here was just stand underneath. I’m not really sure how stupid that sounds but Oh well, we did it anyways and I loved every moment of it.

At this point we were a little bit tired so we went back to where my friend was staying and had a nap before dinner.

We started out at the restaurant Le Nemrod to get apps and a drink and then kept hopping to other places until we decided to call it a night. Instead of an app I chose to get a crème brulee because once again I figured, when in France I have to get one. I was delicious, but wasn’t anything more special than crème brulees I have samples before. I also decided to sample a Grimbergen dark, which introduced me to a newfound love for dark beer. The flavor was so delicious it tasted velvety. Once we finished and paid there we went into a more of a bar style place. I don’t remember the name because I didn’t write it down or take a picture.

This was our last stop of the night because we realized it was getting late and we both had a relatively early start in the morning.

As I walked back from where she was staying I was fortunate enough to catch a peek of the Eiffel tour glittering again. What feeling and what a perfect way to conclude my last night in Paris. The perfect reminder that I do indeed deserve to feel this magic all the time and the perfect reminder that everything happens for a reason and works out exactly as it needs to be.

This isn’t really in chronological order but I want to talk about the hostel I stayed in: Aloha Hostel Paris. This place was really great! It was close to the metro station and also a very simple walk to any major landmark. I can’t necessarily say a short walk because even from the Notre Dame to the Arc de Triomphe Google maps told us it would take about an hour. As well, compared to most lodging in Paris this place was very inexpensive and HIGH quality. I did stay in a dorm room, which was shared with six other girls. The bathroom situation was good, not necessary ideal, but I also wasn’t paying for ideal. During the shower I had to hit the button for the water about every 30 seconds and the water wasn’t necessarily the warmest, which was kind of sad for when I had to get out. Another thing I would keep in mind if you plan to stay here is that if you need a towel you have to rent it for like 2 Euros. I did not try it but I think the hostel did offer some sort of simple complimentary breakfast too. If I travel to Paris again I would 100% stay here again and would definitely recommend it to a friend!

Paris this time around definitely exceeded my expectations considering I already had a decent idea of what to expect. It is a really cool thing to have travelled to a place when you are a child and then see it again a little more than 10 years later and see how your see things differently.

Hope you all have a great day!

xxHannah

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