November 6, 2016
Goodbye Paris! What a unique place! I am really getting blown away by Europe and the architecture. The buildings are so GRAND and intricate. Paris exceeded any sort of expectations when it comes to just how beautiful a city can really be. I didn’t really have expectations, yet when I arrived I realized it wasn’t like how I expected it to be in my head.. I didn’t realize it was going to be so busy and big. I’ve never seen anything like it so spread out yet so consistent with such impressive architecture. The subway system alone was this world underground that was extremely complex and you could get anywhere quite quickly as the trains were very frequent. The subways themselves were usually pretty full often with musicians playing their instruments (often accordions) onboard and then accepting donations at each stop. When walking around the city, one thing I did notice is just how LOUD the city is during the day (yet there are also tons of quiet smaller roads as well). Sirens seemed to constantly go off in the distance while horns were honked by the steady ongoing traffic. Oh yes, the traffic.. wow there’s tons of cars. Amsterdam was full of bicycles while Paris was full of cars. There are an abundance of small (tiny) cars made perfect for a big city. We saw a few cars that were completely electric. Some were charging as they parked at designated charging stations! Very cool! I learned that a crosswalk does not mean that you can just cross the street bc cars aren’t required to stop at crosswalks (zebra crossings for all you UK folk 😵).. When I travel I always love to see the similarities but mainly the subtle (and not so subtle) differences from my own country. You find yourself noticing things that are the same.. but they have a certain twist to them.. in this case, a French Twist. For example one thing noticeable were the little restaurants scattered throughout the city. I had the best food I have had since I’ve left here in Paris. The bread.. I never knew bread could taste so good. The cheese, olives and wine are incredible. We had a pizza that was ridiculously good. The restaurants themselves were quite quaint. The tables and chairs (almost always wooden chairs 😀) were setup quite close to another. If seated outside on the terrace, opposed to sitting facing each other at a table, the chairs were next to each other so the people seated could watch the world go by. As people went by you couldn’t help but notice how well everyone was dressed! Seriously, people in Paris as a majority dress really, really nice. The jackets seem to be an investment rather than a purchase as most seem to be quite nice. I have noticed so far that people really love their scarfs here. In both Amsterdam and Paris, I saw a way higher concentration of scarfs than I have elsewhere around the world. It seems fitting to have people well dressed physically in a city that is so well dressed ascetically. The buildings are beyond beautiful. Most of the buildings are the same height, roughly 5-7 stories I would say. They’re built directly into each other, wall to wall, as they line the street. Of course, there are tons of stand alone palaces, monuments, buildings and homes as well. Also, there are lots of roundabouts in the city with roads stemming from the center like a sun dial. The Arc de Triomphe is a main roundabout which we climbed to the top of on night one. As for weather, the first day we arrived from Amsterdam and it was sunny. The second day was rainy while the third was sunny again. I am glad actually that it rained during the second day. It fit the mood as it was autumn and the colorful trees constantly dropped leaves fell throughout the day. We got some oversized umbrellas and it felt like the movies; walking around a damp Paris with jackets, scarfs and light rain. The city had of course had some rough parts just like any major city. There were at times, usually in the subway stations, where things just seemed a little off. Shifty eyed individuals which led me to keep my eyes on my pockets when the subways were densely packed as pickpocketing was common (but at least we didn’t have the fear of getting shot bc guns aren’t common like at home). Let’s be honest, we stood out like tourists with our backpacks and cameras and in any city you have to be careful. We were only mainly approached at the main attractions. Also, the entire families sleeping on the street as well as the beggars are some of the tough realities you witness when traveling. It’s never a pleasant thing to see. On the more positive note, we got really lucky with the kindness of one guy as we left the Arc de Triomphe. We accidentally left the GoPro at the top and we didn’t realize it until we climbed all the way down and the attraction was already closed. The guy had basically closed and locked up the place for the night but went all the way back to the top to find the GoPro and returned it safely. After the first night with the GoPro incident, we set off the next day and walked around the city for about 10 hours before resting at the hotel for a couple hours and then again going back out again for 4 more hours or so. We finished today by climbing half way up the Eiffel Tower by stairs. It was a great way to end our time in Paris. Below is the view from half way up. It’s remarkable. We underestimated how long it would take to the train station and just made our train to London by minutes. Now, I write this from literally underneath the English Channel as the train goes from France to England, how cool is that? 😀 On a side note, one of my favorite parts about this trip is FINALLY seeing how these countries are in real life. I have made so many great friends from this part of the world these past years while traveling and it’s nice to see where they grew up. Now that it’s my first time in Europe, I can finally see how it is to be somewhere with, in this example, a ton of French people living their day to day life’s. Same with Amsterdam. It was so cool to be surrounded by the Dutch. They’re such a pleasant group of people. Now.. as I cross into England, I expect no different. I have met more English people on the road than anyone else! Now I FINALLY get to see where all of these wonderful people come from.. not to mention, this is where Andy is from as well! It’s been a such a good trip so far.. I loved Amsterdam.. I loved Paris.. but for now.. London is calling!