7/1/18: The first day of July took us on a journey to Paris. We left Newcastle Upon Tyne, took the train into London, and walked across the street to another train station to take a train to Paris. It was quite the adventure and the second train station reminded me of a small airport. Since it was an international train ride outside the United Kingdom, we had to go through security and present our passports just like we would at the airport. Traveling to Paris was another time we were super thankful that we only had backpacks as luggage.
The train ride from London to Paris was just over 2 hours long, through the English Channel of course! Honestly, I slept most of the train ride. With the trip from Newcastle to London, the trip from London to Paris, and then the 1 hour time difference it was pretty late in the day when we finally arrived. As soon as we got off the train we had our first unpleasant encounter with the city of Paris, the inability to use a public bathroom without having to pay money! Super super frustrating and stressful! If I have to pay to use the bathroom I expect the bathroom to be clean and fancy and this bathroom was not clean and fancy at all, it was super gross! Paris was also having a heatwave and we had to walk a mile from the train station to our hotel, which didn’t seem like an issue initially. However, Paris is an extremely crowded city slowing my walking pace drastically. We had no clue how to navigate the city since we do not know how to read French and all of the signs in France are in French! After walking for a while my backpack began to feel very heavy and we were both getting very thirsty because of the heat. I jokingly tried to collect Euros in my hat since literally every single street we walked down had someone begging for money, and I highly doubt that all of these people were genuinely homeless and in need of money. There was even a guy feeding a rabbit a carrot trying to collect money and another guy with 2 cute little dogs wearing French hats! I didn’t get any Euros.
Somewhere between the train station and the hotel that took forever to find, I realized that Paris is actually a dirty city with garbage all over the streets and it smells like pee. It is NOTHING like you see in the movies or read about in books. They leave that part out and focus on the beautiful architecture, history, and coffee. All of those things were top notch, and like anything else in life you have to take the good with the bad, so I was totally fine drinking fancy coffee and eating chocolate moose on a crowded street corner next to an overflowing garbage can while looking at old buildings.
When we finally made it to our hotel, at first glance, I felt like I was walking into a top secret club. It was fancy. The hotel also provided an umbrella that could be used during your stay, and there was a hefty fee for loosing your umbrella. We did not touch that umbrella.
We went to bed pretty early that night because the next morning we were going to run to the Eiffel Tower!!!
7/2/18: We woke up very early to beat the crowds, ran through the Louvre, looked at some beautiful buildings, and then finally arrived at the Eiffel Tower! Seeing the Eiffel Tower was surreal. It felt like a dream and Phil and I were both completely mesmerized by it. My goal while in Paris was to buy an Eiffel Tower figurine. There were so many to choose from, so many souvenir shops, and even men peddling them on the street corners. After some debate over which one to get and Phil urging me not to buy one that was hot pink or glittery, we settled on one looks exactly like the Eiffel Tower only miniature. When we finally saw it in person I was very glad that he talked me into a normal looking Eiffel Tower figurine.
After our run we explored the city and went to the Pompidou Centre. The pompidou Centre is basically a museum of modern art that is also connected to a library. Somehow we ended up entering the museum incorrectly and going through security with a woman carrying a huge suspicious garbage bag that was layered with several other garbage bags and tied very tightly. She had no issues getting through security but my tiny purse had to be inspected. I will never understand…..
I don’t have a lot to say about the museum expect that it is one of a kind. Modern art often confuses me as I am not an artistic person and I could probably replicate some of the pieces in the museum. If not replicate, I could at least make something equally as interesting. Keep in mind I am not knocking modern art, I just do not understand it. I have no idea what makes a blue piece of canvas museum worthy, but the whole experience got me thinking. It helped me have this epiphany that at any given moment anything you put out into the world, even something very basic, can have a profound impact on the people it reaches. And then, our time at Centre Pompidou abruptly ended because a fire alarm was going off and everyone had to exit the building.
At this point in our trip we only had a few hours left in Paris so we took in the architecture and paid a quick visit to Notre Dame after a quick cappuccino stop at Le Chat Zen, chosen because it had a cat on the sign. We also discovered Le Chat Noir, a famous black cat! We never did make it inside the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. With so much left to see and explore we know we will return to Paris one day and we will spend more time there.