Saturday, June 15, 2013

It's a Wrap

Overall, this experience was truly amazing. I feel so fortunate to have been given this wonderful experience and I know that I will never forget it. From getting lost in Brussels to eating a crepe under the Eiffel Tower, this experience was one for the books. To anyone on the ball about studying abroad, I would highly encourage taking on the adventure, fear, excitement and everything else that comes with going to another country. The experiences and lessons you learn will truly change you for the better. As cliché as it sounds, studying abroad opens your eyes to so many new things and you will leave a whole new person.

By the end of the trip, I had kept wishing I had stayed for another week. There will always be a place in my heart for Luxembourg. That little country couldn’t have had bigger impact on me.

Bonjour Paris

Finally, the trip we had all been waiting for had arrived: Paris! We all woke up at 5:00am for the 4-hour bus ride ahead. The ride seemed short because I had fallen asleep for the majority of the trip.

When we arrived, we looked outside our windows and were a little shocked at what we saw. Where was the French style architecture? Where were the cafes and fountains? We seemed to be in a low income, urbanized area outside of Paris. When we arrived at the hostel, we were a little confused because it was nothing like what we had expected. Also, we were very far from the main tourists sites. After dropping off our stuff, we took a series of subways under the city until we arrived at the Eiffel Tower! It was like a breath of fresh air to be out of the unfamiliar area and into the heart of Paris.

One of the first things we saw was the Eiffel Tower. It stood tall over the entire city, and the sight was even more magnificent with the wonderful weather we were having. As we walked, we ran into the Princess Diana memorial, which was located a few miles away from tunnel that had taken her life. I wish I could have been able to read the memorial because it was in French.

We headed to the marine, where we would get a boat tour of the city. The river runs right through the heart of Paris and you are able to see various buildings and monuments of the city.

After the boat tour, we headed up to get a closer look at the Eiffel Tower. It seemed to grow bigger as we got closer. I learned that there is actually a restaurant on the second level, which goes to show how big the tower is. We headed up the stairs of the Esplanade du Trocadero, where we able to take even more pictures of the Eiffel Tower but this time with the wonderful view city in the background.

We then took the subway to one of the main strips, which contained the very famous Arc de Triomphe. Famous victory marches around or under the Arc have included the Germans in 1871, the French in 1919, the Germans in 1940, and the French and Allies in 1944 and 1945. The route taken is up to the arch and then around its side, out of respect for the tomb and its symbolism. Both Hitler in 1940 and de Gaulle in 1944 observed this custom.

We ate dinner at a very small side restaurant and of course we had to try the escargot and for dinner. After our delicious meal, we headed to one of the bars to watch the ongoing European Soccer Champions. We all felt like one of the locals cheering on Bayern Munich as they swept Chelsea in the final game.

 After the game was over, we headed back to the Eiffel tower to get a glimpse of it during the night. When we arrived, the sight was even more breathe-taking than before. The entire tower was lit up, as well as the city around it. While in line for a Nutella crepe, the tower lit up and sparkled for all of Paris to see. It was a truly unreal experience to be standing under the Eiffel tower at night.

The next morning we set out to the one and only Notre Dame. On our way there, our group guide took us to the top of the mountain where we were able to view the entire city from above. Behind us stood a chapel called Sacred Heart and all around us were souvenir shops and restaurants. It finally set in that I was in Paris. We jumped back on the subway to Notre Dame and when we arrived, the cathedral was even bigger than expected.

We got lunch as group close by and then were given the rest of the afternoon for some more sightseeing.  We decided to head to the very famous Louvre. The Louvre is one of the world's largest museums, and a historic monument. Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square meters. With more than 8 million visitors each year, the Louvre is the world's most visited museum. The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being royal and confiscated church property.

Here we took some pictures and took in the very famous glass pyramid.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to go back to Notre Dame as the bus left at 5:00pm, but I was happy I was able to see one more famous landmark in France. The bus ride back seemed like forever, but I was happy to be heading back to Luxembourg.