Friday, February 21, 2014

Paris, Day 1

Time for a crazy weekend trip round 2! This weekend it was Paris and the weekend started at a pitch black 4:45 in the morning on Friday and didn't end until 11:30 on Sunday. As you might have guessed, this was a weekend packed with traveling, sightseeing, and fatigue; but, we powered through and got to see some of the sights most people never lay eyes on in the span of 78 hours. Here’s to writing a whirlwind recap of the weekend……it all began before the crack of dawn…..(queue melodramatic music and ripple effect)

On Friday we had to get up to head to Stuttgart to catch our bullet train to Paris at 8:45, or maybe it was’s all a blur. After a total of 8 delirious hours of travel, we finally made it to Paris at 12:30. There we met Eric’s aunt who made sure we got the right tickets for the metro and took us to our hostel. She also took us to a really great place for lunch and I had a steak with fries. I finally got the chance to satisfy my steak craving, now if only I could find a Chipotle or a Sweet by Holly.

After our lovely lunch we traveled to the Catacombs. Just to give you a little bit of background here is a baby history lesson….

Today the Catacombs hold underground ossuaries located beneath the bustling city of Paris. Just so you know the dictionary definition, an ossuary is, "a container or room into which the bones of dead people are placed," exciting stuff. This particular ossuary located in the Catacombs contains the remains of about 6 million people. Now, you have to wonder why there is enough space for all of these remains bellow the city. Well, the Catacombs were not originally designed to be an ossuary, they were actually quarries to mine the rich limestone located beneath Paris. The actual section of the quarries that the Catacombs engulfs is only about 1/800th of the actual quarries. Needless to say, these quarries span a large majority of the left bank of Paris. Now, why would the Parisians need to create an ossuary? Starting in 1130, Parisian burial grounds were beginning to overflow and, by the end of the 19th century, Paris' central burial ground was a two meter high mound filled with centuries of Parisian dead. The transfer of bodies began in the 1782 in order to make more room and to clean out the Parisian cemeteries. In the early 19th century it became a tourist attraction and it continues to mystify people today.

Some of the workers in the mines carved sculptures into the walls.

Not gonna lie, there is something really eerie about being surrounded by bones 62 feet below ground in the dark.

Once we returned to the land of the living and returned to the surface, we then made our way towards the infamous Louvre. For all of those that may be traveling to Paris in the near future, entrance to the Louvre is free on Fridays after 6:00 pm for those 26 and younger. However, when we arrived it was around 5:30, so we decided to explore the Tuileries Gardens and the Place de la Concorde which are right next to the Louvre. While walking through the Gardens we were able to catch a view of the Eiffel Tower in the sunset.

 We also too plenty of pictures on the outside of the Louvre before we went in.

Honestly, I cannot begin to encapsulate the feeling of entering the central area outside of the Louvre and having that realization that you are actually seeing it in person. It was one of the moments where I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. I was overtaken by this complete feel of euphoria and I remembered why I enjoy traveling so much, for moments like these.

Anyways, now onto the big ticket event of our first night, actually going into the Louvre and seeing all of the pieces of art and history you thought you would only see on TV or in movies. We didn't have that much time, only 2 hours to be exact, but to see everything in the Louvre you need at least a day. So, we found a map and went to each of the big ticket items such as the Mona Lisa...

The Venus de Milo...

and the Coronation of Napoleon

Seeing the Coronation of Napoleon was definitely a highlight for me. Last semester I took a class on the French Revolution and even wrote a research paper on the topic, so seeing this piece set my little historians heart on fire. The Louvre is a massive museum with many priceless works and I am sad that I was only able to be there for the short time that I was, but I suppose that just means I have to come back again.

After the Louvre we returned to our hostel, took showers and passed out. Day 1 of Paris was jammed packed with some of the biggest things to see in Paris, but day 2 is even crazier.

No comments:

Post a Comment