Saturday, February 22, 2014

Paris, Day 2 cont. Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame...EVERYTHING

Continuing on from Versailles…..we bought some souvenirs and headed back towards the train station. I couldn't find my ticket, so I had to quickly buy a new one and I found my old one as soon as I got on the train. Go figure, such are the trials and tribulations of travel. So, we took the train from Versailles back towards the Eiffel Tower, as that was our next stop on our whirlwind tour of Paris. As soon as we got out of the train station we could see the tip of the Eiffel Tower glancing over the buildings too look at us. Already, we were taking pictures even though you couldn't even see the whole thing. We decided to get lunch beforehand, where I had a ham and cheese crepe that was delicious! Alec ordered some escargot and he let me try a piece and, let me tell you, the French know how to make food!

After lunch, we quickly made our way to the Eiffel Tower and it is simply awe inspiring to round a corner on the street and all of the sudden there is the Tower in all of its glory. We soon realized that going up the tower was not going to happen on this day, the line was sooooooooo incredibly long. So what did we do? We took a bunch of stereotypical tourist pictures….

 You've got the typical nice smile.
The, look at the Eiffel Tower in all of it's glory!

 Am I holding it yet?
 What about now?
Why is this so hard?

 Look, mom, aren't you proud of me? I can touch the top.

Don't mind me and my super strength.

All touristy stereotypes aside, the Eiffel Tower was a sight to behold. It was built in 1889 for the World's Fair and it is still one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world. It is also a gorgeous sight at night as it lights up the Paris skyline...more on that later.

After our visit to the Eiffel Tower we hopped on another train--man, that day pass came in handy--and headed in the direction of the Arc de Triomphe, Before we walked up the road to the Arc we got another chance to explore the Place de la Concorde and I was able to snap a picture of this plaque. 

In case you don't read French...this plaque is basically stating that this was named the Place de la Revolution during the French Revolution. This was also the place where King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were beheaded. This also means this was the place were thousands of others were beheaded during the Reign of Terror. big deal. heh.

After standing in the place where so many heads rolled, we headed up the road to the Arc de Triomphe. By the time we reached the top of the road we were all pretty tired, so we just snapped a couple of pictures and headed of on our next adventure.

We then found the nearest U-Bahn and headed in the direction of the Notre Dame Cathedral. This cathedral is one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. The church also holds relics such as the Crown of Thorns, a fragment of the True Cross and one of the Holy Nails. During the French Revolution the cathedral suffered damage as it was converted to a place of worship for the Cult of Reason and the Cult of the Supreme Being. In 1845 the cathedral was completely renovated by Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Lassus and Eugene Viollet-le-Duc. In the Second World War the cathedral suffered more damages to the stained glass and some of them had to be replaced. In 1991 a major restoration project was initiated and has returned the cathedral to pristine condition. This is also the cathedral where the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte took place.

When we arrived at the cathedral there was actually a service going on and we walked through on the sides of the cathedral doing our utmost to be respectful. The inside of this place is hands down one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen and, since we arrived right as a service was starting, we were able to hear the organ be played. However, the whole time I was walking through I couldn't help but have songs from the Disney movie, the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Overall, an amazing experience.

 The iconic front of the cathedral.
The beginning of the mass, literally goosebump raising.

After our full day excursion, we stopped to refuel with some nutella and banana crepes. Oh my goodness, they were heavenly, if there is something the French have over the Germans it has to be the crepes.We then went back to our hostel where we relaxed for a few moments and then were back out the door too catch a boat ride down the river to see the sights of Paris at night. It was a chilly night, but I was so excited to see everything that it did not bother me that much. On the boat you were accompanied by a prerecorded tour that let you in on little facts about each building. I had a huge moment of nostalgia as "An American in Paris" by George Gershwin played over the speakers. I was thrown back to my high school orchestra trip to the south of France where we played that exact same song at a festival. I just sat there looking at all of the things I was able to see and really appreciating the opportunities I have had in life. My one goal has been to not lead a boring life, and I think it's safe to say that I am off to a good start.

Here's to continuing an exciting life!

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