Paris: Day 01

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My flight arrived into Paris around 11:30pm on Friday night. As I was arriving so late alone in a strange city with way too many people, I had ordered a shuttle service to pick me up. My receipt said that the driver would be standing in my gate with one of those signs with my name on it like I was a super rich cool person but they weren’t. So, I wandered up and down the gates until I finally went to the information center and they told me to go to the one place I hadn’t been yet and then walk outside. Boom. There was the dude with the sign with my name on it.

About an hour and a half later, after driving through some crazy weird streets with some very weird rules where I thought it was very very likely that we would be t-boned. Thankfully, we were all good and I was dropped off 3 blocks from the hostel. So, I walked into the wrong place 3 times and then I finally arrived, went to the bathroom, and then stumbled into the dark all-female dorm attempting to find my assigned bed. Finally, I fell into the bed and went to sleep.

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The next morning, I made my way to the apartment I was staying at via AirBnB. The family and the room was so nice – beautifully lit room with an extra comfy bed. I dropped off my bags after riding in the tiniest elevator ever where I had to turn sideways to ride up and none of the floors or apartments were marked at all.

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You know, I kinda understand why the Eiffel Tower is so iconic. It’s very large and sorta impressive. When you compare the Eiffel Tower with the surrounding building, it looks giant. There were so many people there taking photos all along the Champ de Mars.

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One thing that was weirdly annoying was that all of the high-traffic areas was a sand/dirt combo which meant that later, while walking along the Seine, it was crazy muddy. It really makes no sense and it looks so ugly. Prague and Amsterdam have it right with using beautiful cobblestone in high-traffic tourist areas.

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After grabbing a hot dog from a food stand along the banks of the Seine, I walked along the banks and watched the massive number of runners run by seemingly in training for a marathon. I crossed the river, stumbling on the Grand and Petit Palais which were so beautiful. The entryway of the Petit Palais in particular was stunning (last photo in this grouping).

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I continued walking along the Avenue des Champs Elysees making my way through the Place de la Concorde where there was this giant ferris wheel and to the Louvre. I had originally decided to go into the Louvre but, from my experience, if you want to get an idea of what is in the museum then you should go look in the gift shop. When I went into the gift shop, it was a lot of Mona Lisa and Renaissance-era works that, while beautiful, are not my particular preference; especially since I was planning on spending the entire day there. So I moved on. Plus, there was a really long line. And I’m not British, so I don’t wait in queues.

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The French are really proud of Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Not only did the apartment where I was staying have 3 different copies of the book in the apartment including a pop-up version but I went into at least a half a dozen gift shops and bookstores that had magnets and bookmarks with The Little Prince on them.

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After stopping in a Starbucks for a triple hot chocolate and a short break, I continued walking and getting lost until I decided that I had exhausted my energy for the day.

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Funny enough, on my walk back to the apartment (which was South of the Seine closer to the Eiffel Tower), I kept on circling back to the river…basically getting more and more lost and further away from the apartment. As I was quite tired, I eventually just got on the metro and took it to the apartment.

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On the way back to the apartment (before getting on the metro), I grabbed dinner (a sandwhich) from a little shop and as there happened to be a fantastic-looking patisserie along the street where the apartment was, I stopped in. I grabbed a chocolate eclair and one or two other pastries on the recommendation of the pastry clerk (or whatever they are called).

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I have to be honest. Up until I had that first bite of chocolate eclair, I did not like Paris. It was just a city with too many tourists and a confusing road/metro system and redundant architectural styles. But after that first bite of eclair, I was in Heaven. I was most definitely wishing I was in another city while eating that eclair but all the same, Paris was saved because of a chocolate eclair. Granted, I still didn’t like the city but I most assuredly appreciated the food.

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After that, I took a shower in one of the smallest showers ever (not the most small – that is reserved for a shower in the world’s smallest bathroom while on a summer retreat)….and then I watched movies that took place in France and went to sleep. Also, just so you know, part of the Bourne Identity was filmed in Prague (the part in the beginning of the movie where he’s supposed to be in Zurich, Switzerland) and, dude, Matt Damon was walking on the street where I live. Literally. They pretended that this government building down the street from the Opera House was a bank in Zurich and that a restaurant called U Stare Posty was an American embassy. How weirdly cool and random is that?

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