Day 5: Goodbye London, Bonjour Paris!

After devouring a full english breakfast, which included a sunny side up egg, toast, beans, mushrooms, bacon, sausage, and pudding (this pudding was not the pudding an American knows and loves but actually some sort of blood sausage patty, which sounds disgusting based on ‘blood’ alone turned out to be quite delicious), I packed up my bags and headed for my Eurostar train to Paris. With unexpected delays on the Tube, I was far behind schedule and began to have panic attacks while standing in the Tube as my 11:31 a.m. departure fast approached. Good Lord I am not going to make it in time, I thought. How will I get to Paris? Will I have to pay for another 150 dollar ticket? This is too much for me to handle; the subway walls are beginning to enclose and suffocate me. Whooo, I needed to take a deep breath after reliving that unreal experience. Suffice it to say I was late for check-in since it has security similar to an airport. Thank all the spiritual powers that be that I was able to go on the next train at 12:30 at no further expense to me. The security attendant told me this expecting me to be disappointed by the wait but I could not have been more relieved/grateful. The Eurostar zipped me under the English Channel and across a fair amount of French land all the way to Paris. Upon arriving in Paris and leaving the train platform to go get my tickets for the metro, I was quickly bombarded by someone trying to show me how to buy the tickets. Being the ever so quickly adapting traveler, I got past his ploy that others fell prey to and found my way to the real ticket information stand. From there, I dropped off my bags at the hostel after, you guessed it, struggling to navigate my way around this vast city. My first touristy stop was the Louvre to get in free for their Friday after six p.m. special for youths. I ran around the complex finding it completely deserted and learning from an employee that the Louvre was closed. Finally I connected the dots to realize that today was in fact Saturday. These days are quickly blending together. After gawking at the glass Louvre Pyramid along with numerous tourists, I headed toward the Jardin Tuileries which was nearby and within throwing distance of the Louvre. French people may not know how to be hygienic but they really know how to build a park. Despite less green space than London, it was packed with a wealthy assortment of flowers and trees that were perfectly trimmed (the trees are aligned so precisely that they created perfect avenues that seemed to stretch on forever and trimmed to the point that when looking under the trees they appear to be a sheet of clouds with all cut to the same height). Parisians definitely love them some loving. If you want to watch someone attempt to devour another look no further than Paris, haha. Another surprise was their lock bridges. These bridges over the Seine River have so many golden padlocks that they have become one with the bridge railings that numerous lovers bound them to, creating a solid wall of locks. I found myself staring up at Notre Dame and could not believe I was seeing a church I have seen pictures of and Disney movies of.  The night was growing near and I wanted to cap off my night to a visit to a famous monument (yes, the Eiffel Tower!). Even though I have seen hundreds of pictures of the Eiffel Tower, seeing it for myself was surreal. The beauty of the Tower did not disappoint. I was getting lonely progressively throughout the day so I did what the increasingly confident Anthony would do and asked to get my picture taken with the Tower. From that simple request, the conversation continued with a girl from Minnesota named Sara and her French friend who was an exchange student that lived with Sara’s family. We sat there on the lawn, aka Champ de Mars, as the time passed and waited for the Tower to light up. While looking up in awe at Paris’s great treasure, I found out Sara was headed for India the next day for a volunteer trip. The human spirit continues to surprise me and gives me more confidence knowing what people are capable of if they are willing to just stare over that cliff and just say screw it, I am going for it. At 11 o’clock the Tower sparkled for ten minutes which was a surprise ending to the night. I said au revoir to Sara and her friend and headed for the nearest metro station in pursuit of a mostly cramped dorm room but as I will soon accept more and more, a bed is a bed. After waiting in the all too desolate subway station hoping I didn’t just see a rat or super mouse (I’ll let your imagination decide) scurry into a hole in the wall, I boarded the metro and finally opened the door to my room. The room was bordering on pitch black dark and fellow backpackers’ bags were strewn about the floor so you can probably picture what occurred. I gracefully stumbled on the bags before collapsing onto my bed, which essentially laid on the floor. What a day and what a night…I can’t wait for what is next!

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