There is really nothing quite like a waking up (late) in an adorable Parisian apartment and then having a beyond amazing breakfast sandwich filled with new company in what was already one of my favorite cities. The group of girls I was with and I decided to spend our Thursday visiting Versailles.
In a drastic change from the day before, Paris was quite cold that Thursday, but that wasn’t going to stop us in our exploring. It was very easy and cheap to take the train to Versailles from the metro station, and in under an hour we had arrived at the former French royalty’s “understated” abode. This day was full of learning, everything glided in gold and laughter. I’m so happy I was able to see the Chateau in person. However, their bedrooms, and other rooms for that matter, didn’t really seem luxurious to me, more like unnecessary, unfair, and uncomfortable. I found it frustrating during times of walking around Versailles to see this massive display of uneven wealth distribution. I find it even more frustrating how people think this kind of division of wealth doesn’t exist anymore – maybe not to the extent of prior French Revolution, but it is still very much alive. Versailles, nonetheless, is still beautiful in all its opulence. After being in the gardens, we were all FROZEN and pretty tired from this outing. For our first Parisian dinner, we went to a tiny restaurant where we waited for our table in their wine bar/library across the street. I had an expensive (how French) meal of duck, wine, and creme brulee – I was stuffed and longed for the days Roman prices! We had a late dinner and took pictures along the Seine (I hoped I only blinked in a few of them, being the chronic blinker that I am).
The next day, Friday March 20th, also known as my mom’s birthday, I was sad I wasn’t with her to celebrate and was also starting to feel that the trip to the city I had only dreamt about was slipping through my fingers. I called her to wish her the best birthday and ended up talking to her about these worries I was having about the trip. How does talking to her always make me feel better? She was able to ensure me that traveling with different interests and wanting to do things that were different and on my own was totally normal. So, after consulting with my travelmates, I sought off to explore solo. I purchased a delicious raspberry pastry, then ate it in the park across the street from the Notre Dame. It was undeniably perfect. The park and views were picturesque, despite it being slightly chilly outside. Then I dropped into the Shakespeare and Company bookstore – I love the smell of books can I just say! Later, I coincidentally met back up with the other girls and walked up the Notre Dame towers. I deeply enjoyed taking the moment up top to just look and not be in such a rush to get back down. The view above was stunning and I’m glad I got up for free (being a student and all). I then went inside the Cathedral, explored the grounds surrounding it, and took off to visit the Musee Rodin. I was really proud of myself for navigating the Paris Metro alone to all the different sites I visited. Their metro, once you get the hang of it, is rather easy, not to mention very cheap. The Musee Rodin is another very underrated museum in Paris. Rodin’s impressionist sculptures and beautiful gardens that surrounds the hotel that was converted into his Museum, was surprising in the best way. However, after being alone most of the day, I wished for my friends at home, but especially my parents to be here experiencing the city with me. That night further emphasized this by being rather stressful and made me realized how truly solo I was in Paris.
My Saturday I spent in the Louvre, first eating in their fancy cafeteria and taking luxury in the colored bathroom of the Louvre circus. Also, I decided then to buy my Paris museum pass late, since it allowed me to jump to the front of all the queues, not wasting any time in those extensive and awful lines. Another day I spent alone, but it didn’t feel as bad exploring the massive Louvre and its amazing works. Seeing all these renowned works was wonderful, and luckily I didn’t have to fight my way to the front to see Mona. I decided I would return tomorrow to see more that I didn’t get to see before.
After my lovely day at the Palais, I rushed to the Eiffel Tower to meet up with the other girls (super casual), I had to rush in order for us to make our dinner reservation that one of the girl’s father had made for her birthday! A birthday in Paris, can you imagine? I didn’t have much time to Eiffel Tour, but I know I will be returning again someday, so honestly, I wasn’t too upset. The dinner was amazing, I had the lamb, that came in a little crock pot with lots of delicious juices. I felt very honored to have had been included in this free dinner to celebrate her 21st birthday! However, that night got more topsy-turvy, as I left the celebration early, being as tired I was from my full day and expectant full day of viewing art. I planned to head to bed early, but when the airbnb had other plans. As tried to unlock the door, somehow when everyone left the apartment the deadlock had bizarrely shut. Not allowing us in, despite me having the key. The other girls finally got back and once we all understood the situation I decided to contact the people in charge of the place. After them trying, us all camped out in the hallway, around 5 AM, a locksmith arrived and ripped the the deadlock off the wall, through the door. I was upset and stressed, and definitely didn’t handle the situation as well as I could have. However, it was very annoying and such a freak accident that this occurred at all… I can truly say “experienced” very different sides of Paris now though.
My next day, my final day in France, I packed up in advance and raced through the Louvre to see a few more exhibits. I definitely didn’t plan as well as I could have, since I left a limited amount of time for the Musee d’Orsay. This museum was hands down my favorite; it is an renovated old train station and organized in a way to allow to only visit the areas you want. This contrasts with the Louvre, which winds you around the thing a ziillion times, before it lets you leave. The Orsay also holds the beautiful Impressionism and Post-impressionist pieces that I’m so obsessed with. I was in definite crunch time here, and had to skip visiting the Arc D’Triomphe and Ladurée, but thankfully I made my flight on time back to Rome!
I was very happy to be home, but I am very thankful I got to visit the city I had always just dreamt of seeing. My Monday was full of catching up on work, relaxing and being verrry sore for walking and traveling. The 24th was a night provided by CIS (my study abroad program), taking us to a cooking class, where we made different Italian dishes then got to eat them all! I much prefer this kind of class of the other any day.. I love hanging out with the people in my program, and these activities they create for us are always such a good time.
The next day, was much more of struggle, while in between morning and night class I tried to visit more art galleries, but sadly the ones I chose were either on lunch break or very difficult to find! Thankfully I have found them by now, and I will discuss that in my next post! Ciao ciao for now, or should I say au revoir! (I did not have an easy time with picking up French – I now appreciate French majors in a whole new light)