And we are off to PARIS!
After a long week of work, the anxiously awaited trip to Paris was finally ready to begin!!! We had booked our train tickets yesterday on Wednesday, but since we did it so late we had to pay 40 euro for each way to reserve our seat so it was a little more expensive then we had thought. It was a little hectic Thursday morning preparing to leave. We had to get our student resident permits, we were hungry so we ate lunch, and did a little last minute shopping. We got back at about 12:30 and we needed to leave by 1:30. I still had to pack, shower, and get ready, which was a very difficult task to complete if anyone knows me well. I ended up packing first, and I definitely knew I way over packed, but since it was Paris I felt I could do that. I quickly showered, I didn't have time to put make up or dry my hair or anything, so I was hoping there was no cute boys on the train that I had to impress! We rushed out of our apartments to central station where our train was to take off from. We didn't know exactly how to go, so we kind of looked around for a bit until we saw the direction of gate 15a and we rushed over towards it. We arrived about 5 minutes before our train arrived, so we were a little to close for comfort. When we first got on the train we didn't realize that there were different car numbers and seat numbers in each car, so we sat down in what we thought were our seats to later find out that ours were actually about two cars away. That was a hastle, having to get up and move all our stuff again to another train car. Finally we got to our correct seats and we were on our way to Paris. Earlier in the week we had found out by coincidence that three of my Gamma Phi sister's studying abroad in Florence were coming, Anna, Courtney, and Molly. Also two of our Gamma Phi sister's studying abroad in Rome, Amy, and Alexis were coming as well! We ended up booking the same hotel as them in order to be close to them all weekend! We were sad that our friend Alex who is actually studying abroad in Paris was going to Nice for the weekend for carnival, but she gave us a huge list of where to go, what to do, and even how to get there on the underground metro!
We were on the high-speed train to it was difficult to take pictures of the scenery but we saw a lot of the countryside of the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. We only slept for about 30 min near the end, but the train ride was only about 3 hrs long so it was pretty fast! We got to stop in Brussels, which we will be going to in about 3 weeks and then from there it was straight shot to Paris! When we arrived in Paris, we scrambled a bit when we first got out because we had NO IDEA where to go what to do (we probably should have looked it up earlier) and to add to the fact nothing is in English. We ended up buying metro tickets and found our way to the metro we needed and got off on what we thought was the right stop, Montparnasse. When we got above ground, we had no idea where to go from there, so I quickly turned on my data on my Iphone to help guide us to Hotel Innova. From where we were it was about a 2 mile walk, and we could have taken another Metro to get there but we had no idea since it was just our first couple moments in Paris. We were trekking the streets of Paris, with our roller suitcases and backpacks on our back, and all of a sudden the Eiffel Tower pops up!! It was all lit up and was just beautiful, and was such an amazing feeling to see such a monument right away, at that point I felt like I was in Paris. We found our hotel, checked in, and went up to our room where we relaxed for about an hour and then decided to get ready and go eat dinner before the other girls got in because they were getting in very late. We walked around a bit and then found this very cute restaurant to eat at; it was 24 euro for an appetizer, a meal, and a desert! Jillian and I both got salads for our appetizer, and steak for our meal. It was so funny because with the steak it came with French fries which we thought was odd, until we realized that French fries literally have the word French in them so it all made sense for us. We had a glass or two of wine and dessert at the end. It was so, so good and this is where we realized how amazing the food in Paris was going to be. After dinner we headed back to our hotel hoping that the other girls had gotten in, as we were walking up to our hotel Amy and Alexis (ROME) were walking up too! It was so exciting to finally be with them and see them. They put there stuff down in there room and we walked around to see if we could find something quick for them to eat, this is when we had our first crepe experience which was foreshadowing for the rest of the weekend. We went back to the hotel and just hung out in the room exchanging abroad stories until the Florence girls arrived. We heard a knock on the door about 30 min later and finally Anna, Courtney, and Molly had arrived. Once again it was so exciting to be reunited with all our friends from Penn State. We tried to stay up a little later and talk, but we knew we had all weekend and had to get up early so we went to bed and planned to wake up at 9:30 the next morning.
Friday morning we got up early, well early for us, at 9:30 and were to be ready by 10:30. We decided we would go find a crepe place for breakfast and plan out the rest of our day there! While getting ready we decided to try and look extra cute, because come on were in Paris, and we were going to be taking a million pictures. Both Jillian and I decided to wear our Burberry jackets, which was nice because they were perfect for the weather since it wasn't too cold out. We met the girls downstairs, headed for the metro to take to where we wanted to eat breakfast at, which was near the Louvre. We found a cute, quaint little place to eat at. All the girls got cappuccinos (I don't like coffee so I didn't get one) but I guess that is the thing to do here. We then ordered, Jillian and I split an omelet and a nutella and banana crepe. It was so, so good, I can't even explain how good it was. The crepes in Paris are truly amazing. We decided to do the Louvre after breakfast and from their walk down the Champs Elysees to end up at the Arc de Triomphe, and from their try and go to the Eiffel tower. We headed off from breakfast towards the Louvre and we realized we were behind it and needed to get to the front so we had to walk all the way around to the front. As you walk up to the Louvre it truly is unbelievable. It is so huge, it would take a good 3 weeks to explore everything inside of it. Outside of the Louvre was a perfect photo op which we took advantage of.
We were outside taking pictures for about 30 minute and finally decided to head in. Once inside we picked out a few art pieces that were most important to see, such as the Mona Lisa. I am bad with remembering names of the famous pieces, but I have pictures of them so hopefully other people can tell me what they are called! We walked around the Louvre for about an hour to two hours and then by the end we were all kind of bored at looking at the paintings in the museum. I feel like that's how it always is in museums its interesting for about an hour and then your just get tired of walking around and want to leave. When we left the Louvre we walked a little to another photo op in front of an arc but not the big famous Arc de Triomphe. It started to drizzle a little while walking toward the Champs Elysees, which is one of the most famous streets in Paris with all the big shops on it! As we got to that area we decided we wanted to get lunch as well. We stopped into a little restaurant, which again was very cute. Most of us ordered the ham and cheese toasted sandwiches and we decided to order escargot for an appetizer! There were 6 of them so we were able to each have one. Surprisingly they tasted really good, even though they looked terrible. After lunch we continued down the road, and the sight was magic to my eyes, there were so many amazing stores, I was in heaven. We stopped into a cute store Zara, where I got a shirt I ended up wearing that night and a very cute scarf. We walked down and spotted the biggest Sephora I have ever seen. Inside we all decided to buy red lipsticks, because we thought that was a Paris thing to do! Walking out of the store we all looked liked divas with our red lipstick on.
From there we spotted the huge Louis Vutton store, it was like five stories high! We went in for a little, and then left because we got too depressed that we couldn't afford anything in there. We then were close to the Arc de Triomphe; at this point in time it started to rain. We quickly took pictures at the Arc because we were all getting wet (our hair frizzing up) and just wanted to be inside.
We decided against going to the Eiffel tower at this point because we wanted to have really good pictures when we went, and the weather was not looking good at this point. We just decided to head back to our hotel and get showered and relax before we went back out for the night! We got back to our hotel and it was so nice to be out of the rain, showered, and lying in bed. Too bad the only station that was in English was BBC world news, something different from our normal Gossip Girl, Revenge, etc. We were dreading going out, but your only in Paris once so we forced ourselves to dress up and get ready. I wore my black flowy pants with a lacey top that I had got early in the day with HEELS, yes I wore heels out and I loved it! We went down to the Latin District and ate a small place where we could get an appetizer, meal, and dessert for only 15 euro, which was an extremely good price! A bunch of us got the kabob, which was chicken pieces on a skewer and it was so good, it had an amazing sauce accompanied to it as well. We also got 2 jugs of wine, one red and one white (I personally cannot stand the taste of red wine). After we were done with dinner we already were in a cool area to begin with so we decided to just wander around down there and find somewhere to go. We went into a few places, none of which we packed but we enjoyed ourselves just sitting and talking amongst each other. At some points we would stand up and dance crazy, but then we quickly remembered we weren't at a frat party in America. We were there until the bars were closing and then decided to go back to our hotel by taking a taxi. At the end of the night my feet hurt and I was so tired, and dreading having to wake up early the next morning. The hardest part about traveling is doing so much during the day, going out at night, and then having to do it all over again.
Saturday morning we sent our alarms a tad bit later, for 10 and we were to be ready by 11. Once again we tried to dress up cute, because the first stop we were making was the Eiffel Tower!! We headed on the metro to the Eiffel Tower and when we got above ground we stopped at a little crepe to go place to eat breakfast. I got a ham, cheese, and egg crepe, which again was so delicious. After this we were about five minutes from the Eiffel Tower. Walking up to the Eiffel Tower it was spectacular; it is just so big and exquisitely beautiful. We wanted to go up to the second level or even high but the line was just to extremely long and we just didn't have the time to do it. So we went to the front grass where everyone goes to take pictures and we tried to take a ton! Some of the girls in Florence are doing this very cute thing with pictures that I am now starting to do as well, but it is a SECRET, and you guys will all see what we have done at the end of our adventures! I think my favorite picture in front of the Eiffel Tower was when we all did the Gamma Phi sign in front of our faces; we hoping it make the Crescent Magazine.
The pictures turned out amazing; the Eiffel Tower is truly a beautiful background. After we looked up on our Iphone's where the closest Starbucks was to us, yes embarrassing that all we wanted was Starbucks but we were craving it. This also gave us time to plan our quick trip to the Palace of Versailles. Once we were done sipping our coffee we had to figure out our train tickets, which wasn't too hard, a nice French man helped us and guided us in the right direction on where to go. The train to the Palace was a two level train, which was cool; we also had bought baguettes and cheese to bring on the train to eat. We felt very French. The train only took about 30-45 min to get there and once we arrived there it automatically was just so beautiful. The palace itself was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. The Palace of Versailles is where Marie Antoinette lived for sometime, so it was very interesting to be in the exact place she had been a long time ago. We first went around back to the beautiful gardens, and ponds, and lakes, it was a spectacular view. We obviously took a ton of pictures out there as well.
We then went inside the Palace that had such beautiful paintings, and furniture and decorations. I could not even imagine living there it was just so big. It took about an hour to get through the whole thing, and every little detail was just exquisite. We definitely felt that the trip to the Palace was well worth it, and recommend it to everyone that goes to Paris. We then took the train back to Paris, and decided to get an early meal before our big night out on the town! We went to a restaurant by our hotel, partly because we were tired and sick of walking. We all ordered the cheeseburger and French fries, which was funny; it ended up being so good. I feel like everything made in Paris is just better than the rest of the world. After dinner we went back to our hotels to relax and get ready. We decided that since we were in Paris we had to do it big for one of the nights, so we all got super dressed up. I wore my flowy pants again and the pink dress I have as a shirt (if anyone knows about the pink dress, it looks very bad as a dress so I made it work as a shirt). We pregammed in our rooms a bit, and then we all headed for the metro. It was so interesting to see how many people stared at us down in the metro with us being all dressed up and stuff, I would hope they thought we were famous models...in my dreams. We arrived at the club, I cant quite remember the name of the club but I tried to look it up online, it might have been the Palais Maillot. But as we were walking up to the club, we got past the first security where they check you ID's, I think to make sure you are over 18, and then all of a sudden I felt a tap on my should and a guy telling me to go this way...Little did I know that Me, along with 4 of the other girls, got to go through this special gate where we got in for FREE! We just walked in and were so confused as to why we could just walk right in and not wait in the long line, and then later to find out the cover was 20 Euros which is VERY expensive for a club, so we felt pretty special to get in for free. About 30 min later anther guy came up to us and asked if we wanted to go into the VIP section, all these things were happening to us and it just made us feel so cool. We danced the night away, and had an absolutely amazing time. I think at one point I was up in the DJ booth controlling what songs were playing in the entire club! This was a very late night for us, I think we actually ended up leaving the club at like 5 am and I still thought I could of stayed out longer, I was just having the most amazing time in there. I felt like a celebrity.
This morning I had trouble getting up, but I forced myself to do it. We still had to see the beautiful Notre Dam. We woke up around 10:30 and were out the door by 11, I may say that I did not look my best. We messed up on the underground a few times and finally got to the Notre Dam. It was a Sunday so while we were there a service was going on, there were many people inside and the service was just beautiful. The Notre Dam was one of my favorite things that I saw this weekend, I just thought it was so beautiful. After we found this small little café that was so cute, canals and people playing music outside surrounded it and people walking their dogs it was just a very Paris like atmosphere. We ate in there and chatted awhile until the Florence girls had to leave for the airport for their flight back. We got crepes before they had to go, and a few little touristy items such as I got a key chain of the Eiffel tower! It was so sad saying goodbye to the first group of girls, because we have such an amazing weekend together. After they left Me, Jillian, Amy, and Alexis were the only ones left, we sat in the park for a little and just people watched which I love doing. The time went fast, and we had to go back to our hotel to get our things and head off to the train station to go back to Amsterdam. We even got back to the train station early, and had some time to spare. It was hard because Penn State's Thon was going on for the last 4 hours, and our wifi on the train wouldn't work. So when we got into Amsterdam we sprinted to our apartment and were able to catch the last hour and a half of THON. I haven't been homesick one time abroad, until watching Thon on the Internet. It is such an unbelievable thing us kids at Penn State do, and it was hard not to be there and not be apart of it. Gamma Phi and Acacia came in 3rd place this year with over 180,000$ which is such an unbelievable accomplishment, and then overall Penn State made over 10 million dollars and that in itself is just spectacular. When they revealed the final total, we started jumping and screaming in our room and shaking, it was just a feeling of complete happiness. It was very hard not to be there, but that will just make next year so special. The saying is really true; you don't know how much something means to you until it's gone. That is how I felt about Thon; I could hardly bare the fact that I wasn't at Penn State at that moment in time. After this long weekend, I was ready to go to bed; we had a long day of classes on Monday and Tuesday that I needed to get some good sleep for.
PARIS IS AMAZING. Overall I thought Paris was just so beautiful, it just felt so elegant, all the building had those iron gates on it and it just had the feeling that you were in some high class, beautiful place. If I didn't study in Amsterdam, I definitely think the only other place I could have studied abroad would be Paris. It was just such an amazing weekend and I loved every part about it. I was so grateful to be able to spend the weekend with my sorority sisters from home as well. It's so nice to be around people that know you so well and you can just experience these moments with each other that you will share for the rest of your life. Now that we got our first traveling trip conquered I feel like I am ready to just travel around, it is so amazing how you can get everyone in Europe so easily. I think were going to stay in Amsterdam for the next two weekends and then head off to London!!