To all those who are following this blog and thinking- "does this girl ever go to school or study!" I do really go to classes here! I actually have to study A LOT, and have had homework none stop since I have arrived in Athens. The good thing is that I know how to balance my life and prioritize. AND LET'S BE SERIOUS, WHO WANTS TO SEE PICTURES OF ME AT MY DESK STUDYING ANYWAYS! :)
On Wednesday night I was contemplating whether to travel over our week break from classes, or just explore Athens and catch up on homework. It took me about 2 seconds to begin my search of flights from Athens to every major city throughout Europe. I decided to go to Paris, France and decided that I should just leave the next day. So, I booked my flight for Paris for Thursday at 3pm.
THURSDAY, October 14th
On Thursday I packed in the morning, and then found out that the metro was on strike AGAIN! Every time I need to go to the airport, a concert, class, ANYWHERE the metro is on strike. Athens does not believe in suffering in silence like many Americans who go to a job they hate everyday. Instead, the people of Athens just do not show up to work. So, Sheila, Logan, and I ended up splitting a cab to get to the airport. The taxi driver was actually really nice, and took us right to the airport without trying to take us in a circle down back streets like many others have tried in the past.
We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to go through security and get to our gate. The whole time I was at the airport I could not believe I was going to Paris, I still cannot believe that I am in Athens sometimes!
We boarded the bus to be taken to our plane, a mile away. We boarded the plane, and we were off to Paris!!!!
When we arrived, we discovered that the trains were on strike in Paris as well. We had to take many different lines, and transfer many times to get into the city. At one stop, I did not know we had to transfer and almost got left on the train. The trains were so packed that we had to squeeze into the little room that was available at the edges of the doors. So, Sheila and Logan went in one door, and I went in another one. At one point, a lot of people got off the train and a seat opened up. I walked over to take the seat, looked up and Sheila and Logan were standing on the platform. From the seated position, I leaped towards the door with my suitcase swinging behind me. The doors closed and I threw my body in the middle of them. I somehow managed to get out of the doors, and my suitcase was still attached to me, but through the handle sticking out of the door. Everyone on the platform and inside the train was helping me open the doors to get my suitcase out. I made it, with my broken suitcase! The handle broke and I was unable to roll it around the city :( but we made it :)
Now, this next part was a first for me. We did not have hotel reservations before getting into the city. We had no plans for the weekend, and no expectations.
After we got off the metro in the city, we began to look for someplace to stay. We found a small American hotel where the staff was very friendly and could speak english. We put our stuff in our room, and decided to go out for the night to explore. We found a little cafe by our hotel and decided to go in to take a look at the menu. The doors were really weird and after we decided we did not like what we saw, we could not leave. I tried to open the door for about a minute. The 6 employees standing by the door did not offer to help, but instead stood by, watched, and laughed at us! It was REALLY embarrassing that I had to eventually ask one of them to open the door for me.
The next restaurant had the doors propped open, so we walked in and sat down. I ate duck and potatoes for dinner! I am really excited that on this trip I have been able to eat new things every place I go, and actually enjoy it!!
FRIDAY, October 15th
On Friday, we went to Notre Dame! It was so beautiful! We walked around inside, and then proceeded outside to wait in line to get to the top. We were in line for about 45 minutes, when the man who was in charge came up to us and told us the top was closing. He explained that it had something to do with the strikes that were going on, and no one else would be let up to the top the rest of the day. Reluctantly, we left our place in line and set out to explore the rest of the city! For lunch we found a greek gyro stand, and of course had to try one. I had a small greek conversation with the owner, and he was so shocked/impressed when I greeted him in Greek. The gyros were HUGE!!! I had to hold mine with 2 hands to eat it, and honestly could not believe that I finished it! The stand used extra large pita bread and then filled it with tons of meat, french fries, tomatoes, lettuce, and special sauce!
After lunch, we came across street performers, and were able to cross the many bridges in the center of the city. We navigated the bus system and arrived at the Eiffel Tower for sunset. At the bottom of the tower we got some crepes! They were so warm and so delicious! It was about 40 degrees out, so the crepe was the perfect thing to warm me up! We waited in line to buy our tickets. Then we waited in line to get to the 2nd platform, and in the line to get to the top. Eventually we made our way to the top of the Eiffel Tower!!! At the top we headed over to the mini-bar inside and got a glass of champagne! It was so exciting to drink champagne on the top of the Eiffel Tower. We took SO MANY pictures of ourselves, and even helped out some strangers by taking photos for them :)
The view was so amazing from the top. We were able to see the whole city all lit up! We were torn about going back down, but it was freezing and raining at the top, so we decided to go back down.
At the bottom, we took a different way to get home so we could see even more of the city. We found a baguette/crepe cafe for dinner. I ate more crepes over the 4 days in Paris, than I had my entire life. They were sooo yummy! I could not get enough. I had a strawberry jelly, banana, and sugar crepe for dinner. Some may think this is a crazy combination, but I absolutely loved it :)
SATURDAY, October 16th
On Saturday we wandered around the city again. We knew that our final destination would be the Louvre, but we did not have a designated path on how to get there. I liked this travel style. I had never been so free before Paris, and I loved it! We took side streets, different buses, and tons of bridges, just exploring the city. We found a real french painter, painting on the side of one of the bridges. We saw the flame from the Statue of Liberty. We somehow navigated down a street of designer shops, which Logan did not like very much, but Sheila and I loved it! We were even able to see the Louis Vuitton headquarters in Paris!!
We made it to the Louvre and took pictures in front! There was a long line to get into the main entrance, so we used a trick that one of our acquaintances from the plane ride told us about. You go up to the security guard at the back of the line and ask for the entrance to the shopping mall. Then, you are directed to set of stairs that goes through an underground mall, and dumps you at the beginning of the ticket line for the Louvre. It was so awesome! We skipped a huge line, and then were able to get in for free with our Greek student ID card. I walked around the GIANT museum for about 4 hours, running up stairs, and through hallways to get to all of the exhibits I could. I was able to see the majority of the museum, and the main exhibits! I walked through the Egyptian Exhibit, Napoleon's Apartment, the Greek section first. While in the museum I was able to see the Mona Lisa, Hammurabi's Code, Mary Magdalene, and so much more!! It was such an exciting visit :)
After the Louvre, we took a bus back close to the hotel. We found another crepe place on the way back to the hotel, and decided to stop in. We took our crepes to-go and settled into our warm hotel room for the night!
SUNDAY, October 16th
On Sunday we went to breakfast at the hotel. We were served baguettes with butter, jelly, and nutella. We also had hot chocolate and orange juice. It was the perfect breakfast to build up the strength we needed for the day because today we were going to DISNEYLAND PARIS!! We took the train and then transfered to another train to get to Disney. When we arrived, I am pretty sure we saw snowflakes. It was very cold outside, but we were in Disney!! Nothing else really mattered :) I rode Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, Small World, and Star Wars. There was also a parade and stage show we were able to see. It made perfect sense once I got there, but I was initially shocked when Mickey spoke french. We could not understand what he was saying, but all the Disney songs were still in English and we sang along.
The roller coasters were really intense! Space Mountain went upside down 7 times! And all of the other roller coasters went upside down too. My roommate Sheila is terrified of roller coasters, but somehow I convinced her to go on Space Mountain because in Florida it is not that scary. I said something along the lines of "let's be serious, it's Disney. These rides are for kids." Well, when we stopped you might be able to picture the face she gave me. Sheila was a little mad :)
After a long day at the best place in the world, we hopped on a train and headed back to our hotel. We were both so tired that we fell asleep almost instantly upon entering our room.
~Paris was absolutely beautiful. The trip was such a once in a lifetime experience! I am so happy I was able to go, and I feel so lucky to be able to study abroad and see all of these amazing places.
Keeping it classy in Athens-
PICTURES OF EVERYTHING!