Friday, December 14, 2012

Pour L'amour d'une Ville

Bonjour! Ça va?

J’adore la ville d’amour! J’adore Paris, avec tout mon cœur! And today I shall talk about my lovely trip à Paris with my lovely Alpha Phi sister, Mindy (from the Heidelberg program), her parents, and Adam! Her parents were visiting Europe over long weekend and the following week, and they invited Adam and I to join them in Paris the weekend of November 9-11.

First, let’s talk about how incredibly silly getting to and from Paris with a Eurail is. Knowing that we needed to reserve tickets back from Paris (Adam booked a flight to Paris on the evening of the 8th, so I had to book my own reservation for the 8th) on the 11th, and that other groups from the Lausanne program had had problems reserving train tickets with their Eurails when they reserved a week in advance, Adam and I went to the train station two weeks in advance to ensure that we would be able to get spots on one of the TGV trains back to Lausanne. However, at the station, we weren’t able to find a train back to Lausanne with open Eurail spots. Why? Well, we found out that because TGV is a privately owned company, they are able to limit the amount of Eurail reservations available per train to ten. So already two weeks in advance, all of the spots were filled. Instead of booking a nine-hour train back through Lyon or another city, we decided to figure it out in Paris, and hope that some spots would open (I’m not sure how they could have opened, but hey, we wanted to give it a shot! Oh, and the TGV train would only have taken four hours to get to Lausanne). I had also wanted to reserve a ticket to Paris on the 8th so that I could arrive around the same time as Adam, but those trains were also fully booked. Even the trains from Geneva to Paris were booked! So I had to settle for a 6:20 AM train on the 9th. Even though it wasn’t ideal, and even though I would arrive much later than I had wanted, at least I found a train with open spots!

Fast-forward to the 9th: I left the house for the gare with a group that was also going to Paris, and when I got on my train, I found another two girls from my program going! (I have an irrational fear of traveling alone – but only in Europe – so this was comforting, especially since they were sitting across the aisle from me, whew!) After watching the sun rise above the mountains and green fields through a hazy sky, I got to work on reading a 250-page book until I fell asleep (a rare feat for me!). About twenty minutes away from the city, I woke up and stared out the window at the green landscape until I arrived at the train station. I wasn’t sure where I was supposed to meet my entourage until I saw them standing at the end of the platform, waiting for me. Like a scene from a movie, Mindy and I ran up to each other and gave each other a huge “hello” hug. It was pretty darn cute. I even got hugs from her parents! I got a nice “oh, Leigh we’ve already seen everything there is to see in Paris, you came a bit too late” sass from Adam. Always the sass master trying to thwart my own attempts at sassing. We figured that since we were at the train station, Adam and I might as well try to reserve seats back. When that didn’t work out without a nine- or ten-hour train back to Lausanne, we decided we would try the next day. We then left the gare and headed to our weekend apartment so I could drop off my stuff.

After settling in, we went to see the Eiffel Tower! What a sight for sore eyes! 

(La Tour Eiffel)

(My adopted family for the weekend!)

When I visited Paris with my parents, we didn’t go all the way to the top, but this time we did. Sadly, it was still hazy, so I couldn’t get an amazing view or photograph of the city, but that was fine by me; I was still on top of the Eiffel Tower. Possibly my favorite part of visiting the tower was the announcement on the second floor, warning that “pickpockets are active in the tower,” which I originally heard as “pickpockets are active in the town.” Silly French announcements! We then grabbed some lunch (a burger for me – I don’t know why I’ve become so enthralled by burgers…oh, wait! That’s because I can’t eat American food here!) and then took the metro to the Arc du Triomphe. Adam had to be back to the hotel by four to register for spring courses back in Malibu, so we went back early and rested until dinnertime. In the meantime, Mindy, Adam, and I talked and listened to music. Oh. And Mindy and I booked our tickets to the Mumford & Sons concert in Budapest in March!!! So stoked! We went out to dinner and got steak and champagne, which were both delicious, then walked back to our hotel and slept the night away.

We spent Saturday literally seeing everything touristy in Paris. First, we had to get breakfast, so we went to Starbucks. Then we stopped by the Gare de l’est, which Mindy’s mom called “Gary East” since she refused to speak French. We still couldn’t find any TGV spots back to Lausanne, so Mindy’s dad kindly paid for a regular train ticket, which I couldn’t thank him enough for (and which he didn’t need to do – we could have easily taken the nine-hour train home). From there, we visited Notre Dame, followed by Shakespeare & Co. Then we were looking for somewhere to eat lunch when I spotted the cute restaurant right next to the famous bookstore. It ended up being a delicious find! I got myself some duck with pistachio, followed by the most delicious cappuccino with vanilla chantilly (whipped cream).

All I can say is, when I go back to Paris, I am getting some of that duck and a cappuccino again! It was beyond delicious! Then we headed over to the Luxembourg Gardens, which I had visited with my family two years ago. Even though it was cloudy out, and the toy sailboats weren’t floating in the pond, it was still gorgeous – the flowers were still in bloom, and the leaves were stained yellow.

(Mindy, Adam, and me sitting by the main pond)

The Lewises thanked me for suggesting we visit the garden. Point two for Leigh! Of course we had to visit the second most touristy place after that: the Louvre. We didn’t spend too much time there – just an hour. But we were already tired from the day, and didn’t have quite enough energy to absorb the whole museum (even though it’s impossible to see the whole museum in a day – much less an hour). When we left, we tried to find Angelina, home of the best hot chocolate in the world. However, the line was so long that we decided it would be a better idea to go back to the hotel instead of wait in line. Once again, we relaxed and unwound after a busy day of sightseeing, and spent our time back at the hotel talking and laughing.

Then, we went out to dinner, where Mindy and I got burgers (judge us harder…because Mindy’s parents and Adam were judging hardcore. I even ate my burger like a real European and cut and ate it with a fork and knife!) and Bordeaux wine fit for Alpha Phis (silver and bordeaux are our sorority colors). Dinner was a riot! We talked about who I’m going to marry (oh dear…if you really want to know, ask me personally; I’m not going to post it on the world wide web), how “artsy” means “drunk” (I’m not sure how we arrived at this conclusion, but it does makes sense in a way), among many other subjects. And for dessert, I ordered the most delicious pistachio macaroon with raspberry sauce in the middle. I died. And I loved it so much that I declared that I wanted to lick my plate, but I didn’t think that was socially acceptable. But really. I would definitely go back to that restaurant just for the macaroon.

(Dying even just looking at it! - and it was bigger than it looks, with about a three-inch diameter!)

After a delicious and hilarious meal, we walked all the way to the Concorde (basically from the Arc du Triomphe) to see the Eiffel Tower shine. Like a true artist, I spent a good fifteen minutes taking “#artsy” shots of the tower and street and capturing video footage for a possible video of my travels. We returned to our hotel and slept.

(Getting #artsy)

Sunday morning, we woke up, got ready, and ate at Starbs again. Then we collected our backpacks and parted ways. Mindy and her parents had to be at the Gary East at eleven, and Adam didn’t have to be at the Gary Lion until one, so he and I went back to the Concorde to film a short video for our amazing media coordinator, Richelle! The basic premise was to take a piece of paper and write anything on it and pass it from the left side of the shot to the right; she would then compile all of the videos and make it look like everyone in our program was sending the sheet across the continent! Cool right? Yeah our media coordinator is the best! Adam’s said “#beekeepingismysecretpassion” and mine said “I am a cat lover, and I love to run!” since Mindy and I had been singing that all weekend, much to the dismay and annoyance of those around us (

(I'm going to make a cute cat lady someday! Actually, let's hope not. That said, this is probably a terrible thing to be posting on the internet...guys I'm a dog lover!)

Then, we headed to Gary Lion and left the gorgeous city of love. On the way home, I attempted to read Measuring the World, but that left me tired, so I instead listened to music and wrote in my travel journal!

Overall, I loved my trip to Paris, as well as Mindy’s family! It was so nice being able to finally meet her parents, especially since they’re so hilarious and easy to have conversations with. In my own words, “[Mindy’s] mom is like my dad the way she stuff says. Ah sang it! I mean dang it!” I am so glad I got to spend my weekend in Paris with such a fun group, and I look forward to my third time visiting – sometime in the future!

Au revoir! 

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