This weekend, I traveled outside the Czech Republic for the second time while studying abroad. This time I traveled to Paris, where my twin sister is studying. (Again, it’s always a great idea to take advantage of people you know who are living abroad at the same time as you–even a good idea to try to schedule your studies for the same semester intentionally! You’re going to want to travel (and should while you can), and this is an excellent way to save money, time, and enjoy yourself even more while traveling abroad). I arrived in Paris early on Friday morning and left late Monday night (again, I don’t have class Friday or Monday), so I had four full days to explore and immerse myself. My best friend (who is also studying abroad) also came with two of her roommates–so the five of us got to explore together.
Paris has an incredibly unique energy to it–it actually does feel like the classiest, most glamorous place on Earth in real life. Even though, visually, Prague is much more ‘beautiful’ (more unique, specific architecture and more consistency in the niceness of areas), Paris has a very specific culture and energy to it that I absolutely loved. I also really felt like I was on a vacation being surrounded by a language I could understand.
My sister lives with a host family, so when I arrived I met them. They were so incredibly kind and welcoming and hospitable, and, even though my French is basic, it was wonderful actually being able to understand what they were saying to me. Before meeting up with our friends, we went to see the Eiffel Tower. The first time I saw it was from the metro window; we just rounded the bend and there it was. My sister was cracking up; my jaw was on the floor. It’s one of those moments I’ll never forget, it was just more than I could have imagined. It’s so much bigger in real life than a person can accurately picture. It’s stunning. After walking around and gaping for a while, we met our friends and set off for the Arc de Triomphe.
This is also stunningly beautiful (I also got a little reminder of home; the memorial in Valley Forge national park, where I’m from, is modeled after it). We climbed to the top (surprisingly fewer stairs than I thought), and saw the most beautiful views of Paris. I’ve heard that the views are the best there, and I would recommend them as well–I’m sure the view from the Eiffel Tower are beautiful, but the Eiffel Tower itself makes the view.
That night, we went back to the Eiffel Tower to see it lit up, which was beautiful (especially when it sparkles…). The next day, we walked along the Seine all the way to Notre Dame, which was a beautiful walk (with an amazing conclusion). Notre Dame is imposing and beautiful, and although it is not the most beautiful or amazing cathedral I’ve ever seen (for that, visit Hungary), it’s energy, the energy that Paris just exudes, makes up for it.
Finally, the next day, we went to Shakespeare and Co., the famous English bookstore and hangout spot of the ex-pats. It was my actual happy place–I could spend my entire life there and never leave. It’s perfect.
Oh, we also saw the Mona Lisa. No big deal.
Paris was lovely, and in my next post, I’ll talk about being vegan there (not so lovely…but workable!)