Friday begun with class as usual, but the weekend would begin shortly after. When we got dismissed from class is was a scramble back to the rooms to begin our first free weekend in Amsterdam; some of us would not spend it here. Prior to arriving in the Netherlands, a small group of 6 planed a trip to Paris for the weekend. Word spread through the class and three others decided to join the adventure in Paris. We all were going abroad while studying abroad, it seems very fitting to do so. After navigating through the platform to catch out train, transferring trains, and the grueling time spent on the train to France, we finally made it. Late Friday afternoon we stepped foot into our second country on our European summer session.
After just now getting confident with our navigation skill of Amsterdam, we now much learn a whole new system in Paris; luckily it wasn’t that different from Amsterdam. Finally we made it to our hotel room, and it was lacking in size in relation to most American hotels, but we dropped our things and headed straight for the door to explore what parts of Paris we could while the sun allowed it. The hotel was kind enough to provide a map of Paris, and as luck would have it we were 2 blocks away from a monument.
The Place de la Bastille is a square in Paris where the Bastille prison once stood, but it was destroyed during the French revolution. Now the July Column stands in the center of the square to commemorate the events on the July revolution in 1830 with the name of those who fell during the revolution written in gold on the monument. It was erected between 1835-1840 standing 154 feet high and perched on top is “Génie de la Liberté” or the “Spirit of Freedom.” After visiting the monument we grabbed a late dinner and returned to our room for some rest; tomorrow was bound to be busy.
Rising earlier than normal, we all set off to explore all of Paris that we could in what little time we had. Jumping on a metro we headed to the second attraction, The Louvre. Exiting the metro you find yourself under the Louvre in a mall, which I was unaware it had. The “carrousel du louvre” is an underground mall that holds the entrance to the Louvre as well as many fashion stores. Wondering through the mall I did find a 65,300-euro Rolex watch that is roughly 70,500 USD, so I didn’t leave Paris with a Rolex. After navigating the mall I found the entrance that stretched around the corner and through the mall, so being on a tight schedule I decide to come back later to enter the museum, which never happened. Exiting the mall leads you to a courtyard that was surrounded by the Louvre, and it was a sight to see. Being surrounded by one of the world’s largest museum and monuments was astonishing. Even in the courtyard had amazing works to see, including an arch depicting the romans and the infamous glass pyramid. Naturally I took pictures with everything.
Next a group ventured to the Eiffel Tower, which was quite a walk. This was a great time to explore the city, and I’m glad we did. On the way we stumbled across the famous lock bridge where people place locks on the bridge as a symbol of love, or something like that. I chocked my vomit and continued to the Eiffel Tower to meet some other friends; it was easy to find because it visible from almost everywhere in the city. Finally, I was at the base of the tallest structure that I have ever seen; it was breathtaking. Standing 324 meters tall (1, 063 feet) and was the tallest building in the world from 1889 to 1930; it was erected as the entrance to the world fair and is symbolic of the French revolution. I wanted to go up in the tower, but being the middle in the afternoon on Saturday the lines were far too long. So I again decided to come back later on Sunday morning where I was able to go to the summit of the tower and see the remarkable view of Paris.
The next stop was Notre-Dame, and as always the lines were far too long to wait through. This catholic cathedral is known for it’s French gothic architecture and is one of the most widely known churches in the world. The western side of the building is known for the two towers that stand together and is visible from most of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower. This cathedral houses some of the most historic relics in Christianity such as the crown of thorns, a shard from the original cross, and one of the holy nails. It was fascinating to see one of the most notable cathedrals in Catholicism.
The final stop was the Arc de Triomphe. Standing 154ft tall is was commission by Emperor Napoleon in 1806 and honors those who died in the French Revolution and the wars of Napoleon era, with the tomb of the Unknown Soldier from WWI resting underneath the arch. It has the names of the French victories and generals inscribed on it’s surfaces. This was a great way to end the trip in Paris, seeing a monument to commemorate the victories of the French people. I’ll leave you with this funny story; the bus driver asked us where we were from (confused us for Australians) so we told him the U.S. and without hesitation he responded, “thanks for 1945.” This caught me off guard but was hilarious! I though of the perfect response after I sat down; I should have said, “thanks for the Statue of Liberty.” In the end this was an awesome weekend trip in one of the most historic cities in the world.