Monday, November 26, 2007


This is the final installment of my Euro-Trip blog entries: Paris! I chose to put a break into my rail travel and spend the night in a hotel in Paris 1) so that I could get some sleep and 2) because my train left at noon, and I wanted to be able to have time to see the city! It turned out that I didn't have enough time for either, but I was glad I chose to stay! Paris is a dizzying city - so much is going on in every direction, and there's so much to see and do! It was an incredible city! I participated in another one of the New Europe tours, so I learned all about the city and its past. But as you can see above, I made stops at all the big monuments!

The next photo is me at the Arc de Triomphe. It turns out I chose a really significant day to visit - November 11 is Armistice Day, and marks the ceasefire that ended World War I in 1918. The Arc holds specific significance on this day, because beneath it is buried the Unknown Soldier who gave his life in WWI for France. There is an eternal flame that burns in the memory of all those who lost their lives in WWI and II. So even though it had been built years and year ago in celebration of France's victories, today it has come to symbolize the terrible price of those victories. There had been a service earlier in the day, but an honor guard was stationed for the rest of the day and I got to see them and take a few pictures. I'm really glad that I had the opportunity to visit on such an important day, and it helped me put a lot of my recent World War studies into perspective.

That evening I took the opportunity to participate in New Europe's night tour of Montmartre - one of the most infamous neighborhoods in Paris. It's a really big hill next to the city center (it's name literally means "Mount/Hill of Martyrs"). It's well-known for it's "red light" district and cabarets, but it is also a hot bed for art and culture. It served as a home to artists like Picasso, Van Gogh, and Dali - amongst others! It's got cafes and restaurants and little shops and, of course, the Moulin Rouge!

After that tour I walked back down to the center of the city for a chance to view the Eiffel Tower at night. I wasn't sure what to really expect, but I was definitely amazed! It was a pretty cold night, and I was awfully tired, but I stuck around till 10:00 p.m. when the Tower was scheduled to light up with a dazzling light display and "twinkle." Now I've never been a huge fan of the Eiffel Tower, and I've never quite understood the obsession/fascination with it. Honestly, I expected the "twinkling" effect to be a little campy - but I thought that since I was there, I just had to get at least one picture of it.

But when that Tower lit up (at 10:00 on the nose!) I literally gasped. Instead of large flashing Theater or Stadium-esque bulbs forming repetitive patterns, the entire structure exploded with millions of tiny white flashes - it literally twinkled. I managed to capture some video of it, which you can see in my photo album. I'm not sure how long it will take to load, but you can try - it's the last picture in the album located at:

Paris was a great city to visit. Of all the cities I stopped at, though, this one gave me the most problems with the language barrier. The French are an interesting people. I was told that they're very protective of their language and culture, but if I at least tried to use a little French - the bon jour, merci, au revoire type words - that they would be nice, or at the very least not cold. That wasn't the case for me. Maybe my French was just that bad, but I definitely feel like I rubbed quite a few of them the wrong way. There was also a guy who harassed our tour group and started yelling at us for speaking English. I know, however, that I shouldn't form opinions. On the whole the city was great, and I think the negativity I was feeling was just more tangible than I thought it would be!

I also made the choice not to go up/in/on any of the main sites - the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, the other museums, etc. etc. etc. because there just wasn't enough time! I thought maybe it would mean that I'd have some down time, but it just wasn't true! I kept going the whole time - I can't imagine having spent time standing in line or browsing a gallery when there was so much else to see! It also means, however, that I'll just have to go back again some time!

At 12:00 noon the next day I departed from Paris' main station for London. I hopped on a train back up North and was home in the manor before dinner that night! I had traveled through five different countries and visited six major cities all in six days. The trip definitely had some negative effects on my psyche - the lack of sleep had me a little more than exhausted toward the end. I don't know if I'll ever be able to do it again, but I know that it was definitely worth it!

I'm glad that I had my journal with me. I made the choice to take it a long time ago, and it ended up helping me save my sanity! Instead of trying to remember the countless little bits of information and history I was gathering along the way, I would just jot them down for further reference. That included a running tally of all the pictures I was taking, the buildings I visited, restaurants I stopped at, etc. By the time I was done I had 20 pages of scribbled notes (I usually wrote while I was walking) to decipher that have helped me sort through all the photos and stories I have published in my blog. That little book helped me out a lot - trip details, travel times, hotel names - it's all in there. I highly recommend it for any trips you might take in the future! Doesn't have to be anything special, just a little memo pad to jot down some notes.

But with that, I'm back in the Manor and prepared for the rest of the semester. My Euro-Trip was a success (made possible because of so many great birthday gifts from tons of different people -- thanks everyone!), and an experience I will not soon forget!

As always, you can see all my photos at:
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