After a hectic week of classes with early mornings, late nights studying and windy cold weather on my morning bike rides I was able to reward myself with a visit to Paris to visit my best friend (who I have not seen in over a year as we live in different cities in Australia) she happened to be in Paris this weekend as she is travelling through Europe at the moment. It was surreal to be seeing my Australian friend in Paris who I last saw on scorching hot day in Adelaide last summer. We certainly didn’t think then that the next time we would be seeing each other would be in a year’s time in Europe (it is amazing what can happen in a year – life is just so unpredictable).
I caught the bus to Paris from Utrecht (it was longer than the train but half the price) on Friday afternoon after my classes and although it was frustrating because what can be a 6 hour bus trip was an 8 hour bus trip because of traffic outside Paris I was able to get a lot of Uni reading done. When I arrived my best friend was waiting at the bus station for me and I was starving so we went out and I enjoyed a salad and some French cheeses and she had had dinner so she had a cocktail. We were both pretty tired so we headed to the hotel and slept in preparation for our epic Saturday of site seeing, catching up, eating French food and absorbing French culture.
On Saturday morning we caught the metro to Notre Dame and we walked around the cathedral which was beautiful and we decided to climb the tower (which although the view was totally worth the climb it really only needs to be done once in your life!) It was great to see the bells and gargoyles up close and the view was simply breathtaking. It was then and there at the top of Notre Dame that I fell in love with Paris. The sun was out and although it was bitterly cold I felt so happy and at peace with myself looking out over Paris. Although I love the international student environment in Utrecht I didn’t realise how much I missed talking to other Australians until I met up with my best friend and her travelling buddies. All of a sudden I could speak without thinking not having to worry about my slang or accent and boy did we have a lot to catch up on!
After we climbed down the tower we felt we had earned our lunch so headed to a local café where I felt obliged to order a French dish – boeuf bourguignon, which was pretty handy because I have also been craving red meat (as there is a significant lack of it in European diets compared with the Australian diet) so I hit to birds with one stone with that meal. We then decided to embark on a rather long walk to the Arc De Triomphe. We walked along the river stopping at tourist shops and clothes shops (as girls do!). We went into a cosmetics store and I have honestly never seen a shop like it! It was enormous the staff were dancing like it was a night club it made me come to the conclusion that the French certainly do take their cosmetics sales seriously! On our walk we came across a bridge that was covered in pad locks all with the names of various couples engraved on them which I thought was pretty cool. We walked up the Champs de Elysee and had a look in the famous Louis Vuitton store (unfortunately just a look). Once we finally made it to the Arc de Triomphe we took a photo had a coffee and headed back to the hotel to get ready for our evening in Paris. We had dinner and walked around the Eiffel tower at night I was speechless when I first sore it as we approached it on the metro all I could say was “wow” amazing for someone who never shuts up but the Eiffel tower really did take all my words away – I had nothing. After our walk we were all pretty cold so we had hot chocolates in a local bar and normally I wouldn’t mention in a blog that we had hot chocolates (boring much!) but these were no ordinary hot chocolates! We all decided to order the large hot chocolates as young Australian girls do… and I am not kidding you when I say they came out in bowls… it was amazing! One way to take the chill of the winter away!
I would also like to mention as there is normally a lot of negative press around the issue but my experience with the French people was very positive. I tried speaking the little French I know all the time and I had nothing but positive experiences and no rudeness with them… So “Vive La France!”
Now to conclude with a funny story, when I was coming back to Utrecht a Belgian guy started talking to me in French and believe it or not but his English was more limited than my French! Unfortunately I realised his intentions weren’t exactly to just be friends and chat on the bus so I started pretending I didn’t understand anything he was saying. Luckily I heard some Italians get on the bus and I said to them in Italian “Guys can you please pretend you are my friends because this guy is giving me a bit of trouble”. So the Italian guys pretended that they knew me and the Belgian guy left me alone. So in conclusion learn languages kids! They come in handy when travelling! But honestly, I know I keep being ridiculously optimistic in these blog posts but I swear this weekend was one of the best of my life and I am incredibly happy.