Since today is my 1 month anniversary of being here in Belgium, I will be updating twice today! One entry now on Paris and one after I get back from Liège tonight on the rest of my week with a few points on the food!
As some people may already know from reading my Facebook page, I went to Paris for the day yesterday. This came about because one of the other girls in my club, Davina (who is from South Africa), had to pick up her Visa for the U.K. When she asked our counselor (who is also my current host dad) if it was ok if she went by herself, he said her would take her, then offered to take me as well! So I was up at 3:30 AM yesterday so I could be ready on time for our departure at 5.
After almost 5 hours in the car due to rush hour traffic (the trip was supposedly 3 and a half hours) we arrived in Paris!!! Our first stop was L'Arc de Triomphe, which was absolutely magnificent. Being in that area of the city made me feel like I was in a movie! Around L'Arc is a giant round-a-bout that made me a little nervous, though. There were no actual lanes and everyone was rushing to get to their exit, which made for some close calls with nearby cars.
Once we had finished taking our pictures we made our way over to La Tour Eiffel. We had a bit of a walk, which made the tower look much less impressive than it is. As we made our way over, however, it quickly became evident just how grand it is. To look up at it from the base made me feel slightly dizzy. We decided to take a lift up to the observation decks instead of the stairs (definitely a good choice!), and in less than ten minutes after getting in line we were in the lift. (It's a good thing that Tuesday mornings in September aren't popular with tourists!) When we hopped off the lift on the second deck, I was in awe. As well as being more than a little apprehensive. Heights have never been my favorite thing in the world, and being hundreds of feet up and in the open air didn't help. After a little time and some laughing from the others, however, I got used to it and could fully appreciate the view.
Instead of continuing on to the top, we decided to head back down and go to another tourist site before we had to meet up with Philippe's (my counselor) friends for lunch. We ended up at the obelisk and La Maison Communale (City hall) of Paris. Quite a site, I must say! Then we made our way to the AutoPassion Café for lunch, where we spent our next few hours. I got a chance to try Macaroons there, which were delicious! After lunch we went to pick up Davina's Visa, which took hardly any time at all, thankfully! And since we had a little more time before we had to depart we decided to make one final stop at Montmartre.
Montmartre was amazing, if not tiring to reach due to the multitude of steps we had to climb to get there! The view of Paris was almost as spectacular as it was from the Eiffel Tower, which of course was breath-taking. After taking numerous pictures, we made our way around the Church to an area in the back. After passing quite a few cafés and shops, we ended up in a little square where up-and-coming artists come to sell their painting and sketches. I found an artist I really liked and was going to buy one of his small paintings, but apparently I must have looked like the foreigner I am because before I could say no an artist walked up and began to cut my profile out of paper. In less than 2 minutes he had scammed me out of 10 euros. (which actually means Philippe, because I had no money on me.) The cutouts (there are 2) are pretty good though, so it wasn't too bad.
Once that whole fiasco was over with we stopped to get drinks. (of the non-alcoholic variety) I ended up getting a cup of coffee that I actually finished! And with only milk and one sugar! Not sure how, but I did. Then we walked back to the car and started the journey home, which ended at 10:30. I was very tired. But it was definitely worth it for a day in Paris where I only had to spend 1euro (I picked up a couple of post cards), got a tour with someone who is not only fluent in French, but had been to Paris before and knew all of the cool sites, and hang out with another exchange student on a school day! That's it for this post because I have to get ready for school, au revoir!