Friday, August 12, 2011

Euro Trip - Day 1

July 29th

We landed in Paris at around 7:30 am (12:30 am our time) and proceeded to customs. Afterwards, we met James, our tour guide! James was British, so it logically follows that for the whole first day I was mostly paying attention to his accent rather than his dialogue. While waiting for our tour bus, we withdrew money from via ATM.  Since the bus was stuck in traffic, we were waiting for a decent amount of time. One of the first things we noticed was that the cars were nice. Even the taxis were Mercedes-Benz.

When we finally got on the bus and arrived at our hotel, we dropped off our luggage in the dining room as our rooms weren't quite ready yet. We were quite hungry since all we'd had to eat was a cold banana and some juice on the airplane so we decided to eat some brunch. James led us to a very cute cafe at the top of a store called Printemps (think Macy's with eight floors). The cafe was on the terrace of Printemps and had a very nice panoramic view of Paris. It was at this time, while eating my yogurt parfait and bread roll, that it finally hit me. I was in Paris!

After brunch, we set out to enjoy our first day in the City of Lights. Is it just me but isn't Paris known as the City of Love? Anyway, we bought metro ticket packages known as Carnets that consisted of ten tickets and  got a brief tutorial on how to use the metro. We used our first metro tickets to get to the Arc de Triomphe. Though we didn't go to the top because of the length of the line, the Arc was amazing. The intricacy of the engravings and sculptures on it were mind-blowing.

When we had exhausted the Arc, we were allowed to explore the one and only, Champs Ellyses. If given time, I would've been able to spend my entire day on that street. The stores were amazing, and the way they all fit together seemed impossible somehow. The restaurants, the people, even the street musicians were more classy than anywhere else in the world. For a quick lunch, we stopped to eat crepes. Most of us chose the Nutella and banana crepe, which tasted heavenly.

After enjoying our time on Champs Ellyses, we all met up again at the obelisk gifted to the French by the Egyptians. This was also where Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were guillotined. We continued to the Tuileries Garden, which had a neighboring mini amusement park. From there, we walked to the Musee de l'Orangerie to see Monet's Water Lilies. For all you Euro kids, this is where Sister Wendy went swimming. Prod also told us about how the last time he was there, he was escorted out after loudly yelling "RETREAT" in response to some Picasso paintings. (see below)

Apparently, they're supposed to be women. I'm thinking more like half-giants. 

After the Orangeries, we went back to the hotel and got our room assignments. I ended up in a trio with Mara and Summer and we got a room on the sixth floor. Our first order of business was to get familiar with our television and find the music channel. We then refreshed ourselves and then left for dinner at Chez Clements.

Dinner was... disappointing. As a flexi-vegan, finding a hearty meal away from home is difficult and for our first French dinner all I ate was peas and potatoes. Not exactly satisfying to my palate. James, however, assured me that Switzerland and Germany would be much more satisfying for a vegetarian because in a big city like Paris, it's hard to avoid non-veg cuisines. This was comforting but at the same time it meant two more dinners of less than satisfying food. However, the city made up for this pitfall in other ways. 

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