On the train to Paris I worked on my blog until my computer was out of juice. After a few hours I arrived and then caught a metro train to my hostel. I checked in to the hostel, put my stuff in the room, and headed out into the city to get some food – my usual routine by now.
I looked up some delicious food that was nearby and came found a place called El Nopal. Its a Mexican restaurant and as soon as I saw the word ‘burrito’ I remembered all the delicious burritos I had in San Diego. I ordered a burrito and sat by the canal for a bit.
I wasn’t feeling too well – my throat was hurting and I was more tired than normal. I decided I’d get a good nights rest to try and get rid of whatever was going on. I took a shower and went to bed early.
The next morning I woke up feeling a bit better and headed downstairs for breakfast. There were no seats available so I joined this other guy from Mexico. He asked me where I was from and I said Sacramento at which point a girl behind me said she was from Sacramento as well!
We ended up being from the same city. After breakfast we all went on the walking tour together. Then we met two other guys and then we met two other girls from Australia. We all talked and walked on the tour for a bit before deciding to leave early since there was so much else that we wanted to see.
I went and gave the tour guide some money and let him know we were leaving early. He seemed grateful (most people that leave early don’t pay the tour guides).
We all decided to get some food and then go to the Eiffel Tower. I got a sandwich and a pistachio apricot tart… it was an interesting flavor, but it wasn’t bad.
After lunch we hike up the over 600 stairs at which point we took the elevator to the top. One of the Aussies was really scared of heights so it was kind of funny as we got higher up. She wasn’t laughing though haha.
The Eiffel Tower took a while to see so we decided to go back to the hostel and then get some food. Our group grew in size when we got back to the hostel. Now we had 9 people, which means making a decision just got a lot more difficult.
All of us were very hungry and my throat still wasn’t feeling great so I wasn’t in a good mood. I needed to eat.
I looked up some restaurants on Foursquare, but a couple of them didn’t work out – either they were closed or too expensive.
After these failed attempts at finding a restaurant about half of the group left and went back to eat at the hostel. One of the guys in our group asked a local for a food recommendation and we were told that there is a Cambodian restaurant right down the street.
That sounded good enough to me (even though I had no idea what Cambodian food was). We got in line and just asked for one of what everyone else was having. We ate it next to the canals like all of the locals were doing.
It was SO GOOD!
We got done eating dinner around 11pm and decided to go see the Eiffel Tower all lit up at night. We arrived just in time to see the tower’s light show that happens at midnight for about five minutes.
We heard that the metro closes at 12:30am so we rushed to get on board and get back to the hostel. After that we were all exhausted and went to sleep.
I woke up around 7:45 the next morning. A few of us planned on going to the catacombs, Sainte Chapelle, Notre Dame, and then I wanted to go see Versailles.
We were all late to breakfast and then slowly people started showing up. At this point I was very used to traveling alone and doing what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. Waiting on others wasn’t something I wanted to do, but I liked our crew so I waited around. We finally left around 10am. We got to the catacombs, but by the time we got there it was a 3 hour wait to get inside. Definitely not happening. So we left to go see the Sainte Chapelle building.
So much stained glass!
Someone mentioned that Sainte Chapelle’s interior was more beautiful than Notre Dame’s so I decided to save some time and not go inside Notre Dame. It was about lunch time by the time we got done at the Sainte Chapelle so we decided to go to a felafel place that had some great reviews.
This felafel place had a line out the door and a 10 minute wait while the felafel place directly across the street had no line and no customers. The employees outside were trying to get customers to come over to their felafel shop, but no one was moving.
Yum! After that delicious meal one of the guys and I decided to go to Versailles. We bought our tickets at the train station, hopped on board, and began the hour long journey.
We arrived, bought our tickets to get inside the gardens, and then walked around for a bit. The place was massive. All of the plants and shrubs were perfectly aligned. The art and sculptures were amazing as well.
Then I stumbled across this masterpiece:
We watched this fountain show for a few minutes – it was synchronized to some classical music and was actually pretty entertaining.
We continued walking around through the various parts of the gardens. At one point we came across this place that clearly says “Keep off the grass.” If you look closely there is a dude sleeping out there in the shade.
Next thing we know, we hear the security team pull up in an SUV and talk on the loud speaker telling the guy to get off the grass. He didn’t move… so they drove the SUV on the grass over to him. He understood pretty quickly and got up and left.
I guess its not okay to lay on the grass, but you can drive on it…
Soon the loud speaker came on telling everyone that the gardens were closing for the evening and everyone must make their way to the exit. We got back to the train station and waited 20 minutes just to get a ticket.
Then we got on the hottest, most crowded train I’d ever been on. When I got on it was standing room only. I was already sweaty and being packed into a train like a sardine in a can was not helping the situation. The entire train smelled like body odor. Sometimes, when I was lucky, I’d catch a breeze from one of the people around me waving a piece of paper to fan themselves off. Everyone looked hot, miserable, and tired.
Its times like these that I make a choice: I can very easily be miserable and complain about the situation like everyone else, or I can smile, add it to my list of experiences, and make the most of it. I usually choose the latter.
About 45 minutes later we arrived at our stop and got off the train. Fresh air!
Then we decided to go check out the Arc de Triomphe.
We were pretty exhausted and hungry so we got some food and then headed back to the hostel. I took a shower and did my laundry (in the shower, like usual).
The next morning I woke up early and went to the train station to reserve a seat on a train to Barcelona in the afternoon. Then I went back, got ready, ate breakfast, and headed to the Louvre with my friend that I went to Versailles with the day before. My mission was to get a selfie with Mona Lisa… just because.
We arrived at the Louvre and there was over an hour long wait to get in at the main entrance. But… I’d heard of a side entrance. I look up how to get there and five minutes later we are inside the Louvre.
The side entrance lead us right into the Italian Renaissance section… which is where Mona Lisa is!
The crowd starts to get more dense as we get closer to the Mona Lisa. You see that big wall in the middle of the room? With the small painting in the middle? Yeah… thats Mona Lisa. She has lots of fans!
Everyone is trying to get to the front. Somehow we slip through the crowd fairly easily and end up right at the front barrier with the entire crowd pushing behind us trying to get our spot.
I got my selfie, took some pictures, and looked for a way out.
I couldn’t move. I was trapped at the front of the mob. One of the security guards came over and opened up the security line for us to get out. They continue to do this as people continually get trapped at the front and can’t move.
After that we walked to the Egypt section of the museum and read about some of the different periods of history.
Then… time was up and I had to leave. I said goodbye to my friend, picked up my bag from the storage room, and headed to the train station.