Monday, February 1, 2010

Paris!

Paris: 1/24-1/27

Nick and I almost had a mishap with the train on the way down to Paris; we didn't realize that it was to leave from a different train station in Brussels, so we waited at the same platform number for a while... we eventually asked someone who told us where to go.  Luckily the trains leave every half-hour and our ticket was valid anyway.

We arrived in the evening and just walked around the streets near the train station looking for a hostel for the night.  We found a decent one for 26 Euros, which was a little more than we wanted to pay but wasn't bad.  We then immediately went out to see Paris and started with the Champs Elysees.  We walked around there for a bit, ate dinner on the Champs, went to the Arch of course... then as we were walking around we saw a ton of police cars and trucks and it looked like they were preparing for battle (with masks and shields and a bunch of different teams of officers). We learned it was beacuse of a soccer game between Algeria and the Ivory Coast which was to end soon.  Maybe 30 minutes after the game there were hundreds and hundreds of people in the streets all honking horns and celebrating Algeria's victory.  Flares were lit in the streets and it was a great scene.

Monday was Nick and my walking tour of the city.  We took the metro into the city and walked around for almost 6 hours seeing many of the bigger monuments (Eifel Tower, Notre Dame, Louvre) along the river then just walked around the city people watching and enjoying the culture.

We stayed at a different hostel Monday night and on our way out met an Australian who came out with us.  We very coincidentally happened on an Australian bar and made friends with the (French) bartender who poured us a few free shots, including one which is lit in your mouth.  Things were pretty quiet out and we had to make our 2am curfew for the hostel so left early.

Tuesday was going to be our day to go to the Louvre but it's apparently closed on Tuesday (this is why I need to take my travel-books with me) so we went to the Sacre Coeur which was really pretty but it was a foggy day so we didn't get as good of a view of the city as we wanted.  We then went to the Musee d'Orsey for the rest of the afternoon and headed over to Evan and Dan's new apartment (they had just arrived the day before).  We went out to dinner together and then out to an American bar where students from the 2-3 big exchange-programs all go.  It was different than anything we'd ever done here because an "American bar" in the Netherlands so far has meant that they serve Budweiser and play American music... but I had run into very few Americans until then.

Wednesday was 5 hours in the Louvre, seeing most everything and getting lost more than a few times.  I had been to the Louvre a long time ago with my family (the last time I was in Paris was when I was 9)  so it was really a lot of fun.  Nick's and my train left at 4 and we were late so had to sprint through the subway and train stations to make it on time; of course, the train ended up being 3 hours late and we didn't get back until almost midnight into Maastricht.

Paris was so much fun and I got to see most everything that I wanted to.  Great trip overall... now I'm off to start my actual semester in the Netherlands.

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