Sunday, December 20, 2009

Paris Day One 11/27/09

Five hours after leaving NYC, we landed in Reykjavik, Iceland. It was 6:00am (1:00am at home). It was still very dark (this time of year, it stays dark in Iceland until about 11:30am...I don't know how people there motivate themselves to get up in the morning!), but we could see through the windows that there was snow on the ground! We made a short trip through customs, and then visited a few gift shops in the airport before returning to our terminal to board our next and final flight. Our flight left at 7:00am and landed in Paris at 12:15pm! We got off the plane, and were surprised that we weren't directed through a customs check. We went to baggage claim and we so relieved when our suitcases were some of the first out of the gate!
(Paris Charles du Gaulle airport)

It took us a few confusing minutes to figure out the RER train system that would take us from the airport to downtown Paris, but once we did, we had a great view coming into the city! The first landmark we saw was The Basilica of Sacre Couer (Sacred Heart). It was so majestic set on top of the only hill in Paris...and then we saw the Eiffel Tower! We made two metro transfers, and after much effort lugging our suitcases up and down countless stairs (although locals were generally very helpful in this matter!), we made it to our Hotel...Best Western Au Trocadero! All the reviews I read of the hotel were nice, but the hotel seemed to always be having trouble with the elevator. Our visit was no exception. Thankfully, the hotel staff was very nice and they were able to put us in a first floor room. It did not have the Eiffel Tower view we were hoping for, but at least we did not have to lug our suitcases up more stairs! The hotel was very clean and comfortable, and the staff was helpful and nice. We showered and changed, and then by 4:00pm, we were back out on the streets of Paris! (The view from the front door of our hotel...just a 5 minute walk to the tower!) We walked through the Trocadero to the Tour de Eiffel...and I fell in love with it! We waited in the short line to go up the tower. The top level was closed off, so we only made it to the 2nd level, but I had heard the view from the 2nd level was the best anyway, so I wasn't too upset.

We stayed up there for about an hour, and in the meantime, the sun was setting and the tower was starting its hourly light show! We made our way back to ground level and then headed across the Champs de Mars. We got a great view of the tower lit up, and then headed past the Eccole Militaire (Military School), Les invalides (site of Napoleon's tomb), crossed Pont Alexandre III, to Concorde Plaza. I was so excited...I had studied maps of Paris so intently that I knew my way around without having to look at a map while we were walking around! I felt like I had been there before! We stopped at a crepe stand for a crepe with jambon et fromage! It was warm and yummy! As we ate, we walked along the river to the Louvre. We purchased our tickets in advance, so we were able to just walk right in. We did not spend much time in the museum since we were so tired and jetlagged, but we did get to see the Mona Lisa, Wedding at Cana, and Venus de Milo, just to name a few. After our brief time in the Louvre (about 7:30pm to 9:45pm), we hopped on the metro and rode to the Arc du Triomphe. The Champs de Elysees was lined with Christmas lights, and the Arc at the end was illuminated. We walked from there back towards our hotel and the Eiffel Tower. We grabbed a snack at a food stand and found a seat to watch the almost 20 minute long Eiffel Tower light show at 11:00pm.

After the show, we walked back to our hotel, called home to let our parents know we made it safely, and finally got into bed around 1:00am.

I would like to add that, although we had always heard that the French, and Parisians in particular are not very nice, we found the exact opposite to be true! The people in Paris could not have been more helpful and happy to speak to us and help us when we asked! It was wonderful!

See more pictures from "Paris Day One 11/27/09" HERE

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