Our arrival in Paris was less than smooth. Catching our plane was in itself a rough task, as we arrived at the airport fifty-five minutes before take-off. Once we arrived, we realized that the airport we flew into, Beauvais, is actually an hour and a half outside of the city of Paris. Unfazed, we bought bus tickets from a rude frenchman who informed me that “Not everyone speaks English. You need to learn French; you’re in France.” I mumbled something about learning Italian, embarrassed and angry that I didn’t remember more French from my high school classes. I slept on the bus ride in, and Haley was kind enough to gently wake me up as we entered the city so I could catch my first glimpse of Paris.
After our lengthy bus ride, we needed to locate the metro. Luckily, I remembered enough French to ask “Ou est il metro?” and we were directed towards the nearest station. From there, we were fairly confident that our journey was fairly close to over. We were wrong.
We exited the metro station at the stop we had been told and immediately bought some crepes, because our Paris trip was fraught with cliches. From there, we attempted to locate the correct street. We were at an enormous roundabout, so we figured we’d just start walking in a circle and eventually we would find it. We were wrong.
Once we made a full circle around the roundabout, we consulted a map and asked the crepe man, who told us to get back on the metro and get off at a different stop. We followed his advice, switching trains twice, and exited the station. From there, we thought the street would be immediately obvious. We were wrong.
After a few moments of all three of us staring confusedly at the map, a nice Parisian man came over to ask if we were lost. We said yes, and told him the street that we were trying to find. he told us to go back to the first metro stop we were at, and take a different line to a different stop, and from there we would see the street right away. We all laughed at our pointless trip halfway across Paris, and got back on the metro, assuming that we were finally almost to our B&B. We were wrong.
Once we exited the metro, we consulted the map. Unfortunately, it was quite confusing and we chose a direction and started walking. After a block or two, there didn’t appear to be anything ahead, so we once again looked to our map. Just then, Morgan realized that there were two streets with the same name that intersected each other, and we had chosen the wrong one. We headed back in the opposite direction to get on the right street. From there, we turned left, assuming we would arrive in a few blocks. After eight blocks, we realized that, once again, we were wrong.
Morgan went into a cafe, got new directions, and we walked all the way back the way we had come, plus two blocks, before finally finding the right street. We almost cried from relief. We finally reached our B&B and the sweet owner, named Maria, greeted us. She insisted on making us something to eat, as we hadn’t had dinner yet and it was ten o’clock at night. After a good meal and a cup of tea we headed to bed, exhausted from our evening lost if Paris.
The next morning was drizzly and overcast as we ate an entire loaf of bread for breakfast. We headed out and took the metro to the Louvre. The best part of traveling with close friends with similar personalities is that you can spend equal amounts of time enjoying the actual cultural and artistic beauty and being silly. We appreciated the Mona Lisa (cliche!) along with the thousands of other works of art as we wandered the enormous building. We may have also reenacted some priceless pieces of artwork and laughed hysterically in the process.
After a long morning the Louvre, the sun was out and we wandered down the Seine to find a spot for lunch. As we were walking we stumbled across the lock bridge and walked across it. We found some to-go sandwiches and desserts and sat on a bridge over the river for a picnic lunch. Sometimes the things that you dream of doing seem better in your mind than in actual practice. This was not one of them. It was absolutely wonderful to sit with two of my favorite travel buddies and enjoy our enormous sandwiches in the Paris sunshine.
After lunch, we walked back along the Seine and headed toward the Arc di Triumph. Along the way, I bought a red beret (cliche!), which I immediately wore. We saw the Arc, and then headed to the Eiffel Tower as the day waned towards a close. We navigated our way over, and arrived just before sunset. We watched the sun set on the Eiffel Tower, and took way more pictures than we should have (cliche!).
We bought some crepes (cliche!) and watched as the lights came on on the tower. We, being the children that we are, rode a carousel in front of the Eiffel Tower. We remembered as we got off the carousel, that the Eiffel Tower lights up every hour starting at eight p.m. As it was 7:45, we stayed in front of the tower and watched it sparkle. It was unbelievably beautiful to see. Afterwards, we went under the tower and I bought Haley and Morgan a rose, and we danced in the cool Paris night.
We walked back towards the B&B as the night grew colder, stopping for a quick dinner in a cafe near the place we were staying. We were exhausted and our feet hurt, but we were happy.
The next morning was drizzly again, as we ate another loaf of bread for breakfast. After leaving Maria at the B&B, we went to the Notre Dame and admired the stained glass windows before dashing off to a free tour of the city. There we met up with Becky and Nick, two of the other students from Sorrento who were also in Paris at the time, and followed the tour for a bit down the Seine.
Late in the afternoon, we bought some Madeleine cookies and sat in front of the Eiffel Tower eating them (cliche!). We mustered our courage and got our walking feet ready and prepared the climb to the top. The walk was long, but the view was unbelievable. I almost cried when I saw Paris from above. We watched the sunset from the top of the Eiffel Tower (cliche!) and made fun of the couples getting blown around in the wind, trying to make messy hair and tired feet romantic (not so cliche). As we reached the bottom of the tower once again, it began to sparkle. We ran out to see it one last time.
At dinner, I insisted on getting a Croque Madame because Paris (cliche!) while my friends all got ravioli. I guess we were all staring to miss Italy, and were excited to head home the next day, even if we were sad to leave Paris. After dinner, we all got crepes and headed home to get one last night’s sleep before our flight home.
During spring break, we had spent so much time at airports and getting on planes, that we weren’t overly worried about getting to the airport early. Unfortunately, this left us on a train, headed to the airport forty minutes before take-off. We ran straight to the desk when we arrived, twenty minutes prior to departure, only to be informed that we were too late to check in and we would not be able to make our flight.
At this point, pre-Italy Caroline would’ve freaked out. However, present-day Caroline got on the free wi-fi and started looking for flights while Haley and Morgan ran around the airport asking every company how we could get home. After a while, Morgan came back downstairs with a mischievous smile on her face, Haley trailing behind looking apprehensive.
“What?” I asked, concerned.
“What if we didn’t go home?” Morgan asked, “We’re single. We’re twenty. We’re in Europe. We’re taking pass-fail classes. What if we just…go somewhere else?”
I closed my laptop. “YES.”