I went to Spain not only to learn the language and experience the culture, but to also explore as much of Europe as possible. I finally got that opportunity when my roommate and I jet-setted away for a weekend in the city of lights: Paris.
Lost in Paris
After an uncomfortable night in the Malaga Airport and a quick, and luckily cheap, flight, I arrived at Charles De Gaulle Airport. Unfortunately, it was there that I realized I bypassed one of the most important rules of traveling: plan before you get there! Thinking that the airport would be a quick cab or bus ride to our hostel, neither my companion nor I thought to look up directions. We ended up wasting an hour at an information booth, buying the wrong metro tickets, and getting lost about a dozen times before we finally stumbled upon Hostel Absolute Paris.
Check-in was a breeze (the receptionist spoke about four different languages-while I was standing there!) and the hostel was more than sufficient for the price. Travel guides and maps, computers, and a dungeon like kitchen and dining room were available for visitors. Some downsides: the two girls we bunked with told a story of a maid wandering in and showering and on two separate occasions I witnessed strangers (possibly workers) open our doors with the wrong room key. They always apologized and quickly walked out but it wasn’t the safest of situations.
After a quick shower, and this time stopping to look up directions, we were on our way to the next adventure!
Now, I’m not going to say I traveled all the way to Paris just to see Bruno Mars in concert. Paris was on my list of must-dos from the beginning. But I might or might not have been slightly obsessed since seeing him and Travie Mccoy the year before in Brooklyn and I may or may not have picked this exact weekend with his show in mind. Either way, we ended up at Le Zénith de Paris with tickets to see Bruno Mars.
The show, as every Bruno show I’ve been to , was amazing. Fully of energy, full of talent, and pretty darn easy on the eyes. This concert was a bit more special than the other ones simply because I was in a foreign place. Something about being in a crowded room surrounded by signs I coulden’t read and singing along to my favorite songs with everyone despite the language barrier just made it seem like a once-in-a lifetime moment.
Eiffel Tower, Mona Lisa, and Gardens Galore
The next two days were spent sightseeing. We left our hostel each morning around 8 am and we were lucky to get back by midnight. The reward was getting to see a lot of incredible things in such a short amount of time.
First up was a free tour courtesy of Discover Walks. The service matches tourists with a Parisian tour guide for the day. After a quick look through some nearby shops, we met our lovely tour guide Francoise at the Pont Neuf metro station. She took us through the 6th district, into the older section of the city, and finished by escorting us through the Luxembourg Gardens. The Gardens were immense and looked very familiar ; it’s a very popular filming location.
The Louvre Museum is free for those under 26 every Friday so, of course, we had to take advantage of that offer. Besides the famous Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, I loved browsing through the Egyptian and Medieval sections. There was also some type of ancient moat thing that was pretty cool to see.
After a dinner of pasta and champagne, we got lost once again but ended up stumbling along the Notre Dame. We stopped in to view part of a service and I even donated a Euro for a souvenir candle. Instead of climbing the bell towers, we explored the neighborhood shops and wandered a bit more. We also stopped by the Arc de Triomphe and Champs- Elysees Avenue before calling it a night. As a side note, I was disappointed to find that the avenue is only lit up during the holiday seasons. It’s definitely something to keep in mind if you want to experience it in all of its glory.
Of course no visit to Paris is complete without a visit to the glorious Eiffel Tower. The walk past the moving statues and venders was almost as fun as seeing the tower up close. Nothing compared to actually climbing it and viewing the gardens from up high. We ended up visiting twice; once during the day and once the night before our flight back to Spain. It was the perfect farewell to a pretty incredible weekend.
Next week, I’ll include a list of the 5 things that surprised me about Paris, as well as an overview of a local attraction.