Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day Ten: Hellllllo Paris!

Day 10
Saturday, May 21, 2011

Although I loved Amsterdam, I am glad that we left after one day. I am not sure there would have been too much else to do in the city (I feel like we accomplished everything I wanted to in one day). So, I wasn’t too sorry to leave in the morning, minus the fact that our departure time was 8:30am. I literally had to eat and run. I grabbed a quick bite from the hotel restaurant then sped over to the bus (all in about three minutes). And when I say "quick bite," I mean, I stuffed my face as fast as I could, then carried everything else in my arms out the door. Probably not the best impression I've given. And we wonder why Americans have a bad rap!

I slept for the first leg of the trip. We drove through the Netherlands and stopped on the way at the National Liberation Museum. It was a nice museum, but I was so tired that I wasn’t in the mood. And the lady who gave us a tour gave really long-winded explanations so it lasted longer than Professor Slade had intended. It was interesting though. The lady (I’m afraid I don’t know her name) grew up during the war and she had firsthand experiences to share about life in occupied Holland and what it was like after the liberation. It is amazing how ingrained the war is in the hearts and minds of Europeans, especially the older generations. WWII definitely left a significant scar and impact in their memories. The lady continually emphasized the need to have memorials and to share stories like this because we have to educate the future generations so we prevent another war like that. I think it is much more powerful a message coming from someone who lived through the war in this war-torn country, and can share these experiences firsthand.

After the memorial museum, we got back on the bus and drove all day to Paris. We stopped once at a McDonald’s (everyone was appalled that we had to pay to use the bathroom there––typical France/Europe). Suzy refused to use it, apparently on principle. I just said ‘What the heck, I have to go.’  and paid the 30 centimes. After lunch, I slept for a little while (I finally hijacked my own two seats so I had some leg room) and chatted with Adam R. for a while. I was able to convince him to come with me to Disneyland Paris. So exciting. We planned to go on Monday during our full free day in Paris. I figure I have done all the big monuments and museums, and I’d rather not pay for them again, so might as well go to Disneyland. I was also able to talk Chris and April into joining along too, so we would have a nice group of four. Perfect for rides, right?
Later that night, we arrived at our hotel (Marriot Renaissance Hotel) in La Defense by La Grande Arche. The Grande Arche is a modern model mirroring the Arc de Triomphe. They align down the road (you can see the Arc de Triomphe several miles down the street from the Grande Arche, which is a pretty cool view). Once we brought all our things inside (April and I were assigned a room together) we all walked around the hotel area. There was a nice boardwalk and the La Defense plaza is nice too. There is a huge shopping center next to the Grande Arche, big skyscaper business buildings, and the metro is right there beneath the plaza. We got some late dinner at a fast food Italian joint inside the mall. It was pretty good for about 5 euros. Afterwards I walked around some more with Rogelio, April, Chris and Hannah. The night was still really warm and pleasant, so we just sat on a bench overlooking the Arc de Triomphe in the distance and chatted a while. When we got back to the hotel I attempted to get internet in the lobby (where its free) but the connection was terrible and I couldn’t get mine to load. After about twenty minutes without success, I decided to change and do a quick workout in the hotel fitness room. Their facilities are not very expansive however. They just has some cardio machines (which I hate) and some free weights. I didn’t stay long.

Luckily, I was able to get about five minutes of internet afterwards. Just long enough for me to send a quick message to Lauren (my cousin living in Paris for a year) to meet up after church in the morning. So excited to be able to see her in Paris! She and I have always loved Paris and studied French in school, so it is cool to be able to see her our favorite city.

First Impressions:
1. Soooooo sooooo very happy to be back in Paris. Just being here for a few hours reminds me how much I love it. When we entered the city by bus, all the old memories began flooding back to me and I just sat there taking it all in. Paris is definitely a magical place. At least it is for me. Just so happy.
2. I want to live here again.
3. I want to just meander around the city and walk around my favorite haunts with a good book. A lot of people will be going to museums, but I just want to soak in the essence of Paris and everything French.
4. I am so happy to be back. I’m glad that my first night, however brief, has not spoiled my original impressions of the city. I was afraid that I wouldn’t love it as much when I came, but so far it is just as wonderful as I left it. Hopefully, it stays that way. I want to leave as much in love with Paris as when I left last year.

Maybe even more.

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