After spending nine days in southern Turkey, I returned to Istanbul practically lifeless, but had no time to recuperate because I had a flight leaving early the next morning for Paris! I emptied my suitcase of swimsuits and cropped shorts, and replaced them with jackets and jeans. It felt like a dream as I stepped off the plane in Paris…could it really be possible that less than 24 hours before I was on the beaches of Antalya and now I was on the other side of Europe? Yup, it was true!
Just a quick reminder that I had been to Paris two years before on my three-country Eurotrip, but sunshine made the city look much different than that trip back in December of 2010 when the skies were dreary and gray. I even got a sunburn on my first day there!
Our first day was spent wandering Versailles on an eight-hour walking tour of the chateau and surrounding gardens. My friend Maya and I switched off paddling a small row boat through the Grand Canal as we ate our lunch and then made our way to the top of the hill for an audio tour of the 2,300-room palace. We learned about Louis XIV, XV and XVI and how each king contributed to the over-sized property that is modern-day Versailles.
During the trip, I abandoned my picky eating habits and tried foie gras (duck liver), pig knuckles and fondue bourguignonne (raw meat dipped in oil). I have no regrets with trying any of those! Who would have known something so disgusting could be so delicious?
Other highlights include Disneyland (yes, the Paris one still has Space Mountain and Tower of Terror!), the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. We attempted to visit the Catacombs, but didn’t make it before closing. We also spent a few nights out on the town with my friend Kalei who was one of the first people I met when I moved to Eugene two years ago. During our nights out, we learned that French dancing is very different from American dancing. I’m used to clubs filled with people bumping and grinding, but the Parisians we saw were doing moves that resembled the “Q-Tip” and “Sprinkler.”
I forgot to mention the best part of the trip: one of the girls I was traveling with belongs to the family that started the Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, so we stayed at Hyatt Madeleine in downtown Paris free of charge. Upon leaving, we signed off on a $6,000+ bill but didn’t have to pay a penny. On top of that, her family paid for our taxi service, so we were driven around in Jaguars and BMWs most of the time. Tough life, eh?
Something worth mentioning is that the day before I arrived, France legalized same-sex marriage! Even though several violent riots ensued that day, it was exciting to see couples smiling ever-so big during my visit 🙂