I apologize for not getting this post out before leaving on this past weekend's adventure, but I hope to have us all caught up together by the end of this week. Continuing on with my fall break, we come to our last stop on the trip, Paris.
I was excited to go to Paris because, well, it's Paris, but we were also so exhausted by the time we got there that we got to the hostel, checked in, settled in, and pretty much went right to bed. I was a bit apprehensive about my time there, as I speak no French and the Parisians aren't too keen on English speakers, but I did have Erica and Liz to help me along the way, and I even learned a thing or two!
Our first full day in Paris we actually set out away from the city to the pallace of Versailles. It was the home of Louis and Marie Antoinette, and full of history. We took a self guided tour of the interior, guided along by the free Rick Steves audio tour on our I-pods, stopping at the major landmarks like the bedrooms and the Hall of Mirrors. Then we moved outside and spend the rest of our visit exploring the huge, gorgeous gardens behind the palace. I could literally have spent the whole day there and not seen it all, but what we did see was gorgeous. Here's a video overlooking the gardens (they're getting sillier by the day.
After returning from Versailles, we headed over to the Eiffel Tower and took lots of pictures/admired it from all angles. We even got to see it sparkle on the hour:
The next day was all about museums and, of course, our first stop was the Louvre. We headed out early to avoid crowds, and booked it straight for the Mona Lisa. It was exciting to see the painting, even if it's only on a small canvas. Directly behind it was "The Wedding at Cana" and it made up for the Mona Lisa in size. We also saw "Winged Victory" a striking statue of a headless angel, as well as many other paintings and statues by all the greats. Leaving the Louvre, we stopped in the Orangerie to admire Monet's largest Water Lilly paintings. They really are astonishing and we spent a good amount of time just sitting and staring.
After the first two museums we took a little break, got some lunch, and made our way up Champs Elysees towards the Arc de Triomph, where we climed the steps and admired the scenery. Of course, I took a video from the top:
We spent some time after this recovering from out climb and checking out treats along Champs Elysees before heading to our next location, the D'Orsay Museum. I wasn't really sure what kinds of art we were going to find here, I just knew that it housed some greats. So, imagine my excitment (I could have peed my pants) when we wandered into a room FULL of Vincent VanGogh, my favorite artist! I freaked out for about 5 minutes, took a lot of pictures, and set out to see what other surprises the museum has in store. We found some of Monet's smaller works and then stumbled upon another jaw dropping discovery, Degas' ballerina statue. Around the corner from this was Whistler's Mother, which we had no idea was going to spring up. All in all it was a successfull trip to museums that day.
Sunday morning we woke up early and headed over to mass at Notre Dame Cathedral. It was so beautiful and I feel so lucky to be able to have heard mass there, even if most of it was in French. We spent time exploring the cathedral and then a little more time in the Shakespeare Book Store, the oldest English book store in Paris and a refuge for aspiring writers. At this point it was raining, so we decided to head to another area of the city for the best crepes around. We actually ended up getting misdirected and found ourselves down the street from Moulin Rouge, which we took photos of before running inside to escape the rain. After some warm drinks, we found our crepes and headed back to the hostel to dry off and prepare for our return to Florence.
I was nervous before my fall break that my study abroad experience hadn't been the life-changing one that so many people talk about after their time abroad. I'm no longer worried about that. The places I went and the things I saw were definitely once in a life time, and I think it's safe to say I've been bit by the travel bug since then (I want to go everywhere!!) This past weekend I went to Vienna, Austria, and had an amazing time. I'll update you on that later in the week, when I'm not drowning in my work.
Bye until then!