The scene was a bit off as my G Adventures group and I were alone in the customs security area. It looked as though the agents were perplexed as to why we were there too. It was just after 7pm and our train didn’t depart until 8:10pm so in our minds we had plenty of time. It was the same empty room post customs and my gut was telling me something was wrong. Sensing the same my G Adventure tour leader Andrea set out to find what was amiss. Somehow we had missed our train to Paris. Perplexed as to how not one person mentioned that our time had been moved up an hour for departure we had to rally and find a place to stay one more night in London. Andrea handled it like a champ as she rallied everyone, found a nice hostel last minute and gave us comfort that we would still make it to Paris the next morning with plenty of time to explore.
With little sleep we set off to Paris first thing in the morning. I was not disappointed. The group and I started out the day with a picnic by the Eiffel Tower. The structure is smaller than I thought but still impresses! The slightly rusty steel weaves into pleasing geometric forms to create a one of kind structure. To top off the experience the Eiffel is surrounded by a beautiful park and courtyard where we as a group settled in and started to get to know one another. We snacked on cheeses, baguettes, madeleine cookies and French wine to rinse it all down. I quickly volunteered to open the bottles as I am a bartender after all and should be able to with ease. Using a swiss army knife corkscrew to tug, twist, and pry out the cork was much more challenging than it should have been. I wanted to take back bragging about my bartending skills as I may have been a bit premature in my capabilities to open the bottle. Luckily one of the other group members was strong enough to wrench the cork out freeing the precious liquid inside.
After a lovely time admiring the unique French structure and cuisine, some of the group had plans to see specific sights. As I didn’t have any agenda I decided to follow Andrea on a walk from the Eiffel to Notre Dame. It is a gorgeous 3 mile walk and a wonderful way to see the city. Walking lets you slow down and really marvel at the incredible thought and aesthetics put into every building. There are statues, gargoyles, arches, pillars, and fountains. Nothing is plain in Paris.
We wound our way through Paris walking next to the river. Of course we stopped to get some selfies with the Eiffel in the background. As we wandered up toward the Louvre I was shocked by how immense the plaza surrounding it was. I didn’t have time to go inside but I could feel that it was a wonderful place. Upon arriving at the Notre Dame I loved the multiple statues lining the arches. This city had so much to offer and I felt I had only scratched the surface.
Enjoying the dull ache of my feet I wanted to push on to see more, but after the early morning and rush to Paris I was in need of a shower. I decided to ride the metro back to the hostel but the metro ticket wouldn’t work and being on a tight budget I decided to walk back. It was hot, but I ended up on a narrow street with all sorts of boutiques and cafes. I needed a caffeine boost and stopped in to treat myself to a cappuccino and flakey French croissant. It was delicious and feeling a bit recouped made it back to the hostel to get ready for dinner.
I ordered the duck and it was so delightful and tasty. Some of the group ordered escargot and it was fun to see the different reactions to the traditional French food. Feeling full and refreshed Andrea offered to take us up to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica and only a few of us followed. We entered the church and I was immediately immersed with the most beautiful French singing. It was a special moment that really touched me. Outside there were sweeping views of Paris. The city has a whitish tone to it and everything seems to have a general sense of order. The sun was starting to sink and though it had been a very long day I loved the peace I felt.
The day wouldn’t be complete until we saw the Eiffel sparkle and it was so cool to see. As I watched the tower twinkle something struck me as I realized many don’t get to see and do these sorts of things and yet here I was doing them! I felt humbled and thankful. Paris is truly special.