"America is my country... and Paris is my hometown." -Gertrude Stein

Ahhhhh! Paris! So many beautiful things to say, so many amazing experiences to describe, I don't know where to begin. I guess the beginning is as good a place as any. However, before I begin, I would just like to say how unbelievably thankful and blessed I am for having the opportunity to travel to Paris. To experience a city that never in my life thought I would see. I've always had a dream to travel to Europe, and every day that I am here this entire trip becomes more surreal every minute, and I can't believe that this is all happening. But anywho...back to PARIS!

Seven of us began our trip on Friday afternoon by heading to the airport and catching an evening plane ride to the city of love. The plane ride went so fast because we were all so excited to get there. We were all completely awake and ready to experience all that Paris had to offer. I remember looking out the window every five minutes, just so I could be the first one to see the Eiffel Tower. After getting off the plane we ran into a very nice couple who somehow automatically knew we were Americans. They helped us find the bus stop for the bus that would take us into the city, explained to us how the bus tickets worked, and helped us figure out France's subway system which is much more confusing than Rome's. I was so thankful that we found them, or actually they found us, because without them we would have never made it to our hostel that night! The entire time they were with us, I just kept thinking how lucky we were. And how blessed we were that once again, God was watching over us, keeping us safe, and being by our sides the entire time.

When we arrived at our hostel, St. Christopher's Hostel, we were all a little surprised at the living conditions. Let's just say, in so many words....it was kind of gross. None of us had ever stayed in a hostel before, so we didn't know what to expect, which I think was why we were so uncomfortable at first. However, for two nights, on the cheap, and only twenty minutes away from the city, it was a fine place to say, and we were lucky to have found it. One cool thing about the hostel was the location. It was located in the downtown city, which was away from all the main touristy attractions, so we were able to see authentic, genuine, French food shops, stores, and bakeries. At the very least, my first stay at a hostel was definitely an experience.

On Saturday we woke up very early, rushed to get dressed, and then caught the subway to Paris!!! We had one full day to see and experience Paris for all that it was worth. We wanted to soak up everything we could, see both the famous and unique sights, and absorb the French atmosphere into our veins. We got advice to head to the Eiffel Tower early in the morning so we wouldn't be waiting in line all day. That was the best advice of the day, because overall we waited in line for less than one hour once the Tower opened up and line started moving. We decided to go all the way up to the top, I mean, how couldn't I?? It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I was going to take advantage of it. And plus, we got a discount on our ticket for being students! Booya! At the top of the Eiffel Tower, the view was completely amazing! Seeing all of Paris from the top of France's national landmark, was something I will never forget. I felt so French, so happy, and excited to be where I was. It was amazing!! This might sound gross, but I can't leave it out, it is completely necessary to put on the blog. So...because our hostel's bathroom was incredibly gross, I couldn't force myself to use the restrooms there. By the time I got to the top I had to use the restroom so bad, so I did. Haha! Now I can say, that yes, I have peed at the top of the Eiffel Tower! Sorry, too much?? In my defense, when you are in Europe, and it is free to use a public restroom, you take advantage of it.

After a few hours, many pictures, and a sad farewell, we descended the Eiffel Tower and went onto our next excursion. We decided to follow the Canal all the way through the city, which lead us to Champs Elysees, Palace de Concorde, The Louvre, and Notre Dame:) Palace de Concorde was so beautiful in the fall! It was a sweet park that had fountains and benches to sit, and beautiful landscaping. We went into the Louvre as well, which was in a word: amazing. I can't believe that I was able to see the Mona Lisa, plus numerous other fantastic paintings and sculptures that I will never forget. I really did feel like Mona's eyes were following me! It was crazy. We spent about three hours inside the museum, and by the time we left we were completely exhausted! Never in my life has a museum made me so tired! That is the power of the Louvre.

Next came dinner! Yay! At that point we were starving, so we treated ourselves to a cute sit down restaurant, where I ordered Croque Monsieur (pieces of toast stacked up with ham and cheese in between each piece) and a DELICIOUS crepe!!!! The crepe was filled with nutella (Europe's favorite way to eat chocolate) with a perfectley round ball of vanilla ice cream on top. Yum!! I'll probably be thinking about that crepe for a long time to come...

After dinner we continued walking the canal and ran into Notre Dame Cathedral. Flashbacks of watching the Hunchback of Notre Dame as a kid kept racing through my mind, and I immediately looked for the gargoyles on the top of the church. Inside, it was absolutely beautiful. I loved the simplicity of the walls, the smell of incense, the beautiful marble altar, the large chandeliers, and the simple artwork. Notre Dame was very different from any of the church's here in Rome. I felt at peace in Notre Dame. It could have been because it reminded me of the church I grew up in, St. Peter's, but I think it was also because my eyes and brain weren't racing to see every single thing inside the church. In Rome, everything is so elaborate, you don't want to miss anything. In Notre Dame, I was able to enjoy the Cathedral solely because it was a place of worship, a place of peace, and not for its artwork and decorations.

We ended the night standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, as it was all lite up, flashing and sparking at the top of every hour. I'll never forget that sight. I honestly don't think I ever will. I was so enveloped by its beauty, I couldn't tear my eyes away.

To be honest, I consider our one full day in Paris one of the best days of my life. I still can't believe I went to Paris!!! By the end of the day I felt like I belonged there. It wasn't home, nothing besides being with my family ever will be, but it was comforting, relaxing, and beautiful. It was Paris.

P.S. The internet connection is slow now, so I can't post pictures right now, but I will get them up tomorrow:)!

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