1img_6131It was approximately a year ago I sent a text message to my biffle with the text: “You, me and Paris?” superimposed over an image of the Eiffel Tower.

It’s been approximately 17 years since I’ve contemplated visiting Europe at all.

Day two of my trip found me tossing and turning, fighting my way through lucid nightmares of sleeping through my 4:30 am alarm and missing my Euro Star train to Paris.  My parents had bought me an awesome tour package to Paris for the day as a birthday present. Thanks Mom and Glenn.

I did wake up on time. I only had a tiny meltdown, when for some reason my curling iron decided it didn’t agree with European outlets. I had prepped my already curly hair for curling, so I had to yank a brush through it and flat iron it in about 15 minutes to make my taxi cab for 5:15 am, to make it to the train station for 6 am.  Yeah… I’m already not a morning person, let alone a jet lagged, it’s really 1 am morning person.

When I met up with tour group at St. Pancras, I received my train ticket and had to step away for a moment.

img_6421Yep. Good ol’ seat 13. You might be asking, “Anxious Adventurer, why would this make you cry? ”

Well blog readers, my dad passed away when I was a kid and 13 was his lucky number and my lucky number. Ever since his passing, 13 always seems to have a way of appearing on my birthday. And this year is no different. It made me feel at ease immediately.

The train ride itself was uneventful, save for the rampant painful ear popping. I suppose that’s the price you pay for descending beneath the depths of the ocean. I still can’t quite fathom how they create tunnels under the ocean. I suppose I could google it …

My first impressions of Paris derived from District 18. It was difficult to shake the Hunger Games out of my head every time our amazing tour guide spoke of districts. I was a bit surprised by Paris. My cousin had spent a few weeks in Paris on her honeymoon, and I wasn’t as enchanted by the city as she is. I definitely prefer London. Paris seemed extremely crowded, frenetic, and graffitied. That said, I was all but hopping out of my seat when came upon the Moulin Rouge. That movie was the very first DVD I ever owned.

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The bulk of my pictures were taken through a bus window .. the whole ‘panoramic’ tour of Paris. But ah, the Moulin Rouge. Our guide explained that it’s not Can Can, it’s pronounced Con Con, to resemble the noise geese make. She truly was a great guide. After the bus tour, we took a cruise down the Seine River. At the end of the river tour, the sky cleared up, offering a crisp blue background for the Eiffel Tower.

Lunch at the Tower took a little bit longer than I would have liked. Even with “skip the line” lunch passes, it still took a good 45 minutes to get seated.  We ate lunch, weird foam thing again …. bought some souvenirs, and then my tour friend Ron and I had to book it down the 350 stairs from the first landing to make our bus. Worth it. Better down than up 🙂

After the Eiffel Tower, we had the option of exploring the Louvre or exploring Paris on our own for two hours. Now, there was a noticeably greater police presence in the city of Paris, but I didn’t feel as comfortable in Paris as I did in London. I don’t speak French apart from saying Hello, Goodbye, My name is Jenn, Do you want to have a threesome with me? I ended up opting for the Louvre tour, which wasn’t in my original plans. I couldn’t be happier.

While I consider myself a patron of the performing arts, I had no clue how much I would love the Louvre, mainly because of how much Roman and Greek statues were there. I also had NO clue it used to be a palace before Versailles was built. Again, thanks to our great tour guide — she used to study at the Louvre — she led us around quickly from room to room describing the history of pieces, rooms, and more. It was quite the experience.

Paris was the one place I had no cell phone service and I was actually OK with that. I was able to check in once in a while via WIFI to let people know I hadn’t been “taken”. But I feel I was able to enjoy a much richer cultural experience. Our group was almost 100% Americans (Yay Thanksgiving break) and there were a few tweenage girls who were playing games on their phone and I just wanted to give them a shake and say “Do you know what you’re seeing?!” Even when I was 12/13 and my parents had taken me up and down the East Coast camping – I was the one telling them about plantation life at the plantation grounds in South Carolina, or completely enthralled in Charleston listening to the stories being told on the horse drawn carriage rides. Paris was just… an experience. The Louvre was an experience. And the Mona Lisa … was super small.

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