Paris. Let's see if I can even remember. Paris was...in a few words...beautiful, adventure-filled, emotional, FUN, fashionable, artistic, yummy, and BIG!
I am going to go through this by adjective since it was too long ago to remember the daily occurance of events:
Beautiful: The first thing I can think of is the Eiffel Tower. Of course. But not just the tower. The tower lit up at night. And the deep blue sky as its backdrop. Not black. But blue. Like it never fully got dark there. The tower also twinkles on the hour. Starting at 11 pm I think. Twinkles!!!! We spent a good deal of time in our *new* parisian dresses taking jumping pictures in front of it (of course!). Just dancing and romping around in the large field of people from all over the world, who were playing guitar, drinking wine, eating baguettes with cheese, and genuinely spending time with each other. No cell phones. No laptops. No iPads. Just spending time with people. It was wonderful.
And that is exactly what we did that night. Now for the "adventure-filled" and "FUN" parts. We met up with our new Scottish friends from Amsterdam (who I am proud to say we still keep in touch with and one of them actually came to VISIT Virginia Tech!). We also met some girls from Mexico. And we just laughed, played games, and talked.
...so much so that we lost track of time. This was easy to do considering out surroundings and how much fun we were having...and how lively Europe is at night. But our train, unbeknownst to us, stopped running at midnight. Well we would have missed it no matter what anyways, because we didn't even get to the Eiffel until 11. So in hindsight, it was good we spent the majority of the time waiting for our *cough cough* 5 am train ride home having fun :) After a bit of uncertainty and a tiny freak out ...;)....we got home (...at sunrise...a beautiful one at that). And slept it off. We talked it out over a *lovely* cup of french cappucino. And proceeded to the louvre...
Artistic: Luckily we all had similar feelings about the Louvre. See the big things and get going. So we saw the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, and the Venus de Milo (all of which were beautiful). We also went to the Impressionist Museum which was filled with famous impressionist paintings. We then went to the L'Orangerie to see Monet's Water Lilies. That was a fabulous experience. Seeing those paintings the way they were meant to be presented, in an oval shaped room with the paintings engulfing you, was truly magical. So much detail and intention was placed into every brush stroke. And it was so obvious when we saw that first hand.
Back to beautiful...something else beautiful was the river. We took a river boat tour. I couldn't tell you the name of every building we saw but I can just tell you being on the river at dusk is a must in Paris. Especially when you go by the section of the river located by the university and you can see all the college students socializing and studying. And the Notre Dame...
The Notre Dame is fantastic. It does not dissapoint. Huge, majestic, and etherial, we spent a good amount of time marveling at the intricate carvings and sculptures around the outside, and the vibrant stained glass and relics on the inside. Around the corner from the Notre Dame was the Saint Chappelle. Only as big as one normal sized chapel, the entire church was stained glass. I mean from head to toe. And these windows told the story of the entire Bible from panel to panel. It was really unique.
We also took a side trip to Versailles. The castle and the grounds are ornate and huge. It was very cool and surreal to be in the place Marie Antoinette lived. And it was nice to see what a smaller town in France was like.
Finally for the beautiful part (I know I am overexhausting that adjective)... the Sacre Coeur. Oh man. All any of us wanted to do in there was pray. It wasn't the largest or most grand of the churches we saw..but it was beautiful. Something special about it. We prayed and thanked God for this wonderful trip and the people he created and the wondrous creations we were privileged enough to have seen over the past 6 weeks. We walked outside and the steps overlooked the entire city. We brought dinner (baguettes, fruits, cheeses) and just relaxed up there with the hundreds of other tourists, street performers, vagabonds :)
Yummy: I've touched on the fact that we acquired baguettes, cheeses, and cappucino's during our stay in Paris. But every meal we ate was delectable! I mean real keish, crepes (savory AND sweet), chocolate, lattes, pastries, bread....the french cuisine may not be the best meals wise but it is EXCELLENT in the breakfast and sweet department :) We ate one night at a cute little place in an adorable quaint neighborhood (off the beaten track and recommended by Rick Steves of course...the name of it escapes me now however.) Mmmmm. SO good!
Fashionable: Paris wouldn't have been Paris without shopping. Starting at the Champs Elysees and working our way down the many many stores...we window shopped at things out of our price range. But it was fun to see the infamous Prada stores in their home city. We witnessed the daily winding lines outside Louie Vuitton, gazed at designer watches and sunglasses, and finally, shopped for shoes :) Shoes! They are everywhere in Paris! And every girl you see is wearing a trendy set of heels. So we figured we had to splurge! We managed to find one store with a sale and we all got some Parisian heels to match our also newly acquired, Parisian dresses.
Emotional: Now...we had one loss over the 6 week trip. It didn't happen until the last city, but that almost made it worse. We lost Tricia's camera. We think it got pick-pocketed. Now.. we're lucky thats the only thing we had stolen...and that Christie and Nicole had enough pictures to share...but it was still really sad and frustrating. But...we had just the cure!
With our new outfits at hand we decided to put them to good use. We found very affordable tickets to Les Miserables at the main theater in Paris. So we got dolled up, had dinner, and went to the theater! This took place on our very last night. If you have never seen Les Mis...go see it. It tugs at your heart strings in all the right ways. And it has everything. Beautiful music, first of all. But love, death, war, action, sacrifice, humor...oh it's so fantastic! We sobbed when it ended. All of us. I mean SOBBED. And when we walked outside, gazing over the river and reminiscing over the past 6 weeks...we sobbed even more. We pinky-promised to never forget this trip. And to return together someday.
It was the *perfect* ending to an even more perfect trip.