Paris - the city of lights! I always knew that I’d end up in France, but I honestly had no idea that it would be this summer. I guess I had always imagined myself visiting at a later time in my life (and I probably will), but it was a pleasant surprise, and not an experience I will soon forget.
As always, this adventure was quite quick in the formulation and brief in terms of planning, but then all the best trips always are! We literally booked the tickets on Thursday night with our buss departing the Saturday after. It was a bit touch-and-go with the return bus (basically getting booked from right under our feet), but it all came out in the wash in the end. And after some frantic tour-booking Friday night (and some emergency laundry washing), the adventure could properly begin.
Turns out we didn’t have to wait very long for said adventure to rear its head. In the dead of morning, we loaded up into a taxi and booked it to the local bus depot - only to lay in wait for the next hour for our late bus. A few nods/winks and plenty of traffic later, we arrived in Paris around 14:30 - 2.5 hours later than expected. Ah busses - flipping time tables on-end since the invention of the wheel.
Although we had to cut much of our scheduled visits short, we were still able to tour the Paris Opera House (no, no phantoms, unfortunately) and managed to prowl through the halls of the Louvre for 15 minutes before being ushered out at closing time.
We feasted like kings afterwards, and rightly so after a skipped breakfast and a brief nod toward lunch. Food is expensive in Paris, but at the same time, incredibly filling. I managed to tuck into poached eggs, escargot, and a wonderful roast-beef stew (the later actually gave dear mother a run for her money, between you and me). After braving through the impending food-comas, we managed to tour throughout the city, eventually making our way to the imposing Eiffel Tower just as dusk was settling in.
I will admit, I always thought that the Eiffel Tower had been constantly over-hyped, being the single most identifying feature of the Parisian skyline. However, against all my preconceptions, the tower was actually quite impressive - possible one of the most impressive man-made structures I’ve ever been up-close and personal to. The sheer size of it, coupled with the almost majestic way steal girders come together to form such gentle curves - it really can’t be described. That, added with the contrast against the night sky made for a truly unbelievable experience. Unfortunately we were only able to go up to the second deck (the top was closed), but even from there the views over Paris were quite breathtaking.
We trundled into our hostel at quite an impressivly late hour (thank you, Paris transit) and were quite dead to the world, despite the club outside our window still blaring music into the night. Despite the noise and the heat, we all hit the hay pretty hard. The next day, we got up relatively early and after a carb-tastic breakfast provided by our hostel we set out for our second day’s worth of adventures.
First on our list was Notre Dame, which was impressive, but then again just like any other cathedral throughout Germany, followed by one of my most awaited attractions - the catacombs. I’d always wanted to see this grizly underworldly monument, and so I finally have! Sepulchal would be the perfect word to describe it - gloomy, quiet, dismal, yet strangly thrilling. Every once in a while, when turning a corner, everything would go quiet and I would feel utterly and umbelievable isolated from the world. And with the surrounding skulls looking on, it was almost impossible to think upon old man Time. Highly recommend visiting if the chance arises - and be sure to book online to skip the line!
Afterwards, we made our way back to the bus station and awaited our bus home - we were be back just in time to catch the Euro final, France vs Portugal. What a shame not to see Germany playing.