Paris, Part 1: The First Night

I am so far behind on posts right now, so I apologize for that. Things have been a bit crazy this last month and a half with classes and vacations and travelling and figuring out my schedule for next year and finals coming up. This post is long overdue, considering I went to Paris over a month ago now… but let’s just pretend I went last weekend, yeah?

How did I wind up in Paris for the second time in my life, you may ask? Well, when you have a free weekend and you find 50 euro round-trip plane tickets, you don’t turn those down. Even though I had been before, it had been quite a while and I only had a handful of vague memories about things and the general feeling that I loved the city, so I was excited to go back.

We arrived in Paris Friday evening and hit the ground running. Well, after taking an hour and half bus ride from the airport, that is. The airport may be called Paris Beauvais by Ryanair, but it is most definitely not in Paris. Not even kind of. Oh, how I love/hate budget airlines.

Once actually in Paris, we took the metro to the apartment we were renting for the weekend and met up with our host: a cute, well-dressed, young Frenchman a few years older than us (we all loved him, of course). He explained how his apartment is on one of the oldest streets in Paris, Rue Mouffetard (don’t ask me how you pronounce that because I’m honestly still not sure. French is impossible), and is from around the 15th century.

It was an attic apartment with sloped ceilings and wooden beams. I was certainly beginning to feel the Paris charm.

We dropped off our stuff and headed to the the Eiffel Tower. By this point, it was already dark and the tower was nowhere near where we were staying, so we took the metro again. This would become our preferred mode of transport around the city, mainly because it’s just so big! Once we climbed up the stairs to street level, we turned a few corners and there was the Eiffel Tower, lit up in warm yellow lights and towering over us.

We got in line to buy tickets to go all the way to the top. You’d think waiting in line would be rather boring, and normally I’d agree. But this turned out to be one of the strangest waiting-in-line experiences I think I’ve ever had. Directly behind us were two French teens a few years younger than us, blasting music from a portable speaker and dancing and singing along and just generally being strange and obnoxious (we’re fairly certain they were on something). We tried to make it look like we had nothing to do with them.

So people are staring at us and the people behind us of course, which is where the next interesting incident begins. At this point, we’re in the part of the line that winds back and forth, separated by metal railings like at a theme park. A few people give us sympathetic smiles and I smile back at them. One of those people I smiled back at then continues to look over at me and my friends the rest of the time we’re in line. I mention it to my friends, who sneak a few furtive looks to confirm my suspicions, and it becomes increasingly obvious that he’s looking at me, not at all of us.

Well, I’m not too bothered by this because there’s probably 20 people in line between us, so he’ll make it into an elevator before we even get our tickets. Except when we’re getting our tickets, I notice him waiting off to the side for us. Now, none of this would have bothered me at all had he not been in his mid to late 30s, which is just too much of an age gap for me.

When we head toward the elevators, he joins us, introducing himself to me. His English is almost non-existent, but I find out he’s Polish and some sort of police officer/ private security guy. He then shows us (well, me) a video of him training- doing push ups, shooting at targets, etc., obviously trying to show off. He also tries to give me his jacket when I mention the cold (it was in the low 30s Fahrenheit), almost forcefully making me take it (I vehemently refused).

My luck improved when we made it to security and our bags had to be checked. My friends and I made it through just fine and then the Polish guy got held up somehow and we didn’t bother waiting around.

It takes two different elevators to get all the way to the top. The first one stops on a lower level, where we briefly looked around, before heading up to the top. The top of the tower has both an indoor viewing area (with some pretty small windows) and an outdoor one. The outdoor one had significantly better views, but it was freezing and windy (so freezing and windy I couldn’t take many pictures because my hands were shaking too much).

We didn’t stay up there too long because we were cold and hungry, and when we finally saw the Polish guy again, we decided to make a break for it before he saw us.

At this point, it was fairly late in the evening and well past dinner time, even by Spanish standards. By the time we made it back to the area of the apartment, pretty much nothing was open (it was about 12:30, so maybe that’s not too surprising, but had we been in Spain, most places still would have been open). We were saved by a sketchy pizza place around the corner from our apartment. It was probably some of the worst pizza I have ever had, but it came with spicy sauce that made it bearable (I miss spicy food!) and we were so hungry we didn’t really care.

Finally warm again and no longer starving, we called it a night.

Read Part 2 here!

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