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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Against the Grain - City and Colour

So made it to Madrid safe and sound! One long over night train and a 24 hour relaxing stint in Toledo falling in between leaving Barcelona and here. Let me just say it is HOT. While we want to go out and explore we figure we´ll take advantage of the free internet and have a siesta ;)

Not sure where to start.... ok I know!

Favorite day in Paris: Natalie, Laura and I got some coffee then meet our friend Vickie at a near by metro stop. The whole story with how we met up with her that day is a great/crazy one so I think I should share it. We met Vickie in the hostel in London, she is a very sweet French Canadian girl who is traveling for a few months alone and has a open ticket out of Paris (meaning she can go back when she wants as long as she leaves from Paris within a year). Since she was on her own she asked if she could come out and sight see with us, we said of course! She spent the next few days with us as we toured the London tower,Westminster Abby, Buckingham Palace, etc. Once we moved in with our couch surfing hosts we didn´t end up connecting with her again but we knew she was heading to Paris the same day as us. We got to Paris and without a phone we couldn´t figure out how to get a hold of her, then our 2nd day, as we were touring The Louvre, we ran into her! (Ok so The Louvre is HUGE, so this is pretty crazy!) We made a plan to meet the next morning at a metro stop... and that brings us to the start of my favorite day! 

So we came out of the Metro stop and saw Vickie right away! Then it was back onto the metro for our ride across town to the Catacombs. So this was pretty intense and REALLY cool. You enter into the tunnels and pay your ticket in a small shed like structure, in the middle of a park, right by a busy intersection. We went down this spiral staircase for what felt like 10 minutes, I got fairly dizzy (it was probably 2 minutes max), then it was down lit passage way after lit passage way. The ceilings were low and I had this weird felling I would rub the top of my head against it, I never did, but it is funny when you instinctively duck then realize you have about 3 inches of clearance. I loved how ancient the place felt and coming out into the chapels with there lofty ceilings made it all have an air of holiness. When we got to the actual burial chambers everyone definitely took a minute to register what we were looking at. We walked a damp path between piles and piles of human bones. Stacked about 3 feet high and decorated with human skulls. Just the sheer magnitude of remains was hard to grasp. Luckily Laura knew some Latin, Vickie French, and Nat and I some idea of roots, so all together we could make out some of the markers which held quotes, verses, sayings, etc. This was one of the most interesting parts of the tour for me. After being down in the tunnels it was a bit intense to enter back into the sunlight but I enjoyed it as it shined on my face.

After the Catacombs we got back on the Metro and headed toward Moulin Rouge. It is located in a interesting part of town that is at the base of the hill on which the beautiful Sacre Coeur sits. There isn't much to see at Moulin Rouge and I had seen it before but everyone enjoyed passing by and checking out the cool shops next store. It was then the beautiful and fairly steep stroll up to Sacre Coeur. This is my favorite part of Paris and I was so happy to be back with 3 wonderful friends. We wandered the narrow streets, stopped about half way up at a little cafe with an outside seating area that over looked the city, got the best gelato I have ever had, and enjoyed exploring the small shops near the top. We came across this small square with a bunch of art venders and cafes and I wanted so badly to buy art to add to my fairly small international art collection but decided that should be a future endeavor... When we finally turned the corner at the top and ended up at the front of the church looking out over the city I just sat and soaked it in. I enjoyed people watching and taking fun pictures before we headed back down the hill and worked our way back toward our hosts flat (A wonderful little flat in the center of town that our hosts, Cousins Fred and Camille, are staying in during there internships in Paris. They said it has been in their family for over 100 years. Their grandpa gives the keys to family or friends that come to visit the city). We quickly introduced Vickie to our hosts then made a game plan to meet them later before us girls went out for an amazing dinner together. I really love my travel buddies and miss them SO much already.

After dinner we met up with our host Fred and another one of his friends for a drink at a place called "The Hideout". I don't know ANY french, I can barely say "I don't speak French" in French, so ordering at the bar was fun but I managed. I even met a person who knew only French and a tiny bit of Spanish so we tried to communicate with our minimal Spanish skills and failed. A loud bar doesn't help. Natalie had to leave early the next day :( so Laura and I walked Nat back to the flat, Vickie to her metro stop, before returning for a little more hang out time at The Hideout. The night only got better from here. I ended up taking the most unforgettable walk along the river to Notre Dame that night. It was just TOO Paris and practically dream like. The city at night is breathtaking and the company was just as. Needless to say 6:15 am, the time I got up to walk Natalie to the Metro stop, came a bit too soon... but it was WORTH IT. Paris how you surprised me!!!

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