Highs & Lows

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”

-Susan Sontag

Fresh baguettes, full-bodied wines and aged cheeses…

Now that I have your attention…our next stop on the Eurotrip was, quite obviously, France!

Upon landing at Charles de Gaulle Airport, in Paris, France, we were picked up by a long-time friend of my parents, Barb.  She and her husband, John, had been living in Paris for the past few years, as he had been transferred there for work.  Although they offered to have us stay with them in their Montmartre penthouse apartment, we opted to experience a true Parisian hostel for our first few days, and stay with them for the latter half of our time there.  This was likely the worst decision of our trip, as our hostel, Hotel des Olympiades, was a total and complete dump!  From stained carpets to dilapidated rooms, this place made our skin crawl. We always bring an extra set of sheets with us when we backpack, and Hotel des Olympiades is a prime example why.  It was from this point forward that we truly took Tripadvisor reviews into consideration prior to booking accommodations.  That being said, we spent so little time in our room and we definitely didn’t let this ruin our time in Paris.  Our days exploring were spent visiting all the Parisian historical sites:  Sacre Coeur Montmartre, Tour Eiffel, Moulin Rouge, Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris, Hotel National des Invalides Army Museum and of course we spent a day getting lost in the long corridors of the Louvre Museum.  The best place to grab a bite to eat would be any ‘boulangerie’, which are French bakeries.  Many afternoons we could be found with a bottle of red and a fresh baguette, sitting in the warm sun on a patch of grass under the Tour Eiffell.  Although we were in France for over a week, we spent all of our time in the Paris area, because there is just that much to see and do there.  It’s most definitely not a city you can do in a weekend.

We enjoyed all that Paris had to offer, however what we wanted to see the most, was not in Paris, but Versailles, a small town about an hour out of the city, and home to the renowned Chateau de Versailles.  The lavish royal palace, as it appears today, was expanded upon by King Louis XV and his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette, who had her very own exclusive estate built on the property.  We were at Versailles from dawn until dusk meandering through the Hall of Mirrors, the King and Queen‘s Apartments, the Museum of French History and, best of all, the gardens of Versailles, which are made up of extravagant flowing fountains and statues, perfectly manicured stretches of lawn and a man-made lake called The Grand Canal. On our way out at the end of the day, through the golden gates, we were discussing the wealth and greed of the past monarchies of France.  We stopped to ask a guide if the gates were in fact made of real gold and her response was, “In Versailles, if it looks gold, it’s real gold!”

Our final day in France was spent doing the most touristy of things, we went to Disneyland Paris!  Although it was not comparable to Disney in Orlando, it was still a fun day, complete with rides, funnel cakes and the evening parade of all the Disney characters.  Theme parks are never a ‘must do’ on our travel list but, admittedly, it was nice to be a kid again for the day!

Despite the undeniable fact that Paris has so much history and culture to offer, it was not our favorite destination on our Eurpotrip.  Between the tourist scams, high prices and Parisian demeanor, we were content when our time was up in Paris. That being said, it was here that we learned that with every experience in life there is bound to always be highs and lows and it’s the highs that you must revel in. As we sat in the airport, waiting for our next flight from Paris to Rome, our tummies were rumbling and we wanted one last taste of France, we craved another one of the high points of Paris.  We hunted down a boulangerie in the airport, which paled in comparison to those in downtown Paris, but was nonetheless still exceedingly more delicious than any bakery back home.  We had one final baguette and with that we were off to our next destination…Italy…

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