FYI: When your Eurostar Chunnel ticket says arrive 30 minutes before departure time… they really mean it.
Can you guys sense where I’m going with this? That’s right. Felicia, Katie, and I missed our Chunnel. By two minutes. BUT, I can promise you, we were not as dumb as you may think. For an 8:31 AM chunnel out of London St. Pancras, we planned to take a 5:30 AM train that, with two changes, would arrive at the international station at 7:46. We woke up at 4:30 AM and we raring to go (and by raring to go, I mean dead-tired) except we didn’t get on that 5:30 AM train. In fact, it was not a train at all. It was a bus connecting to a train since the line was down. And due to poor directions and an incorrect employee, we watched our bus drive away while we sat in the wrong spot. Torture.
Long story short, we took the next bus 40 minutes later, endured brutally frustrating delays, and got to St. Pancras absolutely frazzled at 8:28. We decided our plan of action would be to just book it on that train (Oh, did I mention Katie and I forgot to print our tickets?). We would run as quickly as we could, just make it through the sliding doors, and then beg the ticket collector to accept our tickets that were sketchily downloaded onto a Blackberry. Not one of our most brilliant plans. We seemed to forget that—why, yes—France is indeed a separate country, and international transportation usually involves customs and security. So at 8:28 AM, ticket-less and out of breath, we witnessed massive customs and security check queues and gave up. But it was a valiant effort, ladies. And it was thanks to Fredrique, a ticket representative who took pity on us, that we got tickets (free of charge!) for a chunnel 2 hours later. Thank God.
An interesting start to our trip but it was amazing nonetheless! Bad luck did follow us (1. Cabs stop running after 2 AM. Subways do too. Just a small piece of advice. 2. Order tickets to museums & monuments in advance. Or bring a really warm jacket to wait in line for hours) — and yet, the magic of Paris did not die for me, not at all. I still felt like the sixteen-year-old version of me who was in awe of the City of Light for the entirety of her month-long study abroad program. This time, I got to revisit the places and sites that made my experience living there so special—and I got to discover things I had not seen before which was such a treat.
Our days were packed which I loved. We saw the Eiffel Tower (day and night!) and the views of the city from the 2nd floor; saw Notre Dame and explored it’s tourist-trap-but-adorable souvenir street nearby; went through Ile-Saint-Louis and got the famous Berthillon ice cream; saw the Musee de Louvre at dusk and again during the day to go inside; climbed the Arc de Triomphe and got the most incredible views of the city that I have ever seen— including a lit-up Champs Elysee (does it get better?); saw Sacre Coeur Basillica in Montmarte and the Red Light District with the Moulin Rouge; saw Hotel de Ville, Saint Michel, Shakespeare & Company, Le Pantheon, St. Germain Des Pres, Cafe Les Deux Magots, Les Jardins des Tuilleries, and the Rue de Rivoli. All the while we laughed a lot, walked a lot, and ate a lot (baguettes, gelato, and of course, nutella crepes).
It was expensive (I have to mentally prepare myself now for my spring break Euro-tripping… youch) but worth every penny. Getting to be under the Eiffel Tower at midnight of New Years with throngs of people from all over the world, a bottle of Rose, and two close friends … it can’t get much better. Oh and one more tip: being a student is a plus. Ask everywhere you go for a discount. You may be surprised- I (in half English, half French) asked the ticket rep at the Louvre for a student discount and got my ticket for free! It’s the small things in life
Here are a few of my favorite pics from the trip… The single most incredible, magical city in the whole entire world:
These pictures can’t begin to sum up the beauty of Paris/ how much fun our trip was. I’m in Oxford now until the 8th and then I’m off to London and Edinburgh with Suzanne and Christine for some more travels! 🙂