Monday I met one of my best and oldest friends in Paris to begin our two week tour of Europe! I successfully made it from London to Paris via bus, a mini adventure in and of itself, if only because there was a ferry involved. Not wanting to waste even a day in Paris Dani and I instantly began adventures. We took the metro into the heart of Paris, grabbing lunch in the Christmas Market set up along the Champs Élysées and devoured some crepes. Then we made it through the Palace de la Concorde, strolled through the Tuileries Garden, and entered the Louve. While the extensive art collection was impressive, and the Mona Lisa a must see, I was most star struck looking at the statue of the Winged Victory of Samothrace – featured in one of my favorite Audrey Hepburn films Funny Face. Dani and I attempted to make it to the Cathedral Notre Dame but cold rain drove us back to the hotel where we warmed up and relaxed before heading out to dinner.
Tuesday we went to Versailles, which was even more decedent and beautiful than I imaged! The amount of gold leaf would be enough to outfit the late Elizabeth Taylor for who knows how long. I’m a huge fan of the movie Marie Antoinette and really enjoyed seeing the ballrooms and bedrooms that played such a pivotal role in that film. That afternoon Dani and I decided to visit the Eiffel Tower, another Paris must see. On our way back to our hotel we got a bit turned around and found ourselves in the complete opposite part of the city. Despite being two incredibly smart women, we’re easily distracted, and found ourselves heading to God knows what direction after picking up some goat cheese and a baguette. While trying to navigate home we must have been on the correct street at least three different times, but still ended up jumping on the metro to complete our treck. For dinner we visited the Jewish quarter – especially appropriate because it was the first night of Hanukah, and ate shwarma and falafel at a restaurant named Chez Hanna, especially appropriate because my name is Hannah. While at dinner a Hasidic man came into the restaurant and asked us if we had candles for the holiday. Dani and I didn’t quite know how to respond so we tried to politely brush him off by telling him we were staying in a hotel and unable to light candles. He was really excited to know we were Jewish, though, and happily exclaimed, “There are Jews all around the world!” before handing us our very own menorah and candle kit. While Dani and I didn’t light the candles in our hotel room, we did place them in their spot to acknowledge the holiday.
The next day we started our morning by returning to the cute bakery we had discovered the day before, just around the corner from our hotel, and picked up some delicious, fresh, pain au chocolate. We visited the Musee D’Orsay, which boast a huge impressionist and art nouve collection, filled with artists such as Degas, Monet, and Van Goh. The building itself was amazing – an old train station, creating a perfect home for the exceptional works. For lunch we headed back to the Champs Élysées and enjoyed amazing smoked salmon sandwiches in the Christmas market, before strolling down the more commercial portion of the famous fashion street. While Dani and I couldn’t be tempted by any of the designer stores we were more than willing to splurge on macaroons at Ludrée, a famous pastry shop in Paris. The colorful macaroons tasted as good as they looked! Between the pistachio, raspberry, lemon, and chocolate, lemon was a clear winner, filled with super light and flavorful lemon cream. For dinner Dani and I headed towards the Bastille and had a great meal at a brasserie recommended by another BU student who had spend the semester studying in the city herself. When I tweeted about my trip she kindly responded with a handful of suggestions. I love how easy it is to connect with people all across the globe and it’s safe to say Dani and I wouldn’t have found such a great restaurant without the tip.
For our last day in Paris Dani and I enjoyed our final Pain au Chocolate and headed off for some Parisian shopping in the Jewish district. The area was filled with chic boutiques and trendy vintage stores as well as fashionable Parisian chains. Unfortunately we have strict baggage constraints thanks to European budget airlines which only allow one small carryon, and weren’t able to purchase much (probably better in the long run), but both managed to find something for ourselves and some people back home.
That afternoon we headed off to the airport, eager to catch our flight to Rome. It was easy enough to find the shuttle that went between the city and the Beauvais Airport but unanticipated Christmas traffic meant our bus fell over an hour behind schedule. When we finally arrived at the airport it was only 45 before our flight was about to take off. Dani and I booked it across the parking lot, fully anticipating missing our flight and sleeping in the airport. Somehow everything worked out though, despite being incredibly out of breath and suffering from only minor injuries (my suitcase caught a curb, causing me to wipe out onto the sidewalk), we made it through security and onto our flight. Dani and I couldn’t help but laugh once we were comfortably seated on the plane, prepared for take off. I think it’s safe to say Dani and I always manage to find ourselves in the most absurd situations when we’re together and this trip has been no exception so far.