Friday, December 19, 2008


This past weekend I went to Paris. I had an amazing time despite the rain and wind. The main reason for my trip was to visit two of my good friends from college. Megan was in Paris for three weeks on a mini-term through Union studying art in the Louvre and Hilary is doing a masters in French in Paris.

I arrived Friday night and took the metro into the city. My flight was late so I was worried about meeting up with Megan. I had called some of my friends in Madrid to send an email to her letting her know that I would be late because she did not have a cell phone with her in Paris. As I boarded my flight, I hoped that Megan would check her email before going to meet me. While on the metro into Paris, I realized that I had forgotten to write down the name of the café I was supposed to meet Megan at instead I had just printed out a local map showing the neighborhood I was supposed to meet her in. Luckily, when I got out of the metro (which has about 10 different exits) I went to the correct exit and found the café I was supposed to meet Megan at. This was definitely peer luck that she checked her email before going to meet me and that I figured out where to go after leaving the metro station. This experience left me feeling quite lucky and gave me a better appreciation of how difficult it was to coordinate meetings before everyone had cell phones.

On Saturday, Megan and I went to the Arc de Triumph and then walked along the Champs Elysees where there was a Christmas market.

By this time, it was pouring outside but Megan and I decided to take our time and look at the booths. Some of the stalls were really commercial with stuff that could have been sold in a department store and other booths had homemade goods that reminded me of art and wine festivals. I was able to find a couple of presents there.

Along the way, Megan and I had crepes from a street vendor. I didn’t realize that crepes were equivalent to a New York hot dog or pretzel stand. They are sold on many major streets and they are wrapped so you can walk and eat. My first Persian crepe (nutella and bananna) was delicious but a little too rich.

After walking for two hours, we ended up at the Louvre and Megan showed me around. It was so nice to not have to look at a map and to have someone to show me the important pieces in the museum. We spent about three hours there until the museum closed.

Picture of me by the Mona Lisa

During the night, we went to the Eiffel Tower and saw it all lit up. Currently, it is lit in a blue light with yellow stars at the base to honor Sarkozy as the EU president. I enjoyed seeing the monument up close and from various angles.

On Sunday, Megan and I went to Notre Dame and walked around Paris. We got more crepes and spent time in a cute café catching up. It was so nice to see a familiar face. I have decided that most of my travel will probably be dictated by where I have friends instead by the locations because no matter what happens on your trip it is always better if you are with good friends.

Sunday night I met up with Hilary. We went out to a delicious dinner. Once again, it was nice to have a local to show me around and take me to an authentic restaurant instead of a tourist trap. As a rule, I try not to go to places with English menus. I figure I will get cheaper and better quality food at these restaurants and it will always be an adventure deciding what to eat.

On Monday, I went to the Holocaust memorial museum. One interesting thing about the museum is that it is technically the Shoah Museum. In France they don’t use the word holocaust and it was unclear whether there was no direct translation or whether this was an attempt to mask the truth such as the Clinton administration calling the Rwandan genocide ´´ethnic cleansing¨ instead of genocide. Either way, the museum was really well done. One part of the museum chronicled the Holocaust in France and the collaboration of the Vichy government while another part of the museum covered the Holocaust in Europe and the Nazi participation. The memorial to the children who died in the Holocaust was very moving and well done.

Children's Memorial at Holocaust Museum

After the museum, I had lunch with Hilary. Luckily she was with me because the metro line I needed to take to the airport was on strike but she was able to take me to a shuttle bus pick up location. Otherwise, I would have been completely confused on how to get to the airport.

Overall, I had a great weekend in Paris. I definitely would like to go back at some time and spend more time getting to know the different neighborhoods. On Saturday, I am off to India for two weeks. I hope everyone has a great holiday season!

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