After traveling to Barcelona a couple of weeks ago, several people in the program decided to make a trip to Paris. This is probably one of my best decisions so far, and I honestly never thought Paris would be so captivating in every sense. It is not a surprise how the city is able to claim the admiration of millions and millions of visitors every year.
The city is full of open spaces and parks, all peculiar in their own ways. There are many statues portraying the image of notable scientists, poets, writers and generals that who played significant roles in the development of France. These are scattered all around the city, but are more condensed in the areas near the Louvre Museum. The architecture of the city is simply beautiful and very well kept, with its Neoclassic palaces and impressive designs adding to the image.
Since we went for only a couple of days, we tried to take the most out of the experience. The first day we woke up early (we arrived to the apartment we rented at around 12am) and went straight to the Louvre. We had done some research and figured the entrance should be free since we were technically students at an European institution, and we were right. We got in for free and went straight to see La Mona Lisa, because if we waited just 15 minutes, the room would have got packed and the painting would have been very difficult to contemplate. After that, we continued walking around the museum for around 4 hours, and then headed to Notre Dame. In the way we ate, crossed the Seine River, passed by the Palace of Justice, and then found Notre Dame. Simply marvelous. Eventually, we found our way to the Luxembourg Gardens, and after about 8 hours of continued walking and sightseeing, we decided to rest for a bit at the apartment, and take the metro to get back. The metro in Paris is excellent and very very simple to use. I was honestly concerned at first for fear of missing the stop or not getting into the right line, but after using it for the first time it was clear there were no complications.
That same day during the night, we visited the Eiffel Tower. Climbing it without reserving the ticket online (which needs to be done months in advanced if done at the official website) is probably impossible. The lines are easily more than 5 hours long. Nevertheless, we watched the lights and the little light show which takes place every complete hour. Walking to the Eiffel tower while contemplating the panorama seems surreal. It looks like one of those perfect posters one would have at the wall of your room, but in a much much better quality which is intensified by the drama of being there. We eventually climbed the tower (the next day), taking the stairs at 11:30pm while raining at around 50-55 F^o. It was perfect because when it started raining nearly everyone left the line and went to get shelter, but we stayed there and were able to go up within 10 minutes of being in the line. I was able to meet with my best friend there (he lives in the south of France). He had been in Paris several times and was very helpful serving as a guide. We also went to Sacred Heart, Orsay Museum, the Opera, the Arc of Triumph, and several other places.
Overall, Paris is a must. People were usually very kind, and the French pastries cannot be missed for a complete experience.