During my stay in Norway last year, one of my good friends Katie, who I served with in the Navy, happened to be visiting her cousin in London. Our paths almost crossed, being in Europe in the same month. So, we thought it'd be an awesome idea to go to France for a day, then take a train to London to go check out The Harry Potter movie set. So I buy a $70 plane ticket, and she hops on a train and we meet in the city of fashion, love and lights. After my quick plane ride from the clean, not so crowded, friendly people from Norway, I'm trying to find my way out of the airport in France and finally make it outside to the streets of Paris. Expecting to see scenes from The Devil Wear Prada, and any other movie that has parts that take place in France, I'm a little disappointed. The streets are grimy, there's tons and tons of homeless people of every race up and down the street, and it's raining. I love the rain, don't get me wrong, but in this setting, it wasn't ideal. So up goes my hounds tooth umbrella as I venture off in the rainy streets of Paris. Then, I start noticing that it is kind of like the movies. All the fancy stores that you couldn't pronounce with gorgeous clothes and jewelry that cost more than my rent for an entire year, as far as the eye could see, but as soon as you look down at the actual streets, it's the complete opposite. Trash everywhere, caked up dirt and who knows what else.
I finally find the little cafe across the street my friend and I decide to meet at. We hadn't seen each other in a few years, but I could still spot her standing there in her rain coat with her hood up, her leggings on, and wearing her comfy memory foam shoes under her umbrella with a big smile on her face as she waits for me to cross the street. Starving, we go inside and sit down. Now, the thing with the french, and other places as well, if you don't at least try to speak french, they are 10x more rude to you than if you actually try. The french are assholes. Even if you're absolutely horrible at trying to speak their language, at least you're attempting to do it. So, sounding very American, we say every syllable of 'Merci' as they hand us our menus. Knowing we only have a limited amount of hours before we take a train back to London, we order food we know, not bothering with any french cuisine, figuring we'd get some later. So I end up getting a burger and fries, and she gets a hot dog with fries. Now, when you order a burger with fries in Paris, that's literally all you get. A pile of french fries (which was highly humorous getting french fries in France, although to them, they were just fries haha) and then literally just a burger patty on top of the fries. No bun, lettuce, onion, tomato, cheese, nothing. Same for her hot dog. Which technically is what we ordered, a burger and fries, so could we really get mad? A lot of other countries don't eat as much as Americans, and by that, I mean both how many meals a day, and food portions for each meal. Every country I've been too, has very small plates, and small food portions, which is normal, we just eat a lot.
Katie is a very organized person, and had the entire day on an itinerary that she typed out herself, binder and all. We do the most tourist-thing imaginable, and after we get done eating our francias potatoes, we wait outside in the sprinkling rain for the Hop On, Hop Off Tour Bus. It went around to about 16 stops, all the most toursity, and well known places of Paris. Before you ask, yes, it was a double deck bus, what else?! A big red bus takes us from stop to stop, in the gloomy, foggy day. We stop at the Lourve, take our fair share of selfies (she also brought a selfie stick, which actually turned out pretty handy!) Unfortunately there's such a long line and $25 to go down inside to see The Mona Lisa, and we are on a time crunch. So we take our selfies in front of The Lourve, and continue on our adventure.
We pass Ferris wheels, gold statues, golden gates leading to ginormous, incredibly detailed buildings, and so much more. It's all so architectural and beautifully engineered.
After a few hours of sight-seeing this incredible city, we finally saw it. I'll always remember how excited we got the first time we saw the Eiffel Tower off in the distance, barely visible through the fog. But, I mean, who wouldn't be pumped about that?! That's why you go to France, right? So, the Eiffel Tower is one of the stops, we just weren't quite over there yet. But we keep seeing glimpses of it when the bus turns. We eventually just have our cameras ready to be able to snap a picture of it on a moments notice.
As we get closer, we decide that that should be our main goal/destination, to go up into the Eiffel Tower. So, the stop finally comes and we walk up towards it, so excited, but trying not to look too touristy. But we can't help but take pictures of us with it in the back round. Everyone was doing it, with or without selfie sticks, so we don't really care anymore. There's a chain link fence around it, (like that'd stop anyone) and a security area. Security was a joke though. We stand in line for literally 5 minutes, pay $12 to go through, they look at our backpacks and wave us through.
Once we make it through, we can walk right under the Eiffel Tower. It's really cool, the view is insane!! It's smaller that I imagine though. It's a massive structure, but I envisioned it to be bigger, from movies. It's also a dark brown, rusty color, not black, as some people may think. I snap all the pictures of all the angles I can think of to show everyone.
Since it's so cloudy out, we decide to only go to the second level, out of the three, the third being the tippy top. But, we wouldn't be able to see anything with the clouds looming everywhere. So we buy our tickets for $22 and wait in line to take the orange, diagonal elevator up the side of the Eiffel Tower. By far the coolest elevator ever. If the Elevator in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory was actually a thing, that went up, down, left, right, diagonal, backwards, and whatever, this was as close to that as it got. It's a short ride, but awesome nonetheless.
As we step off the elevator, we see two tourist stores, both with the exact same souvenirs, a macaroon shop, a bar, a bathroom and the balcony. The bathroom has the longest line, which we think is pretty funny. We step out onto the balcony and it is so breath taking. The city of Paris at our feet. I mean, we are actually inside the Eiffel Tower!! How cool is that?!
We whip out my camera and we start taking pictures of everything we just passed on the tour bus. It all looks so small. We aren't too far up, but high enough to be ale to see for miles. It all looks so crowded down there. All the buildings seem stark white, and crammed together with a few gold pieces poking out to say hi. I feel like I'm on the chimney sweep scene of Mary Poppins as they overlook the city below. We walk around the full perimeter of the balcony and soak in the historical layout of Pairs laid out below us.
But what would be the point of visiting Paris and going inside the Eiffel Tower without getting some legit, real macaroons and wine? So me being a fat girl at heart, and having a sweet tooth, I buy two of each kind in the little bakery/gift shop. I'm pretty sure the brand of macaroons is a famous french brand, but I have no idea how to pronounce it. It very well may be the same brand that Chuck bought Blair when he got her all those chocolates and gifts from her favorite countries. No big deal. And there's about 7 different flavors. I honestly can't even tell you the flavors now. But I figure that Katie wants to try them too, so I get two of each.
I also have a weird obsession with key chains, so I run into the other shop and buy a tiny coin sized Eiffel Tower key chain, that I get to say I actually got in the Eiffel Tower! Once we're back on the Double Decker bus, we sit on the top, front most seats. It feels like we're front row on a roller coaster. I start shoveling the macaroons in my mouth, one at a time, comparing all the flavors. I offer the other half to Katie, who tries like, two and says she's good. Which ends up being a good idea, cause I get a stomach ache from inhaling macaroons. But they're just so good. I literally can't help myself.
At the end of the bus tour, we decide to just stay off the bus, and walk around. We start walking across a bridge and notice it not just any bridge. It's like, the bridge. The bridge that has all the locks from couples declaring their love, and throwing the keys into the water to make it last forever. This is shit you saw in all the movies!! And here we are!! Not even trying to find it!! There's so many locks!! So many, that people started putting locks on locks, and up on the street lamps. The more we walk and take selfies, the more we see locks on the fences and gates surrounding the bridge. A lot of people must be in love!
Naturally, we think we have mastered the art of finding cool angles to take pictures with the selfie stick, so we take our sweet time posing, and swapping cameras to get it all just right. We even carve our names in a tree with other people's names while we wait for the city bus to take us to the train station.
As we come to the end of our day in Paris, however, we don't let that put a damper on our adventures. Knowing we have a two hour train ride from Paris to London, we are well prepared. The quick, little convenient store has a plethora of wine to choose from. The train is just like the airport. Once you make it through security with your ticket, you can buy whatever you want at the stores by the gates. So we find baby bottles of wine and chocolate to stock up on, and last minute souvenirs for family members. You would be surprised how difficult it is to pick the right fridge magnet, and shot glass to get everyone. We stay in that shop for a good half hour, figuring out what to get, while also trying to spend the rest of our euros. We find out seats, and buckle up. We end up drinking so much wine, I don't remember much else of the train ride. Totally kidding! It's a gnarly train ride, with a mini bar in the back. It's nicer than any plane I've ever been on.
So off to London we go!! Ready to crash at her cousin's flat and go get drunk off butter beer in the morning at the Harry Potter movie set.