Upon arriving in Paris, I first went to see the illuminated Eiffel Tower at night. After waiting on a long line, finally getting on the cramped elevator reminded me of being on a New York City subway at rush hour as I could barely breathe. However, once I got to the top of the Eiffel Tower, looking down at Paris lit up was quite breathtaking and unforgettable. One could see the glistening moonlight bouncing off the Seine River which added to the realness of this experience.
On the way back to the tour bus, I saw that all the shops were still open. It was twelve o clock at night, but the Parisians were still active!The next day I went to the Louvre where I saw the beautiful masterpiece – the Mona Lisa. To be quite frank, though, it was not that exciting to me; however, there was a lot of hype surrounding it. This meant I could not leave Paris without seeing it. It was behind glass and was a lot smaller than I had imagined it to be. There were tourists shoving me to get pictures, so I ended up quickly viewing it and going around the museum to see the other works of art. Their beauty should get more attention in comparison to the Mona Lisa.
On the way to the Notre Dame Cathedral, I stumbled upon a particularly interesting sight, the oldest tree in Paris. This huge Gothic church with gargoyle statues guarding it was nothing like anything I had seen in the United States. Once inside and awed by its grandeur, I knew I could spend hours there. Most of its stained glass had been destroyed in the World Wars. There was only one original left and I got to see it. On the way back to the hotel, my tour group and I rode a city bus. A very nice Parisian woman on her way home from work proudly told us about some of her citys heritage, including how there a couple mini replicas of the Statue of Liberty.
I then visited the serene, idyllic, and colorful countryside of the south of France. Walking across the immense Pont du Gard aqueduct in Avignon was remarkable since it was built in 20 B.C.! Afterwards, I went to a Roman Amphitheater in Arles. It was truly amazing and historic; plus, it can hold up to 20,000 people. The seats were so plain and the amphitheater was so dusty. Entirely constructed with stone, there were arched walls everywhere and one could definitely imagine a gladiator fight occurring there. The Roman architecture and the ancient feel to it contributed to making it one of my favorite sites in France. As well, Arles was my favorite city in France with its authentic art (Van Gogh even painted a couple of his portraits there), historic landmarks, and quaint cafés. It was fun walking around this manageably-sized city full of college students, artists, and musicians.
We journeyed down to the coast of Southern France, near the Mediterranean Sea. The rocky coast of Nice was picturesque and the blue water clear and calm. I also visited Monaco, a principality actually separate from France. Our tour bus driver announced, Monaco coins are very rare because they make so few of them. But you might, just might, happen to get lucky and get your hands on one. We only stayed there for two hours based on our tour schedule. This was disappointing because I really enjoyed Monaco and had a special event occur there. I ate pizza at a cute little café and before we knew it, we had to leave. My friend craved a bottled water for the bus ride back, so I bought her one at a kiosk. It was 1.19 Euros and I gave the woman working there two. When she was about to give me the change, I asked if she had any Monaco Euros and she said that she would look. She smiled at me genuinely as she found one in the register. I was very grateful with a, Merci, madame to show it. When I told everyone in my tour group, they were quite excited and wanted to purchase it from me. Of course I was never going to sell it; it was special that I had been so lucky.
It had been a fun trip, but the tour was over. The most annoying part: packing up and taking two planes, one to Frankfurt, Germany and then one to the New York. It was a truly exhausting experience, with the help of the time change. Of course I was glad to be back home, but I still missed the inspiring and uplifting atmosphere of France.