“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Paris - Good thing they gave us a map...


What a weekend! As you already know, I left for Paris on Friday for an API sponsored excursion. We spent 4 days exploring all the city of Paris has to offer. Here is a play-by-play of my trip!

Friday: We left Cadiz before 5 am to catch our flight to Paris. We arrived in the city around lunch time and had a few hours to explore before we could check into our hotel. Natalie, Teresa, and I met up with Lindsay and a couple of her friends from the Sevilla group to have lunch. Let’s just say that our first meal in France was fabulous - I FINALLY had the chance to eat steak!!!! Later on, we departed for a “paseo” around the city. It was later brought to my attention that we walked the longest street in the city of Paris (about 5 km). Lovely.

Outside the Louvre on Friday night
Our final destination: the Museo del Louvre, one of the most famous museums in all of the world. The museum has about 10 miles of art on display, so as you can imagine, we didn’t see much in our 2 hour tour that night. But, we did see some of the most important pieces: Medieval Moat, Venus de Milo, Pysche and Cupid, The Winged Victory of Samothrace, The Consecration of the Emperor Naploeon, The Wedding Feast at Cana, and of course…Mona Lisa. In addition, I was able to see some paintings that I have been studying in my Roman Religion and Mythology class. Just days before I left, we had learned about “El Rapto de Sabina” and it was so great to be able to see “Las Sabinas imponiendo paz” and “El juramento de los Horacios” (both by Jacques Louis David) in person. When you know the story behind a work of art, it makes seeing it in person that much more exciting! After our tour we decided to go back home and rest up. It had been a very long day and we needed our energy for the rest of the weekend!

Venus de Milo

The Winged Victory of Samothrace

Las Sabinas imponiendo paz

El juramento de los Horacio

Mona Lisa

Saturday: In the morning we left for a bus tour for a chance to see the most important sites in Paris in a more ‘efficient’ way. I personally was not a fan of driving around for 3 hours and only getting off the bus to take pictures of places. I would prefer to have been able to at least go inside – but, it was cold, and raining, and we did only have 4 days in Paris. 

Outside Les Invalides - Napoleon is buried here

The bus tour ended at Notre Dame. Lindsay and I lit some candles, prayed, and walked around for a bit. Notre Dame is a truly incredible place. I was amazed by the architecture and the stained glass. 

Notre Dame

Stained glass

Inside Notre Dame

We took a quick break for lunch and then developed a game plan for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, due to some inaccuracies in the maps we had, our afternoon turned into a huge mess. First, we tried to find the Picasso Museum. That was an epic fail because the museum is actually closed for renovations until Spring 2012. Fantastic. We then got lost trying to get back to the metro stop, thanks to our incredibly helpful map. We decided to stop at Starbucks to treat ourselves for walking around aimlessly in the middle of Paris in the middle of a rainstorm. Yes, MB, I can now say I have had Starbucks in 3 countries. Here is proof! Our next stop: Père Lachaise Cemetery. There are a number of famous people buried here including: French playwright Molière, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, and Richard Wright, and the lead singer of The Doors, Jim Morrison. I did not get to see any of their graves, however, because thanks to the inaccuracies in the lovely handbook API provided us with, we ended up arriving at the cemetery about 15 minutes before it closed. At this point, we were totally disheartened and decided to just give up on the rest of our day, grab some food, and go back to the hotel.

Starbucks in France

Cool cemetery

Very cool cemetery

Sunday: On Sunday, Teresa decided to go to mass at Notre Dame, so Natalie and I went back to the Louvre (it is free entry the first Sunday of every month) to look at some of the pieces we weren’t able to see Friday night. Oh – I should mention, that prior to going to the Louvre, we went searching for Longchamp. We couldn’t find it and every other store was closed. Once again, just my luck! Anyway, it was pouring outside so we didn’t feel guilty spending most of the day in a museum. We stopped to look at the “Romulous and Remus” statue that we had missed the first time around. We also walked through the hall of Italian paintings to see some of Di ­­­­-Vinci’s work and then ended our tour at the Egyptian exhibit. 
Romulus and Remus
 After lunch, we met up with Teresa and the 3 of us made our way to the Catacombs. Once again, thanks to our incredibly helpful map, we ended up lost – about a mile or so away from our desired location. After a long walk in the rain, and a 45 minute wait outside (also in the rain) we finally entered the Catacombs! The Catacombs of Paris were created in the 18th Century following complaints about the Cemetery of the Innocent. The government selected old quarries to deposit the bones in. For centuries many have been intrigued by the Catacombs and many have gone down there to witness the bones of over 6 million Parisians. It was quite an experience walking underground, through dark, damp tunnels, surround by walls of human bones. I’m not sure it is something that I will ever want to do again – but it was worth the visit. Sunday night was the highlight of the trip. 

Tunnel of the Catacombs

Yes - those are bones and skulls

Quarry reinforced with concrete so it doesn't collapse

We decided to take the lift up the Eiffel Tower at night! Once again, it was freezing and raining, but we didn’t care. After waiting in line for probably close to an hour, we joined a Chinese tour group in the lift to the top! (Coincidence? HA!) I feel the need to comment that I was surprised by the lack of security at the Eiffel Tower. Despite the recent terror threats, it didn’t seem as though anyone there was too concerned. Anyway, the view from the top was indescribable. Here are some pictures!
Made it to the top!

I can't figure out how to rotate this - but here is the Eiffel Tower sparkling. Due to the "crisis" it doesn't happen as often/for as long.
Monday: After hearing the weather report from Lindsay, I decided to join her on a trip to the Sacre Coeur Basilica. What an adventure that was! Once again, the map was no help. Thankfully, we found a kind Italian woman on the side of the street to point us in the right direction. After hiking up thousands of stairs in the wind, cold, and rain, we finally reached the Basicila (which sits at the highest point in Paris), and just in time for mass! I can now say that I have been to Catholic mass in 3 countries and in 3 languages, pretty cool! After mass, we toured the inside of Sacre Coeur, which, not surprisingly, was incredible. 

The view from the highest point in Paris

Sacre Coeur

We then sprinted across the street to take a lift down the stairs, sprinted up and down a few more streets, and finally made it to the metro. In our infinite wisdom, neither of us had a rain coat or an umbrella. We braved the downpours to walk to lunch and then to grab a Nutella crepe. The only thing I wanted the entire time I was in Paris was a Nutella and banana crepe. But, of course, they were out of bananas! On that note, I made my way back to the hotel for our departure back to Spain and 9 hours later, I was home in Cadiz.

In reflection, that was quite the trip. A total disaster in so many ways. However, I cannot forget how fortunate I am to have had the opportunity to travel to Paris and spend 4 days exploring the city. It was the opportunity of a lifetime and I am so grateful that I went. I am, however, a bit disappointed that I was NOT in Barcelona the ONE TIME the Pope comes to Spain!

This week is going to be loaded with school work. I will be spending Friday and Saturday at a conference for my Prehistory of Andalucia class. I also will be booking my plane ticket to Italy! The weekend after next I will be traveling to Alvignanello, just outside of Naples, to spend time with some cousins who I have never met before! How exciting!


Besos to everyone!


  1. Félicitations en votre voyage vers Paris. Il est ainsi unfortunate que vous n'avez pas eu un meilleur temps. Cependant c'est l'excuse parfaite à retourner.

    Congratulations on your trip to Paris. It is so unfortunate you did not have better weather. But then again it is the perfect excuse to go back :) Enjoy Europe and its wonderful culture and people!

  2. Alicia, The things that you were able to see and the the places you were able to go - You will be talking about this experience for a lifetime to come. Love Mom

  3. Alicia, PopPop liked the picture of you with the Starbuck cup. I am just overwhelmed reading your blog. You are quite a girl!!!

    Please be careful, Love you-gigs