WELCOME TO PARIS (11/7/18-11/12/18)!!!! I have envisioned what Paris would be like for years. All of my screensavers was a different view of the Eiffel Tower. I created passwords using the word Paris almost as a reminder of what I wanted. Paris was my dream location because to me it was a place that represented love and elegance. Now, with that being said, lets take a journey!!
When planning a trip out of the country make sure you research (google, pinterest, IG etc.) where you are going. Research is key in ensuring you have an itinerary of what you want to do. I filled my Pinterest board with all the recommended places to go in Paris months before I left. Doing this made my trip that much more amazing. It allowed me to see as much as possible within the timeframe I was there. Next, before leaving the USA, PLEASEEEEE convert your money. This was the best decision I could have made. Doing so saved me money. In Paris there are money conversion locations everywhere, especially where tourist attractions are located. However, the conversion rate is alot higher and will cost you more. Look into if your bank has a partnered branch in Paris ( Bank of America is partnered with BNP Paribas) this will make converting, if needed, much easier.
It’s PARIS!!! So it took me a minute to take in the fact that I was finally there. I was taking in everything I could during my ride from the airport to the hotel. For starters UBER was great there. I was able to just set up a ride as soon as I landed and he (Franck) was right on time once we got our bags. I used UBER because it turned out cheaper than any other means of transportation (approx. $80 5 people + luggage, 30min ride). We stayed in BERCY VILLAGE at Hotel Pullman – Bercy. It was an excellent location next to the Metro (3min walk) which we used to travel everywhere. My recommendation is to get a 1-3 day pass and thats it. The transfers throughout the transit system were easy and there was a stop for all major tourist areas.
Since I was anxious to see the Eiffel Tower, I refused to wait another day. So day one, we had to test the trains and head straight to the tower. Of course, as I usually do in NYC we ended up on the wrong train lol, but I’m quick to recover because I was on a mission. However, its fun to get lost sometimes because you end up seeing things you would have otherwise missed. I wish I could accurately describe my feelings upon laying eyes on the Eiffel Tower. Remember, this has been the one thing I’ve viewed to be out of my reach because I always thought I didn’t have enough. The feeling of finally seeing it in real life and not just on my phone, laptop or tv was amazing. I felt like WOW, you actually made it here. It didn’t matter how much I’ve traveled and the other places I’ve seen, this was my number one place.
The next couple of days were to see everything I could. I knew my time was limited so it was a matter of time management in order to get the best out of this trip. The BIG BUS TOURS (bigbustours.com) was the best idea ever. I was in full tourist mode in Paris, riding around with my camera glued to my eyes and pointing at everything I was excited to see. The tour provides two routes (blue and red), and it takes you through different parts of the city. You’re able to hop on and off as much as you’d like and spend time taking pics, going through the museums, and dining/shopping in the area. The bus provides the option of having a live tour guide which tells you of all the popular landmarks and provides history about the city. The stops include the Eiffel Tower, Pyramide du Louvre, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concorde, and many more.
After enjoying a day of riding around seeing the landmarks, we narrowed down the ones we wanted to go into. There are too many museums to see in a four day trip, so you have to be picky. The Louvre is massive, try to review the paintings/ sculptures you want to go to and how to navigate around the different areas of the museum. Unless you are in love with art and sculptures you will not tour this entire museum. Notre Dame is a beauty. It is mandatory you enjoy the views inside and outside. Take time to walk across Pont des Arts pedestrian bridge. I’m a self proclaimed hopeless romantic. This bridge was added to my must see list after watching the movie NOW YOU SEE ME. The lead female talks about how lovers would go there to lock away their secrets on the bridge. Unfortunately the weight the locks began damaging the bridge structure so they were removed, but I caught a glimpse of what once was. Lastly, the ride up the Eiffel Tower is a must. ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP, no short cuts. The sites that await you are worth it. To top off seeing the landmarks you have to do the big bus night tour and the river cruise along the Seine. These tours give you the beauty of Paris at night. All the bridges and architecture light up the night sky.
As amazing as the sites were I think my expectation of Paris overall vs. my full experience was different. For starters BE AWARE everywhere you go. The HUSTLERS are out!!! From day one we witnessed cops running down on panhandlers in the area. At times they didn’t respect personal boundaries so you had to be sure you set them, and walked away when you were’t comfortable. Being polite still goes a long way but you have to be forceful when saying NO.
While commuting you have to be alert. At one point I was in a souvenir shop in one of the train stations. While looking at different items I noticed a man walking past me and my sister. He was looking straight ahead and not looking at anything in particular. I’m typically aware of my surroundings and very alert when I see anyone I think is too close, and I need you to know I see you so I will stare you down. I watched him as he walked around and back out the store. I carried a book bag on my back everyday and at the time I was wearing it so it was placed behind me. After he left, the store owner and her friend began telling us how he always comes there in effort to rob people, indicating a tourist had just been robbed a few days before and came in the store crying. They told me to make sure I wear my book bag in front of me. I did as I was told because I needed to leave with everything I came with.
In addition, Parisians can be a bit rude when you don’t at least attempt to speak French. I had to check myself several times and not assume everyone understood English. Technology will help in this regard. Try to learn some basic conversation words (hi, bathroom, how much, etc). Learn anything you think you may need to use and download a translator app, it helps. Furthermore, call your phone company if you intend to use it while in another country. Verizon was on it the moment I came off air plane mode and offered a $10 per day travel pass. Your company may offer a similar plan. Lastly, food is hit or miss. Paris is cafe central. Try out all the traditional items (macarons, croissants, baguettes, crepes, etc) and go from there. Whatever you do be sure to stop by the Lindt chocolate store. Its chocolate paradise with all kinds of flavors not found in the USA. Overall I had an amazing experience.
I hope you enjoyed the journey!