paris, oh paris.
a very raw photo depicting all of our feels as we took off for paris
poor paris and i got off to a rocky start. i must admit, i initially did not give it the credit it deserves. hana and i left london after a measly couple hours of sleep (if you can even call it that, thanks to pre-travel jitters) at 3:30 AM to catch our 6:30 AM flight to paris that morning. we'd both been bit by a small little traveler's bug, which left us with sour tummies, and that combined with lack of sleep had us feeling rough. we'd scheduled a city bike tour for later that day, which maybe wasn't the best idea on our part (a big influence on my current thoughts on "over-planning"), but we sucked it up, got ourselves together, and slugged our way to the meeting point, all-the-while enthusiastically giving one another pep talks on positive energies and biking with confidence.
the gloom of the day was emphasized by the fact that it was pouring rain with no sign of letting up. the troopers in us found humor in this as we buttoned up our ponchos, adjusted our bike seats, and rolled off into the city. this was definitely one of those, "someday we'll look back on this and laugh!" situations, and although we were dripping wet from head to toe, freezing cold, completely exhausted, and entirely unthrilled in the moment, looking back we had such a blast. and i only wiped out once! a true accomplishment if you ask me. our animated, knowledgeable guide made the ride such an entertaining one. he biked us up, down, around, through paris and we saw every main attraction and then some - the louvre museum, arc de triomphe, notre dame, musee d'orsay, seine river, love lock bridge, place de la concorde, champs-elysees, and of course, the eiffel tower. somewhere in there between all of that monument hopping we stopped for a twenty minute snack break so i could get my french macaroon fix... and they were nothing less than perfection.
perfection. that smooth, sweet word brings one thing to mind... 'twas in paris that i fell in love with a sandwich. the sandwich. a pre-made, "italian baguette." in france. at some random little chain cafe downtown paris. a pre-made, italian baguette that they just popped in a toaster oven for a few minutes to crisp it up right before your eyes. blasphemous, really. or so it seems. but oh my, i can't stop thinking about it. i crave it.
at the end of our soggy tour we promptly made our way back to the hostel and crashed. but not before making friends with our adorably sweet roommate, paloma, a california native who'd been working as an au pair in the netherlands. the three of us instantly bonded - a friendship at first sight! hana and i decided to adopt paloma and call her our own. with forced frienddoption, the adopted is obligated to spend time with their adopters, and so in following this very specific, very sophisticated rule, we made plans to meet up with paloma the following evening, after hana and i spent the morning touring notre dame, devouring more perfect italian baguettes, traipsing through the luxembourg gardens, and truly, innocently believing that "being able to see the eiffel tower from where you're must mean it's within walking distance." and then learning the hard way that this is not actually so.
we set a romantic date to meet paloma underneath the eiffel tower when the clock struck 7:30 PM, french time. when one has no concept of how gargantuanly ginormous the eiffel tower really is, one does not realize how doggone silly and downright, impossibly vague is it to "meet under the eiffel tower." this, loves, leads me to share with you one of life's most important advisories: if it's something serena van der woodsen and blair waldorf do on gossip girl, it is not advised that you attempt it in your actual, plain, simple, anti-glamorous non-child-of-the-upper-east-side life. bursting with hope and anticipation, we skipped off to meet paloma under the eiffel tower. WITHIN THE THREE HUNDRED AND TWENTY EIGHT SQUARE FEET OF SPACE UNDER THE EIFFEL TOWER. my friends there is practically an entire small pueblo's worth of space and goodies under that tower. cotton candy! tickets for touristy junk! glowing super bouncy balls! umbrella vendors! souvenirs! concessions! and a guarantee that it is practically impossible to find one specific human in that space. hundreds of people and nary a paloma. we searched for her for over an hour, pacing, attacking everyone with dark hair and a light-colored maxi-skirt; none of them palomas. after almost an hour and a half, as hana and i were on the verge of admitting defeat, i spotted it: a bright, floating little palomatic figure off in the distance, moving towards hana and i. could it be? paloma! it was her! we ran straight at her and tackled her to the ground with love and hugs "wow, we are stupid!"s and then went for an authentic french dinner before riding to the very top of the illuminated, twinkling eiffel tower.
i claim to be a brave human until i am stranded hundreds of meters on top of a wobbly eiffel tower and then i am a panicked, sweaty little ninny.
our final day in paris - after running into our starbucks friends from london in the lobby of our hostel that morning (!!) - was spent museum hopping; we each grabbed mini quiches for breakfast at a little bakery on our way to the louvre and ate them as we waited in line. the predicted wait was almost three hours, valuable time that we didn´t really have to waste waiting in a slowly moving line. we decided to reorganize our day and risk the line getting even longer as we made our way down to the arc de triomphe first.
after a few obligatory tourist photo shoots, we metro-ed back to the louvre. it dropped us off at a secret, underground entrance with no line and a kind ticket salesman who reminded us that with our student visas we got in for FREE. score! we entered the louvre and meandered towards venus de milo,  where we ran into our new hampshire/london/hostel friends again, and ultimately the mona lisa.  i have to admit, the mona lisa  was not as striking of a piece as i expected from all of it´s built up hype. she´s a little small and dreary-looking and i practically got trampled in my attempt to get an up-close look at selfie with her. i think i´ll be as bold as saying i almost preferred the jesus fiesta  (i´m sure that was the actual title) which was hanging across the way from mona. BUT I GOT TO SEE THE MONA LISA. in the flesh! canvas? we finished up in the louve food court with the classiest late lunch at none other than mcdonalds. where we again saw the others.  desperation. we americans are such a strange species.
we took a sad stroll back to our hostel via the love lock bridge where we had to bid farewell to our dearest paloma and our beloved paris. i'd dreamed of one day going to paris ever since i was in my tweens. my best friend and i were going to be world-renowned fashion designers living in a flat together in paris, flirting with parisian men over croissants and macaroons until they convinced us to let them take us out for a romantic date under the glistening eiffel tower later than evening. at first glance, and i'm keeping it real here, i was truly disappointed. what i was seeing of paris was nothing i'd ever daydreamed. the city was old and run down, stepping onto the metro felt like being transported onto the scene of a crime (in the metro's defense, however, all forms of transportation feellike a crime scene compared to the tube in london), the streets were dirty, the food didn't pop, and the people were generally cold and rude. however, paris has this genuine charm and a simple yet stunning glamour about it that i completely fell for. it´s got a sleepy, easy aura about it that is so charming. i definitely anticipate making my way back there someday. thanks, paris, for making all of my dreams come true. until next time!

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