La Belle Paris

All I have to say: what a city! As soon as I got off the metro and into the city itself, I fell in love, totally and irrevocably. I didn’t realize that the city was actually as beautiful as everyone said, but it’s true! No wonder it has been (and will continue to be) the subject of so much art.

After a few minutes figuring out our bearings, Katie and I found our hotel. Let me tell y’all, it was a huge step up from the one we had in London. It had lovely traditional French floral wallpaper, and, the kicker, a bathroom attached to our bedroom with a shower that had non-stop hot water. Seriously, it was heaven. After dropping our bags off in the room, Katie and I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood to see what all was there. We then went to dinner at Les Portes, where we had some great ravioli. I was soon noticing how completely necessary my 5 years of French was in getting around the city; the French people treat you with a lot more respect if you can speak their language. Since Katie doesn’t speak French, I had to order all of her food for her, but it worked pretty well because we usually got the same thing to eat. After dinner, we wandered around this cobblestone street right next to our hotel to a couple of bars and found ourselves at this weird bar/club thing that played the best of early 2000s American rap: I was loving it. The bartender also did these crazy tricks with bottles and glasses as he was pouring drinks which was super impressive and entertaining. 

The next day, we ventured over to Notre Dame, had lunch at a cafe nearby – I got an absolutely delicious croque monsieur… the cheese! – then walked our way down the Seine to the Eiffel Tower (a distance of at least two miles, but the scenery was so pretty that it was totally worth it), shared an apple tart at a cafe right next to the monument, and finally made it to the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysees. Just a forewarning to future Parisian travelers: the traffic here is terrible, and the chances of you being hit by a car are pretty high. We saw this girl try to cross a street when the pedestrian light was red and came within a foot of being hit by a car (a flabbergasted French man next to me captured my sentiments exactly with an “Oh la la!”); thankfully she was unharmed.

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For dinner, we went to the Bistrot de Peintre and both got roast chicken and wine (don’t get me started on how good the wine is here or how often the French drink it… good God), then went out later to this bar/club called SANZ where we met some really hilarious people and danced awkwardly next to a middle aged French woman who was clearly on the prowl. 

The next day, we went to the Louvre! And yes, we saw the great lady herself, the Mona Lisa:


It was surprisingly less of a madhouse than I expected (which was great because I absolutely hate tourists… especially when I realize that I’m one of them), but the place is seriously so huge! Katie and I got kind of lost in an ancient Egyptian exhibit for what seemed like ages. We decided to walk back to our hotel from the museum (another long-ish trek, but again the views were gorgeous), and we stopped by a little boulangerie to get some sweets! I got some pistachio and vanilla macaroons, yum. I then took a Kat nap but was ready for dinner at 9 where Katie and I met up with fellow Hutchison alums Mary and Kate (and Kate’s friend Will)! It was so great to see a couple of familiar faces and talk about how crazy Parisian culture is with them. They definitely seem to be enjoying studying here! We went to a place called Cafe de Commerce, and I got this really tasty penne pasta with chicken. 

Today, Katie and I got some croissants for lunch, and then I ventured to Versailles, where I was reminded of how much I hate tourists, but the palace itself was beautiful! I have to admit I pretended to be Marie Antoinette when I was walking around… she’s my girl. Definitely glad I went to see it, probably won’t go there again just because it was so crowded. Later, I got some Asian takeout for dinner then had some tea at a cafe called Chez Celeste where there was some great live music playing.

Overall, I’m obsessed with Paris. I’m actually really sad to leave. The people can at first seem off-putting, but if you speak French to them they’re more than welcome to start up a conversation with you. I haven’t taken French in a year now, but it’s great to see how much of the language comes back even after that much time has past. This experience has definitely inspired me to keep up with the language, because, who knows, I might just come back here sooner than I think! For this city, the people, the sights, the food, and the language are all beautiful… I hate to sound cheesy but it really is no wonder Paris is the city of love! Tomorrow, it’s off to Florence for me, and with a new city, I’m sure there will be new adventures 🙂



London, Baby!

Well, Saturday morning dawned and Katie and I left our little apartment in Gort to head to the real world: LONDON. Getting there was uneventful, but once we arrived, we were a bit overwhelmed. Without knowing where we were, Katie and I decided, why not get a cab to our hotel? It couldn’t be too costly, right? Wrong. 103 pounds and about an hour’s worth of driving later, we were finally dropped off at the hotel which seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. The exterior was a bit dingy, and that didn’t change when we went inside. The elevator took forever to move, and as the guy showed us our floor, we realized we only had one working bathroom on the entire floor (which would be fine for a hostel, but a hotel? Come on), and this bathroom didn’t have a shower inside…. So that was interesting. The room had broken curtains and a dirty carpet, so at this point Katie and I were kind of freaking out and thinking that we should maybe go somewhere else. But we decided we should at least wait it out until daytime to see if the place was as really scary as it seemed. So, we trekked on over to the nearest grocery store, bought a pizza, locked the door to our room, and huddled under the blankets until morning.

So Easter Sunday came around, and, maybe it was the magic of God, but when Katie and I went downstairs for breakfast, the place seemed legit. They had a modern lounge for everyone to hang out in, and the other guests seemed very nice and polite. So we breathed a sigh of relief and decided to get going for the day. We had our first encounter with the London overground and underground, and after getting acquainted with the system, we felt like we were pros. We met up with Katie’s friend Michelle (the one who visited us a couple of months ago) at Camden Market, the center of London hipsterdom. The entire area was filled with extremely eclectic shops and every type of ethnic food imaginable, but the three of us decided to go to a pub called the Elephant’s Head for a bite to eat. I got a bacon, egg, and tomato sandwich with an Irish coffee (I can’t escape the Irish culture), and it was all delicious! We then walked around some more and tried to check out the shops at Oxford Circus (think Topshop, H&M, United Colors of Benetton, etc.) but they were all closed for Easter so Katie and I just went back to the hotel and took a nice nap before grabbing dinner. Then, we got ready to meet up with Michelle and hit the town. We went to Piccadilly, and, let me tell you, it was a bit overwhelming (think Times Square), and we ended up at a couple of kRaZy ClUbZ which were super fun 🙂

The next day, Katie and I ventured over to the London Eye, which was breathtaking! Afterward we walked over to Big Ben and Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Abbey, then went back to the hotel to get dinner and chill. Tuesday, we went back to Oxford Circus to take a look at the famous Harrod’s store (where I bought some mascara, mostly just to say that I bought something from Harrod’s), then we met up with Michelle to tour the Tower of London! It was so cool to see the crown jewels as well. We then made dinner at Michelle’s and hung out there for a while.

Overall, I was really surprised with how huge the city is! It really is the New York of Europe. It is also the most multicultural city I’ve ever been in (we don’t get much diversity in Ireland)… I felt so… white. It was great. But also just very overwhelming. Today, Katie and I made it to Paris!! But that will be described in another blog post, so for now, cheerio!



Me basically having tea with the Queen.



A bit of Big Ben, a bit of Westminster Abbey.