September 3, 2011
We took the Chunnel and arrived in Paris on Friday at 7:30 pm. We were lost for about an hour, attempting to get our bearings and hail a cab, thanks to a closed tourist office. Finally, a cab a showed up and whisked us away to Hotel Astruc Élysées. Initially we were horrified by the hotel because the three of us with our backpacks could barely fit in the elevator. Luckily, our room was pretty big and had two bathrooms but it was definitely not luxurious like our room in London. We freshened up, found an amazing French cafe and enjoyed a few hours of incredible food and wine.
We decided to experience our own Midnight in Paris and wandered the streets. It was quiet and romantic and luckily not intimidating at all. We saw the Arc de Triomphe and strolled down the Avenue des Champs Élysées. So many people were out enjoying the beautiful weather. We attempted to seek out the Eiffel Tower but somehow could not find the huge monument. Once we approached the river, we saw a few red lights high up in the distance. It was the Eiffel Tower! They turned OFF the lights. So remember - if you want to see the Eiffel Tower at night, remember to get there before 1am!
The Palace of Versailles was our destination for the next morning. We attempted to get up early but somehow only got out of the hotel at noon. Oops. We took the metro all the way to Versailles and on our ride there we met a lovely couple from Indiana.
The palace was beyond huge and I have never seen so much gold in my life! The Hall of Mirrors was more amazing than pictures could ever capture. The grounds were so gorgeous and we could not stop taking pictures. Coincidentally, we ran into our American friends on the way back to Paris and they rescued me when I got stuck in the metro doors while trying to enter the train station.
Eventually we left the palace grounds to realize that we would not make it to Bruges in time to check into our hostel. We went to the train station to catch the next train to Bruges to discover that there wasn't one until the next morning! We were stuck in Paris and decided to venture towards the Eiffel Tower to seek out a last minute deal on a room. We had a true backpacking moment as we realized we were homeless for the evening if our hunt for a room was not successful...we checked in with a hotel that was full but they recommended one down the street. Luckily, Hotel Ibis on 2 Rue Cambronne had availability. We quickly settled in and found a cafe for dinner. We are learning some hard lessons about planning and expectations but it is all about the journey! Now onto Bruges, Belgium!