Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sarah's Visit

Wow! What a couple of weeks! As opposed to the tons of time I had to prepare and get excited for Eric to get here, it felt like Sarah just showed up out of nowhere! It was very exciting. The week before Sarah got here I had tests in all but one of my classes, so for the first time since I've been here I was very focused on my school work. It made the week go by very fast, and before I knew it it was Saturday and I was going down to the gare routiere to pick up Sarah. I was so excited to see her. I kept her up way later than she had the energy to be up, but we spent the night just talking and catching up on everything.

On Easter Sunday I let Sarah sleep in even though she had told me to wake her up. I finally did around noon because I knew she'd be mad if I let her sleep in past that. We had an easy going day, just strolling around the town. There was a craft fair going on on Cours Mirabeau, so we walked around that and then spent some time sitting at a cafe, the real French way. Again I kept Sarah up past her bedtime, but we just had so much to talk about!

Monday we decided to take the bus down to Marseille. I think it was cool for Sarah to get to see another big city in France other than Paris and see how it was different. We had a great lunch on the water and then took the bus up to the church on the hill. It was a lot of fun. That night we watched movies and got ready for Paris!

Tuesday was our travel day. We caught the train at 11:00 and got into Paris around 3:00. We went to check into our hotel which was a little outside of Paris. It was actually in a suburb called Malakoff, but it was nice to be in a quiet area that was just a quick Metro ride away from everything. Once we were checked in we took the Metro to the obvious first thing we needed to see, the Eiffel Tower. We got some great pictures, but instead of waiting in the MASSIVE lines to get to the top we decided to go get dinner on the Champs Elysee. We walked down and saw the Arc de Triomphe during sunset, which was really beautiful. Finally we walked down to the Seine and took a night time river cruise. It was really awesome to see all of the monuments lit up. We especially loved the light show that they do on the Eiffel Tower every hour. It just looks enchanted.

Wednesday morning we let ourselves sleep in a bit and then decided to tackle Notre Dame. We had to wait in line for 2 hours to get to the top! This was the first time that I've really had to battle the throngs of tourists since I've been here. That's been the great part about being here before tourist season. But that's alright, because it was well worth the wait. I had forgotten how spectacular the view is! That could just be because I was so light headed by the time we reached the top, but I think it has more to do with the beauty of the place. When we went back down we took a short ice cream break, then we went inside the cathedral and across to Sainte Chappelle, my favorite part of Paris. It was so fun to share it with Sarah. Although she's been to Paris before, she was too young to really remember all of it. It was like getting to show it to someone for the first time. When we were done with the churches we went down to the Bastille. Sarah was very interested in seeing that because she loves learning about the French Revolution. I was surprised by how much she knew! She definitely taught me a lot! After the Bastille we did a little shopping and as we were walking down the Rue de Rivoli we ran into my friend Mike. It was very random and funny. We were both pretty shocked. They went on their way to more sightseeing and we decided to go up to Montmartre for dinner. We really hit the trifecta of churches, going into Sacre Coeur when we reached the top. (Ok, I'll admit it... we cheated! We took the tram up the hill instead of walking it. But have you seen those stairs!) We had a great dinner and then went and saw the Moulin Rouge. It was a very full and fun day!

Thursday was tour day. We got up early and went to the Fat Tire Bike Tour office for our tour of Versailles. Our guide's name was Ned, and he was very funny. We took the train to Versailles (which was a thrilling experience with bikes!) and then went to the market to get the makings for a picnic. Sarah and I made a friend with a 19 year old girl from Australia that was taking her gap year in London and in Paris for her break. Her name was Amanda and she was very nice. We rode our bikes all around Versailles and saw Marie Antoinette's pretend peasant village, the Petit and Grand Trianons, and a lot of the gardens. We stopped for our picnic at the end of the Grand Canal looking out at the chateau. It was really an amazing experience. We were all a little stunned. When we finished lunch we went and toured the chateau, which is really just the definition of opulence. It was breathtaking! After the chateau we headed back to Paris, and Amanda came to dinner with Sarah and I. We found this little restaurant that served traditional French dishes and I got Sarah and Amanda to try escargot for the first time! After dinner we walked under the Eiffel Tower while it was all lit up, then Sarah and I headed back to our hotel.

By Friday we were both feeling a little bit worn out, but we still had to do the Louvre! We didn't spend the 7 hours that Amanda had suggested, but instead just hit some of the highlights and spent about 2 and a half hours. It wasn't as crowded as we were expecting it to be, so we got a great view of the Mona Lisa! After the Louvre we went to check out the Opera house but it was closed, so we went to get desserts at a place Sarah's art teacher had recommended called Angelinas. Talk about decadent. They were some of the fanciest desserts I've ever seen, and neither of us could finish! We decided we needed a little resting time after that so we went to the Touleries garden out front of the Louvre and just sat and journalled in front of a giant fountain for a little while. It was very relaxing. After that it was time for the Ghost Tour we had signed up for. Sarah had her first experience in a bar, as that was the meeting place. We walked around Paris a bit and our guide had all kinds of interesting stories to tell. I think we were both a little disappointed that it wasn't scarier, but it was still very fun. Our guide was an interesting character and had met some even more interesting people, including a convicted serial killer that he went to dinner with! After the tour we headed back to our hotel.

This morning we got up and I took Sarah to the airport. We were both sad she had to leave, although I think she was a little more disappointed because while she has to go to school next week I'll be in Italy with Mom. After I dropped Sarah off I went to Les Invalides, (the tomb of Napolean) and the Rodin Museum because I had some time to kill before my train back to Aix. I got back to Aix around 7. Now I have tomorrow morning to do a load of laundry and repack, then I pick Mom up and we're off to Italy on Monday! Not too shabby!

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