Paris is an interesting place. I typed this as I sat on the window sill of our teeny tiny hotel room. I’m sitting on the window sill because Europeans don’t believe in air-conditioning and its the only place I can keep from sweating profusely. The first thing I think I noticed about Paris is that the people aren’t rude like I expected them to be but people aren’t exactly nice either. I speak absolutely no French and was able to get by in Paris pretty easily using context clues and just going with the flow. The most difficult part was probably ordering food. Very seldom did I find a menu in English. HUGE shoutout to the Google Translate App. You can literally hover the app over writing in almost any language while its in camera mode and it will real time translate it. It was the biggest life saver especially when I wanted to order steak. Hover the app over the name of the menu item and it says “horse steak”. Nope. Ok it probably wasn’t ACTUALLY horse steak (maybe??) Who even knows. I just ordered a cheeseburger to keep it safe. Nothing worse that stomach issues when you’re traveling.
Since we were only in Paris for about 36 hours total we opted for a Big Bus Tour. I was hesitant because I hate tourists and touristy type things. I know I know, why even go to Paris. It was actually a great experience. We only had a limited time to see everything and I wanted to see EVERYTHING and it went everywhere. It especially came in handy when a random monsoon graced us with it’s presence.
I really hate to say this and will probably sound slightly ignorant, but other than the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe….everything else just sort looked the same. Don’t get me wrong it was all incredibly beautiful and the architecture is breathtakingly amazing but after about an hour on the tour bus it felt like “didn’t I already see that big building with all the windows and statues?”
Another downside is that we were there on a Tuesday (Paris going UP on a Tuesday, omg why am I so funny) so all of the museums were closed because apparently thats a thing that everyone knows except the Aboulhosn’s, so we didn’t get to go inside the Louvre or any of the other museums. Next time though.
The one demand I had during our day and half in Paris was that I had to see the catacombs. After forcing my mother and brother to wait in line for about 3 and half hours we finally made it and it did not disappoint. I would not advise visiting the catacombs if you are at all superstitious or have nervous tendencies. After descending about 4 miles under the surface and walking about half a mile in a dark, cold, drippy hallway you are greeted by wall upon wall of human remains neatly stacked and just as mesmerizing as you would expect. Once you get past the whole “oh my god these are millions of human bones” it’s actually very educational and interesting. Given that you speak/read French and/or Latin. I managed to take pictures of all of the carvings and quotes and translate them later but it would have made more of an impact reading them at the time and place. Of course I forced my brother to follow me around with the camera and take “candids” of me for Instagram because what else are little brothers or cameras even for.
Believe it or not, I had never traveled to Europe. Being Lebanese, my people believe that Lebanon is everything and nothing else matters. Other than having had layovers in almost every major European airport, I had never seen any of the continent. So after London, this was my first European experience. I don't count London, not that London doesn't count, but they speak English so it was A LOT easier and much less of a culture shock than France.
I feel like I had some real pre-concieved notions of Paris. You know what everyone says, it’s the city of love or romance or whatever or that it's the best city in the world. Now i’m not saying that my experience was anything less than productive and overall a good time…it was just….anti-climactic.
The biggest issue we faced was the language barrier. It didn't infringe upon the experience itself it is just very eye-opening being in a place where everyone speaks the language except for you. Having only been to Lebanon and South America and understanding and speaking the language in both places, I was not prepared to be in a country and feel like a complete foreigner. I tried to learn some French via DuoLingo but it really only prepared me to be able to communicate with a Kindergartener. And it is true what people say that they do not like having to speak English to accommodate you. and I completely understand that. No american waiter/waitress would learn another language to be able to accommodate a potential tourist. Through it all if was not THAT difficult to communicate but we definitely received some attitude due to our limited French.
Paris was very beautiful but it was honestly very anti-climactic for me. I hate to feel that way. Especially, once we were in the South of France which impressed me far more. (post coming soon!). Maybe someone should take me back to Paris for a do-over ;)
Cliche, touristy pics below!
Sarah goes to Europe!
Catacombs of Paris (the pics are dark as to not disturb the remains)
Arc De Triomphe
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