sept 20 – going to France

Thursday morning we got up early and went to King’s Cross/ St. Pancreas, where our train to Paris was leaving from.  Two girls in our group got there really really late and only caught up after our AIFS leader who was going with us, Claire, decided that we would have to go without them.  Claire is about 25 and is from Paris, so she was pretty helpful.  We eventually got all checked in, through security, and onto the Eurostar train to Paris.  The train was fairly nice (more room than planes!), and we got to Paris in about 2.5 hours.  This definitely seems like the best low-stress way to get to Paris.  We went immediately from the train to a bus tour of Paris.  It was long, but it was interesting and we got out to take pictures at different places, including a platform that overlooks the Eiffel Tower, where we got really good pictures.  Half of the group also got their first crepe of the France trip at this stop.  At one point during the bus tour, our bus got sandwiched between a delivery truck in front and a city bus behind.  The delivery truck backed into us, and we hit the city bus behind.  It was quite a mess getting unstuck, and it was pretty funny because a bunch of French people who were walking by stopped to watch the situation and “help” by directing the bus driver.  Later on, we saw two guys in a fistfight on the street.  Eventually it got broken up, but then one guy started following the other guy down the street, which happened to be the direction that our bus was going.  Everybody was standing up to get a good view and watch what happened…and then we got stuck next to a truck at the last second and didn’t see anything.  After the bus tour, we went to our hotel, which was a nice Holiday Inn on the river.  Christina and I shared a room, and Hilary roomed with another girl who was part of a three-roommate situation like us.  After that, we had the rest of the night free.  Claire said that she was going to the Latin Quarter for dinner and then to the Eiffel Tower at night, and said that anybody who wanted to could join her.  Most of us did because we had no idea where else to go or how the subway worked.  After a very confusing experience trying to buy subway tickets out of a machine (in French), we were ready to go.  First Claire took us to a bridge full of locks.  It was pretty cool – couples write their names on a lock, lock it to the bridge, and then throw the key into the water.  After that, we went to the Latin Quarter, which has lots of walk-up places to eat and shops.  It’s called the Latin Quarter because of the Romans, not Latin as in Spanish (like a lot of us thought).  We ate dinner at a restaurant and most of us got steak and fries, which Claire suggested, and that was interesting.  Apparently the French do their meat much rarer than Americans do, so lots of people who asked for medium got steaks that were literally raw on the inside.  After that, we walked around and got more crepes and then went over to the Eiffel Tower.  That was really really cool.  We sat on the lawn nearby, and watched the Tower twinkle from 9-9:05 (at night, it twinkles every hour on the hour for five minutes).  Unfortunately, a girl in our group’s camera got stolen when she set it down to pose for a picture.  We’re 99% sure one of the numerous guys walking around selling wine and champagne picked it up, but nobody could prove anything so she never got it back.  At one point, Christina, Hilary, and I went to pet some really really cute golden retriever puppies.  The guy let go of their leashes so we could take pictures with them, and suddenly they ran off.  The guy wasn’t doing anything, so we went to try to chase them down.  When we caught up, the puppies were destroying a couple’s picnic under the Eiffel Tower.  The guy started swearing in French, and we kept saying “They’re not our dogs” as we grabbed the puppies.  However, when we finally got back to the owner, the puppies had caused such a scene that he was too embarrassed to acknowledge that they belonged to him, so he pretended that they didn’t.

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