Monday, August 3, 2009

It All Comes to an End in the City of Lights

Our last weekend is here! And what better way to spend it? We are in the City of Lights — Paris! This was the weekend I had been waiting for our entire trip! We got to spend five days and four nights in this wonderful city.

On Friday, we got to Paris around 12:30 p.m. and went to check into our hostel, the FIAP, before heading out to a very quick tour of the Louvre. The first thing I saw were the Victory Wings, which ended up being my favorite statue in the Louvre (of what I saw). I really liked the history behind it. I learned that it was over 3,000 years old, and at one point in time it was in over 300 pieces.

It was eventually put back together and is now sitting in the Louvre.

Then, we went to see the famous Mona Lisa. Honestly, it was kind of a let down. It is very small, and kind of boring. The only reason it is famous is because it was stolen and not found until three years later. On one side of the room is this tiny painting (Mona Lisa) and on the other side of the room is a HUGE picture that takes up the entire wall. But at least I can say I saw it. I also took time to see the Venus De Milo and the inverted pyramids. Afterwards, I headed back to our hotel and ate dinner and planned out the rest of my weekend.

Saturday, a couple of us decided to do a bike tour of Paris. We signed up for the

morning/afternoon and night tour with Fat Tire Bikes!

We had so much fun on the one in Munich that we just had to do it again in Paris. That morning we met at the Eiffel Tour and then headed to the bike shop. We started our tour by stopping at an old military school, which is still used as a military school. We also saw a monument dedicated to world peace. The monument has the word “peace” written all over it in over a hundred different languages. The creator of the monument says he isn’t going to finish the monument until there is world peace. I think he may be waiting a while. We ate lunch in the Royal Gardens, and then finished our afternoon tour at the Louvre.

Later, we met back up again at the bike shop for the night tour. First, we took a 25-minute bike ride over to Notre Dame.

Then we stopped for ice cream at one of the most famous ice cream parlors in the world. I had chocolate! It was amazing! Then we stopped by the building where Marie Antoinette was kept before she was beheaded, and headed back to the Louvre. Then we rode our bikes to the pier where a riverboat cruise was waiting for us. Our river cruise lasted about an hour, and served complementary wine. After the riverboat cruise, we headed back to the bike shop and it was almost midnight before we made it back to our hotel!

Well, I can definitely tell you that my bottom was hurting on Sunday! All the bike riding took a toll on my body! That morning, we went to the Eiffel Tour again. This time, we took an elevator ride up to the second floor. We couldn’t go up to the very top because it was too crowded. The view from the second story was plenty beautiful and is much higher than you think it is from the ground! For lunch, we went to our weekly American food fix, Hard Rock Café. That afternoon, we toured around the Sacre – Coeur, an old church that sits high up on a hill in Paris. You can see all of Paris from the top of this hill. We also went to Montmarte, a little town square next to Sacre-Coeur where a lot of local artist try to sell their paintings. I ended up buying two beautiful canvas paintings to take back to my apartment. I walked around the square three times trying to decide which ones I wanted! That night, Kent and I went to see the Lido. It is basically a French version of an American Broadway show with plenty of lights, costumes and stage sets to please anyone! Then we headed back to the hostel to get ready for our day trip to Normandy.

On Monday, Kent and I had to get up early to catch a train to take us to Bayeux. It is about two hours from Paris. Our tour guide met us at the city center (which is really small). Our first stop on our Normandy tour was Pointe De Hoc. We got to see many of the old bunkers and debris that was left over from the battle. We also saw a monument that was built in honor of the fallen soldiers during those battles. Our next stop was the infamous Omaha Beach. It looked like a normal, happy beach. There were lots of families sitting on the beach, just playing and having a wonderful time. It was very hard to imagine that such a horrible battle took place at the beach. Afterwards, we headed to the American cemetery. We learned that there are over 9,000 men and women buried at this location. It eemed like all of the white marble crosses went on for miles and miles. It was a very sad place to visit. It really makes you proud to be an American. It also made me realize how lucky I am to be an American. Our last stop was between the American and British invasion sites. This was the best view of Omaha Beach. Our tour guide also showed us two German guns that were still in the original bunkers from the battle. After our tour, we caught the train back to Paris and began packing our stuff up to come back to America!

Being able to have the opportunity to have this experience was an absolute blessing. I would recommend studying abroad to everyone! There are so many memories that I have made throughout this trip that I will never forget! I have so many new friends that each made an impression on my life that will always be with me. I will never forget the people that I was able to share this experience with. I would definitely recommend to any one thinking about doing a study abroad trip to do lots of research before you go. That way, you will know about all of the sites you are going to see. It will make the experience that much better. I would also recommend doing a bike tour while oversees if one is offered in the area you are traveling to. The bike tours in Munich and Paris were the most fun things I did throughout the entire trip. I absolutely loved Germany and would love to go back someday! Maybe I’ll take a cruise over there so I don’t have to fly!

* Mallory is participating in a study abroad program in Karlsruhe,Germany, organized by Valdosta State University's Langdale College of Business Administration and International Programs.

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