The day started very early, but was full of some last day explorations. A group of us took a train to Versailles. Overall, Versailles was a beautiful place, but as far as the contents, I was not entertained too much. The murals on the ceilings were stunning, but there was not as much inside of the château besides typical furnishings. However, this was a fun trip with the group that went! After leaving here, I ventured back to the hotel and stopped at some places to grab gifts for people. I got some newspapers for my grandpa and cigars for my dad (which later turned out to be Cuban cigars.. so yeah, now I am a smuggler of cigars). I also found a stand that was full of old cameras, where I purchased a 1940s French camera for my mom. When I dropped all of the items back at the hotel, I decided to go to a Van Gough exhibit that I had been told about. I travelled a decent distance, an once I walked out of the metro it was very apparent that I was no longer in a touristy part of town. There were a lot of green spaces and multiple parks, so it was gorgeous and an active place to live with a family. I walked to the exhibit to see that it was sold out. I stood there for a little while, just smiling and using what French I had, and eventually they let me in to purchase a ticket. I immediately saw why the exhibit is so popular! I walked into a room that had screens over all of the walls, and as I looked around, it was like watching paintings coming to life. They had multiple videos, but the Van Gogh one was the most popular and the most intriguing one. I sat down and took in the panoramic view of the movie version of the well-known paintings. This was the best part of Paris for me. I didn’t know about this exhibit until a friend from home saw it on Facebook and told me I should try to go visit. Paris was difficult for me because I have a hard time looking at flat paintings on a wall, but this exhibit gave me a 3D version that moved and came to life. I made my way back to the hotel and went to dinner with Jess. The last meal in Paris was amazing, but going back to the hotel was definitely not. Walking back to the hotel one last time was sad, but knowing I got to experience Paris wad an amazing feeling.
Waking up today was easier since I knew I was going to be going up on the Eiffel Tower. Even though we only got to go to the second level, the view was unbelievable. This was a moment that I kind of forgot that I was in Paris and on the Eiffel Tower, I just was in the moment. After leaving the Eiffel Tower, we walked toward Musée de L’Homme. Once we got there and promised Dr.Cogan we would actually go in the museum after our photo shoot, we took in the view of the Eiffel Tower. Once we went in the museum, we got to explore. This was my favorite museum in Paris, because it was very abstract and had a lot of interesting exhibits. When we left there, we all travelled to the Pasteur Institute. It was amazing to be in a room with all of the items that Pasteur had used to make all of his historic discoveries. From here, we went to the Musée des Arts and Métiers. This museum was not one of my favorites, because I feel like I didn’t get to as much of it as I would have liked to. I do think a lot of the pieces they had were very unique, though. After this very long day, I went to the hotel and decided to get dinner close to the hotel. I had duck for the first time, and did some souvenir shopping.
Today we traveled to Jardin des Plantes as a group! We were able to explore around the multiple exhibits in all of the buildings on the grounds (I enjoyed the minerals building the best). After we spent time here, a group of us headed to the Lourve. I was shocked at how large the Lourve truly is, and honestly was overwhelmed. Of course, I got a picture with the Mona Lisa, and walked around to see some of the other well-known pieces. When we left, we went to Musée d’Orsay, to get pictures with the large clock. While my group decided to go to a nearby mall, I went to see some other interesting places. First, I took the metro to a village that has an umbrella sky display, which was nice considering that it had been sprinkling all day. Then, I made my way to the Picasso museum. This museum was one of my favorites, because they had more abstract pieces, and a lot of information to read in regards to the work displayed. I went back to the hotel, and made plans to have dinner. When I heard there was an amazing view of the city from the little town we were going to eat in, I never imagined the amount of steps it was going to require me to climb! All of the steps were worth it, though! At night, I could see the Eiffel Tower glowing and see so much of the city! When we went to dinner, I had snail and pizza (a great mix, I know). We left dinner, in hopes to go see the Eiffel Tower up close.. and 2 hours later we did! This was the night I learned that I liked the London Underground WAY more than the Paris metro. But we made it, and it was worth it!
Today we left London to travel to Paris. After making our final trip in the London Underground, we arrived at the station to take the Eurostar train. During the train ride, I edited a short GoPro video. Once we arrived in Paris, we took the metro to the hotel and left the hotel for Notre Dame. The cathedral was amazing, as I expected! We took a different path back to the hotel, so that we could see all of the shops and other sites. We made it back with enough time to relax before heading out to a group dinner. We ate at Le Petit Prince, and were able to think about other things we wanted to see around Paris!
This morning was a cloudy and rainy. We left the hotel with our Blue Badge tour guide and headed to Westminster Abbey. The outside was stunning, and the inside was just as pretty as I imagined. All of the small details filled the space in a way that can’t even be described. It is incredible to think about all of the work that got put into making such a beautiful place to keep as a memorial to such important people. Once we left Westminster, we walked toward the London Eye. Riding the London Eye, even with the rain, was a great time! Of course a ton of pictures were taken, and I was able to make another comparison picture from previous travels. We got lunch at a small Mediterranean restaurant. Then, we took a short walk over to the Royal Society. The Royal Society tour was interesting because we got to see books that date back so far, but are still in pristine condition. Once the tour ended, a small group went to see Buckingham Palace, where I got another comparison picture. After some time to refresh at the hotel, we headed out to a group dinner. I ate at the Indian restaurant, and had a good time talking with everyone. I left to go see Matilda The Musical after eating! This show was amazing, and even better than I was expecting!
Our free day started very early, but it was totally worth it. Jess and I met Emily, Jenna and Alicia before heading out to catch a bus. From here, we were a train ride, another bus, and then another short bus away from seeing Stonehenge. The trip itself was fun, because it was my first time on a train, and I even got to learn about the history of Salisbury, where Stonehenge is located. This was one of the coldest days, because the wind was extreme. Stonehenge was spectacular, and now I am able to say that I have seen one of the seven wonders of the world. After coming back, we decided to go toward Borough Market. I noticed that the Old Operating Theatre Museum that I wanted to visit was only a street over. I went to the museum and got to explore the old artifacts they had, and then listen in on a presentation that was being done in the actual operating room. This was such a fascinating museum, and I was glad to get more inspiration for my paradigm shift. After leaving the museum, I walked toward the Tower Bridge. I took a couple pictures to compare them with pictures that had been taken 4 years prior. After this, I made my way back to the hotel. I went out a little later a found a donut shop, which I then followed up with an order of fish and chips!
Today, we woke up and ate breakfast at the hotel. We left the hotel and took a short walk around the neighborhood to see some blue plaques on some sites. Next, we arrived at the British Museum. I walked around to saw some interesting artifacts, before seeing the famous Rosetta Stone. After doing some more exploring, I found some amazing old medical instruments. Once we left the museum, a smaller group broke off to go to Camden Market! Here, we found some amazing food, and some little shops that had a lot of handmade goods. After finishing my one of a kind bowl of cereal at the Cereal Killer Café, our group walked to the London Zoo. I’ll be honest… At first, I didn’t think that going to the zoo was going to be all that amazing, but I was surprised. Visiting the zoo was a fun experience, especially because I got to stand where a scene for Harry Potter was filmed. We headed back to the hotel before a group of girls went to eat at the Gordon Ramsey Bread Street Kitchen restaurant. This dinner was a great way to get to know some of the girls better, and make plans for the night! I want to personally thank Amanda for letting me borrow her boots so I could go to Ballie Ballerson, the ball pit night club, without having to go back to the hotel first. I ended the night feeling like a champion, since I won a race in the ball pit (which only left me with a couple bruises).
We arrived in London today and got off to a wonderful start! As soon as we landed, we got ready for the day and made our way to Downe. In Downe, we first stopped by the little pub “George and Dragon.” This is where I had my fist official serving of fish and chips during the trip! After eating, we walked across the road to see the church with the graveyard where Charles Darwin’s wife is buried. Here, we climbed a tree and got out first group picture of the trip. We walked along the road until we made our way to Down House. Visiting the home of Charles Darwin was very interesting. I made my way through the house, and then out to the gardens. It was amazing to think that a man who made such large leaps for science worked in the same place I was visiting. I was able to take a picture in the same place a portrait of Darwin was taken, too! After leaving here, we made our way into town and our guide explained some fun things about London along the way. Once we made it to the hotel, Jess and I put our things in out room before we headed out to get some dinner! We walked to The Rising Sun, had some dinner, and then got gelato afterwards before heading back to the hotel.
Kelly and I were supposed to go to Versailles with a group of others but we slept through it (we were sleepy gals). We eventually got up, shopped around a bit, then I spent some time packing. I went to a little cafe by Pantheon, and stayed there writing in my journal for so long they actually asked me to leave (I’m embarrassed). I didn’t do a ton on my free day, which part of me regrets. The other part of me understands that I was very tired and also sometimes less is more. I guess I’ll just have to go back sometime.
This was the big class day, which started by going to the Eiffel Tower. We could only go to the second floor because of the wind, but it was still a good experience and I enjoyed seeing the views of the city. Then we went to Musee de l’Homme, which was fairly underwhelming to me. It wasn’t bad or anything, but I think I wasn’t in a ~museum~ mood. We got some crepes for lunch, then went to the Pasteur institute after getting some coffee. Interacting with the people in the coffee shop was interesting because they spoke no English (which I don’t hold against them, it was just an interesting experience for me). Inside the Pasteur institute, I never ended up finding the picture of Pasteur smiling, which was sad for me. My favorite museum was actually the next one, the Musee de Artes et Metiers. We didn’t get to spend nearly enough time here, which was a little disappointing. After our long day of museuming, Kelly and I got some dinner, and a group of us went out before going to bed.