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Ghent and Paris

Day 12: On our way to Paris, we stopped in Ghent, Belgium for lunch. I have to be honest and say that this was an extremely stressful stop. We only had an hour for lunch, and it was a 10-15 minute walk from our bus to the city center, where we’d be eating lunch. We were in Belgium, so the best thing to try would be a Belgian waffle, right? Wrong. The first place we stopped was a sit-down restaurant. We waited a few minutes before the waiter came over and took our orders (all of them being waffles). No problem, right? Wrong again. The waiter was new, we didn’t understand Dutch, and he didn’t really speak english. One of the other employees came out and informed us that they didn’t serve waffles that early, and we’d have trouble finding a place that would. Apparently eating sweets for breakfast is uncommon in Europe! Luckily there was a little shop down the street that was open and specialized in waffles. (Isn’t she a beauty?!)IMG_5225 We made it back to our meet-up spot right on time, but unfortunately most of our group ran late, and we were forced to wait for them. Marie, our tour director, being the sweetheart that she is, bought us some Belgian chocolates to try too! YUM!! We arrived in
Paris around with enough time to rest and eat dinner at the hostel before heading back out. Our first stop was (obviously) to see the Eiffel Tower. Marie, once again being the sweetheart that she is, bought us chocolate crepes while we stood around and took pictures of and with the Eiffel Tower. Shortly after, it was time for the Seine River Cruise. Sunsets and traveling are two of my favorite things, so getting to see the sun set around the Eiffel Tower was easily one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. IMG_5298This alone made my night. Little did I know, the night would get even better! After the cruise, it was time to get up close and personal with the Eiffel Tower, so we walked to the park behind it, figuring we’d just be taking some pictures and hanging out. Well, we were wrong again, but this time for the better! Marie bought us some champagne while we were on the river cruise. I got to sit around and drink champagne, staring at the brightly lit Eiffel Tower, sparkling in all its glory, with 32 of my new best friends. In this moment, I again had the realization that coming on this trip was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. This was easily one of the best nights of my life. I genuinely didn’t want it to end, so in the moment, I made sure to take some time to appreciate it too. After a perfect night, it was time to head back to the hostel.

Day 13: Our morning started out with a bus tour around Paris, that I accidentally fell asleep for most of (oops). We stopped and got some coffee along the way, which helped. After the bus tour, it was back to the Eiffel Tower for pictures, but this time, with macarons! Free time came shortly after, so myself and a few others decided to actually go up the Eiffel Tower. We only went halfway, but halfway was enough considering we walked up the steps. With me not being in shape, it was one of the worst things I’ve ever done in my life. We took 670 steps to the middle section and 670 back down. My legs were killing me, but the feeling of accomplishment was nice too. After all that work, the next goal was to find some lunch. We tried to eat at La Galleria Lafayette, a huge department store with an insanely beautiful view of the city, but the restaurant on the roof was closed. The views were completely worth the trip up though, so I’d definitely recommend going, even if its just to check out the view!IMG_5342 We decided on a tiny cafe across the street, which ended up being a truer and more wholesome experience in my opinion, than La Galleria Lafayette ever could’ve been. We practically ate lunch with strangers, the tables were so close together. And our waiter, who was also the owner, barely spoke a word of English. IMG_5346We went back to La Galleria to do a bit of shopping, because my purse broke mid-trip and I was desperate for a new one. Next, we walked to the Louvre. How we ended up getting there was an absolute miracle, because we only used a map within the first two minutes of walking. All of us were just sort of walking and hoping we’d stumble upon it eventually, which we did! Having already been there once, I was exhausted and not really thrilled to be going back, but we got in for free, so that made it better. One of the employees there, a really cute French boy, flirted with me as we were walking in! He was checking ID’s, looked at my license picture, and called it beautiful! Can I stay in Europe forever please?! Anyway, after about an hour of being there, the rest of my group also hit a wall and suddenly became exhausted, so we went back to the hostel.

Day 14: Our last day in Paris was full of free time, so a few of us planned to go to The Catacombs. We didn’t purchase tickets ahead of time, which was a HUGE MISTAKE! We stood in line for 3 hours in the pouring rain, only to give up and head back to the hostel for lunch. By the 3 hour mark, we had only made it halfway through the line. Lesson learned: ALWAYS plan ahead for popular tourist attractions. After lunch at the hostel, I went back to my room for a nap, before it was time to start getting ready for our bistrot dinner. The bistrot dinner was FILLED with authentic French cuisine. It started out with escargot and frog legs for appetizers, duck for the main course, and some type of peach dessert. IMG_5361IMG_5363IMG_5365IMG_5368Being the food lover that I am, I was definitely not opposed to trying these new foods. Oh, and we had lots and lots of wine. (A little too much if I’m being honest!) Our saying for the night was, “No wine left behind!” It was a great last night in Paris!

NEXT STOP: Switzerland!

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