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Kari: A Belfast Show & French Tour

May 9, 2009

I had a short week following my weekend in Scotland. I probably could have done some work, but after being so exhausted from the past three weeks of traveling, I decided to give myself the week off. It was only a three day week for me because Kelsey, Baz and I were going to France on Wednesday evening for a long weekend.

Monday, April 27th: I was able to go see a concert in Belfast! Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE going to concerts, no matter who the band is or if I’ve ever heard of their songs before. Kelsey is a huge fan of The Fray, and although I really like them, I haven’t listened to much of their new album, but of course I jumped on board with her and Kara to go see them live. To my extreme liking, they were so great! I have definitely become a bigger fan! The best part was that it was a pretty small venue so we were able to get ‘second row’. I can’t wait to see them at Summer Fest in July!

Tuesday, April 28th: I went to class and that’s pretty much it. Exciting stuff, I know!

Wednesday, April 29th: After class, I rushed back to my flat to finish packing for France. Our trip with EasyJet was absolutely wonderful and the most painless trip I’ve ever taken. We got into Paris around 8:30 PM. After waiting for a good 25 minutes, our shuttle arrived and we were on our way to our beautiful stay for the evening. We were all pretty tired and starving, so we decided to walk to a pizza place and get ourselves a very large pizza which we proceeded to devour upon our arrival back to the hotel. After getting our daily dose of Swine Flu updates and French music videos, I decided to call it a night. I slept so well that night in our very comfy and clean hotel! The next morning came to soon!

Thursday, April 30th: We left our hotel around 8:30 AM to get to the train station at the airport. We thought that would be plenty of time to catch our train to Bayeux at 10:30 AM. Little did we know we were a good 45 minutes outside of Paris proper by train. We rushed, but alas, we did not make the train. We needed to make that train because we needed to be in Bayeux for 1:00 PM in order to make our afternoon tour. After a quick phone call to the tour company, we changed our tour to the next day, so everything worked out. We caught the next available train around noon and headed to Bayeux. It was quite the train ride, however. They overbooked the train, so those who didn’t have a seat reservation (like us) had to either stand for the two hour ride or try to find a comfortable spot on the floor. Baz, Kelsey, and I opted to sit on our suitcases until the train was moving so much we couldn’t keep our balance and until I was feeling a bit sick. We then decided to sit on the floor all knowing that we’d have to get up and move every 15 minutes or so when people walked past. I was never so grateful when we arrived in Bayeux and there was solid ground. We immediately walked to our hotel, which we got lost going to because I forgot the French drive on the ‘right’ side of the road, unlike the Northern Irish…therefore when it said to take the first exit at the roundabout, I went the wrong way. It was pretty dreary out, so we just walked around the quiet, quaint city that is Bayeux. It was a pretty beautiful sight.

Omaha Beach

Friday, May 1st: Wake up call was around 7:00 AM and an awesome breakfast was awaiting us downstairs. I love French breakfasts…croissants, bread rolls, coffee, tea, cereal, fruit salad, and hard boiled eggs. Yum, yum. After our hardy breakfast, we grabbed our things and waited for our tour guide to pick us up from the hotel. We were going on a full day tour of Normandy. There was so much on our list of things to see including the D-Day beaches, many bunkers and hideaways, cannons and memorials. The coolest thing that we saw were the cemeteries. We were able to see three different types—a Civilian cemetery, a German Cemetery and an American cemetery. I was the most moved by these three places. Because we were able to see all three types, I was able to compare and contrast them. The biggest and more heartfelt different was between the German Cemetery and the American cemetery. When I walked into the German one, I felt like I was walking into a black hole of sorrow and defeat. The crosses and monuments were black and the soldiers were buried two by two. The American cemetery was beautiful and felt like there was a positive spirit encompassing the entire place. It was a bit hard to handle when we were looking at headstones and most of the soldiers who were placed there were the ages of 18-24 years old. I couldn’t help to think that those are just kids and kids my age nonetheless. It’s a scary thought, but it is an amazing memorial that was built to honor them all.

Saturday, May 2nd: We got up and hopped on an 8:30 AM shuttle to the airport to catch our train into Paris proper. The FREE walking tour that we were taking began at 11:00 AM in the Latin Quarter, but first we stopped for our daily dose of croissants and cafe au lait. The tour took us to some of the coolest places including:

  • Notre Dame de Paris
  • The Latin Quarter
  • Ile-de-la-Cité
  • Pont Neuf
  • The Louvre
  • Palais Royal
  • Haussmann’s Renovations
  • Eiffel Tower
  • Tuileries Gardens
  • Les Invalides
  • Académie Française
  • Opéra Garnier
  • Musée d’Orsay
  • Pont Alexandre III
  • Napoléon’s Tomb
  • Assemblé Nationale
  • Champs-Élysées
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Grand & Petit Palais
  • Place de la Concorde

The tour last about 4 hours. We went straight to the Eiffel Tower after it was done. Although the Tour Eiffel was such a long wait, it was completely worth it. It gave us the best view of the city and yes, I did go all the way to the top! The elevators were a bit scary, but the experience was completely worth it! After the Eiffel Tower, we grabbed some dinner and decided to wait until it was completely dark out so we could see it sparkle in the night!

Sunday, May 3rd: Our 8:30 AM wake up call was shortly dismissed for another half an hour of sleep. We got into Paris proper and immediately saw the Arc de Triomphe to snap a few pictures. We then made our way over to Notre Dame. There was a mass going on when we got in, so Kelsey and I found a place and tried to figure out what the Priest was saying. It has been a while since I’ve been to a Catholic Mass, but it was still very intriguing to see a mass done in French. Since we only made the second half of the mass, we decided to stay for the beginning of the next mass. It was beautiful to be able to pray and thank God for this trip and what I’ve been given this semester. After the beginning half of the mass, Kelsey and I snuck out and went shopping. We grabbed lunch at a really cute cafe, then headed over to a beautiful church in Montmartre. It was a bit chilly, but the break laying on the grass was much appreciated! I grabbed a crepe on the way to the train station with Nutella and banana. It was so messy, but oh so good! We hopped the train back to the airport to grab the shuttle back to our hotel to grab our luggage in order to get back to the airport to catch our plane back to Belfast. There was a lot of waiting around at the airport…like a couple hours, but it was completely worth it. We were all able to get our own rows on the plane and seeing the Eiffel Tower from the plane at night was beautiful!

Me in front of the Louvre

Just Chillin' with the Eiffel Tower. No big deal.


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