Is it just me or have the past two weeks just flown by? Last weekend I was in London and this past weekend I was in Paris. Even just typing that compels me to pinch myself. Although London and Paris are two of the most important western European cities, they offer two very different experiences.
Arriving in London the weekend before the Olympics started was an adventure in itself- security lines in the train station were longer, the underground metro system was crowded, and tourists packed the streets. Fortunately this didn’t hinder our stay at all. The excitement surrounding the Olympics starting was contagious. Everywhere you walked there were banners, t-shirts, and even giant Olympic rings hanging up around the city. My friends and I even got a chance to get a glimpse at the beach volleyball grounds. It’s amazing to me that I will look back on my time in London and be able to say that I was there among all the excitement of the Summer Olympics.
Of course we also got around to seeing the major attractions in London such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, the London Eye, and more. Travelling in an English speaking country was definitely a plus! Not to mention I couldn’t get enough of the English accents, but I digress…
Paris was an all together different experience. One of the major differences was that everyone obviously spoke French, which I’m now convinced is the most beautiful language in the world. Unfortunately I don’t know a word of it outside of “Bonjour” and “Au revoir.” Nevertheless, we encountered numerous friendly Parisians who were able to speak English and recommend various attractions in the city. We were able to visit the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre, roam the gardens of Versailles, climb up to the Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart) Basilica at the highest point in Paris, shop on the infamous Avenue des Champs-Élysées, cruise down the Seine River, and attend mass at the Notre Dame Cathedral. My absolute favorite part of the trip, however, was visiting the Eiffel Tower. Pictures don’t do this amazing spectacle justice. It was absolutely beautiful, especially at night. To our surprise, while we were sitting out on the lawn in front of it, it all the sudden lit up with thousands of sparkling lights for several minutes- it looked like glitter was exploding from all sides of the tower! It was one of those moments you know you’ll never forget.
When all was said and done it was time to come back to the Loyola Nachbar Huis in Leuven. After all, class was starting back up the next day.