Well, it’s my day off, and I’m spending it sick in bed. I at least made it to a pharmacy to describe my symptoms in accented Spanish, get a weird look, then walk away with something I wish was DayQuil. I actually have a trip planned for my upcoming 4 day weekend, so I’m really hoping to get better (I’ll tell you where at the end of this post, or you can scroll down now and cheat). ANYWAY, once I came back from Prague, I had my first visitors in Madrid. One of my friends since freshmen year of college and her sister came to visit me. They stayed with me in Madrid for a couple of days, and I got to pretend like I was a professional tour guide. In the end, I was actually quite surprised with my ability to show off the city. Then we left for Paris the 30th of December to spend New Year’s and a couple days after with another college friend who lives in France teaching English. In general, it was so amazing to spend time with close friends, joke about old times, and have someone fluent in French! It also put me in even more denial about college being over… Here are the pictures to tell the story!
While my friends were in Madrid, we went to a popular flea market called “El Rastro” that’s held every Sunday. These terrifying mannequins really make me want to buy a sweater!
Took my friends to a cute retro style cafe, sat at a table which is actually a sewing desk, and just to be nosy I opened the drawer and found a bunch of notes.
Definitely thought these were cabbages from a distance. Any idea what they really are, Dad?
We wandered around the Royal Palace and across the street is the Opera House. Apparently, some famous Spanish Disney channel TV star was up on the balcony, and the kids were loving it. I was hating it (crowds EVERYWHERE).
So these mountains are pretty cool, right? Just a two hour flight from Madrid to Paris. That was like my drive from college to home (minus the mountains).
One of our first stops in Paris was to Père Lachaise Cemetery. This cemetery is huge, and actually anyone who lived or died in Paris can be buried here. Though I’m sure it costs a lot, and there probably is a waiting list.
Some tree started taking over this grave, and I thought it was actually quite pretty seeing life sprout from death (kinda cheesy, I know).
The grave of the famous French cabaret singer Edith Piaf and her family.
There are several memorials throughout the cemetery. This one, among others, is for the Holocaust. It’s a Jewish tradition to put stones rather than flowers on graves.
On a lighter note, someone got a castle tomb.
Where Oscar Wilde is buried. So many people have come here to kiss the tomb that glass had to be put up around it.
Still doesn’t stop the people from kissing the glass now.
Jim Morrison’s tomb. Saw a woman take a selfie with it…
We did a lot of walking and visited basically all of the most famous Paris attractions. Here’s Notre Dame.
The metro signs are pretty cool looking (Art Nouveau if you’re wondering).
Passed by the Moulin Rouge on our way to dinner New Year’s Eve.
So after a dinner of crème brûlée (well that’s all I wanted for some reason, but my friends ordered much more normal dishes) and quite a bit of drinking, we somehow made it all the way to Sacré-Cœur Basilica seen here. It’s quite hilly, and after it hit midnight, which was fairly anticlimactic (no fireworks!), I basically slid down the slick hill to avoid gaining too much momentum and slamming into people (didn’t stop one of my friends). After a ton of stairs, we got on the metro to get back to the city center.
Then somehow we walked all the way down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, a famous boulevard, to the Arc de Triomphe.
And THEN, we walked all the way to the Eiffel Tower to see it in all its glory. AKA turned off and really boring. By about that time, we were sobering up and just wanted to get home. Good news, the metro was running all night and was free. Bad news, only some stations were open, and we walked about 45 minutes to finally arrive at the station, ride the metro for at least 30 minutes, and finally get home around 5 in the morning. One of my friends had a Fitbit, and apparently, we walked 7 miles that day. Great start to my New Year’s resolution to exercise!
On New Year’s Day we decided to go to the Musée d’Orsay, which has a lot of impressionist and post-impressionist work (think Monet, Manet, Renoir, Cézanne, Van Gogh). If you think it looks like a train station, you’d be right! It was converted to a museum in the 80s. Also, for some reason we got in for free! New Year’s special?
You’re not supposed to take pictures, but do you think that stopped me?
Outside the museum are these sculptures of 6 women representing the 6 continents (sorry Antarctica, didn’t think a penguin would cut it).
Pretty sunset while walking around the Tuileries Garden.
We visited a highly rated cafe/restaurant called Angelina known for their hot chocolate and pastries (and Coco Chanel regularly came here). I shared a Mont-Blanc, which I didn’t quite get a picture of because of how good it was. It’s basically a pastry with cream of chestnut, fromage blanc, and meringue.
Finally made it to the Eiffel Tower while it was lit up. It stays lit up until 1 or 2 in the morning I think, and on the hour it sparkles for 5 minutes.
Fact: Every instagram filter looks good on the Eiffel Tower.
Once you have pastries in France, nothing will ever taste better.
Eventually made it to the Louvre as well. My advice, buy your tickets in advanced or queue up downstairs rather than by the pyramid. The pyramid was actually the last thing we saw.
The Crown Jewels, e.g. the most boring thing ever since they weren’t here.
I guess this is famous…
If you’re short like me, don’t even bother trying to take a picture while far away. I basically had to wait my turn for about 15 minutes to be shoved to the front.
Here she is. The smallest, most unimpressive painting in the Louvre. I mean… THE MONA LISA!
When in Paris… take a selfie with the Mona Lisa. Then get yelled at by security because I wanted to get out of the way for hundreds of waiting people? I didn’t quite get the logic.
Parks are always a good Plan B. They’re (usually) free and open. We tried twice to go to the Catacombs but ended up here (Jardin du Luxembourg) instead because of the long wait.
On our last night, our French speaking friend who had studied abroad in Paris took us to some of his favorite bars. This one is called “The Last Bar Before the End of the World.” It’s a pretty nerdy place but I loved it. Drinks and food are named after movies, video games, TV shows, etc.
Finally, when I arrived back in Madrid, I was surprised to find a package shoved (nice job) into my mailbox. One of my friends from college sweetly sent me a holiday package.
Also, I’m going to Portugal. Dedos cruzados that I feel better soon!