London and Paris – What a Way to Celebrate
On Thursday I turned 30. The fun actually started Wednesday night – I was out at a pub with some friends from my residence hall, and at midnight they sang happy birthday to me. Very sweet.
On Thursday proper a small group of us got together at the National Dining Rooms at the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square for afternoon tea. It was relaxed and fun, and a nice way to mix my friends together – old friend, friends from my program, friends from outside my program at school. I had class that night, and had to pack for my trip, so I decided that the fun should continue this coming weekend with dancing in London.
EARLY Friday morning I hopped on the Eurostar (mine was cancelled but I caught an earlier one) to Paris. Vanessa met me at the station and we ventured into the cold and foggy city. Which was PERFECT, because our first stop was Pere Lachaise. We stopped by the graves of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison and my favorite, Edith Piaf. There’s a cat who lives near her grave. That seems kind of awesome.
Our next stop (after a cozy lunch) was the Catacombs. They are as creepy as you would think, as evidenced by the photo below.
We made our way to the Eiffel Tower, but the top was closed so we kept on walking, up to the Champs Elysees. Keltia, with whom we were staying, arrived home around 6 so we made our way to the apartment. The place was adorable. Just perfectly Parisian. In the middle of everything. We had apero while waiting for Thomas, Keltia’s boyfriend, to get home. Then there was more drinking, and (to my surprise) gift giving to me. I’d never met Keltia or Thomas before; they’re just that thoughtful. I now have a gorgeous black and white photo calendar of Paris on my wall.
We went to dinner Friday night at Le Tavern, which is a regular place for them. We were there for probably three hours, trying food, drinking lots of different things, and telling stories. I tried boeuf bourguignon (yum), escargot (yum, surprisingly), this drink that is some beer, some liquor and something else (also yum). The manager also brought over some crazy Bailey’s drink to start, and a chocolate cake to end. So yummy!
On Saturday Vanessa and I had a nice rest before setting out into the rain. Lots of walking again, but we ended with a classic river cruise that started at dusk and ended in the dark, so I got to see the famous and romantic lights of Paris. We had apero again, this time with Keltia’s brother as well. I tried Ricard (hmm), Piru (yeowza) and real Czech Absinth (holy crap). I also tried foie gras, and – sadly – really kind of liked it. Then off to a local pub, followed by dinner at a couscous restaurant. It was crazy – they just kept bringing out loads of food.
Sunday Vanessa, Keltia and I walked for a few hours all around. The sun finally came out to play, and it was a bit warmer, so we strolled down through Les Halles, Ile Cite, Ste Germaine and the Louvre.
I can’t imagine a more memorable way to celebrate this birthday. I had such an amazing time, saw some wonderful things, and got to experience the beautiful city with people who speak the language and know the area, which it made it all the more special.