Creme’ Brûlée With a Side of Fried Rice (Paris)

23 May 2013

Bonjour!

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I love Paris, and I mean REALLY REALLY REALLY LOVE Paris! The city is so beautiful and exciting, I feel so grand and magnificent walking through its streets. We are staying with two friends Pei Ya and Pei Wen, who are international students from China studying at the art Institute in Paris. They live right in the heart of Paris, like minutes from the Eiffel Tower, Louve, and Notre Dame. When you walk out their door to the Metro (La defense station) you are walking through the heart of corporate Europe, where the buildings tower over your head as they do in New York City. I have never enjoyed walking to the metro so much. Everyone is dressed in their business best, with their briefcase and cellphone, rushing to their next destination. I love it! Today confirmed that seeking Paris as an international internship opportunity is the right move. I love all the other cities we have been to, but the stigma and hype that abounds around Paris cannot be matched anywhere else in the world.

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Although we arrived late into Paris the evening before (and stayed up until 3pm talking about Paris, traveling, school and many other things) we rose early and hit the streets to explore one of the most dazzling and romantic cities on earth. We took the metro to the Arc de Triumph and began our journey walking the down Avenue Des Champs Elysees, the street that contains many of Paris’s famous sights. There were plenty of tourists out on the streets (although not as many as Rome or Venice) so we could usually find where the popular attractions were located. We journeyed from the Arc, to the Eiffel Tower, to the lock bridge and the Musee De L’armee, to the Lourve and the Orsay Museum, and ended the first part of the day at Notre Dame.

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Pei Ya and Pei Wen made a sign for me when they met me at the train station!

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We filled their entire apartment full of laundry…that is what happens when you don’t do laundry for a week and a half and you only have a few outfits to wear.

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The cute little apartments that house many of the art students in Paris.

I don’t think people realize how cold many of these places in Europe get. When I packed for this trip, I was expecting a little rain in England followed by jolly summer weather in the rest of the continent. Mother Nature pulled a fast one on me. It rained off and on all day with random gusts of wind and clouds that always seemed to follow and block the sun. The weather was quite bipolar, one second it would be pouring rain and as windy as could be, and the next second it would be still and sunny. Despite the games the weather continued to play with us throughout the day, I had one of the best times up until late in Europe.

The main draw that makes me love Paris is the people that live here. I have heard so many stories about people going to France and being taken aback by the rudeness and pride of the people, but ever since I stepped foot in France I have only been greeted by some of the nicest people I have ever met. Yeah, I can sense their confidence and pride but I love it. If only everyone had that much confidence in themselves!

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Arc de Triumph

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The Eiffel Tower really is as impressive as everyone makes it out to be. Built in the center of Paris years ago for a massive carnival they were about to host, the tower has continued to stand and attract thousands of people to its splendor every day of the year. We walked the beautiful grounds filled with gardens and lawns that surround it, took a million pictures (as it is the symbol of Europe), and planned our return to go all the way to the top in the evening. Paris is known as the city of lights, and their is no better place to view them than in the top of the Eiffel Tower.

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Musee De L’armee is a huge military building that also doubles as a museum commemorating Napoleon, and many other historical war heroes in France. We did not go inside the museum portion of the building, but as we walked through the center square we happened upon a formal military procession that was going on with numerous French militia and offficers standing, chanting, and singing their national anthem in unison. It was quite a fantastic site.

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Oh boy! I am so excited to go to the Louvre tomorrow! We decided to walk by it today and get ourselves pumped for tomorrow evening when we have set aside a large amount of time to explore some of it’s many exhibits. From everyone I have talked to, you could spend week and week in the Louvre and still never see anything! We decided to go on Friday evening because the Louvre offers a student special from 6pm-10pm that evening that allows all European Union students to get in for free. Because I am studying at Cambridge this summer it makes me an official European Union student…kind of exciting! You can also purchase an international student card back in the states that identifies you as a student traveler and gets you many discounts throughout the world for one year after the date of purchase. All in all it is a pretty fabulous card. Ellie and I have been able to use it and get several discounts only available to EU (European Union) students.

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Lock Bridge. Yes, this is the famous place where you write you and your lovers name on a lock, lock it to the bridge and throw the keys out into the water. Forever you, your lover, and Paris will be connected. If only I had a lover…I could of taken part in such a unique French tradition. Anyhow, I must leave a few strings unattached, so I have a reason to come back to Paris many, many more times. What a beautiful city!

After we spent all morning exploring the many wonders of the city, we headed to one of the most famous museums of art in the world, second maybe only to the Louvre-which we will visit tomorrow evening). This was a highlight of my time in Paris. For one of my GE classes that I took freshman year, Music Civilization, we learned about the most famous artists and artwork throughout history. Most of those artistic pieces I was able to see in the Orsay. It was incredible. Work from artists such as Manet, Van Gogh, Renoir, and Degas lined the walls in exquisite frames and in particular placement. Unfortunately their was no photography allowed in the museum, but in actuality that was a good thing for me. If I would of been allowed, I would of taken pictures of all my favorites (which is a large number) and missed many of the other beautiful pieces around me. Along with the paintings, the museum houses many sculptures and artifacts from centuries ago.

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The unique thing about paintings is that once you tame your eyes, you can start to match artwork with artists based on their style, content, and color scheme. You can decipher the meaning behind each of the brush strokes the artist took to create the painting, and understand the message they meant to portray. I have found that rather than paint what they see, most artists paint what they feel, and some do it more abstractly than others. I believe I have already mentioned this, but painting is one of the purest forms of creativity. With just a brush and a medium, you could literally paint the world. From experience, I know what it is like starring at a blank slate… The more your mind wanders and explores all the possibilities that are and that could be, the more room you have to create a masterpiece. Artists such as Van Gogh and Manet had the talent to create nothing into something…and for that millions of people honor their work every year. The Orsay Museum in Paris holds one of the best collections of artwork in the world. Do not miss this museum, if you plan to go to Paris add it to your itinerary right now!

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Coming to Paris I knew two things, go to the Eiffel Tower and go to Notre Dame. Obviously after being in the city for two seconds I realized that those two things were only a sliver in the slice, and discovered that Paris is a lot more magnificent than people make it out to be…and that makes it REALLY magnificent. Notre Dame is a beautiful cathedral and exceptionally close to the heart of Paris.

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Oh Geese…and I thought the Eiffel Tower was beautiful in the day. Little did I know that I should be saving all my camera card space for when we would return back to the famous monument at dusk. After spending the entire day exploring Paris on our own, we met back up with Pei Ya and Pei Wen to spend an evening out on the town. It was fantastic.

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I never would of thought that coming to Paris would allow me to discover not only the French lifestyle, but also the lifestyle of a culture on the complete other side of the world. Pei Ya and Pei Wen are both from the Beijing China area and have been going to school in Paris for over 3 years now. They have become quite the French divas, let me say! They were so sweet to us, giving us all the tips on exploring Paris, cooking us food, and even taking us around their beautiful city in the evenings. We arrived back to their apartment just in time for the party they had planned for our arrival. The party consisted of the missionaries, several members in their Chinese branch in Paris, and us three European travelers. It was such a blast and I was exposed to a variety of culture and food that I had never before been exposed to. Pei Ya was excited to prepare a meal called “hot pot” for us.

Can I have a side of fried rice with my Creme’ Brûlée?

People think of Paris as grand and beautiful, but little do they realize how grand and beautiful it really is. Paris is thus far the location I will definitely come back to this summer during my studies in the UK. It is nice that it is so close to England, so that I can visit time and time again when I find that I have a free weekend. I have done really well with the backpacking lifestyle thus far…but it just kills me to go to these fabulous cities and not be able to go shopping because I have NO room in my backpack for anything else. It is also quite frustrating to only have the few items of clothing to choose from everyday. It was really nice to be able to borrow some of Pei Ya and Pei Wen’s clothing for our two days in Paris…at least I was able to have a little bit of a change in outfits for my photos!

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