By Charity DeSouza – class of September 2012. Read more about her adventures with her husband in her Married Nomads blog.  Paris is the city of lights. The city of love. The city you grow up believing is one of the most romantic places in the world. The place Carrie Bradshaw famously got smacked in the face by an old man.


Eiffel Tower

Lucky for me, I was already with the man of my dreams and the world is our Paris. Ok…vomit, I know.
The beginning of our journey was less romantic and more sketch. The bus station in any city is the basically the same. Add about 50 pigeons and you will know what it’s like to be in the one in London. With the cheapest bus ticket ever in our hands, we weren’t complaining. We grabbed a hot meat pasty (not as kinky as it sounds), and found a seat.
Unfortunately, we hit major traffic and didn’t get to Paris until around midnight.  Everyone on the bus was running towards the subway so we knew we were cutting it close to missing the last train of the night. We really didn’t want to take a cab because we weren’t even sure how far we were to the hostel. As we were running, the last train was gearing up to head out. A random man on the train yelled with urgency, “Where are you going?” We yelled back where we needed to be and he replied back, breaking that cliche that all French people are rude, “Get on this one. Switch at the next stop!” Panting, we hopped on the train, the doors closing behind us within seconds.
We finally arrived at our hostel and realized that it was right next to the famous Moulin Rouge. The street was lined with various sex shops, all lit up with cheap florescent lights and pleather outfits for sale. I started to worry why our hostel was so cheap. Thankfully, it wasn’t a scene from 50 Shades of Gray and was actually quite normal.

Moulan Rouge

Oddly, our $30 a night hostel had the tiniest elevator in the world. No joke, Amauri and I could barely fit in it together. Apparently French people like to be intimate. Fortunately, they had an amazing free breakfast of croissants, cereals, and beverages. The next morning we stuffed our faces, knowing that the price of food in this city would be steep. I was tempted to shove an extra croissant in my pocket.

Waiting in an elevator

Most of our time spent in Paris was walking. (and eating crepes, duh) Paris is a city that can easily be seen as overrated from someone who hasn’t been. Like London, it is not. The city is amazing. Every corner you turn is enchanting. Whether it is a random beautiful gold statue or a interesting piece of history, even the street lights are a piece of art. It is a feast for the senses. Just sitting around and listening to the French people go about their business is fascinating. I could listen to French for hours. I often tell Amauri that there are cities that I often “click” with, feeling as if I lived there in a past life. After visiting Paris for the second time, I can definitely put it down on my list. I could live in Paris forever.

Paris Petit Palais Place de la Concorde

Although it will never shake the reputation for arrogance, somehow this adds to the city’s charm. After all, they have a lot to be arrogant about. Champs-Élysées, one of the most expensive streets in the world. The Arc de Triomphe. The Louvre.

Arc de Triomphe

Of course, the Eiffel Tower. I’m obsessed. I made Amauri see it during the day AND at night. I’m pretty sure we took about a 100 photos here. Apparently the Tower was only expected to be up for 20 years, put up to honor the 100 year anniversary of the French Revolution. To make it even more magnificent, it sparkles at night.

Eiffel Tower Eiffel Tower Eiffel Tower

We window shopped at all the high end stores and beautiful restaurants, but decided it was in our best interest to go to the grocery store and buy food on our own. Their delicious selection of meats, cheeses, and breads were enough for us.

Place de la Concorde

Unfortunately, our farewell to Paris was a little sour. We took a bus from Paris to Brussels, as it was only about $25. Well, sometimes you get what you pay for. The man yelled the instructions in French, then got on the bus. We were unsure of what he said so Amauri asked and he just screamed at him, “Why ask?!” in French. Thankfully, some nice Brazilians (yes, they are everywhere) helped us out. I don’t think all French people are rude, but this guy definitely was. He proceeded to drive like a mad man down the highway.

I popped in my motion sickness medicine, blasted some Radiohead, and fell asleep.