Wonders to explore, day by day.

The challenge yesterday had been navigating the metro. Today's success, however, was mastering the challenge, in addition to mustering up the courage to click the metro's car button exit. I know, four days into the trip and officially a metro pro.

I left the apartment at 9 this morning, to return at 11:30 this evening. The day consisted of visits to all parts of the city, beginning with an early morning academic orientation at ACCENT to organize my classes. (In terms of classes, I’ll be taking Civilization in Paris through ACCENT and French grammar, phonetics and art history through the Sorbonne.) It’s late here so a short summary aided by visuals will serve as the narration for the day’s events.

Following my academic orientation, Kathryn and I wandered from Bastille in search of Canal St. Martin. The weather is in the 20s, so the two of us froze on our hour search for the canal—making the eventual discovery (guided by my Paris book, map, metro guide and information posters laid across the city) that much more rewarding.

We wandered around the area, passing through a market and peering into the communuity's gothic style cathedral.  

Kathryn and I ate lunch at Pommes and Sandwiches, a French fast food joint. (Fast food in this country, however, seems to translate to a baguette with, in my case, smoked salmon.) It was good, although not quite up to par to that of a boulangerie’s standards, yet far superior to any American concept of fast food. (On a side note, McDonald's flood the city... The one near the Bastille [down the street from the ACCENT center] has a gym on top of it. Oxymoron?)

Kathryn and I proceeded to meet Allena, Bridget and Katie inside of the Louvre. AH the Louvre: my absolute new obsession. Disregarding the enormity of the museum (it apparently takes 30 years to get through the whole museum should you give each piece a few seconds of attention), the art itself is incredible: the plethora of famous artists, famous pieces, styles and periods spread across the massive grounds of the museum-- it's phenomenal. The three years of my art history classes came alive in the rooms of the Louvre this afternoon—I recognized the ranges of pieces on show, amazed by the lack of signage alerting visitors that they, upon entrance, would be graced by some of the art world's most famous pieces. (Obviously excluding major pieces. Of which include the Mona Lisa, which I have always been told is a tiny piece and heavily overrated. Given I had been prepped to downplay my expectations, I was pleasantly surprised to discover it was in fact much larger than I had expected. I would say, however, that the enormous painting hung directly opposite the Mona Lisa was far more impressive. I also found it interesting that the Mona Lisa was situated in a room among a range of other works. In my experience, museums typically contain prime pieces in rooms solely geared to display the work. I liked that the Mona Lisa was one among many in one of the galleries.) Perhaps because of the great amount of art presented within each room, I found that the galleries themselves became more the work of art and that the pieces hanging on the wall became the parts that guided you to experience the room. We made it through a few floors of one section; I’ll be returning within days, that I am sure. 

We continued with a trip to Angelina—The winding cue inside the famous café reminded me of D.C.’s Georgetown Cupcake. Angelina, internationally known for the splendor of it’s hot chocolate, was gorgeous: ornate and elegant in design. We sat for about three hours, gorging on a fountain of chocolate heaven, while enjoying each other’s company. We all live in such separate areas of the city that it seemed silly for us to return home only to meet back up in a few hours. And so, homeless in a way by day (as we joke), we’re able to spend time between activities at a café, purely enjoying the company among us. Conversation ran through for the time we sat; it’s truly wonderful how comfortable we all are together, how pleasant of a bond we've created within the few short days of having met each other.

Bridget and Katie’s home stays were cooking for them this evening (a friendly gesture given our program, and therefore our home stays, cover dinners only Monday to Thursdays). The two left, leaving Allena, Kathryn and I to continue on with our evening.

We took the metro to Trocadero—the perfect stop for a picturesque view of the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower shimmers for five minutes on the hour, every hour—it was here that I was finally able to see the Iron Lady in her utmost glory.

The three of us returned back to the metro (amen for our monthly unlimited pass), headed to St. Germain—a popular stretch of cafes and shops. Dinner was pleasant, though the food, for the first time, was unfortunately not up to the French standards set my the incredible dining experiences of the past three days.

Katie, Kathryn and I left St. Germain just before 11 pm. The three of us wished each other goodnight before separating onto our own ways, each headed to our respective homes spread across the city. It’s odd returning home alone; I’m not completely at ease exiting the metro to walk to my apartment alone at night, although I am comforted by the fact the metro stop is a mere block away from the apartment building. Yet, at the speed I walk (um, my cardio workout for the evening) and my utmost vigilance of all around me, will serve as my safeguard come my return each evening.

And so today was a taste of several parts of the city—unique in their own rights. There are such wonders to explore, from the parts of the areas we missed today, to the areas which have yet to be discovered. I wonder, looking back four months from now, what I'll fall in love with the most (although, I can imagine the Louvre will remain on the most loved list), where I'll return to visit the most and the areas I'll feel the most closely connected to. It's something to keep in mind as I proceed forward, continuing my discovery of the fascinating city I call home these next four months. 

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