July 5, 2014

Paris Day One: Cliffs of Dover, Group Dinner, & Seine Riverboat Cruise

We had our earliest departure time of the trip at 5:30 am which meant a 4:30 am wake up call. Yikes! The hotel even packed us a sack breakfast because we had to leave so early! After a long, sleep filled bus ride we arrived in Dover to catch the ferry across the English Channel. I used up the last of my British pounds on some coffee just before boarding. 

The famous white cliffs were breathtaking as we sailed away and said goodbye England, hello France! 

Quinn and Jess made friends with an older English gentleman named David. He has a daughter who lives in one of the Carolinas and he has traveled the world. We all started talking and we listened to some of his travel stories which was very enjoyable. As we parted ways he told me that he's certain I am his long lost love and wished he was 50 years younger! A character that man was! 

Once we made port in France we met our Italian bus driver for the duration of the trip, Carmina. He doesn't speak much (only Italian) but he's very kind. The drive was a few hours so we had a break at a travel stop which was a comical first experience with language barriers. I played it safe with pointing in a sandwich shop for a quick bite to tie me over. 

When we finally made it to Paris I was so giddy with excitement. Every single building in the city looks like it was snatched out of an old time fairytale with wrought iron balconys and flower boxes spilling over the edges. I was in awe! This was my view from the hotel. 

After check-in we quickly changed and headed to a group dinner for a nice Parisian Dinner. I'm always skeptical about the authenticity of places that cater to large tourist groups and as it usually goes, the food wasn't that great...I like my mom's food better which is a pretty high standard to meet. I did enjoy the crime brûlée dessert though.

After dinner we stopped in a local market and bought bottles of wine to share on our riverboat cruise later in the evening.  My roommate and I shared some sparkling rosén classy hotel cups.

I absolutely love the the laid back atmosphere of Paris where causual drinking in public is not only fine, but encouraged! People don't abuse the privelage and are able to relax with a bottle and friends in parks, on riverbanks--anywhere! 

I expected the cruise to be a lame tourist gimmick but it was actually beautiful as we cruised the Seine under the setting sun. It offered gorgeous views of the city's most famous monuments, bridges, and buildings that you can't get from land.

It was also here I got my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower and it was beautiful! The infamous 5 min sparkle was the perfect end to the riverboat cruise. And if you think it looks beautiful now, just wait until you see when I got up close and personal with the tower! But that's for another day! 

My first night in the city of lights was everything I'd hoped it would be! It is absolutely gorgeous, and day two was even better!

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