Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pasqua a Parigi

What an Easter break. Yesterday I returned to Milano from PARIS, a city I now adore. We arrived Friday evening and I was instantly captured by the vitality of it all--while Milan is also a large city, Paris practically wipes if off the map. The people in themselves were completely different. I don't know how to explain it, there's just a different atmosphere in Paris than what I'm used to in Milan. But maybe it's just because this was my first time out of Italy all year and I don't speak a word of French. :)

My host family has an apartment in a central neighborhood which was extremely convenient. Throughout the long weekend, my host parents took me around to see many of the famous sites: Notre Dame, Tour Eiffel, Musée du Louvre, d'Orsay, Beaubourg, Arc du Triomphe, Montmartre, Champs-Elysées, etc. etc. I made sure to take plenty of pictures even though it was rainy the entire trip. We hadn't expected it to be so cold so I was wearing many layers and a raincoat basically 24/7. Then, the last day, the sun came out and the skies were clear. That was, of course, the only day in which I didn't bring my camera with me when I went out on the town. Ah well.
Notre Dame
Tour Eiffel 
Montmartre, for me, captured the soul of Paris. Virtually untouched by the stampedes of tourists, it is a beautiful hill that overlooks the rest of the city, and it is marked by exquisite buildings and windy, tree-lined streets. Next time I will definitely have to see more of it. Another area I particularly enjoyed was Le Marais, a district in the exact center of the city with many boutiques, bookstores, and restaurants, and some of it is pedestrian-only. Absolutely charming.

I spent an entire morning inside the Louvre, which is massive. I managed to see all of the most famous pieces there, including Mona Lisa, Nike of Samothrace, Venus de Milo, The Raft of the Medusa, Hammurabi's Code, and countless others. I ended my visit by eating at Starbucks, which was the first time I had eaten there in over 7 months (Starbucks doesn't exist in Italy). It was heaven!
The Raft of the Medusa (my favorite)
I tried to pick up a bit of French along the way, but since I hadn't brought a notebook, I had trouble memorizing all the phrases and words I learned. In the end, even though I really liked Paris, I spent the last half of my stay going around alone because my host parents had to work, and that was kind of depressing. Next time I'll have friends with me and we'll tear it up. :) The fact that I didn't know the language was also intimidating, and I really hated having to use English. The French I encountered were very good at English, but I just feel like other countries shouldn't have to learn our language for the sake of tourists. Ughh. Oh well. Coming back to Milan, in a country whose language I know, was a big relief. Plus the Parisians are rather condescending so that was odd as well. :P In any case, I got a good taste of the city, I now know the layout, and I feel confident using the metro by myself, so I will be ready for my next visit!

I have two weeks here in Milan before we leave for our big Rotary trip to Rome and the Amalfi Coast. Can't wait!!!!!!!!!!

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