Saturday, January 14, 2012

Days 3 and 4 (Saturday, December 31, 2011 and Sunday, January 1, 2012)

     Days 3 and 4 get to go together because one day just kind of led into the next with little sleep in between.

     The last day of 2011 had us awake again at about 8:00, getting ready and heading down to breakfast.  Our first stop of the morning was the Centre Pompidou.  We had a little bit of time before we could get in, however, so we did a little walking around/souvenir browsing before heading into the museum.  Admission was free for students from the European Union, so I was going to pay.  After Mario showed his ID and got his free ticket, I told the man that I was not a student in the EU and needed to buy a ticket.  He smiles and says, "Today, just for you, it is free!" I smiled and thanked him...what a nice guy! The museum truly had one of the best views of Paris.l  It was more centrally located than some of the other high points and as Mario said, "You can see the Eiffel Tower from here. You can't see the Eiffel Tower from the Eiffel Tower." haha
Inside of the museum we found some awesome modern art including some really average white Christmas lights, a giant mushroom, and some sort of black and pink incomprehensible monstrosity.  Overall, really a great museum and it would have been worth it even if I would have had to pay for my admission.  The museum was in a really cute area of town so we walked around for a bit before stopping in a cafe to have lunch and avoid the rain.  For the rest of the afternoon we mostly just wanted to walk around the city and see a few other less touristy areas.  We went back to the hostel to rest up for a little less than 2 hours because we knew we had a big night ahead of us.  We headed to the Eiffel Tower area and got there about 8:30/9:00.  There weren't a ton of people there when we first arrived, but it go really crowded really quickly.  We ate yummer Doners and Mario even helped me order by myself in French! :)  We found  great spot a bit back from the tower in the lawn in front of the tower with a perfect view and surrounded by nice people.  And then the waiting began! At 12:00 as the lights flashed, people cheered, fireworks burst, and bottles popped, Mario wrapped me up in a big hug and we shared a New Year's kiss by the light of the Eiffel Tower.  It felt like something perfect out of a romantic movie and my heart was so happy it could burst! I don't think I can all my life possibly forget ringing in 2012! There was another main street, Champs-Elysees were people were ringing in the New Year, so we headed there to take in the atmosphere of the evening.  We walked around Paris without any aim, just following the crowds of people until a little after 2am, when we returned to the hostel to drink the Ukrainian champagne Mario had brought to Paris.  Since it had been shaken up in his suitcase on the journey there, popping the cork was a pretty humorous experience.  Mario popped it out the window, but the cork shot out, hit a window on the building across the street, and flew to who knows where after that.  We had a good laugh about that.  The champagne was really quite good and we chatted and finished the bottle until about 4:30 when some of our fellow hostel mates returned and we finally decided to settle in for the first few hours of sleep of 2012, falling asleep with very happy hearts.
    Just a few hours later Mario's alarm clock told us that it was time to get up and get ready for the day in order to check out of the hostel by 11:00am.  After checking out we went to find somewhere to eat breakfast and ended up eating yummy omelets.  We walked around a bit in a part of the city near that hostel that we hadn't walked in yet just to pass some more time and stretch our legs before the train to London.  We went back to the hostel to get our luggage (and the book I had left in the room) and I called Mom to wish her Happy New Year.  It was only 7am there and we only talked for a minute or two, but I was glad that I got to wish her a Happy New Year by phone and not just via text.  We stopped briefly to say goodbye to Mario's shopkeeper friend who he met when he was in London in May and headed to our train.  The trip to London was only about 2 hours on a fast train.  Some people have asked me how the Chunnel was and my answer is always the same-dark! haha I had a funny embarrassing moment when I several times attempted to manually close the automatically closing door before I looked up to see a man about halfway down the train looking at me and shaking his head and pointer finger disapprovingly.  It was rather amusing. Once we got to London (YAYAYAY!) we found an ATM to get pounds and bought metro tickets.  The directions I had printed were perfect and we found the hostel really easily.  We checked in and left our bags in the room and decided that we really wanted dinner, specifically Fish and Chips.  It seemed like the perfect meal for our first night in London.  On New Year's Day, however, when most everything is closed, finding Fish and Chips in London is an unnecessarily difficult task.  After walking several miles we finally happened upon a little fast-food like place, but it was just what we wanted because Fish and Chips was on the menu! The traditional English way to eat fish and chips is with vinegar and it was really quite delicious! We spent the rest of the night walking and actually saw a good bit of London, including Westminster Abby, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, and a busy night life street.  We didn't realize that the underground only runs until about midnight(a bit surprising in such a big city!) and ended up finding our way home by bus and a whole lot of walking! By the time we found our way back to the hostel we were sleepy and cold, but definitely had a fun first night in London.  Just being in England for the first time for both me and Mario was a really exciting feeling!

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