“How near, how far…” Fontella Bass (R.I.P.)
I’m running behind on keeping this up to date, as usual. To pick up where we left off last time, just as we were leaving, violence erupted at the venue. The problem with big events with politicians and bigwigs is that there is always room for drama. It turns out a fight had broken out between some people we didn’t even know that were at the event. Security fired off some AK-47 shots, which caused hundreds of people to scramble away. At this point Gloria and I were completely done with this wedding ceremony stuff for good, and almost mentally done with our stay in Nigeria. At least I got to leave the country with a sword.
Upon arrival in Paris, after a hot shower, we decided to immediately head to the Louvre Museum, but there was a cart selling crepes and chocolate sugar powder waffles. I’d be a fool to try to escape the allure.
On the way there, we ended up passing through the Arc De Triomphe Du Carrousel. We would definitely be visiting the larger arc at some point during our week stay.
Once we made it, the shenanigans began!
The museum is one of the largest and most filled that I’ve ever been in. It would take many hours to see everything.
The Mona Lisa is so much smaller than I thought it would be.
Since we had already spent over $4,000 due to the flight situation on the way to Nigeria, any budgeting went out the window for the remainder of the trip. On a whim the next morning, we decided to grab our passports and take the Eurostar train from Paris to London. We had to start with the extra tourist-y things like the London Eye and Big Ben.
Over the years, I’ve heard about the Changing of the Guard but have never gotten to see it, so we made our way to Buckingham Palace. There were hundreds if not thousands of people and tourists gathered from all over the world for the event. The police and security were quite friendly there, which is different from the experience in the United States.
After this was over, we decided to visit the stores for some afternoon shopping. London is amazing, but quite expensive.
Arches are becoming a recurring theme in our trips. To be honest, I wasn’t aware that London had one until recently. We stumbled upon the Marble Arch while walking.
It was time for a quick meal before heading back to Paris, so we stopped at Falafel King. The meal was superb, but the place was cash only, so I had to run to an ATM and get some pounds to pay before our train departed as a minor inconvenience.
Back in Paris, it was time to enjoy some more good food. This is always a not so secret goal of mine when traveling. Our concierge made several recommendations, and as we walked we settled on Le Comptoir du Sept. I managed to get us by with my very limited French, and the waitress was very friendly and patient. I’ve had great luck with food choices the last few months, as this place did not disappoint!
After eating, we took some time to actually relax for a while at the hotel. Even though we are on a trip, it’s always good to take some time or even a day to just lay back if possible. We rush so much everyday that it’s good to take some time to just lay down. We had everything packed into the last few days of the trip.
For the next day, Gloria planned a three-hour Segway tour for us via GoGo Tours Paris. First, let’s have some tea.
We are not above cliché tourist actions, so we HAD to add a lock to the Pont Des Arts! It seems they have to remove them every 2 years or so, as it weighs down the bridge. It makes sense.
This was NYE in Paris. After the segway tour, we rested a bit at the hotel before heading out again for food and to find a good party. Unfortunately, we were in Paris one month after the tragic attacks, so security was understandably very tight. I failed to mention during the entire week, we saw very few police officers and many soldiers around the monuments and popular locations. Normally there is a big firework display at the Eiffel Tower, but that was cancelled for 2015 in favor of a light show at the Arc De Triomphe. I ended up getting a sandwich from a corner food cart and we made our way to the Arc.
All of the routes to the Arc were blocked off except one, so our Uber driver got us as close as he could. All people had to pass through a security check with soldiers and police. Once we made it through, the crowd was loud and excited. People were dancing, singing, and kissing in the street.
Actual New Year’s Day was quite foggy and cold, which is my ideal weather. We took a morning stroll and even got to see the Statue of Liberty replica at Île aux Cygnes
Back during our Dominican Republic trip we met a nice woman and friend named Julia from New Jersey. She happened to move to France for a year and was in Paris for the New Year. We made sure to find time to meet up with her and met her friends Rachel and Nikolet. The Arc De Triomphe was a good meeting spot, so we chose there. It was a great reunion!
We also had some wine, which is absolutely necessary.
We didn’t mess around with our return flight. We called an Uber at 6 in the morning for our 11 AM flight back to the United States. Upon arriving in DC, we called another Uber to get us to the Washington Monument. We basically had one night to see a few sights before returning to Austin.
…and the White House.
Washington D.C. did a great job with its simply numbered and lettered streets. It makes navigation very easy. It was a pleasure to get to try District of Pi. It was one of the best deep dish pizzas I ever had. I can’t wait to go to Chicago.
Gloria’s friend from college, Michelle, lives in D.C., so we finished off the trip with a quick visit to her. There was a bus running from near the white house directly to her apartment, so we hopped on. Every other city I visit makes me with Austin could improve its transportation and rail system, but that seems like like a distant dream :-/. Anyways, yay to renuions!
I can say with all of my ups and downs, I’ve had a great life so far, and that 2015 was the best year of it so far. I got to visit 8 countries (Italy, Czech Republic, Germany, Canada, Dominican Republic, Nigeria, France, England), try some things I’ve never tried before in life, got married, completed 1 consistent year of hot yoga, went to many concerts, reconnected with old friends and family, had the courage to move on and leave my first job after college (day 1 of unemployment was actually Dominican Republic :-O), and got the drive to finish my personal mobile applications. It was a big year and one that will stand out for the rest of my life no matter what comes next. 2016 is already nearly halfway over, and I’ve started another job at InMotion Software, hoping to grow my Android and Web experience, as well as continue my personal projects. To prevent such a long delay in these posts in the future, I already began the next one. No guarantees that laziness/business with other things won’t get to me again.
Song of the post: Familiar Ground. My neighbor Naomi introduced me to this wonderful and calming music during my University of Texas days (Oh my. It has been almost 5 years since my college graduation).