The passed two days have been a whirl wind for the GCU Travel Crew! The city of lights had a tight grasp on our hearts, and our eyes! Our second day was a calm day where we visited the Bastille where prisoners used to be held in a huge palace. However during the revolution the building was destroyed, and now a tall bronze, now green (like the Statue of Liberty) resides in its place. Then we followed with an extremely memorable mass service in the infamous cathedral Notre Dame, where our lives were painted with color. From our spirits to the stained glass windows, it was like living on the inside of a jewel box. We shopped and ate afterwards (just like real Parisians)! However, our first day was where all of the action happened.
We began the first day in Paris with a flurry of sight seeing. We began our day at the Concerigerie and Saint Chapelle. Both historical structures had opened our eyes to a world of color, tragedy, and inspiration. We followed our first two visits with a quick visit to the Louvre and the glass pyramids. You can’t go to Paris and pass up these sights! Both filled with such incredible architecture, and history. Truly a fascinating vision. On our journey to our next location, we passed many plaques which were scattered through out the city. Each plaque was dedicated to many of those who fell during the occupation of Paris in 1940. Each told a brief story about the dedication, which was truly interesting. It was like following a time line throughout one of the most major cities in the world.
Next we ventured to a personal favorite of mine, Palace Garnier. This is the Opera House built in the 19th century by Charles Garnier. This theater is not only an architectural and artistic masterpiece, but is also the home to the infamous Phantom of the Opera. Authored by Gaston Leroux in 1910, this book was based on a real life event of the chandelier (or rather, its counter balance) falling and actually killing a woman. Since its formation, the book has taken off to be adapted into many movies and a hit musical which has recently celebrated its 30th anniversary on Broadway! On our tour we learned much about its architectural beginnings and we toured some of the most famous spots there, including the mysterious Box 5.
Following the Palace Garnier, the GCU Crew made it all the way to the Concord Grande de Palace. In this square, an extremely large obelisk resides, with Egyptian hieroglyphs engraved on the sides that honored the Pharaoh Ramses II. This obelisk was a gift from the Egyptians to the French as a sign of good will between the two countries. In fact, an identical monument still exists in Egypt too! This obelisk also stands across the square from the United States Embassy (did you know that the guards there won’t let you take pictures of it, or stand in front of it for too long? Neither did we.)
We then scoured the grounds toward the tomb of the infamous French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. That was definitely a sight to behold. Did you know that Napoleon was not really short. He was about 5 foot 6 in reality, which now a days is about an average height. The casket that Napoleon’s body is said to reside in, was absolutely massive, and that is just the beginning of the massive architecture! The entire tomb was surrounded by different sculptures, artwork, and ornate stained glass windows! The entire thing was just breath taking.
Following our trip to visit the great emperor, we crossed the Pont de Alexandre III. This is the most decorative (and beautiful) bridge in Paris. Built in the early 1900s by Tsar Nicolas II (the last Tsar of Russia) in honor of his father Tsar Alexander III to symbolize the friendship between Russia and France. After we crossed that bridge, we visited the Arc de Triumph. This was the sight one of our lost travelers wished to see (WE MISS YOU RICHIE!) This infamous structure is too magnificent for words. Inscribed on the inside of it are names of those who have been lost in battle for France, and there are sculptures and engravings covering every inch in respect to these soldiers.
Last but absolutely not least, we visited the heart of Paris–the Eiffel Tower herself. Many, many selfies later, we embarked on a river cruise on the River Seine that toured the major parts of the city. Being that this tour began at dusk at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, and rounded the river until the sun set and the city of lights came to life! It was spectacular. Though what I could say was an added pleasant surprise was the hashtag that was projected on the tower after dark. #Maintenantonagit (#NowWeAct) which is a feminist movement to honor the day to celebrate women!
All in all, the past two days were the most incredible of our lives. We were whipped in every which direction, experienced a plethora of new encounters. All of these wonderful sights to behold, and the true treasure was experiencing it together. Tomorrow begins our next and final journey, Germany here we come!
Until next time!
–The GCU Travel Crew
Enjoy the photos!