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Across the channel: a weekend in Paris

By Haley Seger
On February 14, 2012

LONDON — One of Europe's best features is how easy it is to jump from one country to another. If you decide that you want to go to Paris for the weekend, no problem. Just hop on a train that goes under the channel. Of course, my first view of Paris was the view right outside of the train station. I doubt this view is the best in any city, but for some reason, Paris seemed particularly bad. We kept our hopes up though and decided to brave a riverboat tour despite the freezing temperature. My first real experience with Paris farther than the street outside the train station was the Metro. After nearly a month of using the tube in London, I thought I knew everything about underground public transport. Unfortunately however, the signs are not in English; they're

in French (go figure). And the French stations aren't nicely organized and relatively clean like the London stations.

By the time we got off the Metro, people were grumbling that this didn't feel like the city of light and romance that had been promised. This just felt like a big, dirty city where the language wasn't English. Until, that is, we turned the corner

and saw the Eiffel Tower. (Cue the gasps of awe and glee.) As impressive as it is during the day, it is easily twice as impressive at night. The golden lights on such a iconic landmark really make one think of Paris as the city of lights.

I spent most of Saturday wandering around Paris or in the

Louvre. As anyone who has been to the Louvre can tell you, they go to the Louvre the first time to see the "Mona Lisa." Of course, there are plenty of interesting things to see there, but because it is so massive, you really have to

pick and choose what you make an effort to see. Naturally, my friends and I chose to see the "Mona Lisa" as well.

After elbowing my way to the front of the mass in front

of painting, I was extremely disappointed. As anyone who has been to the Louvre can also tell you, the Mona Lisa is surprisingly small for all of the hype. Much more impressive is Da Vinci's "Wedding at Cana," which takes up most of the wall opposite the "Mona Lisa." The scale of the painting alone makes is far more impressive. Saturday night, we decided to brave the freezing weather again to climb to Sacre Coure, a basilica that sits on a hill overlooking all of Paris. There is an insane amount of stairs to get to the top, but the view was totally worth it. We could see everything from Notre Dame Cathedral to the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately, however, this was about the time that my camera decided to die, meaning that the only pictures I have from this experience are the somewhat decent but not great pictures that I managed to take on my phone. Oddly enough, as beautiful a city as Paris is, being there just made me homesick for London. The comfort of having springs digging into my back in my own bed. The familiar residential neighborhood-meets-American college-students atmosphere of my street. The predictability of the unreliable underground Circle Line. My trip to Paris only proved to me something that I had already begun to realize: London, for better or worse, has become my home.

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