Just a hop, skip and a train ride later I arrived in Paris, France. When you think of the city of love, you think of being with your significant other. Well, I went with about twenty-four students and I will still call it the city of love. I loved Paris. In Amsterdam, it was calm and quaint but in Paris, it was alive. It smelled like pee, but also took my breath away. Between the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Notre-Dame, Arc de Triomphe and Palace of Versailles, I felt history come alive. I walked the streets of famous artists like Picasso, visited the Mona Lisa, and walked the hall of mirrors in the royal palace built by Louis XIV. I had espresso at classical bistros and cafes, which did nothing for my coffee addiction. I still needed several teeny tiny cups to stay awake and function. I had a three-course meal at a restaurant featured on the Travel Channel (I can’t tell you which one, but I was told it is a good one) and tasted black pudding. I am one of those people that will eat anything and ask after what it is. Black pudding is generally made from high concentrations of blood (yes, blood), pork and oats. Surprisingly, black pudding is exceptionally delicious, and I immediately felt like full of energy. I may be a vampire or have an iron deficiency, either way, I highly recommend you give it try.
On my last day, I did two things that people said “don’t you dare go to Paris and not go to this.” Well to those people, I did them both. I spent the money and visited the infamous Catacombs and rode a moped through the busy streets. While I have some great and fun memories of the moped ride, nothing compares to the Catacombs of Paris. Underneath Paris lies hundreds of miles of labyrinth tunnels filled with bones, skulls and crypts. Dating back to the 18th
century, the catacombs serve as a story of a city that no longer could contain its dead. At one point in time, the city had a dense rain that caused the rotting bodies and old bones to flood the streets and the Catacombs were the designed solution. During my tour, you walk down 20 meters of stairs and feel the temperature drop. The air was dense making it hard to breath and the chambers were full of darkness and death. Some of the skulls still had their teeth. You couldn’t help but feel like someone was watching you or walking next to you. Above the entry was "Arrête, c'est ici l'empire de la mort!
" (“Stop! This is the empire of death!”) I didn’t stop and I am glad because it was the coolest historical reference I experienced.
Despite the ominous ending to this post, Paris was still alive (above the ground) and if it isn’t on your bucket list, you need to add it. Next stop: London.
Jenna is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Educational Psychology