From England to France

December 15, 2013
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Think of the location you would most like to travel. See the pictures from there you’ve seen on postcards and in movies, all some distant dream. What if one night, your parents, out of the blue, tell you that you’ll be visiting that magical place, and get to experience the culture, food, and historic sites.

This had happened to me, but it wasn’t just one place, it was two. My family would be going to London and Paris, one week each.

My friends were thick with envy, jokingly asking if they could be secretly stowed in my suitcase so they could come along. And I was bursting with excitement, impatiently waiting for our departure to arrive.

When it finally did, the journey over to London, where we would spend our first week, wasn’t as magical as I had imagined. We had an hour long car drive to the airport, then had to sit around the airport, waiting for our flight to arrive, which was an hour late. The flight itself was the worst part. I was stuck in between a large British man, and my mother, both of whom are very loud snorers. It was an overnight flight, so I was expected to sleep, which ended up impossible. I spent the tedious 8 hour long flight re-watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part one until my Ipod died.

When we finally arrived in London, it was a whole new world. The people were nicer, the air wasn’t humid at all, and there was thousands of people walking about with their odd accents. My family was irritable from the flight and wanted to sleep, but it was morning, London time, when we got to our hotel.

We went to so many places in our week in England, it’s impossible to remember them all. Everything was spectacular and felt so aristocratic.

On our first full day in England, we got up early to go see the Changing of the Guard, at Buckingham Palace. This is where the new guard exchanges duty with the old guard. The guard wears those overly large fluffy black hats and red coats, over a hundred of them, like a flock of birds, staying in order, flapping their wings to the beat of the drum. They walked in an orderly fashion and kept a straight face no matter what. It was to my delight and surprise when they started to play excellent, royal music. I was taking a picture with my sister in front of the set up for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, when I started to hear the guard play music from Pirates of the Caribbean. My sister and I started laughing, because the serious guards had a sense of humor.

We did many other things while in London, such as walk across Abbey Road, ride on a double decker bus, visit loads of museums, and much more. But one other thing sticks out in my mind when I think back to this fantastic trip, was going to Kew Gardens. Kew Gardens is the Royal Botanical Garden, with 300 acres filled with botanical glasshouses and gardens. It has the world’s largest collection of living plants! When you walk through the entrance, you’re hit by a wave of lush green and the sweet smells of the flowers. We saw so many plants such as giant lily pads, strange flowers, and trees that looked from another world.

We were walking around when I noticed something among the tops of the trees. We walked towards it and found that you could take stairs up to a 18m high walkway in the tree tops! we went up, I was a bit wary because of my fear of heights, but once I saw the fantastic view, I forgot about my phobia. You were surrounded by green, and you could see all around the park, it was an incredible feeling!

London was a marvelous place, I was lucky enough to be in England just a month before the Olympic games were held there, so I was able to see all of London set up for it. Not only were they in a craze about the Olympics, but because of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, a festival celebrating the Queen’s 60 year reign. It was spectacular seeing all the set up, but I was heartbroken when I found out the festival would start the day after we left England!

After spending a week in London, I had grown attached to it, but new adventures lay ahead, as we left on an underground train to go to Paris, France. When we emerged from the comfortable train, my sister and I had to use the bathroom. We were astonished to find that you had to actually pay to use the restroom. My first thought about France was that it was extremely different than America. Not only because you had to pay to use the restroom, but that people would spend an hour or two just to eat a meal. And I was pleasantly surprised to find that most people spoke some English, which was quite handy because I take Spanish, not French.

The food in Paris was absolutely divine. And it is no myth that people buy and walk about, carrying baguettes!

We went to many museums, one including the famous Louvre. It was just as historic and entertaining as people say. There were many sections for different parts of the world, each one containing thousands of historical artifacts. Such as the Winged Victory of Samothrace, mummies, and the one that has a crowd surrounding it non-stop, the Mona Lisa. I was surprised to see that the Mona Lisa was so small, compared to the artwork surrounding it which took up entire walls. I felt privileged to be able to look all of the famous artifacts.

One rainy day while on our trip, we went to Versailles. I walked up and my mouth was gaped open in surprise of how elaborate and luxurious this palace was. When we entered the palace, every room left me surprised. There was gold all along the walls and furniture in every room. One room in particular, it was a bedroom, every inch of the room there were victorian designs in gold. The floor shimmered with gold in the sunlight. Even the doorknobs looked like they would be worth thousands of dollars. Paintings of the royals who lived in the palace filled the gold walls.

We didn’t have time to go look through the garden, but from what we could see, it was perfectly symmetrical and extremely well kept.

My Mother and sister both play and are into the sport of tennis. At the time of our trip, the French Open tennis competition, or Roland Garros was happening. Naturally my Mom and sister had to go to it, so while they spent the day watching famous tennis players, my Dad and I had a whole day to explore Paris.

We couldn’t have gone to France and not have gone to the Eiffel Tower. As soon as it was open for visitors, we walked over. There was only one working lift that went to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and it had a huge line. So my dad and I decided to walk up the stairs. With over 600 steps, you’d think you’d give up or fall over with exhaustion. But I was so excited to get to the top (or as far as people who didn’t pay as much as others could go) this didn’t bother me. Even though it was the middle of summer, when you were frozen by the first level on the Eiffel Tower. The view was beautiful, you could see all of Paris, it didn’t even feel real. While walking up the steps, I was in awe of how much work must have been put into making this tower. Thousands of pieces of metal, and bolts, glistening from the light of the sun.

For the rest of the day, we went exploring little shops, mainly with food. We bought macaroons, chocolates, baguettes, and loads of other French foods. We then found a park leading to a lesser famous palace, and sat and ate. Enjoying the moment as much as possible because we knew we would soon be leaving.

On our last day, we went and had a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower. It was a simple meal, still delicious. With sweets, baguettes and fancy cheeses, none of us wanted to leave. We sat, staring at the Eiffel Tower, when all of a sudden it began to sparkle! lights were set up all over the tower to make it look like stars were glistening on the building. It was a perfect ending to a perfect trip.

We woke up early the next morning, hoping our flight would be delayed so we would be able to stay a bit longer. It wasn’t, and we said our goodbyes to the mystical land of Paris. We knew we would be struck with reality the moment we landed back home in Florida.

I am thankful I was able to go on this trip to not one, but two countries. It has started my quench for travel and I no longer wish to stay where I live. I’m now much more open to new experiences and trying new things. Going and seeing what other places are like, seeing how different other’s lives are from yours is truly amazing and can’t be put into words.

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