Old travel Series: Ghent and Paris (Europe, Part 10)

This post is part of a series where I’m incorporating old travel journal entries into this blog. This part of the series is from my first ever trip to Europe, when I visited the Netherlands, Belgium, and France with a group from my college. This is transcribed from the original hand-written journal I kept during that trip while I was still just a wee college student. I hope you enjoy it! Stay tuned for more tales of our adventures!

Didn’t catch the first post in this series? Start from the beginning!


The next day, we woke up and made our journey to Paris. The group was going to Ghent to see the Ghent altarpiece by Jan Van Eyck, so Norwood and I stopped off in Ghent for about an hour and saw the altarpiece. It was truly an amazing work of art, and so huge and so detailed! It was definitely worth seeing. After Ghent, we left the group and hurried back to the train and made a connection to Paris. The train to Paris was less than two hours, and I slept most of the way. When we got there, we were in Gare Du Nord, which is the train station that Monet used to paint.

We took a taxi to our hotel, the Hotel de Notre Dame, which was located, coincidentally, right next to Notre Dame! Norwood’s mom was really awesome in getting that hotel room for us. I’m not quite sure how I will thank her enough for that when I get home.

Anyway, our hotel was really cute. It had hilarious wall paper and curtains which matched each other, and the walls had rocks in one area and wood panels on the ceiling. It was quite flamboyant and very classically French. I loved it. After we checked into the room, we went out to explore Paris a bit. We first walked down to Notre Dame and took a million pictures of it, then went inside. They were holding a service when we went in, which I thought was kind of cool to see. I’m not Catholic or anything, but it isn’t every day that you can see a church service being held at Notre Dame (unless you live in Paris, I guess). I thought it was wonderful, and the cathedral was just about the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.img_0845

After Notre Dame, we grabbed a quick sandwich across the street and went walking around a bit.  Down by the river, we found a boat tour/taxi and decided to give it a shot. The river boat was great. It was a nice, relaxing trip and we got to see a lot of Paris pretty quickly that way. We got off at the Eiffel Tower and took some great pictures, had some crepes, and decided to go up to the top. The only thing that sucked about going to the top of the Eiffel Tower was how crowded it was. It was amazing and all to go up there, but I got pretty claustrophobic being crowded in with all those people!

After that, it was pretty late so we just went back to the hotel and slept.

The next morning…

We woke up a little bit early, expecting to hit up the Louvre, but to our dismay, it was closed! Apparently, the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays. We took a few pictures in the central courtyard outside of the Louvre and decided to go to the Musee d’Orsay instead. It turned out to be a fortunate thing, because the Musee d’Orsay was filled with beautiful sculptures and famous works from the Impressionist movement. We were at the museum for six hours and when we left it was only because the museum was closing. We wanted to stay several hours more!

Well…after the museum, we went to the Champs Elysses and checked out the Arc de Triomphe. It’s a lot bigger than it looks in photos, that’s for sure. We didn’t really do much more that day, but it was definitely a full day!

Next day…

img_0846We had to leave Paris today, but before we caught the train back to Brussels, we stopped by the Louvre for 3 1/2 hours. We weren’t about to go to Paris and not see the Louvre! It really was truly amazing, definitely the most amazing museum (other than the Musee d’Orsay) that I’ve ever seen! I mean…wow. We saw the Mona Lisa, but the room was so crowded it was pretty hard to stay in there for too long. Other than that, though, it was as if my art history books were coming alive around us. Beautiful, ridiculously famous paintings were everywhere like they were nothing special at all. All I can say is wow!

After the Louvre, we had to head back to Brussels, so we went to Gare d’Nord and got on the bullet train once again. We checked into a really nice hotel once we got to Belgium and went out into the square to find some dinner on our last night in Europe. Sigh…

What can I say about Paris other than that I have fallen in love with it. I am head over heels in love with a place. Not just any place…a magical place…a place of dreams. All my life I have dreamed of being in Paris and I never thought I would actually get there, but dreams can come true after all, and there is nobody I would rather share this experience with than Norwood. I am the happiest, luckiest girl in the world.


Didn’t catch the first post in this series? Start from the beginning!

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