This was my first trip since getting back to Edinburgh. I had already gone to Paris last semester, but the trip was interrupted by unexpected and devastating events so I wasn’t able to experience everything that had been planned.
For the first time I went to Edinburgh airport by myself without my group of traveling buddies accompanying me. While lonely, going to the airport by myself at 5:00 in the morning it was also one of the only times that I made it to the airport before boarding time. Before when I was traveling with a group we would pre-book a taxi and split the cost which was easy and convenient, but since I was by myself I took the bus. The bus departs from Waverly station and takes approximately 30 minutes (same as the taxi). Taking the bus also saves money as its only 4.50GB per a person and provides free Wi-Fi. The bus was easy, comfortable, and affordable but it is better to take a taxi if you are traveling with heavy or great amount of luggage.
This Paris trip was going to be short and sweet. I left Friday morning and would return Sunday. I had preplanned everything in advance. I mapped out all of my routes for walking and using the trains and I made reservations and printed out my tickets online.
My flight on Friday had quite a bit of turbulence and ended up having a late arrival. It was a good thing that I took the first flight in the morning because my plan for the day was touring Versailles and that would take a 80 minuet train ride and Versailles winter hours meant that it closed at 5pm. Since I went when it was off-season the queue to get in went by quickly and there were no backups or hindrances when I moved through the palace.
There was a special exhibit open on the Sun King’s funeral procession. In my opinion the most beautiful part inside the palace was the famous hall of mirrors, but my favorite part of going to Versailles was the gardens. Even in winter when nothing is in bloom the gardens are spectacular. To see Versailles you need an entire day, and after quickly moving through the palace I spent the rest of my time in Versailles wandering through the gardens. The gardens are expansive. They are almost like a maze, although designed to be symmetrical, there are so many turns and pathways it is easy to lose your sense of direction, but this also leads to surprises; for instance, when I took one pathway that led away from the main path, that is lined with fountains, I found an oasis. In the middle of this perfectly manicured garden there was a bit was wildness. There wasn’t symmetry here but instead the plants growing where they pleased, spouting in different directions. And where the rest of the rest of the garden was still hibernating for winter, here in this small part, the grass was bright green, leaves were still on the trees, and the flowers were in full bloom.
Other parts of the gardens were just as enchanting. Marie Antoinette’s peasant village made me feel like I was in the opening scene of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (and I might have broken out into song at one point while walking though). This part might have actually have been my favorite just because of my Disney obsession. [This deserved its own paragraph]
After Versailles I grabbed a quick dinner and got back on the train to head to the hostel I was staying at with some friends I was meeting up with. This ended up leading to a few missteps, and “learning opportunities”. Once I got into central Paris, my transfer line was closed and there was not another line that would get me closer. Unfortunately, I didn’t have Wi-Fi access and no way to know how to walk there. So I got a taxi. Unfortunately, my friend had all of the information for the hostel (all I knew was the name) so I had the driver drop me off at station I was supposed to have ended up at. Once I safely arrived I unfortunately couldn’t check in because my reservation was under my friend’s name and I needed her passport to be able to go to our room. After waiting around three hours I decided to book another room and go to bed because I had been up since 4am. I found out the next day that my friend had problems on her end with her train leaving late and not getting in until 1am. I think I made the right decision in getting another room. Thankfully the rest of the trip went much more smoothly.
The next day was probably one of my favorite days I have spent abroad [once again due to my Disney obsession] because I was able to go to my third Disney park, Disneyland Paris, with one of my best friends who I met when I worked at Disney World. The classic rides were all there, like Pirates of the Caribbean, but they were a bit different from their American counter parts. For instance, the Space Mountain at Disneyland Paris is more trilling compared to the one at Disney World, but its theming was based around astrology instead of astronomy. Also there were no games or purposeful distractions in the queue to entertain guests. We were able to do everything in both parks thanks to there being only a small crowd in about 8 hours.
Somethings I liked that were different: there were a lot of great sales on main street, the castle was beautiful (I liked it better than the Sleeping Beauty castle in California), inside the castle you could walk upstairs and walk through the story of Sleeping Beauty, the rides had a higher thrill factor, all the cast members were in character and everyone was friendly even the guests
Something I didn’t like as much that were different: The theming wasn’t done as well, The hot dogs at Casey’s Corner were bland and they only had a couple of topping choices, Star Tours was offered only in French and was not in 3D (although listening in French made C3PO more humors), there were no fillers in the queue to be offered as distractions
I really loved the park, but personally I don’t think any Disney Park can compare to Disney World, entering it was like coming home. After having spent five months of my life walking around Disney World while doing my internship, the layout of Disneyland Paris was like a smaller version of Magic Kingdom. It was easy to get around and navigate where to go and what to do next due to my previous experiences. It was nostalgic and now I can’t wait to have my reunion with all of my friends at Disney World.
Helpful Hint: Always, always, always make sure you have access to all of the travel plans such as the confirmation to the hotel