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Paris

It was now the third time this year that I had been to Paris. I took the RER train from CDG airport with my friend Nate to Pont de Neuilly, where we would be spending the night. After carrying our 50+ lbs suitcases up the 7 stories to Justin’s apartment we were exhausted. Justin, a friend of a friend, and fellow Rutger’s student had a very small apartment, maybe 8′ x 14′ with one bed, a shower and stove top. Nate and I were not expecting it to be that small but either way it was free and we were in no shape to complain, especially since most hostels were charging 30+ euros a night (roughly 45$). Justin said he would be staying at his girlfriend’s apartment so the place was all ours. That night we headed to Alex’s apartment, a fellow PASCA student who had rented a nice place with her boyfriend, a stone’s throw from, and with a good view of, the Pompidou Center. There we had a final gathering of a few PASCA students before most of us departed for America or other travels. We drank and enjoyed the view from her Parisian balcony, marveling at how fast the past 4 months went by. Nate was departing at 11am the next morning for America so we took the night bus back to our place and promptly fell asleep. Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for him, he had volunteered to take my suitcase back to the states for me as an extra checked bag. It was an old wooden suitcase I found at a French flee market, full of paint, new artwork and a bottle of beer for Nate’s sister. He probably saved me 100$. The next morning I escorted him, suitcase in tow, to Chatellet, where he left the metro and got on the RER back to CDG airport. We had a somber good-bye but both of us knew we would be seeing each other soon. I was off to travel for two months and Nate was off to Yale for a summer painting program that he was awarded enrollment to through Tyler, Temple’s Art School. We agreed to meet at his parents house when I got back to America in July so that I may retrieve my suitcase and most likely buy him a beer for his efforts. I still had three days to kill before Rob, my friend, fellow Europe/Morocco backpacker, and recent Rutgers graduate met me in Paris. To be honest I did not do much, and at the same time, did a lot, over those couple of days. I wandered around Paris, read in several parks and by the Siene. I had dinner at Alex’s apartment one night and then on Wednesday morning I met Rob at the metro station near Justin’s apartment. We had a small breakfast and then headed to Antoine and Hella’s apartment in the 18th arrondisement , where we would be couch surfing for the next two nights. They had a beautiful second floor apartment two blocks from the Moulin Rouge. Rob was definitely jet-lagged but despite this he was able to manage my vast walking tour of Paris. We left Antoine and Hella’s apartment and walked about 10 blocks to Sacre-Coeur. Then we headed south east down Blvd. Magente to Le Republique and then the Bastille. We caught up on what we had both been up to the past 5 months and then got some falafel from my favorite place on Rue de Rosier. After lunch we walked across the Siene to Notre Dame and Shakespeare and Co. bookstore, a great bookstore that I can never manage to leave without buying something (this time a used copy of “Under the Sheltering Sky”, which I plan on reading in Morocco). We then walked west along the Siene to the Grand Palais. This time taking a nice break in a park for a bit of reading and napping. Alex called me after about an hour of sitting in the park. We were supposed to meet her and Kurtis at the Grand Palais to see the Moumenta exhibition by Anish Kapoor, but unfortunately it was closed. Thankfully I had already seen it with Nate and Rob would be returning to Paris to meet his father at the end of our trip, so he too would have another chance to see it. We met up with Alex and Kurtis anyway and decided to go to the Eiffel Tower. Rob and I walked while Alex and Kurtis rented bikes (something we were unable to take part in since American bank cards do not have the necessary chip to be read by the bicycle machines, Alex and Kurtis’ Canadian cards do). We were unable to find them once we got to the Eiffel Tower but it was still a nice sight. After this we finally decided to hop on the Metro and head back to the Siene for a lovely sunset dinner of bread, cheese, salami, olives and cheap red wine. We finally wandered back to Antoine and Hella’s apartment around dusk (11pm) exhausted and ready for a good sleep. The next day we woke up relatively early and took the train to Versailles. We walked around the Gardens and then had another nice lunch by one of the ponds. I, as usual, got a lovely sunburn. We headed back to Paris and got ready for the Akron/Family concert I had bought tickets for earlier that week. It was a great show by a band I was supposed to see play last year in Brooklyn. We were standing right in front of the stage and I even got to jam on a drum with them at one point during the concert. It was a great last night in Paris. The next day we woke up early, since Antoine and Hella had to go to work. We spent the morning and early afternoon in a quite park before heading to the airport for our flight to Berlin. Despite how expensive the city is, I always enjoy my time in Paris. I had gotten used to being there over the past couple months and it is strange not to know when I will be there again.

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