Day 5 of 15: I can't believe I've been with the Contiki tour group for four days and am only just now beginning to post about my experience. There is so much to say about London that I'm honestly not sure how long it may be before I can capture it all into a few blog posts. For now, I'll regale you with tales of Paris. We arrived in the evening and had a lovely dinner at the hotel together, just before heading out for a nighttime bus tour of the City of Lights. Everything was still decorated from Christmas and the New Year's festivities, so it was absolutely breathtaking. I knew I loved Paris, but I swear it has gotten even more beautiful over the last 10 years. We made the obligatory stop at the Eiffel Tower, where we celebrated the new year with sparklers and, of course, Nutella-filled crêpes.
Day 6 of 15: Spent the day wandering alone, and it was amazing. Got a French lesson from a nice older gentleman who helped me figure out how to get a Metro ticket when my credit card got rejected and then escorted me all the way to the train stop. Chit-chatted with friendly people about how "froid" it is today and how limited my French comprehension is after 10 years since having studied it. Drank some liquid heaven hot chocolate (see below if you have your doubts about its healing powers). And overall just felt like I was living in a dream -- a really, really cold dream. Shoutout also to my guardian angel who let me skip the cash-only payment to use the toilette at Notre Dame when my ATM card wouldn't work. Life saver, really.
At the suggestion of a good friend of mine, I also walked across the street from Notre Dame and stopped in at the Shakespeare & Company bookstore, where I saw a staircase to be envied for all time.
On the upper level, there were countless books of poetry, a wall full of love notes left by previous visitors, and a cat who seemed to know too much.
I left a note in that basket, and no one who knows me will ever know what it said -- except for the cat, of course. I'd like to think he's the resident secret keeper.
Day 8 of 15: Had to say goodbye to this amazing Contiki crew last night and this morning. Words cannot express how grateful I am for what a fantastic group this was. Suddenly this great big world feels smaller to me in a good way. Thank you to everyone, and I hope you have a wonderful 2017! I can't wait to see where you travel to next!