New Year’s in Paris

Wow, what a night. After seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre earlier yesterday and being kicked out because they were closing early for New Year’s we headed back to our hotel to change and shower and make plans for dinner. Elliott still has some friends in France from when he went to an American high school in Paris for a year, so he called up one of his old acquaintences and made plans to meet for drinks before midnight.

The restaurant at our hotel told us that we needed reservations to be able to eat there that night as they were fully booked. When we came downstairs around 8pm, upon seeing the restaurant nearly empty asked again about sitting down and having a meal, only to find out that the set menu for New Year’s Eve was 45 euros. Instead we hopped on the metro (free on New Year’s Eve!) and headed down to the Latin Quarter, which really should be called the Overpriced restaurant Quarter. We managed to find a (relatively) cheap place to eat that wasn’t completely full and after a satisfying meal decided that it was time to get back onto the Metro and head to Elliott’s friend’s house.

The metro was the biggest mess I’ve ever seen. Everyone and their mother was riding the metro that night and as an extremely packed train arrived into the station even more people crammed themselves into the already jammed car. Thinking that we would just catch the next one and hope that it was less crowded, clearly wasn’t the solution. The next train was just as crowded, as was the train we made our connection to. Having spent so much time getting to the subway, missing trains, cramming ourselves in we ended up at our destination station around 11:10pm. We took a quick look at the map near the station and headed off into what we thought was the right direction. After walking for 15-20 minutes, looking at various maps, realizing that we were nowhere near where we were supposed to be we made the decision to just go to the eiffel tower and meet up with Elliott’s friend later.

The only problem was that it was after 11:30 and we were clearly nowhere near the eiffel tower. So after using my shoddy french to ask directions we set off in the right direction, and a couple of times we saw a glimpse of the tower through the buildings, and all I could think was that it was so close, yet so far away! So we started running. We ran through the streets of Paris along with a number of other young people, catching quick glances at their watches, trying to get there in time. Around 11:55pm I was starting to lose hope, we had walked and ran for so long and I could no longer see the eiffel tower! We weren’t going to make it.

Then, all of a sudden, while in a full sprint, we turned the corner and out of nowhere there it was!! Right in front of us! And there were no crowds! We got there with about 30 seconds to spare, it was just enough time for Slava to pull out the bottle of champagne and pour us glasses, while I grabbed my camera and started shooting some video, all of a sudden the fireworks were going off, people were cheering, the lights on the tower were sparkling! Bonne Annee!!!!!

It was pretty damned exciting, I’m not quite sure how it all worked out so perfectly. Somehow we ended up on the side of the tower adjacent to the Champs D’Elysee, where all the hoards of people were, so we got the best spot in the entire place! It was fabulous!

Phew. So after that Elliott called his friend again, and we took precautions to actually get it right this time, and we went back to her apartment. There was more champagne and some very good escargot, before long I was feeling the alcohol and we decided to finally break up the party and head to bed. Because of the reduced service on the metro, it took us what seemed like a million years to actually get home. After calling my parents when we got to a payphone just outside our hotel it was somewhere around 4:30am, and I don’t think I have ever been so happy to see a bed in my life.

All in all, it was a pretty spectacular night.

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