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E L E V E N || Passport to Paris

Your 21st birthday is one of those milestones you just can't miss. It is also one you often can't forget. Mine was certainly one for the books and I loved every minute of it! For Day 11 of the #blogeverydayinFEB challenge, I chose a travel story from the time I studied abroad with the theatre department, summer of 2012. I have always loved being a summer baby (except for the fact I never got to bring cupcakes to school on my birthday...) and when I found out we'd be in Paris for the big 2-1, I was pumped to say the least! Being in a fantastic city with some of my favorite friends meant it would be epic indeed. 

We decided to kick the night off at midnight, and somewhere around 11:00pm the gang gathered together and took the Metro to the steps of the Sacre-Coeur Basilica. It is a gathering place for all kinds of artists and musicians during the day, and well into the evening, and it looks out across the rest of the city. We were actually in the elevator on the way up when it struck twelve. Once everyone made it up, they broke out the champagne and we gathered on the steps to sing and celebrate.

I loved getting to celebrate with these incredible people! They sure know how to make a girl feel special. However, the most special guests of the evening are not pictured. To the right lounged a very... intoxicated man who insisted on singing with us, loud and off key. He was also convinced that it was Jessica's birthday (whoever that was) and shouted it out whenever the song was sung. The second featured artist was an Asian man in full-out Japanese warrior garb with a guitar in tow. He serenaded me with a unique version of Happy Birthday, and Bailey sounded far more like Pei-Wei than anything else. It became my nickname for the rest of the trip. I still have several friends that call me Pei-Wei to this day, thanks to him. He also did a particularly lively rendition of Pretty Woman and would not leave our group for quite some time. 

These girls were definitely my traveling buddies on this trip. From exploring Versailles to gelato-hopping in Paris (and flagging down our favorite crepe maker, crying out in the street when he closed his doors just as we approached... surprise, us theatre majors are a tad bit dramatic...) Kelsey, Samantha and Courtney made everything 10 times more fun. I could not have asked for a better bunch to celebrate with. 

We wandered around the Basilica, singing and being the typical tourists that we were, and may or may not have trespassed a little to get these shots (you can faintly make out the Eiffel Tower in the background, just above Kelsey's head). But our late night meant we missed the last train to our hotel, so the fourteen of us paraded across Paris at 1:00 in the morning, only adding to the adventure.

After a few hours of glorious sleep, my birthday continued with a trip to the Louvre. I mean come on! How much better does it get?! Well, actually, it gets even better a few hours later. The Louvre was INCREDIBLE! I could have spent a week there alone! I waded through the hundreds of tourists with Brian and ZJ, hitting the hot spots including the Mona Lisa and the Egyptian artifacts. One of the best decisions our professors made was the museum pass they purchased. It gave us a chance to pop in and out of dozens of museums any time we wanted during our 8 day stay. It is definitely on my must-have list for next time I go. And trust me, there will be a next time ;)

The Louvre was followed by a trip to the Musee de l'Orangerie, which is just across the courtyard. I popped in my headphones to some of my favorite movie scores and moved through the galleries on my own this time. It was one of the most memorable experiences of the trip. The Lord speaks in mysterious ways, and looking at the stunning water lilies painted by Claude Monet gave me so many new dreams and revelations about things the Lord was teaching me during that time. I didn't want to leave. 

Eventually the rest of the group appeared and we decided it was time to head to --oh yes!-- the Eiffel Tower. I told you, the day just kept getting better and better! We made our way across town only to discover there was a 2 hour wait for the elevator to the top. The stairs to the second level, of course, had no such line. We chose the stairs, and 500 steps later regretted the decision. It was actually 700 steps to the second level, and by golly we made it, but only after a break on level 1. Once you're on the second tier you can hop onto the elevator to the very top, but Brian and I were hesitant. We're not the biggest fan of heights.

Thankfully someone talked us into it, and though I was shaking and quaking I agreed. We squeezed onto the tiny top level with dozens of other tourists, carefully peering through the fencing to look out over the city. It was breathtaking. 

Perhaps the funniest moment of the trip took place moments after we made it to the top. Brian had been joking that he wanted to stage a proposal, just to see what the tourists would do. We thought he was going to do it to Kelsey or Courtney, but one moment we were rounding a corner and the next he turned to my friend Kim, who was totally unsuspecting, and got down on one knee. She immediately started laughing and freaking out, which to any passers-by looked like a normal reaction to a proposal. The rest of us were dying laughing and cheering, really playing up the scene, our cameras out and everything. Kim was laughing so hard she started crying, again making it the perfect scene for the tourists surrounding us.

Even people we didn't know started taking pictures and cheering! In her hysteria, when Brian asked "Kim, Kimmy Kim, Kim, will you please marry me?" she nodded and everyone let out a shout of joy! There is a video on someone's phone and I really think it needs to reappear somewhere. One of the girls was wearing a fake engagement ring and had given it to Brian, so the scene was complete. 

I have not laughed that hard since. 

We ended the day with dinner at an Italian restaurant nearby, then stopped at a place called Sunset Boulevard near the hotel. They sang to me at least twice (always to Pei-Wei, never more to Bailey), and the day came to a close. Like I said, this was a birthday for the books, and certainly a hard one to top.

What are some of your favorite birthday memories? Any fun travel stories? I can't wait to check them out!

 Blog Everyday in February


  1. Aw I absolutely loved reading this! I'm studying in Paris right now and will turn 21 next month. I'm still trying to figure out what to do but this has given me some good suggestions :)

    1. Definitely go to Versailles if you get the chance! It was another favorite stop on my trip.

  2. Replies
    1. It was such a blessing to be there with friends, for sure!

  3. The staged proposal is hilarious! What a great way to spend your 21st bday!

    1. I wish you could have seen it! I was crying I was laughing so hard.

  4. Such fun memories to have!
    I found your blog through the #shereadstruth on Instagram.....yay for new blogs to follow!

    1. Also- I went ahead and put your button up on my blog!
      This week I am doing a series on Agape Love in honor of Valentine's week- highlighting incredible stories of selfless and sacrificial love.....check it out if you have time!

  5. what an incredible story of how to spend your 21st birthday. i want to go to paris so badly!