Mont Saint Michel

Actual Date: March 15th, 2012

Our time in Caen has come to an end. We packed our bags, loaded the coach and headed to Mount-Saint Michel. I’d never heard of the place before and did not know what to expect.

I slept the whole way there and unfortunately missed all the gorgeous sheep that were farmed on the fields surrounding Mount-Saint Michel. And then we finally arrived, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. From far off it looked like a picture straight out of a fantasy graphic novel. When I read the schedule, I was definitely not expecting to see something this beautiful. It definitely challenged St. Paul’s and the American cemetery in its level of impressiveness.

As we got closer and closer, my heart started to race. It was an island with a giant castle on top! I would’ve went insane to have just seen a model like this, but to see it in full size was impeccable! I felt like I was in a Hayao Miyazaki movie, and the structure looked like it was straight out of Castle in the Sky, one of his most famous movies. With the abundance of Japanese tourists that occupied the place, it was highly possible that it might’ve been the inspiration behind one of the most influential animated masterpieces in Japanese cinema. I was overcome with nostalgia and excitement to see what’s inside.

The guide slowly lead us toward the center of the island where the monastery stood at the highest point, passing by the most compact and adorable shops and the narrowest alleyways I’ve ever seen. I felt like magic should exist in a place so mystical. The guide took us all around, through the kitchens, diners, lobbies, churches that were present for the two hundred people that once called this place home. Now it only houses twenty people, the guide said, and only one of them is a new born child. Despite its beauty, I can understand how it may not be the best imaginable place to live considering its seclusion from urbanization and its scarce resources.

We ate at a small place on the hill, avoiding the expensive restaurants that apparently averaged thirty dollars a meal. It was the most narrow eatery I’ve ever been, one side occupied by the bar and kitchen and the other by a line of stools and a narrow table. A spiral staircase in the corner led to its restroom and apparently where the owner of the place actually lived. I ordered a Croque Monsieur, which was basically a grilled cheese sandwich with ham in it. In a place this small, it was no wonder the only food they could make were sandwiches and small pan pizzas.

Sitting next to us at the bar by the window was a man who spoke perfect English, and he invited himself into our conversation. When we explained where we were from, and he realized that he knew of our professor because his mother was the usual tour guide for our group. What are the odds! As a guide for the island himself, he started sharing more even more historic details about the place than our own guide included. He then shared that he was once just a security guard, but changed his occupation to a tour guide because it was something he felt much more compassionate about. He’d majored in history in University of Caen and it has always been a huge interest of his. He is married to a Chinese woman and they have a place in Caen. He said he does not like the rush of Paris and absolutely loves the downsized, casual aura about Caen.

Refreshed by the great conversation, we hopped back on the coach and headed for Paris, a whopping five hour ride. The view of Mont-Saint Michel was unfortunately fogged over. I yearned so much to be able to take a second look at the amazing beauty.

We arrived in Paris at sunset, and we all jumped off our seats when the Eiffel Tower showed up on the horizon. We could not wait to see more.

Unfortunately the traffic within Paris was horrendous. It took us around an hour just to get to our hotel, and by then we were late for the group dinner scheduled for us. We had to ride the Paris metro to get to the restaurant due to local laws that limited the amount of time coach drivers could drive, but we arrived eventually safe and sound after dodging some drunk crazy people on the way.

Dinner was great despite the mediocre meal. The waiter was very flirtatious and friendly, as usual, and seemed to pay special attention to Lisa.

We wanted to see the night scenes of Paris considering we were already all slept out by the long coach ride. Instead of scurrying home like a lot of our members, we stayed and visited the Eiffel Tower. It was beautifully lit, and we were surprised by their hourly light show which sparkled the whole tower. All of us single people suddenly became incredibly jealous of all the couples around us and yearned for a better half. This is the city of love, and everyone seemed to be holding hands. In a city this beautiful, how can you NOT fall in love?

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