Our last day in Europe served up a healthy mix of typical tourist activities and the unexpected. The former presented itself earlier on as we explored Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower.
Notre Dame was par for the course, with Mike trailing behind me with his GoPro while I walked through the massive building, taking in the grand architecture of the iconic monument.
I looked forward to the Eiffel Tower in particular, because I’d only ever been to the second level. Ascending the entire thing was completely new for me, and we braved some bitter cold to relish the views of Paris once we topped the tower. Naturally, we enjoyed an expensive, low-quality hot chocolate after snapping some photos.
After catching the elevator back to the second level, we opted to take the stairs back to the ground. During that journey, I tested Mike on the pronunciation of the various places we visited. A terrible idea, looking back, because I butchered many myself. Oh well!
After navigating Paris public transit and arriving back at our hotel, we changed and had a delicious meal at a gorgeous restaurant. I can’t even remember what we ate, but I remember the place embodying my imagination of a Paris restaurant, and the food matched. From there, we ventured to the Moulin Rouge for our last Paris excursion.
The Moulin Rouge packed us in to the max. We were squished together with an English couple who Mike quickly chatted up, and we shared close quarters with a French couple who couldn’t possibly have been more disinterested in us. The show began and it was absolutely crazy.
Performers jumped onto the stage in elaborate and flashy costumes. Some semblance of a story made its way to us, but the songs (all lip-synced) were in French, of course. Our blissful ignorance added to the fantasy of the performance, with gargantuan dance spectacles dominating the stage. In between those numbers, there were smaller performers. The first, a pair of hand balancing acrobats, absolutely astonished. The second, a juggler, blew our minds with tricks involving a drumset, his mouth, and some ping pong balls. A ventriloquist humored us with a few English jokes, some gymnast flipped all over the stage, and a lady swam in a tank full of live snakes. That last one was mostly lost on us, but overall, the experience was captivating. Mike, who had never seen a cabaret, repeatedly talked about how amazing it was and asked me many times “Dude, do they have cabernets in America.” Despite my explanation that a cabaret is not a type of wine, he stuck firmly to his method of pronunciation.
The Moulin Rouge blew our expectations out of the water, and we talked about it for two hours before falling asleep. And just like that, our adventures in Europe ended. We caught our airport shuttle and flew back to the states with two weeks of wonder in tow.