Hi Mom & Dad,
I know you haven't heard from me by telephone for a few days, but everything is fine. We arrived in Paris on Thursday. Our hotel has only a telephone downstairs (not all of the hotels are like this though) and for some reason Paris has made it so difficult to make a simple phone call without using a credit card (which I'm not comfortable doing because there's no English explaining what I'm doing. If you don't speak French here, too bad. Unlike America there's no push 1) for French 2)for English 3) for Spanish, etc.). They are quite accommodating to a certain extent.
If you've tried to call me, I know it's been difficult because I don't think they (the hotel clerks) would be able to find me to let me know you've called because we're gone all of the time. We're averaging only a few hours of sleep a night. Our entire days are solid. It's crazy! Anyway, don't worry about me (if you have been). I will contact you when we arrive back in Holland on Sunday. I am emailing from an Internet Cafe down the street from the Moulin Rouge and Montemartre.
To all, Paris has been a blast. Like I always told people, Paris was never a big deal to me, as my dream has always been to go to Italy. But last night, I cried at the sight of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and D'Arc of the Triomphe in the clear night sky. This definitely is the city of lights. Amazingly beautiful. I have been in awe of the whole city. Now I see why people in The Hague and Delft find it necessary to visit Paris, because Paris is in a whole new category. I couldn't imagine anywhere being more fast pace, old, and more beautiful than The Hague (Ole, green Karen here). I no longer consider the French arrogant. They've got all the right in the world to brag.
We've been traveling with the same group since we left. They all speak Dutch. I am the only American and English speaker on board. The entire trip is conducted in Dutch and occasionally I get to hear an English word now and then. But it is forcing me to really listen to Dutch (No Choice!) so I am learning it a little better and becoming confident in what I've learn. Luckily, a lot of the Dutch speak English but it has gotten really old having to ask people to translate all the fun and laugher to me (even poor Simon). And the French, I find quite of few of them speak little or no English. I have yet to run into another American. Canadians, yes, but no Americans. How strange. I feel really left out sometimes and will never come here again before learning a decent amount of the languages. I really didn't think it would be so necessary. But I guess if I came as an American tourist, instead of a "Dutch" tourist, my experience may have been a little different. But no complaints, just a lesson learned to take my desire to learn these languages seriously.
This city is expensive! But I will have to write more about my experience and add the pictures later. Most of the rest of the group is currently at a live French variety show. Simon and I opted out and have been walking the streets like vagabonds waiting to board the bus to go back to the hotel. Then I spotted this cafe.
Mom and Dad, I love you very much and miss you too. I will be in touch soon. Don't worry about me.