My solo day started out just like any other morning in Paris: breakfast at the hotel with everyone and then heading over to the Metro station. The solo officially started there (supposedly), but since some of our destinations require getting on the same line, my solo didn't officially start until a couple of stations later, at Concorde. That was where I switched to a different line to get to the Hôtel Nationale des Invalides/Musée de l'Armée, which was the museum of Napoleon's army and tomb. Upon witnessing the sight of the museum, I was incredibly overwhelmed by the massive size of the monument. I already knew it was big when I was planning my day, but seeing it took my experience to a whole new level. I think this monument might even stretch out to be longer than the US Capitol, from the front view. There is a main building in the middle with a colossal dome sitting on top, with glorious golden shiny rims around the top of it. The monument had shorter buildings on either side and the back that serve as different wings of the museum. So I entered the one with Napoleon's army first. It didn't showcase his army like the name said, but it showcased every single type of armour and weapon possible. There were full body armours, half armours, juvenile armours, kids' armours, helmets, swords, shields, daggers, spears, and many more. There was even a statue of an armoured horse and his fully-armoured knight on top, which I really liked to look at.
I then left the army wing and went to the monument under the dome to look at Napoleon's tomb. It was located at the bottom floor. A wooden tomb put aboveground, it was protected in a circle that visitors cannot enter. The inside of the dome was beautiful. Lie the ceilings of many important monment in Paris, the dome was decorated with paintings that have a certain religious feeling to it, or maybe that's just me.
So after my visit, I decided to have lunch at the museum's restaurant. I had a salade Niçoise, it was delicious!
So after lunch, I headed over to the Eiffel Tower, which was about a 10-minute walk. It was definitely a much shorter and easier walk than the one I took from Galeries Lafayette to Champs Élysées the day before. As I approached the towering monument, I had to tilt my head back more and more in order to see the top. There was a sea of people at the bottom of the tower as well as around the general area, but not as bad as the crowd at the Notre Dame Cathedral. I quickly recorded the memorable experience of being here by sketching the tower at the bottom.
Before I knew it, it was already 2:30pm, so I decided to see the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Looking on the map, I noticed another church that's conveniently located at the Metro station where I needed to switch lines to get to the Basilica. This chuch was the Madeleine Church. So I went there and visited the church that has a relic of Mary Magdalene. Again, that familiar church smell swept past my nose as the resemblance in structure between French and Vietnamese churches made me feel at peace and at home. I observed the quiet atmosphere of prayers and visitors snapping away at the beauty of the church. on the side was a table of lighted candles presented in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary. So I decided to light a candle, put it on the table among others, sat down and said some prayers for myself and my family.
Time was ticking away, and I had to leave for the Basilica. Rushing through people and trains and roads made me wish I spent a little less time at the Eiffel Tower so that I can spend more time praying. I made it to the Basilica right before 4 o'clock (I think). I arrived there breathing heavily from the long winded, spiral staircase at the Abbesses Metro station. But as soon as I got to the Basilica, the breathtaking view of the massive Church with a magnificent dome sitting atop flights after flights after flights of stairs cleared out my feelings of fatigue. Determined to enter one of the most significant monuments of my faith, I sprinted up the stairs as fast as I could; I sprinted like there's no tomorrow. I got up there, entered the holy house of God, and was immediately swept away by the huge painting of Godly Jesus on the ceiing. There were definitely more people here, but I still managed to have some peace and quiet to say some prayers. Sadly, I had to leave soon to get back to the hotel.
On the train/subway back to the hotel, I thought to myself, wow I had a very successful solo day, I didn't get lost at all! That thought soon got wavered when I arrived at Gare de Lyon and had no idea which exit to take. I went out a random exit and panicked because I didn't know what direction to take to the hotel. So after some phone calls, I finally found my way and reunited with everyone. I feel ridiculous when I realized that I didn't get lost in the city but I got lost right at the hotel. So that was my solo day.