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Irish Abroad In France: Paris, Part II

June 22, 2016

Editor’s Note: From June 3-13, 2016, the University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team traveled to France and Monaco for its foreign tour. Four Irish student-athletes have submitted blogs detailing the trip from Monaco to Nice to Avignon to Paris. The final entry by senior midfielder/forward Rilka Noel recaps the team’s last days in Paris. To read the first account of the team’s visit to Monaco and Nice by Taylor Klawunder, click here. For Lexi Nicholas’ blog from Avignon, click here. For Emily Geyer’s recap of the team’s match against Paris Saint-Germain, click here.

By Rilka Noel ’17

Photo Gallery

One of our last days in Paris was spent in Montmartre, a neighborhood that is quintessentially Parisian. When you think of Paris, images of artists on the street selling their paintings, bustling cafés and quaint street corners fill your head. That is what Montmartre is. In the 18e Arrondissement, it’s seated on a hilltop overlooking all of Paris. We went at dusk when the light washed over the buildings beautifully and you could simply bask in the energy surrounding the neighborhood.

The team poses in front of Sacre Coeur in Montmartre.

The team poses in front of Sacre Coeur in Montmartre.

When we arrived, Karin Muya, Cindy Pineda and I took advantage of the calm vibes of Montmartre. We grabbed some crepes and gelato and sat in a stairwell and watched the sunset while telling jokes and stories. Those small moments were what we all loved and took advantage of the most, especially on those last days – not having any cell phone reception and being able to truly enjoy each other’s company and the beauty the city had to offer. This may sound super cheesy, but it made me appreciate each second I spent with my teammates and it made me remember the smallest details about the city.

After our free time in Montmartre ended, we walked to our bus to visit the Eiffel Tower. Everyone was especially excited because it wasn’t just the Eiffel Tower – it was the Eiffel Tower at night. And since the European Championships are going on, the Eiffel Tower was decorated with a soccer ball and special lights to honor the 24 teams competing in the tournament. Once we finished taking classic tourist photos with the tower in the background, Katie Uhler, Paige Crowley, Karin and I sat in the grass with hundreds of other people – Parisians and tourists alike – and reveled in the dazzling light show that sparkled from the Eiffel Tower. Reds, blues, whites and greens lit the tower up as we watched in amazement. When people were telling us that the Eiffel Tower sparkled at night, I was expecting the typical yellow-gold lights that I’ve seen in movies, but these colors were a once in a lifetime spectacle specifically for the Euro Cup. The four of us were silently watching and building up our enthusiasm for the Euro Cup game we would attend the next day.

We arrived at the Parc des Princes stadium for the Turkey vs. Croatia match on Sunday, June 12. Surrounding the stadium before the match were street performers and a drum line. The energy was electrifying – an environment that you can only find in Europe for a soccer game. We broke off into groups for the game and I sat with Kaleigh Olmsted, Karin and Cindy a section with majority Turkish fans. Turkey was definitely the underdog of the day, but their fan section said otherwise. The Turkish fan presence was overwhelming and their chants took over any other sound during the match. The first and only goal of match was scored right before halftime by Real Madrid and Croatia player Luka ModriÔ‡ right. The volley came as a surprise and a disappointment for Kaleigh, Karin, Cindy and I as we had adopted the cheers of the rest of the Turkish fans surrounding us. Although Turkey had some good chances to respond, they could not capitalize and Croatia took the game.

Our last dinner together after the game was at a fondue restaurant – how French! The dishes were served family-style, which was very appropriate for sharing our last meal. It was nice to be able to relax, eat, laugh and have our tour guides Casey Feucht and Kelly Lanter reminisce on our travels. We made toasts and gave thanks to a successful trip. After dinner, our festivities continued with impromptu karaoke on the bus and an all-night get-together in one of our hotel rooms. We didn’t want our time together to end.

Leaving Paris the following morning, I remember thinking about a really sappy quote from The Office, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” On the bus ride to the airport, I forced my brain to remind itself that these are the good old days and all the moments we spent together in France and as a team in general will forever be the good old days. I told you it was a sappy quote, but appropriate nonetheless. Ãâ’¬ bientôt!