This past week I spent my birthday and anniversary with Evan in Paris, France. Paris is by far one of the best experiences I have ever had.
I had never traveled to Europe before, and we choose to go to Paris because a friend of ours is studying abroad there right now. He’s a French citizen and has lived there almost every summer of his life, so his knowledge of the city was immensely helpful.
We spent ten days touring around the city and only left once to see Versailles. Versailles was everything you could have ever imagined it would be, combined with hundreds of tourists all taking photos on their IPads.
When I look back on the trip, it’s really hard for me to find one particular moment that was my favorite. We spent a good deal of time in the Louvre and found a key to the Kaaba in the Islamic Arts section. For Evan and I, this was really exciting because we study Middle Eastern religions quite a bit. At Orsay, we had a really great time looking at all the Van Gogh and Monet paintings.
We also traveled to the cemetery where Chopin and Jim Morrison is buried. When I was younger, I always said it was on my bucket list to see Jim Morrison’s grave because as a twelve year old I thought he was the most attractive man to walk this earth. The graveyard was incredibly difficult to navigate, and after walking for a while we gave up on finding Morrison’s grave and resorted to Google Maps. Oddly enough, google maps directed us along with a group of five or so other tourists who pretended they weren’t following us right to his grave.
One of my favorite places in Paris was this little point on an Island that faced the Pont de l’Archevêché, which is a bridge where couples place locks to display the permanence of their love. From there, we could watch people walking by the streets and on the bridge, and watch boats passing by. One night, we spent a few hours drinking a bottle of wine on the tip of the Island. I was impressed at how we could just sit there for hours without being bothered by other tourists or, luckily for us, police officers. At night, the lights surrounding the bridge lit up the water in such an amazing way that the freezing cold, sharp air couldn’t even bother you.
Most of what I learned during my trip came from my friend who lived there. He tried to give us the perspective of a French citizen while showing us around his home. While many people would naturally get offended by someone cussing at them and being rude, he tried to explain to us that France gets nearly 80,000 tourists a year. As a result, they never have their town to themselves and can sometimes be really rude. We saw this often, especially when we were walking around speaking in English. Our friend, who speaks fluent French, would hear someone say “Stupid Americans” or “Fucking Americans” as they passed by and heard us talking, or if we were waiting in line somewhere he would catch people insulting us in French, unaware of the fact that our friend was French. In one such occasion, we were clamoring through a herd of sassy old women awaiting the changing of the bells outside of Notre Dame. Our friend was smoking a cigarette and accidentally burned a women’s coat, and all the women around him started rather aggressively discussion how he was going to burn them all too.. in French. Finally one said in English “stop smoking, no smoking”, to which he responded in French “no, no, it’s chill, it’s chill”. They weren’t too pleased, but ironically were less rude and upfront with him once they knew he spoke French.
The majority of my bucket list has to do with traveling, and I’m immensely happy that I took one step forwards in finishing this seemingly insurmountable task of traveling to all the places I want to see. This trip in general showed me how much I truly love traveling, and I’m extremely grateful to have that love and desire to travel and see more. I can’t wait to see where my adventures bring me next!