It Rained the Day I Left Paris
Leah Walker December 6, 2012

Grey. Bleak. Sad. The weather of my last day in Paris matched my mood. How apropos.

Paris_Landscape

My alarm rattled me out of bed far too soon. It took a minute for it all to sink in. I wasn’t going to the café down the street for my morning coffee nor did I have something fabulous planned that would have me springing from my warm, comfy bed. I pried my sleepy eyes open and saw mostly-packed suitcases littered throughout my Go with Oh studio apartment. Coats, shoes, and scraps of paper—most of which were mementos from the bars and restaurants I’d visited in the last ten days. I’d stayed up late packing the night before, but just couldn’t bring myself to finish. That would signify the end, and I wasn’t ready for that yet.

Paris_Cry

One would think I‘d be used to packing up and leaving by now. In this month alone, I did it nine times with Paris being the tenth and final. Each time I packed and lugged my over-stuffed suitcase to an airport or train station I was sad to leave. Everywhere I visited was special for one reason or another. Not one place did I say to myself, “NEXT!” I was always left with a longing to experience more.

I had the pleasure of visiting some of the most beautiful and historically significant cities in the world. I saw a lot of really old stuff. I caught my first glimpse of the Alps. I drove through the rolling hills of Tuscany and Umbria and then snaked my way around the tricky Amalfi Coast roads. I tasted food that I’d never heard of. I drank wine. Lots and lots of wine. Apart from staying longer, there is not one single thing about these last thirty days that I ‘d change.

It was perfection.

Paris_Arc de Triomphe

“What’s been your favorite part of the trip?”

Friends, family, followers, fans, and strangers have all posed that question countless times. It’s something that I pondered each night before falling asleep. I know most would think I’d proclaim that strolling the streets of Prague or seeing David in Florence would be my pick. Perhaps hiking Mt Vesuvius or visiting the ancient city of Orvieto or Pompeii was my favorite. Maybe having the Sagrada Familia at my fingertips in Barcelona or finally laying eyes on the Eiffel Tower in Paris would be the ultimate for me. I know people expect something definitive, but I can’t give that sort of answer–one that can be easily pinned on a map.

The best part of these last thirty days was not a landmark, a city, or a country. Instead, it was the people I met along the way. I’m not exaggerating when I say that every single person I encountered was genuinely kind. It’s sad to say, but I was taken aback by this fact. After all, I wasn’t in small-town Texas where people wave at each other when driving down the dirt roads. I was in giant cities where tourists often outnumber the locals.

A stranger bought me a subway ticket in Paris when I couldn’t get my card to work. Two different budget airline employees let me slide with extra kilos in baggage. A young man helped me with my giant luggage in Naples because he saw me struggling and not because he expected anything in return. The stories of kindness could go on and on. And although these brief encounters left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling, it was the people that I spent more significant time with that truly made this trip so spectacular.

London_Rolls
Who needs a cab in London when you have the Four Season’s Rolls Royce?
Paris_Tattoo
How about Barnaby, the American tattoo artist in Paris?
Barcelona_Tgiving
The Go with Oh gang in Barcelona made this trip fabulous.
Paris_Show
Olivier Giraud brought me on stage for “How to Become a Parisian in One Hour.”
Paris_Lionel
Lionel Richie was a lovely dinner host in Paris.
Barcelona_Photoshoot
The talented Eduardo Frances photographed us in Barcelona.
Amalfi_Shot
On the Amalfi Coast, Paschali, opened up his restaurant to me.
Orvieto_Cooks
In Orvieto, I toured an olive oil factory with Ristorante Zepplin interns.
Prague_Marionettes
I was taught the art of marionette making in Prague by a master and his assistant.
Orvieto_Chef
Chef Lorenzo Polegri made Orvieto and my taste buds come alive.
Rome_Gelato
Here’s the happiest gelato store manager in Rome.
Barcelona_W_Bartender
At the W Barcelona, the bartender showed me how to make their signature cocktail.
Rome_PizzaChef
The pizza chef in Rome humored my silliness.
Naples_Guide
Ilaria’s knowledge of Pompeii and the National Museum in Naples was inspiring.
Rome_Food_Tour
A Dutch man giving an Italian food tour in Rome?
Prague_Kieu
After a year of online friendship, I met Gerard and Kieu of GQ Trippin’ in Prague.
Umbria_Farm
The unbelievable woman behind my Tuscan farm stay is Alina.
Paris_Sarah
There is nothing that Go with Oh’s Sara didn’t do for me. I love her!
Paris_Sommelier
The Italian sommelier was so kind at Paris’ George V.
Barcelona_Flamenco
How could I forget the patience and talent of my flamenco instructor in Barcelona?
Barcelona_Superman
Superman lives in Barcelona and his real name is Arno.
Amalfi_Enzo
Oh, my darling Enzo, the best guide in Amalfi.
London_BBC
Paul, a Senior Producer at BBC, gave me a tour of the new headquarters.
Milan_Shopping
Milan shopping insider, Melanie, took me to a showroom and a private shoe sale.
London_Bartender
The mix-master at the Four Seasons in London is a genius.
Barcelona_T_Giving_Collage
So many from all over came together in Barcelona to help me celebrate Thanksgiving.
Florence_Bartender
Luca, Italy’s 2012 Bartender of the Year, was gracious at the Four Seasons Florence.
Paris_LV
What’s not to love about Kevin, a personal shopper at Louis Vuitton in Paris?
Barcelona_Bartender
The bartender at Elephanta in Barcelona taught me how to make gin and tonics.

This is just a sampling of the people who I encountered over this past month. Each person gave me their most valuable resource…time. I’m grateful for the laughter shared, knowledge imparted, and friendships made.

Extraordinary doesn’t begin to describe this month. Unbelievable doesn’t even come close. Often times it’s not the places we go, but instead the people we encounter along the way. I was fortunate to visit awe-inspiring places and meet kind and fascinating people while there.

On the day I left Paris it rained.

John Updike said,“Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain there would be no life.” I think that’s just a fancy way of saying that without rain there would be no rainbows, blooming flowers, or green grass.

I have to take the good with the bad.

So I had to leave Europe. At least I got to go in the first place. In order for a new adventure to begin the current one must end. Mine ended on a rainy morning in Paris. Perhaps I’ll return in the spring to find a rainbow, tulips in bloom, and the lushest grass I’ve ever seen. And I hope to do it with Lola, the absolute best part of my trip.

Leah Walker

Leah has a marketing management company specializing in strategy, content creation and implementation for luxury brands and destinations. She's also a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. Leah documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. She sometimes freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, USA Today 10 Best, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel and wine ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's lived in Paris for four years, and was awarded additional time with a Passeport Talent visa renewal. Though, her talent for speaking French is abysmal.

54 Comments

  1. Awsome post!!! I can’t wait to follow in your footsteps and hopefully gather some new info for your next venture back to France and Italy!
    You gals sure had Texas size fun!
    Xo,
    Priscilla

    1. Thanks, Priscilla. You offered some invaluable advice on the City of Light. I especially loved the lock suggestion. I can’t wait to see your Paris trip in January.

  2. This is depressing. Is it bad that I am feeling the affects of the post-travel blues for you? I could barely read this and I felt my eyes welling up as I looked through your photos. Enzo! Your post about him was my favorite. I truly feel as though I have taken this journey with you. Thank you for sharing all of these beautiful memories with us. I look forward to future ones, Leah! xx

    1. Oh, I’m sorry that I’ve given you the post-travel blues! However, I am grateful that you’ve followed along. There are many more adventures to come, and I do hope you’ll be with me on those as well.

  3. I loved following your adventure. What a perfect post to say goodbye. You guys both met some fantastic people. No doubt they had such a huge impact on your time in Europe. It is also a tribute to you Leah – you have such a great attitude in life and I am sure your new found friends enjoyed their time with you! Looking forward to hearing more of your travels.
    But remember, with Europe…it is never goodbye. With so many great expressions to say see you later…I am sure you will be back!

    1. What a kind thing to say about me, Anita. I thank you very much. I look forward to seeing all of my newly-found friends again. I just hope I can bottle the magic that first brought us together.

  4. What a great reflection of your last month. Leah, such a pleasure to be apart of your European experience! It was so fun getting to meet you and Lola. Wishing you all the best, and hopefully we’ll meet again- maybe stateside?! 🙂

    1. Loved meeting you as well, Allison. If you’re still in Barcelona in March I’d love to see you for a drink and some tapas!

    1. You’re welcome, Fiona. Thank you so much for following along. I hope to add you to my list of wonderful people I’ve met while traveling. Dublin for TBEX perhaps?

  5. OMG, I loved following you and Lola on this trip – you guys had sooooooo much fun! And I loved that you came to the English countryside to see me and Mr. O. It was wayyyy to fast. Europe misses you two already – and a little bird told me that in a little over a month that will happen? In the meantime, I am packing my bags (and taking some empties) and will go all the way to Texas to see your part of the world.

    Leah and Lola are definitely going places. And I am delighted to be a part of your journey.

    1. You know we had fun more than anyone else! Part of what made it great was seeing you and meeting all your lovely friends. I’m so grateful that travel brought you into my crazy life. I’ll see you very soon, my dear friend.

  6. What a beautiful recap of your journey Leah!

    The sights, the stories but most importantly the people you met make it all truly unforgettable!

    Seeing you cry on that pic made me cry too. Cause how can you leave and go back to the other side of the world? It’s like something dear is taken away and it hurts ;(

    Anyway, we can all take comfort in the fact that you’ll return soon 😉

    Thank you for sharing your adventures with Lola! Had fun reading them 😉

    All the best!

    Kay 😉

    1. I bawled like a baby. I still do if I think about it too much. What an extraordinary 30 days. Thank you for your wonderful comment and for following along throughout the journey. And, yes, I will return soon. In January I’m off to Switzerland with Lola and Mrs O! Now, that brings a smile back to my sad face.

  7. i agree that it’s the people you meet that make this world such a special place. i wouldn’t change a thing about our trip either. i only wish we could have bottled up our evening laughter after each wonderful day. Europe may miss us but i can guarantee i miss you WAY MORE!

    love you always my travel partner in crime! xo – LOLA

    1. In all the amazing moments we shared, the best probably were the ones reflecting on our day before falling asleep. It would take a giant bottle to contain all that laughter. I miss you, my friend.

  8. AMEN!! AMEN! AMEN!! If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times – your best travel memories are not the places you go or the things you see. They are the people you meet! That is really a thing on my blog. I’ve probably bludgeoned people over the head with that message. However, it really is true. The greatest thing about a trip like this is new friends and new memories that will mean so much more to you than that photo of the Eiffel Tower.

    With that said, I’ve come to appreciate the rain a little more lately. Rain on your last day seems appropriate and I’ve learned to embrace rainy days a little more than I used to when I travel.

    1. Exactly, Jeremy. Although the pictures from the Eiffel Tower are special, it’s not because of the structure. It symbolizes the day I had with the people I enjoy being with most. I know you get that as you write about this sort of thing on your site often. And, yes, the rain is often something to embrace rather than run from.

    1. I loved getting the chance to finally meet you and Kieu. And what a special time to do it…hello, engagement! I’m so happy for y’all. You two were the best part of Prague. Period.

  9. Leah I would lie to tell you I didn`t shed a tear when seeing the photo where you have your hands in your face and after reading your blog entry.

    As I told you both: Europe loves you an yearns for your return, we were nice to you gals because you are amazing and you exuded happiness and it was so contagious that even today we still carry it with the memory of you both with joy

    We will be anxiously waiting for your return girls.

    A big hug from Barcelona for you!

    1. “You exuded happiness”

      Reading that makes me even more happy! In the moment I knew what I was experienceing was special. It wasn’t until I got home and had time to reflect did I realize it was magical. You were certainly part of that magic.

  10. I followed you two all the way through and I’m exhausted for you! You gals looked like you had the BEST time and thank you for sharing all of your amazing memories and challenges…ah, how about the one in Florence? You girls rock! One thing I completely missed… what was with Lionel? I love him!!!

    1. Thank you so much for following along! It wouldn’t have been nearly as special had we not had the feedback from people like you. Oh, and Florence? Haha…I’m still getting razzed about that one 😉 Oh well.

      1. LOL, I wish I was there that day, I tweeted about the event first thing that morning, but was in meetings. Oh well! I’m glad you gals were there to see it. Must have been kinda cool.

        1. Yes, it was cool. I got some great photos of the crowd and will write about it one day. Thanks for the suggestion even though I caught a bit of heat from it. Oh well…closed minded people don’t deserve my time.

      1. I love the Latina passion in your comment, Maria! I’m so glad we made you smile. That was our whole purpose with all the photos…to make people smile as much as we were. I’ll see you soon!

  11. What a cool adventure! It’s so often true that the people end up being the best thing about traveling, especially when you’re in a place that’s out of your comfort zone.

    1. People are people no matter the language they speak. I was fortunate to encounter some amazing people along the way. Had I not had them this trip wouldn’t have been as good.

  12. Did you get a tattoo in Paris?! It sounds like such a wonderful trip, any one of these people and experiences would have been fun, but all together it must have been magic.

    1. I did get a tatto in Paris. It was always in the plans, so totally not a spur-of-the-moment deal. I think you hit the nail on the head. It was “magic”.

    1. Thank you, Angela. I loved sharing my trip with all these people and am happy to be able to look back on the photos with fond memories.

  13. What a lovely, LOVELY post, Leah!!! It’s wonderful that despite all the great places and things you’ve seen and done, you value the people you met. It seems like you had an amazing time, judging by so many faces in this post.

  14. You are definitely right about people. They are the best part of my travel experiences (with food usually coming in at number 2). People are generally pretty great in mosts places.

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