After guzzling pilsner in Prague, ingesting an obscene amount of, well, everything in Italy, and celebrating a multi-cultural Thanksgiving in Barcelona, I will reach the pinnacle of my Go with Oh journey in Paris.
Ahhhh…Paris…Doesn’t the name alone just make you smile? I’ve wanted to visit the City of Light for the better part of my life. Actually, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to go to Paris. I’m still not sure how one of the world’s most popular destinations has alluded me for this long. No matter. I’m about to rectify this travesty.
I specifically chose Paris as my last destination. Of course one could say, “Oh, you’re saving the best for last, right?” Well, since I’ve never actually been, I’m not sure that it is the best. I can’t be certain that Paris is as wonderful as I’ve built it up to be in my mind.
No, I chose Paris to be last because I’m dying to see the city adorned for Christmas. I want to see the store windows and the glorious Parisian hotel lobbies just as much as I want to see Notre Dame. I know it may seem silly, but I love Christmas. There are four cities that I’ve always wanted to visit during the holiday season: New York, London, Paris, and Rome. I’ve done Rome, and I’m going to get to mark London and Paris off my list with this trip. The thought makes me beyond excited.
I’m not going to spend all ten days roaming various Paris hotels, streets, and storefronts looking at Christmas decorations. I’ll also experience all the standard stuff. My travel partner-in-crime, Lola, has done Paris on numerous occasions, but she’s more than happy to do all the typical tourist stops with me again. Now, she may be in Marie Antoinette costume and bombed on Champagne, but you take the good with the crazy with her.
The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, a cruise on the Seine, Champs Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, and a train to Versailles are all high on my priority list. However, I’m not excited about doing any one thing more than the other. More than anything, I want to simply experience the city, and I don’t think that standing in line to see the Mona Lisa with a family from Lincoln, Nebraska will give me that.
I want to walk the streets and stumble upon little cafes tucked into secret alleyways. Scouring the antique markets for a buried treasure to take home is what really excites me. I’m going to retrace the steps of literary giants like Hemingway and drink martinis in his old haunts. Walking into the flagship stores of the most famous fashion houses in the world will set my heart aflutter. Tasting and learning about the best wines and Champagnes will be both tasty and educational. Yeah, all that tourist stuff that makes Paris a popular destination will be done, but waiting with Parisians for the best pain au chocolat and macaroons in the city is what will get me going.
It’s not just my gluttonous nature that will be satisfied. I’m going to experience the seedy Paris, not just the parts that tourists see. I want to get inside of the city and find out what it’s truly like instead of simply what the postcards show.
I’m sure that I’ll buy souvenirs, although the ultimate token of not only the Parisian leg, but of the entire trip, will be the memories I take with me. The silly photos and videos that will no doubt be taken with Lola will serve as reminders of my time in Paris. Rereading the words I’ll write will instantly take me back to the sights, sounds, emotions, and tastes of the City of Light.
My wish is to not only have a grand time with my very good friend, but I want to also squeeze every bit of joy, culture, history, and possibilities out of this trip. What I expect of myself is to live in the moment. Perhaps this journey is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but I sure hope not. I expect grand things from here on out; this is simply the beginning. Perhaps the most exciting and scary part is that I have no idea what lies ahead, and that’s perfectly ok.
Like Sinatra sang, that’s life!
All of these wonderful photos are by my friends, Graham and Becky, the husband and wife behind Global Grasshopper. Check out their fantastic site.