Almost five years ago, I traveled to Paris for the first time. I was twenty-years old, bright-eyed, naive, and beyond excited to be abroad and traveling. Surprisingly, I remember a lot from my first trip to Paris. It was a whirlwind of a weekend: it started when I got soaked to the bone on the way to the bus station in Sevilla, Spain, spent a sleepless night in the Madrid airport, and upon arrival in Paris, I ate the best croissant of my life. It ended with another sleepless night in a Paris cafe, divulging secrets and gossip while going round for round of coffee and dessert until it was time to get a cab to the airport. It will always be a weekend that I remember fondly, the weekend where I absolutely fell in love with Paris, and the weekend I tried Nutella for the first time. Five years later, I am a very different person. Aside from some obvious physical changes and the fact that I can now drink legally, it is really amazing to think back and reflect on how I have grown and changed as a person since my last Parisian rendezvous.
This weekend, I may have been visiting the same places I did five years ago, but I was seeing the city from a completely different perspective. These days I am certainly a more experienced traveler. Although, sometimes, I long for flurry of emotion, anticipation, and trepidation that I used to associate with traveling, now, I have much more energy to appreciate the characteristics of the culture and just embrace the subtle charm of the unknown. Instead of being in absolute awe of the regal architecture of Paris, being intimidated and slightly bemused by the language barrier, and concerned about getting from point A to point B, I am much more capable of embracing the differences and difficulties of being in a foreign city and enjoying the diversity. Don’t get me wrong, traveling foreign places is still exciting for me. If you haven’t noticed, I kind of love to travel, but lately, it has taken on a completely new dimension for me. I have reached this place where my traveling anxiety is minimal, and I can focus on just enjoying the journey and drinking copious amounts of coffee.
Two moments really stood out for me this weekend. In a small, French cafe, with a view of the Louvre, my traveling companions and I found ourselves in the company of an old French man and his Columbian wife. There was an obvious language barrier, but the message the couple left us with was clear. The old man wasn’t shy about the fact that he and his partner had been in love for thirty years, and as he left, he reiterated: “don’t forget, thirty years of love.” His wife then proceeded to make a wave motion with her hand – up and down, up and down. It was just one of those moments in life that was really touching; one of those moments that you take to heart, and it makes you believe in Prince Charming, fairytales endings, and the idea that maybe life as an adult doesn’t have to be all that bad. It seemed incredibly fitting for my life at the moment.
Moment two was on Sunday morning while my friend Mal was searching for a souvenir. When investigating the goods in an open-aired shop along a main street, the song Danza Kuduro started playing over the store’s loudspeaker. You should know that Danza Kuduro is one of my favorite songs in the entire universe, and when I hear it, I have dance. I don’t really have control over it; my body just starts to move. And in this souvenir shop, I started to shake my shoulders a little bit, the shop owner caught my eyes, cranked up the music, and started dancing with me in the store. My two traveling companions joined in, and for a second, we were all completely in the moment and thrilled to be sharing a fun, silly, and carefree moment. People walking by were laughing and pointing, and I was just happy to be sharing my love for dancing and Danza Kuduro (please click and dance). This moment by far made me day.
On that note, I thought I would post a few of my favorite pictures from the weekend.
Avoiding the brutal cold from the glorious, warmth of the Louvre.
Were you worried there wouldn’t be some pictures of food?
Arc d’ Triomphe.
Best. Chocolate. Cake. Ever.
Incredible and edible.
The obligatory – Tour Eifflel.