Dreams at night revolved around this day. I was not nervous about being high above the clouds. In fact, flying fascinated me. I was highly anticipating the trip that lay ahead. Slowly, my eyes shut and I began drifting into a peaceful slumber. Suddenly a voice on the intercom awoke me:
“Please excuse the high turbulence while we quickly prepare for landing.” My stomach tossed and turned with each jolt of the aircraft. My head was spinning. Sweaty palms clung to the edge of a cushioned seat. Legs ached to roam around on steady ground. Abruptly the pilot caught my attention once more. “We have now reached your destination, Paris, France.”
As the small town art club sauntered off the plane, a putrid smell filled my nostrils. Nonetheless, the thrill was never-ending. Walking towards the bus, my ears picked up bits and pieces of conversation. Three years of French class surprisingly helped me immensely. I could comprehend more of this beautiful romance language than I anticipated.
The tour commenced. I buckled my seat belt and strained my neck to see outside the city limits. I gasped in utter amazement.
Everything was completely miniscule compared to America, such as skyscrapers, smart cars, food portions, and even the citizens whose naturally graceful bodies strolled down the quaint streets.
In the distance I spotted the Eiffel Tower. Realization finally sunk in: “I’m here. In Paris, France. Miles across the sea.” A toothy grin appeared upon my visage.
That week rapidly whizzed by. Our days began with a freshly baked baguette and a cool glass of Orangina. Magalie, our spunky tour guide, led us down to the Metro. We grew accustomed to this source of transportation. The crowded subway took us to places I thought only existed in my dreams.
I had never seen a more magnificent city. We saw art at Le Louvre, Marie Antoinette’s chambers at Versailles, gargoyles at the Notre Dame, shops on the Champs-Elysees, and finally a sparkling Eiffel Tower. I will never forget those spectacular monuments.
My favorite was the Arc de Triumph. I had seen the arc in many movies and photographs, but you do not capture its full glory until you reach the top 284 steps later. From that point every corner of Paris could be observed. Millions of passing cars and dazzling lights illuminated the sinister sky.
Paris is a vast city, and like any city, some images were tough to watch. Poverty stricken civilians stumbled about, hoping for a euro or two. Crowds paced chaotically, lining up at most cafes and shops.
However, unlike most cities, Paris is truly breath taking. It has kept its history yet still feels fresh. The French are proud, humble, and effortlessly chic. Surprisingly the city of lights felt harmless. Trust came without difficulty.
Going to sleep that last night was difficult. I knew we would be departing soon, the trouble was, I was not thrilled to return home.
This experience broadened my horizons. I hope every individual gets the opportunity to visit somewhere outside their country. This world is such a captivating place. My heart burns with a strong to desire to one day return. Paris, je t’aime.
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