Most high school girls are only able to endure classes the week before spring break with the purchase of bright bikinis and visions of sunny Mexico beaches just a few days away. This year, I, on the other hand, found myself eagerly shopping the rack of drab-colored peacoats at Nordstrom and longing to see perhaps the most famous travel icon in the world. What was the cause of my atypical actions, you might ask? I’d signed up for my school’s spring break trip to Paris and was desperate to jump on the plane and begin my adventure.
“Don’t enjoy the trip through the lens of a camera!” were the last words my mother called to me as I rushed off through security at the DFW airport. I’m amazed I actually remembered them when the plane landed, as my mind had been concerned with whether or not I had liquids over three ounces in my carry-on. My school group gathered its luggage and immediately headed outside for a bus tour through the busy streets of Paris. Each of my classmates began snapping photos through the glass windows as we passed various Parisian landmarks: the towering Arc de Triomphe, the narrow river Seine with its many small boats, and, of course, the Eiffel Tower. Within a half-hour of landing at the Charles de Gaulle airport, my mother’s advice was well-worth remembering. My traveling companions were capturing memories with glares due to unforgiving windows on the bus while I stared awe-struck through the window, recording everything perfectly in my mind.
Although I’d initially been drawn to Paris with the sole desire to see the Eiffel Tower, I quickly realized that the ‘City of Love’ was made of more than just architectural landmarks. The people next to me with cameras were only scraping the surface. Gazing out the window, I not only saw the tourists’ favorites but also the heart of the city: its people. It was incredible to just see the individuals strolling the streets, to imagine their everyday lives in stark contrast with my own. Dark, expensive-looking clothing, sunglasses, fair skin: those who call Paris home have an air of obscurity which intrigued me. A few days later, I would recall with amazement that everyone also appeared slim.
A few friends and I, having stepped off the Metro a stop too soon on our free day, decided to walk down the quaint street before us. The smell of warm bread wafting through the window of a small bakery wrapped around us and pulled us in against our will. Thus far on the trip, I’d eaten with a small calorie-counter in the back of my mind, but I decided vacation called for splurges and happily exchanged euros for a loaf of bread and a petite raspberry-chocolate sweet. It was possibly the best decision of my life. When the orchestra playing the delightful flavor of the dessert and soft crunch of the bread concluded, I decided to order both dessert and bread at every meal and never looked back. Did I gain a few pounds? Yes. Do I regret my decision? Absolutely not! The added weight remained only a few months but those delicious memories will stay with me forever.
Although I sacrificed the coveted spring break tan this year, my trip to Paris was undoubtedly worth the pale skin. By only taking pictures after soaking everything in firsthand, looking past the landmarks, using wrong turns to my advantage and leaving the scale at home, I was able to thoroughly enjoy my school trip to Paris and have the spring break of a lifetime.
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