Just before the euro was introduced into circulation, my parents took our family on a road trip from Edinburgh – through the UK and across the English Channel by hovercraft – to Paris, Lucerne, Munich and everywhere in between. They wanted to show us where they lived together during their first few years of marriage while Dad played basketball in the European League. We also visited The Hall of Mirrors in Château de Versailles and Dad’s childhood home in the French countryside.
At the time, I was illiterate in the ways of travel and hadn’t yet developed an appreciation for cultural or culinary exploration. Plus, the Harry Potter books were new to the scene and it was like a race to read them all. Bottom line, my eyes were not yet open to the wonders of Paris.
During the first month living in Germany with my handsome sweetheart, four of us pile in the car for a five hour road trip to ole Paree. This time I’m on some kind of emotional high — part euphoric and part anxious to see what the future will bring. This time Paris is filled with magic and delicious pastries.
Driving in Paris is challenging. With roundabouts and narrow roads everywhere, it’s easy to lose your cool. We booked a hostel last-minute, so our accommodations are questionable: a rickety staircase leads to a twin bed meant for two. But you have to make the best of it all and have a few laughs along the way!
Of course the tourist attractions are must-sees: The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile, La Tour Eiffel and Musée du Louvre, among others. But the best part of being in a foreign city is immersing yourself in the local culture – something I will learn to do better with practice. The French language is like bells to my ears, and the smell of fresh baked breads is the perfect wake-up call.
Admittedly, this is the beginning of my first stint abroad without a parent to lead the way and it’s surreal. I’m timid about speaking French and unsure how to navigate a foreign city. Luckily my beautiful sister and take-initiative boyfriend aren’t as shy. I will always have fond memories of this very special trip!