This post was inspired by a recent post by my blogger friend Bri, in her own words, ‘a 22 year old with an intense need to see the world.’ Read all about her adventures at A Little Slice of Bri. Cool name, right?! But wait a sec, and this might sound a bit strange to many, but Bri hates Paris!
What? How could someone hate Paris, right? But when I read Bri’s post about why she hates Paris, I started reflecting upon my own visits to Paris on two separate occasions. I was quite close to having a disastrous first trip myself & might have completely agreed with her if I hadn’t been saved by one more day on my first visit, and with the second trip this year, a very happy one at that 🙂
The first time I arrived in Paris was the day after Mr.A had returned from a trip to China, so the poor guy was totally messed up in terms of body clock 😦 Plus, we booked cheap flights between Stockholm & Paris, which meant we had to fly to and from airports far outside of the city viz. Skavsta outside of Stockholm and Beauvais on the outskirts of Paris. Unfortunately, we hadn’t accounted for the additional travel time 😦 So we arrived at our hotel by mid-day, already tired. Hotel rooms in Paris are not my favorite, they are tiny and cramped up, and you’d have to shell out a lot for a relatively small improvement. Nonetheless, we ended up spending a lot of time sleeping off the fatigue on the day we arrived. We were going to spend only the weekend; to my dismay one day was already gone! So my first day in Paris was quite in tune with yours, Bri!
But we decided that Sunday was going to be different. Totally refreshed, we cashed in on all the major sights with the help of the L’Open Tours hop-on-hop-off bus. The Louvre is enormous and grand but we didn’t spend too much time there. We prioritized the Mona Lisa, but it was too small and too many tourists like ourselves were trying to get a closer look. The irony, I know! It was a bit disappointing, but that’s what I mostly hear from fellow travelers, so no surprise there. It was fun to take the quintessential illusory photos at the Pyramid, though. Up at the Eiffel Tower, the view was enjoyable, and I liked the modern history around it’s construction. We rode the bus along Champs-Élysées to the end of Place Charles de Gaulle. It was interesting to draw parallels between the Arc de Triomphe and similar arches in other cities (I wrote a guest post on A Date with Delhi, inspired by that visit.) A high point of the day was the grand Notre-Dame Cathedral. Even better, we finished the day with a really nice dinner with a classmate from our Manila days. We were exhausted by the end, but it wasn’t so bad after all 🙂
The second time around, however, things were looking up. Earlier this year we celebrated the wedding of that same friend in Paris! It’s not just that I’m slightly biased because this couple is dear to me, but I do believe theirs was one of the most beautiful and romantic weddings I’ve ever been to. On a bonus we got to hang out with a bunch of other friends who studies with Mr.A and me at B-school in Manila. It was an absolute joy to reconnect after so many years – a mini reunion of sorts. Thanks to the bride, we also got to spend a day at Disney Land Paris, trying out all the thrilling rides! Back in the city, we followed one of Rick Steves’ audio guides and walked by the Seine river at a leisurely pace, going back to the Notre-Dame Cathedral during the day and watching the shimmering Eiffel Tower (from a little distance away) at night.
I honestly think our company affected our mood the second trip in a hugely positive manner. And it does take a lot of things to click together to bring about an aha! feeling, but only a couple of negatives can spoil an entire trip. So I would say, why not give Paris a second chance, and never say never 🙂
[On a side note, if you haven’t tried out the Rick Steves’ Europe guides, I would highly recommend giving it a go. You can use the app to use it on the go & enjoy many a nook & corner that regular guide books do not provide. They are extremely well researched and thoroughly enjoyable. I’ve tried different guides in Rome, Florence, Salzburg, Vienna, Prague, Berlin and many others, and never been disappointed. Nope, he didn’t pay me to say all that, I am a true fan 😉 ]