My wife and I recently took another one of those “trips-of-a-lifetime,” to a place neither one of us had ever visited: Paris. After we had been married for a couple of years we began planning a trip to Paris for our fifth wedding anniversary; however, we changed jobs and moved to a new place. We had to start over banking vacation time, plus we needed a year or two to get adjusted in our new location. So we postponed the Paris trip but continued to keep it on our short list. Then an opportunity presented itself to us last year when the president of the college where we both work announced that he would be giving an organ recital (he is a highly-acclaimed concert organist) at Westminster Abbey in London. We decided right then that we would be in London for the event, which was scheduled for a Sunday afternoon, and then we would head over to Paris to enjoy the rest of the week as tourists. We spent the better part of a year making arrangements: learning as much as we could about the city, finding accommodations, deciding what we wanted to see and do, purchasing tickets, arranging transportation, and booking flights.
We have never flown first or business class, except once when we were upgraded on our flight back from Jamaica last December. For the trans-Atlantic journey to Europe though, we decided to cash in all of my wife’s Delta Sky Miles and splurge on first class, where the seats completely recline to a vertical position. I have a difficult time sleeping upright in the typical less-than-comfortable seats on a plane, and we really needed to sleep during the overnight flight to London. What a luxury first class was for this trip, going both ways. With a little bit of help from a half-dose of Dramamine, I slept pretty well flying over Iceland and the north Atlantic. I really wish we could fly first class all the time, but alas, we are travelers on a budget. And, I’m not complaining because our budget allows us to go places that the majority of Americans only dream about or see in movies. I am grateful.
Paris exceeded all our expectations. It is a beautiful city with so much history, character, personality, and charm. In London and Rome, we were never too impressed with the food, but in Paris, every meal was amazing and delicious. The bistros and cafes are usually small, but each has its own signature appeal. You can’t walk a hundred yards in the center of Paris without passing some place to eat. We had breakfast every morning at a bakery just down the street from our apartment. The pastries were so delicate, and the banana-chocolate one was to die for! Every night we tried something different for dinner and were never disappointed. I ate escargot for the first time and was surprised how similar it was to fresh clams. Swimming in salty pesto, it was truly a delicacy.
Writing about our trip to Paris will certainly take more than one post. At this point, suffice it to say that this is one of those places where it is almost impossible to take a bad photograph. I took this shot with my cell phone, standing on the platform on the Pont de Bir Hakeim, one of many bridges that cross the River Seine that bisects the city. I think it is one of the best places to get a good view of the Eiffel Tower and the Seine. The tower is so tall and commanding that you really have to be a little distance away to appreciate its magnificence. Paris is filled with scenes that present themselves to the visitor and beg to be recorded in a photograph. It is an irresistible city on so many levels. I look forward to many more traveling adventures, and we are already making plans for future trips. Still, it will be difficult to top our week in the City of Love. If we never get to return to Europe, and I certainly hope we do return someday, I will look back on this time with such fond memories and shamelessly steal Rick’s line from Casablanca, “We’ll always have Paris.”