A lot of people have been asking why I haven’t blogged about my time in Paris and quite honestly I think there is so much to talk about that I don’t even know where to begin! It was an incredibly eye opening trip.
Most people go on vacations to get away, I however, go to learn. On this trip in particular, I learned so much more than I was ever expecting.
With another awful event happening in London last weekend, I felt compelled to sit down and write about our time in beautiful, majestic Paris.
It was my first time in Europe. For whatever reason, Europe really hasn’t been at the top of my list for places to see. However if I learned anything at all from ‘Sex in the City,’ when your boyfriend asks you to go to Paris, you say 100% yes without hesitation. I mean… IT’S PARIS!
Since this trip came out of nowhere, I didn’t have all that much time to prepare for it. Therefore my expectations were low and I really had no idea what it was going to be like.
Before we left, everyone was asking me “Aren’t you concerned about flying right now?”, “Do you think it’s really a good idea to be going to Paris right now?”, and “What if something happens while you’re over there?”.
As usual, I brushed off these comments and said “Whatever happens…happens!”.
I live my life with a strong belief that whatever is meant to be will be and I simply can’t live my life in fear of the ‘WHAT IFs’. Some see this as being naive, I see it as having faith and courage to really LIVE rather than just exist.
I choose to BELIEVE that there is FAR MORE good in this world than there is bad.
With that being said, my experience in Paris was definitely eye opening. This was the first time in my life where I was completely out of place and unable to communicate with locals. What a strange feeling!
Obviously we knew they spoke French, but we just assumed a lot more people would speak English. Since we were staying at an Airbandb which was a 30 minute train right outside of Paris… there was NO ONE who spoke English around us.
Simple tasks like buying groceries, going to restaurants, and communicating with Uber drivers were now incredibly hard to do. Hand motions and lots of laughter got us through most of these language barrier issues. This gave me a whole new level of respect for anyone who has immigrated to different country without speaking the local language!
At first this language barrier was all fun and games; that was until we were put in a dangerous situation with no form of communication available to us.
While riding the subway, the train came to an immediate stop. A voice came over the PA system (in French of course) and quickly panic broke out as people were running off the train. We had no idea what was going on. All the signs were in French. All we could read was “attention, attention”… people were frantically running around!
Next thing you know, army men are all over the subway station carrying massive guns with their hands on the triggers. Yet here we were, foreigners who don’t speak the language and have absolutely no idea what was going on as we followed the crowds out of the station.
Later, when we found our way back to our accommodations, we couldn’t stop talking about the experience we had earlier that day.
As messages began to fill our phones asking if we were okay we realized that there had in fact been an attack. This was such a surreal feeling as all the voices of others replayed in my head about ‘how dangerous it was for us going to France at this time’.
I realized just how sheltered we are in Canada and how truly lucky we are to live here. Sure we hear about all of the hate and craziness that is going on in the world right now, but we aren’t actually LIVING it day to day in our own backyard.
I know when I get up in the morning and walk to work I am not the slightest bit concerned about whether I am going to make it home that day or not.
Meanwhile for our entire trip in France, we were always looking around with a feeling of hesitation. Everywhere you go that is a significant place (like the Eiffel Tower, Chateau du Versailles, The Arc, etc) there are army men walking around with their massive guns just waiting and ready for anything.
At one point on the trip my boyfriend asked me, “doesn’t it make you feel safer having them walking around?” and I honestly replied with “Not one bit!”.
My heart skipped a beat every time I saw one of them because I was wandering around snapping my camera, taking in the breathtaking views of the incredible buildings, when suddenly, I’d see them and reality would set in that there really was a possibility that we are exploring a targeted site of the city that could be hit at any moment.
Before we went to France people warned us that ‘the French were snobby’ and I can honestly say that I never felt as though anyone was ever rude to us. We had a wonderful experience everywhere we went.
The best part about truly experiencing the city through their public transit was seeing just how nice and helpful everyone was to each other. In the middle of chaos and devastation it felt as though there was a sense of unity. As we watched women try to get on the crowded subways with their baby strollers, others around would make way and help them get the strollers on before anyone else.
When we were lost, Parisians desperately tried to help us even with the language barrier! Some would even give up trying to explain directions to us and just waved us to follow them as they took us to our destination.
It always amazes me how people are so quick to judge and categorize other people. Just because you meet one snobby person doesn’t mean EVERYONE is snobby. Heck, that person probably isn’t even snobby! I bet they were just having a bad day or you caught them at a bad time.
With all the hate going on in the world… WE NEED MORE LOVE!
Paris will ALWAYS hold a part of my HEART.
I am so grateful for the amazing experience we had. I feel blessed to have been able to see Vimy Ridge during its 100 year anniversary. All of the history in France was truly astonishing. The buildings were incredible and the people, well…they were lovely.
Every place I go teaches me something new. It’s funny how sometimes it takes flying across an ocean to make you appreciate your own backyard.