What a place to start with on the globe! Work took me to the glittering city of lights, Paris, in January 2019. Nervousness and anxiety were just some of the emotions that persisted for almost three weeks before I landed in this beautiful city. It was my first trip abroad, I didn’t speak the local language and when my friends told me about taxis that loot passengers on the way, my anxiety levels hit at an all time high! Finally, the big day came and I landed at 5 a.m. local Paris time, on a chilly windy morning. Thanks to a kind lady who understood English, I got out at the right exit and caught a black limousine to my hotel. Even though the Christmas and new year celebrations were over, the city was covered in twinkling lights, colourful decorations and Christmas trees. On the way to the hotel, the sight of the beautiful streets took away all my worries and I realised that it just takes a little time to get to know a place, the food, and its people.
On the first day, I started with the breakfast I had carried with me, the good old aloo paratha! Peeping out of my hotel window and seeing the clean streets in the daylight, automated buses running exactly in their designated lanes, scooters and bikes on their way, and children on bicycles hurrying to get to school, I felt a great sense of achievement and joy within me. On my way to the office, I felt like I was in a dream as I walked on the streets of Paris, on the Boulevard Saint-Michel.
After a busy day at work, I got back to my hotel and got in touch with an old school friend who lived in the city. He landed up at the hotel and reading my mind, suggested we see the Eiffel tower. We took the metro after walking for two miles in 4 degrees temperature, but the cold and chilly night couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm. I loved seeing the small roadside cafes buzzing with people as we walked towards the Eiffel tower. The view of the wrought iron structure constructed in 1889 was amazing, especially when the lights on the tower flicker every hour, it looks really incredible. I spent a lovely evening on the banks of the river Seine gazing up at the tower while enjoying mulled wine and crepes for the first time in my life.
Throughout the week, in spite of my busy work schedule, I managed to take out time to see some of the popular sights in Paris. One of my most cherished experiences was walking through the Louvre, the world’s largest art museum. With a colleague from Scotland accompanying me, we managed to see a part of the museum as seeing the entire art collection of the Louvre would probably take around 3 months. Of course, I could not go there and not see the Mona Lisa! It’s undoubtedly beautiful but I did find it a bit odd that the other beautiful art pieces around it aren’t as famous.
Paris has some of the best bakeries in the world. The croissants, baguettes, seasonal fruit tarts, delicious cakes, pain au chocolat, etc. will spoil you for choice. Also, something that my father had told me about France turned out to be quite true, water is more expensive than wine there. Usually not much of a wine drinker, in Paris though, not a day went by when I didn’t enjoy a glass of French wine with my dinner.
The week went by fast and soon it was time to head back. I spent a part of my last day buying gifts and souvenirs. T-shirts, bags, mugs, keychains, et al, the Eiffel tower’s on everything, I soon realised. The beautiful cosmetic shops is another place where I was able to pick up a few things for my family. It was with an over-packed suitcase that I took my flight back to India. I could see the snow-covered mountains from my window seat as I reminisced about my days in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I knew I would return to spend time in its beautiful gardens, amidst the rich architecture, lively streets, and road side cafes. Au Revoir, Paris.
Picture Credit : Alpha Panda