Hi, peeps! It’s a glorious day in flyover country. The snow is nearly gone and the breezes have turned warm, which of course means that mosquito season is right around the corner. So YAY!
A couple of years ago, my family (Moo, Tigger and I) went to Paris for a week. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life, and it was probably the trip that made me realize how much I valued sensual recollection.
Get your mind out of the gutter. I meant that I remember what it felt like to be there. We cool?
But here’s the thing about that trip. We walked upwards of 8-15 miles a DAY, and that was after we’d availed ourselves of the Paris Metro. We were very aggressive with our plans. One day we walked from the apartment we rented in the Latin Quarter all the way to the Champs de Mars to get up close with the Eiffel Tower, THEN walked to the Arc de Triomphe and down the Champs Elysees through the Place de la Concorde and the Tuileries all the way to the Louvre, and THEN spent a couple of hours in the museum after waiting in line outside for an hour.
The value in all of that, for me, was just observing the city itself. We were in some really upscale areas and some really touristy areas, but it was alien enough to me that I was mostly just getting my bearings. Absorbing. Sucking…it all up.
But the blisters, the stiff joints (yeah, I’m OLD), the muscle cramps and the sunburn were a pretty stiff price to pay.
There’s a travel school of thought that seems to believe that if you’re going to go somewhere far from home, you should cram as much into the trip as possible. I agree with that.
It turns out I didn’t really like the Louvre. And although walking is fabulous exercise, I probably would have saved myself some misery by hiring a driver or taking buses. I could have seen even more, and had more down time to sit in a cafe and watch the world go by or take a much-needed nap.
My point is this:
When you’re Plotting Global Domination and putting your MPCG together for a destination, research is crucial. It’s hard to understand the scale of a place when you haven’t been there, but since there are few places on Earth where someone hasn’t gone before you, there are a lot of opportunities to learn from others.
The most poignant moment of my family’s trip to Paris was one sunny morning standing on the Pont des Artes over the Seine. It was a beautiful, warm day filled with the soft light that the city is famous for, and Moo and I were overwhelmed with the sense that we could FEEL where we were.
And then we turned and saw the top of the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
I wish I had video to show you of how we jumped up and down and hugged and jumped up and down some more. “We’re HERE!” we sang, staring at each other with stupid smiles slashed across our faces. “We’re actually HERE! OMG OMG OMG!”
I can still feel the warmth of the sun. I can still see the glitter of the Seine and hear the shrieks of police cars racing along the street between the river and the Louvre.
Most importantly, I can still remember the indescribable JOY in that moment.
I didn’t need to walk until my feet fell off for that moment. And while it’s hard to know HOW to have those moments before you’ve ever been to a place, there are hints.
Travel blogs and sites like this that recount other’s experiences are crazy good at communicating how to fall in love with a place and have moments of awe and wonder. I’ll be adding to my blogroll as I find more and more to share with you.
American ex-pats often create websites to introduce visitors to their adopted homes. I’ve found several I’ll use for future adventures in Hong Kong, eastern Europe and Costa Rica. When I post my progress in my own MPCG, I’ll show you what I mean with specific examples.
Travel videos can often clue you in to how big or hard to navigate a place can be. While I’m not in love with his folksy style, I think Rick Steves is great and I relied on him a LOT for planning side trips from Paris. But there are lots of less-formal resources out there. Search YouTube for your destination and see what you come up with.
And remember THIS:
If you don’t see or experience everything and leave with regrets, it’s just another excuse to go back someday!
Hink is an aspiring traveler plotting global domination and looking for the funny.
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.