By Vimbai Ushe
Immersing myself in Paris was falling unconditionally and irrevocably in love with a culture steeped in ancient tradition, a city whose beauty is carved in every Greco-Roman edifice.
The magic of Paris lies outside of the world-class museums (though, you’d be foolish to pass up an opportunity to see the Louvre). In reality, the enchanting atmosphere when one simply strolls around aids in creating the whimsical Parisian fairy-tale tourists typically attribute with Paris. On my walk to the Musee d’Orsay from the Notre Dame Cathedral, the sight of small vendors selling their various goods along the River Seine intrigued me. Now, personally, I am not a fan of junk. My refrigerator has remained blessedly free from tacky magnets for years. I have no use for old movie posters. I can’t speak or read in French; thereby, making the tattered, but still extremely over-priced books sold useless to me. Yet, I found the entire experience of glancing at the wares enjoyable. With the river creating the perfect background, I was able to immerse myself in the moment.
I strongly feel that Paris has a fairy-tale quality that brings people together. In a city that spreads over forty miles and has a population of above two million people, I randomly met a separate group of acquaintances on the street. I connected with an old group of friends, and subsequently, after discovering a pathway right along the River Seine, I met a stranger that soon became a new friend. One cute selfie and a comical conversation later, our friendship was Facebook official. In Paris, these unlikely friendships became a reality.
Following those two encounters, I was re-invigorated by the affable atmosphere. After wandering aimlessly throughout the 1st arrondissement, my feet were aching, and my camera was so full that it almost stopped saving pictures. With the clock constantly ticking down on my time left in Paris, I decided it would be best to share one last lunch before I returned to the land of pintxos and Sangria. The Jardin des Tuilieries, one of my favorite places in Paris, turned out to be the perfect location to host this. Strolling through the garden the day before, I had been pleasantly surprised by its balance of charming elegance and accessible fun. What other gardens have amusement parks featuring carousels and upside-down spin rides that overlook expensive cafes? While I didn’t have time to ride those rides, I still managed to create a wonderful moment with my friends. Sitting in the middle of one of those pricey Garden cafés people-watching, marveling at the boldness of my flirtatious waiter, and eating quintessentially French crepes, I was able to reflect on my entire journey in this peaceful little slice of Heaven surrounded by the hustle and bustle of fast-moving tourists and natives.
What I found was genuine joy over the journey I embarked on. Without knowing the language, or how to navigate the city, I came to Paris looking for whatever adventure my close friend and personal Parisian tour-guide could give. I wasn’t disappointed by what I discovered. The feeling of contentment lasted throughout my plane ride back to Bilbao, and I continue to reminisce about my positive experience in Paris today. Yes, I never got to eat a croissant overlooking the river- a mistake I plan to rectify on my next trip. Yet, visiting Paris was still a life-changing trip. It’s not everyday a girl falls in love, and I did with Paris.
Vimbai Ushe is a rising sophomore at Branford College and a prospective EP&E and Film Studies major. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.