Yes, escargot, that is exactly what I said. I promised myself I would never, ever, digest a snail; after all, they are slimy and not something most Americans view as a delicacy. However, they say when in Paris do as the Parisians! One of the most amazing things about Europe is the ease of travel between different countries. In only 45 minutes we were in Paris, a completely different country with its own language and culture. In less than an hour, we were immersed in warm weather and historical monuments. France had many hidden treasures awaiting us, from the scenic routes on cobble stone roads, to the palaces, amazing food … oh and the rats. Unbeknownst to me prior to this trip, Paris has a huge vermin problem. Luckily, Paris had much more to offer.
I think I may have made a few of the best memories of my life in France. One that sticks out would have to be the midnight picnic under the Eiffel Tower on the lawn with other natives. I think the best part about exploring another country is enjoying the culture as the locals do. I looked up at the Eiffel Tower and was instantly a bit envious of all the people who could do this every single night… and then I remembered the rats and I was not so envious anymore. Aside from being mesmerized by the Eiffel Tower, we took a trip to another attraction that brings people from around the world to Paris, the Louvre! Leonardo Da Vinci’s very own masterpiece Mona Lisa, referred to by the French as La Joconde, followed me around with her mysterious eyes after I viewed centuries of ancient Egyptian artifacts, and beautifully made Greek sculptures. The Louvre, the second largest museum in the world had so much to see that unfortunately I was not able to see everything. I can see why this establishment is world famous.
Once again there was a huge degree of culture shock. Europe is a huge continent and the culture and people vary drastically from country to country. It was definitely harder navigating France because of the language barrier. Some people in major tourist areas do speak English but the French are very proud citizens, proud of their language and culture; it was pretty difficult to find someone who spoke English in the more local areas that were not swarming with tourists. Luckily, Angie speaks French and this helped us get around immensely. Another lesson I learned, learn how to speak languages other than English! But, the experience was still amazing. France had breathtaking scenery and a very rich history. Something that fascinated me was the artwork in the Petit Palace. France is known for it’s power struggles throughout history between the rich and the poor and they had a room of art that told this story. What was interesting was that with the traditional art pieces from centuries ago of upper class French people were portraits of French people living in poverty. Amongst these century old paintings were recent photographs of current homeless and poor people. I think this was an conscious display of expression as a means to raise awareness about the continuing gap between the rich and the poor.
After two and a half exciting and tiring days in Paris, to my surprise I was relieved to be going home, aka, back to London. I was craving a sense of familiarity, It is strange how after only one month I was calling London my home and even missed the tube system, double decker busses and my own bed!
Until next time, Pip Pip Cheerio!
P.S. Nobody actually says that here, just a little American humor