A couple of days ago, I returned from a much-needed vacation in Paris. It was my third time visiting the city, but each previous time there had been something preventing me from fully immersing myself in the culture. The first time, I was there for less than a day, on a bus trip from Germany, which is the country I was actually visiting at the time. The second time, I was there for 2.5 days with my then boyfriend, and anyone who’s traveled extensively will agree, that’s just not enough time to get a feel for any city. So this time, I finally had a chance to go and REALLY visit Paris. I stayed for a week in the touristy and jam-packed 5th arrondisement, right in the midst of peak season. Not my choice to visit during this time, but since I was with a larger group, I wanted to be considerate of those who had to deal with academic school year schedules.
At first, I only planned to visit Paris with just 1 or 2 people. A close friend of mine and my mother (who dreamed of seeing France since she was a little girl) were both invited. Fast-forward to a few months later, and I had 13 people interested in going on this trip. Some of them I knew personally, some I had met once or twice, and some I didn’t know at all. A couple of them didn’t know anyone else who was going on the trip except me. None of this mattered to me, because I was going to Paris and I was staying for a week, and I would finally get a chance to settle for long enough to really enjoy the city. Over time a few people dropped out, and finally on June 19th we were on our way, with a total of 10 people.
Their Plans vs. My Plans
Everyone in the group was a first-time visitor to Paris, except me. Of course, that meant everyone else had really lofty aspirations and extensive itineraries consisting of places/museums/monuments they just had to see (or at least take pictures in front of). My planned itinerary consisted of eating, drinking, hanging out with my mom and my friends, and lots of walking and exploring. The only event I scheduled was a bike tour of Versailles, because on my last trip the chateau was closed. Though I struggled with this decision at first due to my job, ultimately I didn’t bring a big fancy camera because I didn’t want to feel the weight of a DSLR around my shoulders for a week. I brought my Canon point & shoot and my iPad which I kept in the hotel room, and I used a photo editing app to enhance or adjust photos as needed.
When we arrived in Paris, things immediately got interesting as I began to see the different personalities start to emerge. We had the hardcore “I gotta do it all” people, the excited yet confused “Kim, please tell me what to do” people, and my favorite, the ever-independent “I’ll see ya on the plane back home” people. If you can’t tell by now, I wasn’t really planning for the “Kim, please tell me what to do” crowd, as my plans were infinitely less touristy than everyone else’s, and I hadn’t prepared a detailed itinerary for anyone to follow. The idea that someone’s very enjoyment of this trip now rested in my hands, was an unexpected surprise I hadn’t bargained for.