After traveling quite a bit from India to Thailand to USA to France, I have realized how deeply each experience has not only shaped who I am today, but also what I expect from the world around me.
Cities, like Paris for instance, are beautiful in their own right, but I find myself trying to fit each "big city" or "small town" or "quaint tourist location" into specific paradigms that I've already developed during my travels. It is almost as though I stop myself from being WOW-ed.
That said, many things have moved me. Visiting Napa Valley, for instance. Devil's Lake. The Jim Thompson House in Bangkok. Koh Tao. More recently - Cha'am was really quite amazing. It was outside what I expected, and in that, was really worth every penny.
And of course, how can I forget La Tour D'Eiffel.
A quick/short story on today's escapades and then back to this philosophical moment I'm having:
1. Went to bed around 3AM after having an absolutely amazing house dinner filled with laughter, wine, and cheese as well as some amazingly cooked Salmon & Chicken Curry!
2. Got up around 8AM to get to class from 9AM - 11AM and then 1130AM - 130PM. As soon as that was over, decided on plans for Paris and then went to the train station.
3. Got the 3PM train to Paris. Split up into two groups - sightseers and shoppers - around 4PM and then hit the road...
4. Walked and walked (probably should've bused a bit of it) and ran into our French housemate in front of his family owned business - you might recognize this:
|La Tour D'Argent (yes - Ratatouille was loosely based on this restaurant)|
6. Headed towards Champs Elysees - pitstop around Notre Dame.
7. Finally got to Champs Elysees and went shopping - for very simple items. LOTS of sales, but could not find the simplest things (plain solid colored shirts).
8. At this point we were also hungry so lo and behold the first meal in Paris:
9. At this point we'd almost lost one of our friends, realized that it was 9pm and our other friends were already planning to head home and we had yet to see Arc De Triomphe and La Tour D'Eiffel! Considering my first trip to Paris was directly to the airport, I was determined (and thankfully supported) to see these two places!
10. We trekked on:
11. Pictures can speak for themselves:
|Nutella Crepes (made by a Sri Lankan Chef)|
|One of the Seven Wonders...|
|A garden with Images of Tourists in their tell-tale picture-taking poses|
|At some point the Eiffel Tower starts to flicker with these lights all over!|
We were quite speechless - was a first for me (2nd or 3rd time for a few others). Missed most of our trains home but finally made it back on the 12:35AM train and walked home with another 5-6 INSEAD students who were also trekking home from Paris. Good times...
As an "aside" - One thing I've noted is that this is probably why there are some very "strict" unsaid rules about setting up a very successful (tourist) destination. It does not necessarily have to be a tourist location - you could be a city that's growing and looking for outside investment for example. There needs to be some major differentiators for those of us who travel quite frequently (also the favorite pool of candidates) to want to move to - yet another city. And in that way, I wonder if I'm flawed in my thinking and/or the way I process information or not. Because at the end of the day, there are some beautiful segments of Paris that I did love very much... for most of the time, however, I felt like I was back in NYC or Chicago. Even Bangkok a few times (although the choice for streetside food in this chilly weather kept me focused more towards North America).
Anyhow, as per the story earlier, I'm quite tired. Time to sign off!