I'm sad at the end of every vacation, sad enough to cry. What I didn't foresee before this four-city vacation is that I would be sad at the end of each leg.
But no city was I sadder to leave than Paris. I was sad to say goodbye to Rome's gelato and our friends in Copenhagen, and I was sad that the entire trip was winding down even when we landed in Iceland. But as Paul and I found an empty bench along the banks of the Seine River on our last afternoon in Paris, I could feel my eyes start to well up.
|On the banks of the Seine|
Even I knew at the time how ridiculous this was. But the truth is that Paris exceeded my expectations. It's impossible to visit the city without some kind of picture in your mind: from books, from movies, from old postcards. I had prepared myself for a watered-down version of the Paris of my imagination. What I found, however, was that there are no Paris cliches. Cafes are meant to be lingered in, baguettes are meant to be freshly purchased each morning and winding streets are meant to be explored. And the fashion? I saw five-year-old kids who put my wardrobe to shame.
I suspect that another reason I preferred Paris above all of the cities we visited on this trip was simply because it was the first. We were finally on vacation, and it seemed like it would never end. After all, Paris wasn't all peaches and cream. It was rainy and chilly every day we were there, with only sporadic sightings of the sun. We climbed so many spiral staircases that not only my feet, but also my legs ached. We saw more churches and museums that I'll ever be able -- or care -- to remember.
But when it comes right down to it, my worst day in Paris was still better than my best day almost anywhere else.
|Inside Notre Dame|
|From the towers of Notre Dame|
|Inside the Conciergerie|
|Paul in line at Paul, at the Tuileries Garden|