Ok, back to Paris!
One of my favorite things about Paris (and actually London when I was there too) are the public gardens. Don’t get me wrong, we have some pretty good parks in Seattle. In fact 93% of the population lives within walking distance of a park! As lovely as Seattle parks are though, they are just not to the same caliber as Parisian parks.
The Jardin des Tuileries is definitely one of my favorites in Paris. Here’s some fun history for you; the Jardin des Tuileries came in to being in 1559, it was made for Queen Catherine de Medicis after the death of her husband. It was opened to the public in 1667, and became a park after the French Revolution. This park has almost twice as long of a history as the country I live in! Anyways, the point is that this park was built for royalty, and you can definitely tell. There are beautiful statues and fountains, the landscaping is gorgeous, and the whole thing seems designed to encourage you to relax outside.
On this particular day, we had decided to just take some time to wander around and explore the city. We had been pretty dependent on the Metro for getting around, and we (me in particular) were itching to go above ground and just walk for a while. We planned to just head in the general direction of the Eiffel Tower, and get off the train once we were within half a mile of it. Once we got off the Metro, we emerged in to the beautiful 1st Arrondissement district. This area is full of gorgeous old buildings (I mean, so is the whole city), shopping, and of course the Jardin des Tuileries!
Stumbling on to this park was especially fun for me for two reasons. One; I loved visiting it when I was in Paris last time (like four years ago). Two; I was able to read a sign at a little snack kiosk in French that said “vin chaud”, or “hot wine”! I know its silly, but I felt really cool (thanks Duolingo!). I love mulled wine, so it was doubly exciting. I rewarded myself for my awesome French reading comprehension skills with the subject of my translated sign. It was delicious.
After wandering the park with our vin chaud for a while, we popped in to a cafe for something to eat, and some people watching. One of the things I love most about traveling, is going to far away places, then doing basically exactly what I would do at home. Meaning, I like to find a place with good people watching, and maybe a good beer too! You might ask “why travel somewhere to do what you would do at home?”. My answer to that is that there is something really comforting about watching people enjoying and doing the same things as me and my friends. I think it’s a great reminder that we aren’t so different after all.
In the end I think that 99% of the people in the world just want to be able to live their lives and do what makes them happy. Usually the things that make people happy are good friends and good times.
I realize that the ability to travel, especially the ability to travel internationally is a privilege that I am incredibly lucky to have. It is expensive not only monetarily, but also in time spent, and I know that it is not realistic for everyone. However, I think that if people could get out, and see people on the other side of the world doing the same things that they love to do, that the world would be a better, and more understanding place. I believe that traveling and being exposed to different cultures promotes understanding, and acceptance. It creates a healthier perspective, and helps to eliminate the “us vs. them” way of thinking, which has become such a harmful and prevalent attitude.