Back in 2007 I made my very first leap across the pond to Munich on a business trip. Now, as you can imagine, I was thrilled to finally be traveling to Europe, but what 20-something-year-old girl has Munich anywhere close to the top of her must-see travel list? …. (Crickets chirping) So I did what any self-respecting, overly-independent female would do, I scheduled a weekend in Paris on my way back to Texas.
The thing about my business trips is that I take about 75% of them completely solo. When I first started traveling, my mom would make me send her my entire itinerary for each trip (and she still does, love you Mom). My dad liked to take whatever crazy stories he heard on the news, assume that these things were going to happen to me and then spend hours on the phone telling me why he didn’t think I should go.
At the time, I hadn’t yet developed the super stellar parental communication skills that I have now (I can hear them laughing), so I may have “accidentally forgotten” to tell either one of them that I was going to Paris after the meeting ended in Germany. No harm, no foul, right? So off I went…
Munich was beautiful, the weather was perfect, and my first business meeting abroad was a success, but Paris…
Paris was indescribable. I got lost in the maze of cobblestone streets, relaxed at a cafe on the banks of the Seine, soaked up the sun in the gardens outside the Louvre, became enamored with the Eiffel Tower the first time I saw it (and the second and third and fourth…) I learned that I could totally live off of the fresh baguette sandwiches filled with ham and cheese, and could by a bottle of decent wine for less than $8. Between walking and the metro system, I traveled miles and miles back and forth across the city soaking it all in, finding my freedom, living life.
I’m not sure if I should credit my absolutely amazing experience to the adrenaline rush of traveling alone and in Europe for the first time, to the fact that I was being sneaky about doing it, or to possibly the simplest explanation of all: it was Paris!
What I found most surprising about all of this, is that the memory that I hold on to the most from the trip is not one of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame or any of the other major Parisian destinations. On my second day there, I was leaving the central part of the city and beginning my long walk back to the hotel when I came up to a large fountain enclosed in a giant circular pond. People were sitting around catching up with their friends while children laughed and played without a care in the world, chasing each other through the chairs and racing little wooden boats with colorful fabric sails through the water. At that moment, all I wanted to do is find one of those little boats and take it home to Texas so that I would always be reminded of the easiness with which they lived.
I have a picture of one of the boats that always brings back the happy memories of that trip, but I have to admit, today is the first time I’ve looked at it in at least a year:
Oddly enough, what reminded me of the story above was not running across that picture, it was something I found on Pinterest:
I’m not sure I’m going to bust out the craft table and try to make a little boat this weekend, however it did help me remember that there is always happiness to be found in the simple things in life.
Happy weekend everyone!
P.S. Just in case you were wondering how my “go big or go home” January exercise plan is going, I finally weighed myself today. I’ve lost 8 lbs. and an estimated 5 to 6 inches off of my thighs, hips and waist. 2 more lbs. and I’ll hit my goal weight. 3 more after that and I’ll be back at my high school weight, but much stronger than I was then. ***GRIN***