I can finally say I understand the famous line from Casablanca, "We will always have Paris". Although we have been home for almost two weeks, I find myself still reflecting on all that we experienced in this magical city.
I have never been to Europe. I have read extensively about it, as a history major and as an avid fiction buff, I had dreams of what it should be, but truly, I didn't realize how much I could fall for a place, in just a few short days.
Everywhere you look, you see art with a capital A. The buildings and shops, and the cobbled streets make you realize just how young a nation America is, and what a small part of a much longer history we are a part of.
Paris is a city for walking. If you can orient yourself to the Seine, it becomes easier to figure out exactly where you are and where you need to go. Our first full day we visited Notre Dame Cathedral, for an international service on the first Sunday of Advent. The service was in French, much of the liturgy was sung, and even though I didn't understand much of it, like many sacred spaces I have visited, it was a moving experience.
A few days later, we made our way to Sacre Cour the Cathedral in the Montmarte district of Paris. The climb is worth it, as the entire city is laid out below you, and the differences in the two cathedrals are well worth seeing.
The mosaics in this cathedral are truly stunning, and the park surrounding the cathedral is peaceful. I suspect it is quite popular in warmer weather, though the merry-go-round was running, even in December.
We deliberately didn't pack so much into the day that we couldn't just enjoy wandering, and for this I am grateful. Much of what I cherish about this trip were the quiet, delicious meals, the wandering through the streets at all hours, spying cute windows and decorations for the holidays.
On our one truly rainy day, we made it to the Louvre. Six hours did not come close to the time you need to see all that this huge museum has, but we did see a lot, and yes, it included the Mona Lisa.
Other highlights were walking around the Eiffel Tower, and along the Seine, both during the day and at night. We took an hour-long cruise seeing some of the places we had already visited but from the vantage-point of the river.
Chocolate is quite a big deal in Paris, with chocolate shops all over the place. We came across this one near Sacre Cour, and yes, this gargoyle is made completely of chocolate.
In spite of the unrest, we never felt unsafe in Paris. Yes, there was and still is civil unrest, mainly over income inequality, sound familiar? Damages seemed to aimed at the higher class stores, like this one.
Paris has always been an elusive, someday I'll get there, dream of mine. I am so thankful I have experienced it. As I begin a new road trip, one filled with lots of reading and writing, as I pursue my Masters in Library and Information Science, I will keep this week close to my heart. And even though I wasn't a bit homesick, I still enjoyed discovering the popularity of a local favorite, close to our hotel.