Traveling in 2021 surely has a different taste. The pandemic has set different rules, rules that change from time to time, making us search
for updates on a daily basis about what will be the next regulation awaiting our travel. Despite all of this, the expectation to be able to
visit your family, the love of your life, or that necessity that we all have to explore the world around us, in order to get to know
ourselves better, is something that we have to remember, to bring back into our lives.
Paris is the final destination for many people around the world. There’s a reason for this. Paris is somehow an omnipresent city in our lives. We might not have travelled at all in our lives, and not knowing a word of French (I encourage you to learn this wonderful language, by the way) but Paris is always there. In songs, books, and TV shows. Paris is history, is politics, is food. You might have a small Eiffel tower somewhere in your house, a poem book from Apollinaire, or a novel by Jules Verne.
This creates huge speciations when you are planning your first trip to Paris. There are so many things to do, you draw a mental image of the city, you plan the destinations, even by the hour so you won’t lose time. You get everything ready for your journey.
Certain places have a way of winning your heart. It can be something simple, like a restaurant, a place where you go with someone you love to share a coffee, and if you live long enough there, you’ll find that all of these small activities (small in appearance) have a way of transforming that place in your home. In the end, is not only the apartment you live in, is your street, your market, the museums you visit over the weekend, and the sunsets you get to see. All of these details converge into who you are and how do you evolve with your surroundings.
On that note, there is a certain homely feeling in Paris, don’t matter where you are from. We get used to seeing so many images of it, especially these days that we are bombarded with photos, that even when you are there, admiring that amazing painting that you dreamed of for so many years, you get a small feeling of finally seeing an old friend after so many years apart, travelling the endless corridors of Louvre, you find a painting that surprises you, and you can’t avoid the sentiment of saying “Oh, here you are! Is great to finally catch up with you!”
There’s this condition called “Paris syndrome” in which some people can experience some sort of disappointment when visiting the city, because of the higher expectations that they build over time with the notion of what the city represents. There are so many stereotypes about the city that we might feel inclined to see it almost like an attraction park, a movie that starts right from the moment we descend from the plane.
Luckily for me, Paris showed me its beauty without any filters, and my expectations were surpassed. I think the trick is to go to Paris with an open mind. We tend to build a mental map from what we see on tv, for example, and we almost assign the city the obligation to play an active role in how we feel.
Many people go to Paris in the search of love, for example, but in reality, these wonderful places have a way of showing you your true self, to reflect on you how much have you grown, how open are you to new experiences, and to learn more about life. You can find love anywhere in the world, whether Vienna, Sao Paulo, or Milan. Travelling teaches you to be humble, and to be happy with yourself, in order to be happy with others.
In the following entries of this diary, I will try to cover some interesting aspects of my first travel to Paris, hope it will be a fun and (at least a bit) different way of seeing a city that’s been seeing so many times before.
Written by Alejandro Ramirez G
Alliance Française Silicon Valley
14107 Winchester Blvd. Suite T,
Los Gatos, CA 95032