Paris, France. The name invokes so many feelings and thoughts. Arguably most of the most popular cities in Europe (if not one of the most well-known), Paris to me evicts scenes of coffee shops and bread stores with some national monuments mixed in. Paris would be our first stop on our tour of WWII battlefields with my grandfather, dad, uncles, and brother during a weeklong tour. I was mentally prepping myself for cappuccinos and delicious food. But first, we had to get there.
I met up with my grandfather at BWI airport on Wednesday evening. After we had both checked in and gone through security, we waited to board our flight. I ran into a former coworker and her husband of mine from my previous job who were not only taking the same flight out to London, but the same flight as I back from London 10 days later (small world huh?). We caught up for a little bit before our flights boards around 9:30 PM EST.
This was my first time flying British Airways and I have to say I was quite impressed. It takes a lot to get a jaded infrequent traveler like myself excited about a 6+ hour flight but they managed to do so. First, their meals were *actual* food and decent portions but drinks were also complimentary. This rule included booze- I was floored. After being nickeled and dimed to death on domestic airlines (including my recent trip to Chicago), it was a very welcome sign that my flight over and back would be as enjoyable as it could be considering I was crammed into a metal tube flying through the air at hundreds of miles per hour.
We landed in Heathrow in the morning (their time) and after dealing with security we ran onto our next plane headed to Paris. It was a short flight (a little over an hour) so almost missing the plane wasn’t too bad in our minds. What my grandfather and I didn’t realize is that as soon as we got on the ground we would be throwing our bags into our rooms and hopping on the tour bus to tour Paris. We met the tour guide, the bus driver, and the rest of the tour group before piling onto the bus and heading towards downtown Paris.
One thing that amazed me about Paris from the get go was the sheer level of graffiti. It was everywhere, and for the most part it was pretty good street art. While traveling on Paris’ version of I-495 (which I can assure you even with the international translation still has horrible traffic) the graffiti would literally stretch for miles. What was even cooler to me was the amount of international (not france) pop culture influences. Mario was commonly seen as well as various American comic book characters.
Once we finally got into the city, we drove by a few monuments before being dropped off at the Arc De Triomphe. This monument divides the Ava de la Grand Armee and the Ava de Champs Elysses in two via a massive traffic circle. (There is also an homage to this monument in GTA IV.) The Ava de Champs Elysses is basically the equivalent of New York City’s 5th avenue with every designer brand you can think of has a store. My uncle Paul lived in Paris for a short while and spoke French, so he navigated us around as we headed down the Ava de Champs Elysses headed towards the Louve.
To be continued….