A friend and I decided to hop on a train from Brussels to Paris at the very last minute, and managed to arrive by early evening – just in time to wander through the soft lamplit streets in the January cold. It was my first time in Paris, and I absolutely, breathlessly loved it the moment I walked out of the train station…
So when D-Man and I went to Paris a few months ago, I got a twinge of disappointment when I didn’t entirely feel “the magic”. You know, the airy feeling of being in a dreamy and charming place, and thinking to yourself, “Oh my God, I’m finally here, right at this moment, I’m here!” That feeling will always be one of my favorite things about travel.
But instead I was in Paris feeling overwhelmed by the traffic, the stuffy air, and the large crowds of people taking over the sidewalks.
At one point during our trip, just as the temperature dropped and night began to fall, D-Man declared he’d like to go back to our warm apartment and just unwind for the evening. I hesitated. Not that a warm apartment didn’t sound enticing, but I really wanted to see if I could get that magic back. So I told D-Man I’d rather stay and feel the city transform into its nighttime self.
So I stayed a while. I took in as much as I could – children playing by the park next to the Eiffel Tower; people buying souvenirs and steaming food from the street stands; Parisians making conversation with foreign tourists; and an old couple scolding one another before breaking out into smiles.
Eventually, I stretched myself out, stood from the cold bench by the Eiffel Tower, and began to walk…
Just as I had reached the end of Champs-Élysées, the entire city became awash with light. The water in the fountains began spouting with such ferocity I thought I might cry. Instead, I laughed and relished in all of the ooohs and aaahs of everyone who had also witnessed the city’s sudden and beautiful transformation.
…and slowly, eventually, the love I had for Paris came seeping back.