Today I leave Paris, the third most visited city in the world, where I met my grandparents for 5 days. I am incredibly grateful to have seen this beautiful and romantic city in such great company and, at the same time, totally ready to crash. Paris is one of the most exhilarating and exhausting cities I’ve ever been to!
We did everything I hoped to do and more. I walked 15 miles of the Seine on a beautiful fall day, visited the Eiffel Tower (which is really spectacular at night), took a stroll down Champs-Élysées and into the Cathedral of Notre Dame, stood in line for 2 hours just to surround myself with the stained glass of Sainte Chapelle (which was totally worth it), saw the original Moulin Rouge of Montmarte and took a cable car up to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
We branched out and experimented with nearly every form of public transportation, including a ride in a velo pous-pous (my favorite!), the metro, bus, and batobus (riverboat).
I stood before the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, which is a romanticized way of saying: I pushed and shoved my way through a mob of smelly, sweaty people and dodged dozens of selfie sticks to peer through a smudged-up bullet-proof pane of glass. There, in that crowded room, I rejoiced in the fact that I was not an employee of the Louvre who has to put up with thousands of clueless and careless visitors every single day. I was amazed how many times I heard people say, “What’s so special?” and “I wonder why it’s so famous.” Then, when they actually got close enough to get a good look at it, they turned their backs to the painting, took a selfie, and walked away.
My increasing irritation was indicative of the fact that I should not have been at the world’s busiest museum, viewing the world’s most popular painting on my last day in Paris, when I was totally exhausted. We located the nearest exit and set out to get some red wine.
On my first trip to the Monoprix, a local store, I was bedazzled to see that a bottle of decent red wine costs less than a pack of chewing gum! This good news was a bit of salvation after a stressful day of sight-seeing.
In the end, one of my greatest highlights was an 8 course Bateaux Mouche dinner cruise along the Seine. Besides the fact that this was a lovely excuse to buy a little black dress and dress up for the first time since 8 weeks of traveling, the sights, sounds (live music!) and stories we shared throughout the duration of the evening were totally unparalleled. Such an incredible evening would be hard to forget.
It is probably fair to say that I’ve had my fill of touristy temptations for quite some time and I’m ready to settle into the quietness of Holy Hill, Ireland, which will be my home until December 1. I’m excited to get out into the fresh air and reenter with a nice long hike.
Tomorrow a few of us will make the 20 mile pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick, the place where Saint Patrick is said to have fasted for 40 days in the 5th century. Since 3,000 BC, Croagh Patrick has been a site of both pagan and Christian pilgrimage, especially for the Summer Solstice.