It was a beautiful 72 degrees as the sun was setting in Paris in April. As we crossed the opulent Pont Alexandre III bridge our mouths hung open staring at the silhouette of the Eiffel Tower against a shocking kaleidoscope of color.
We were tired from the day. My husband, me, and our two best friends were in Netherlands the day before, then we drove to the border of France and The Netherlands to spend the night. Waking up at the crack of dawn we stopped at a bakery as soon as we crossed the line into France.
In the backseat, my girlfriend and I cut up slices of cheese and passed them up to the front with the boys to eat with fresh croissants. She cut her finger slightly and used the brown paper bag with the bread inside to stop the bleeding. We watched out the window as castles, green grass, and yellow flowers streamed by.
We made it to Monet’s Garden, did a tour, then high tailed it to Paris to spend a few days touring the city.
Back to the sunset. It was getting increasingly beautiful and we were right there by the Eiffel Tower. So we ran.
I remember having trouble keeping up because I was laughing so hard. Four Americans running in the street to see the Eiffel Tower as if we’ve never seen anything so miraculous before. I was wearing an obnoxious hot pink button up denim dress that matched the sky. My husband Michael was in his uniform: a pair of shorts and his signature “Thrive” shirt.
After admiring the Eiffel Tower we had a delicious meal at a nearby restaurant, “Café Constant.” We sat at white linen table, ordered the second cheapest bottle of wine on the menu and dined on pecan crusted fish and foie gras.
Our friends were ready to head in for the evening. Understandably so.
“You sure you don’t want to grab a drink,” Michael inquired. We couldn’t just go home. We had to explore. I’m not sure how many times we’ve been to Paris at this point, but I’d guess it’s at least 9. And despite having days after this to explore, our motto tends to be, “we have to see it all.”
We walked around Paris in the dark, stumbled into a fancy hotel, had an apertif at a swanky bar, and watched as the sky dimmed to black and the Eiffel tower glittered. We walked home with huge smiles on our faces.
There’s a movement for “slow travel.” The idea is that you take your time to do activities without putting too much pressure on yourself to do it all. I read this in a Bon Appetit travel article:
“It’s not possible to hit every place on your list. So don’t even try. That desire to visit 30 different spots is also what makes you end vacation more tired than when you began.”
And while this is valid, and if this is your preferred travel style, I accept it. But it’s not mine. I’m not exactly sure how leisure time emphasizes learning. I travel with a notepad. I go on tours and scribble down what the guide says. We make a list of places we want to see, yes, sometimes it’s 30 places, and I’ll be damned if we don’t see it all, and then some.
We go to museums and obsessively read signs. I find that as I move, I enjoy more.
Growing up, I was lucky enough to go to London with my parents when they taught a study abroad program. Each summer, my sisters and I would spend 6 weeks spending time in and around the city. I remember being a teenager and feeling lazy one afternoon.
“You can sleep when you’re dead.” My Mom told me. And I got up, and I got out of our flat, and I walked around Piccadilly Circus.
That day, walking around Piccadilly Circus I ran into a friend from home. We decided to go to a play and then walked around Leicester Square that evening. We happened to stumble upon the grand opening of “Charlie’s Angels” where I got to catch site of Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu from behind a tree. It was one of the most memorable days of my trips abroad.
And maybe, as I travel now, there’s an echo from my Mom in the back of my head to “get up and go.”
Yes, sometimes travel is tiring, but it’s always worth it.
When we moved abroad in 2016 to live in Germany for 3 years with the purpose of travel, we thought we’d slow down. The opposite happened.
The more I travel the more I learn that I’ve only scratched the surface. There’s so much to unearth on our planet and the more places I go, the deeper my love for travel and exploration gets.
I recently found this article on slow travel from Remote Year: “You can wake up without plans for the day, unsure of the adventures that await you, but with the knowledge that what you’ll experience will mean so much more than a post to social media could convey.”
I think not having the plan, might be the problem. I always leave time for meandering and getting lost. But we have a map with pins and a detailed plan. And that means we don’t miss out on things that are right around the corner.
Maybe some are burnt out on travel. And by all means, slow down.
But I’ve been traveling my whole life and, to me, seeing a city or going on a hike in the forest is like drinking an espresso. It fills me with so much excitement I feel energized to see more
My advice for travelers, no matter what, is go at your own pace. But do remember… you can sleep when you’re dead.
You might also like: You Can Sleep When You’re Dead (One of my all time favorite travel stories.)