Some would say that the words “Paris” and “Culture” are synonymous. And some might even add a third word: “Style”. Little cafés, the smell of fresh coffee, the gentle light of a candle flickering away at a table. France, Paris; atmosphere of true art and inspiration, dreams and ambitions.
So why do I miss a city that have only visited once?
When I was a little girl my Dad took me on a trip through Europe; he always said that arts and travelling will be helpful in trying to understand people and the world around me. Having my own alternate world to escape to and having a chance to mould myself the way I desire to be. Not living with my Dad makes all our memories even more precious. We hold onto to them until our next adventures always managing to find something eye-catching, worthwhile and special. He has always tried to teach me how to be more astute.
Before I start describing my fantastic and unforgettable trip I just want to mention the fact that we took off for this trip in 2001, just few weeks before 9/11 happened. When I was saying my goodbyes with my Mum; at this point in our lives we were inseparable and it was hard on both of us, but in our own way we both knew how important it was for each us to understand that what we were doing, protecting one another from everything and I must admit that we still do. My Mum is my best friend and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Ever. Before I left she gave me her favourite jumper with an American flag on it and sprayed it with her perfume so that whenever I felt lonely and like I wanted my Mummy I could just hug this sweater tightly and feel at home (this will be me again when I move out btw…)
We started off in my hometown Gdansk. I still remember my legs going numb because of the many hours that we had been travelling for. As soon as we took off I put on my favourite cassette by a very popular Polish band, Ich Troje. When buying that cassette my father never expected he would have to listen to it all the way from Poland to Italy, our final destination. I would hardly sleep, just listen carefully to the lyrics, trying to learn the songs word for word so that I could comfortably join in and sing along. Surprisingly sometimes I would hear my Dad quietly singing under his breath so that I wouldn’t hear him but he can’t fool anyone; I bet he secretly enjoyed it at least a little bit.
After couple of days and visiting different cities, we reached Paris. I got out of the car, holding a magic wand in my hand, and I saw those magnificent old buildings. I was 6 years old and from the very first moment I have laid my eyes on this city, I just knew. This was where I belonged.
The capital of France is renowned for its architecture. A few of the most famous ones are The Louvre Pyramid; Eiffel Tower; Trocadero and lnstitut du Monde Arab. The Eiffel Tower is probably one of the first things that springs to mind when we talk about Paris. What are the secrets of the famous and breath-taking iron tower? What makes it so extraordinary?
It has been built on the Champ de Mars, beside the Seine River. It took 2 years, 2 months, and 5 days to build this huge tower, which was completed in 1889. When we look at it we get the impression that it is more or less insurmountable and indestructible, when in fact a strong wind can sway the Eiffel Tower from side to side. During the storm of 1999, it moved approximately 13 centimetres from its initial position. When the tower was officially opened in 1889, it was the highest structure on the planet. In order to protect it from corrosion it is fully repainted every seven years. Several countries envied France so much for having such a beautiful symbol of their culture that small copies of the Eiffel Tower have appeared in different parts of the world such as Las Vegas. The very same man who built Eiffel Tower, Gustave Eiffel, was one of the most successful engineers of the day. He also built the New York’s Statue of Liberty which was, as we all know, a gift from France to America.
The Eiffel Tower for me is intrinsically connected to one specific memory.
We were half way up the Eiffel Tower when my Dad started describing how we will get back down. He said there are several men waiting for us at the top, with special parachutes and that in order to get back down we would have to jump…
At the time I took everything my Dad said as gospel – if that’s how it has to be…well…let it! Of course it wasn’t as easy as that for me, I have cried non-stop until only few levels separated us from the top and I named them “The Scary Men”. As we got dangerously close to our destination, I dried my eyes, stood up straight and said to my Dad:
“Know what Dad? I think I can do it, I will just close my eyes, hold your hand and jump with you, ok?”
That’s when my Dad started laughing so hard he couldn’t catch a breath…As you could imagine, I was very surprised and confused. After his laughing fit passed, he confessed he was only trying to joke around. Saying I was mad would be an understatement; I didn’t say a word to him until we got back down. I should probably confess that to deny me something when I was a kid could be asking for a tragedy. The word ‘no’ just never existed in my dictionary back then.
In my opinion Paris is one of the most mysterious and fascinating places in the world and not only because of its aura of love and passion! It provides tourist information of course, but what I found intriguing was just walking and exploring; that is when I felt a part of a secret. Now, all those years ago, I am still looking for an answer and…in exactly 10 days heading off to visit Paris AGAIN!
One my best friends Nicole(aka Elfie) and I are going for three night, four days to explore Paris…Currently studying every travel guide I can find.
As I get older my sense of belonging grows stronger. I have promised myself to learn about their language, culture and history this is what I call my start, but as Hemingway once wrote, “There is never an end to Paris.” Wish me luck on my Parisian adventure!
There will be more Paris posts after I come back.