This trip was bittersweet for me. I got to spend some much needed time with Alin alone, but being away for 10 days from the kids was hard. I signed off of Facebook and Twitter and kept a small photo diary of my trip on my Instagram. Being “unplugged” opened my eyes and allowed me to really see everything around me. When Alin and I visit places, we don’t like to plan very much. Our favorite thing to do is wander and get lost, letting the paths, sounds, & smells lead us where they may.
Our first lunch date was at a nearby cafe and while eating our delicious French food, we heard a woman practice her Opera singing from an open apartment window up the street. My eyes teared up a little and Alin smiled at me because he knew how much I loved that moment.
On another day, we noticed hundreds of people sitting along the Seine River. We went down and laid ourselves along the edge, just listening to the conversations nearby. At one point Alin pointed out a group of people behind us who seemed to be friends meeting up after work. They greeted each other with multiple kisses, and each brought their own edible item to share; cheese, baguettes, wine, meat. There were around 10 people in this group and we just sat there and watched them interact with each other for around 15 minutes or so. It was at this moment that I noticed no one was on their phones. They were fully engaged in conversation, eyes locked on each other. I looked around, and noticed this was the case with almost every couple or group we saw there by the river.
At Musee du Louvre, all of the art was beautiful, but we especially loved the French paintings. I still can’t understand how artists did what they did back then before cameras and with fewer tools than we have today. I went into the Mona Lisa room and eventually pushed and shoved my way to the front. I stood there for a few moments just to take her in. I saw her 12 years ago when we were in Paris for our honeymoon, but she was in a room alone, and there weren’t many people in there. Now, she’s in a room with other large paintings, and herds of people surround her. I looked around and noticed that most everyone was looking at Mona through their cameras and phones, but would rarely take the time to actually see her with their own eyes. “Really?” I thought. When I was done looking at her, I took a photo of her, then photographed the scene behind me.
Another thing I loved about the culture was the food experience. Cafe chairs everywhere faced out towards the street to encourage people-watching. Meals were presented flawlessly and tasted glorious. Dinners lasted easily 3 or 4 hours, sometimes well into midnight. You never saw people on their phones. In fact, it felt strange for me to even pull it out to look at the time. Some bakeries looked like museums, selling dessert that resembled art, almost too nice to eat.
So many people dream of seeing the Eiffel Tower in their lifetime and will never get to see it, which is why I don’t take for granted that I was able to see it on two different trips in my life. As cliche as it may seem, it truly is one of the most romantic sights to see with your love. When the lights started twinkling at exactly 10:00pm, my heart skipped as I heard the gasps of the crowd around us. It was magical. I then heard old school jazz music so I followed the sound to some bushes nearby. I turned the corner and in front of me were couples dancing to street music as the Eiffel Tower stood behind them. “Is this for real?” I thought.
That question frequented my mind.
I also enjoyed watching many fun stereotypes come to life on this trip. Couples french-kissed. People walked around with baguettes. Everyday citizens transformed their average stances into supermodel-Kate-Moss-like poses when they smoked.
We finished off the trip with a day at Versailles. Although the main palace was a bit intense as far as crowds go, my favorite part was biking around the grounds and gardens. The sunshine, the breeze, the views… just magnificent.
So with all of that said, here are some images I took with my iPhone 5s. I took some film photos as well with my Beseler Topcon SuperD camera, and you can see those in Part Two. We also shot a wedding at a beautiful country estate just outside of the city which I am very excited to share later on.