A Look Back
It’s been nearly 10 years since I gained the courage and had the financial means to take my first international trip. Back then, I was filled with curiosity and a youthful mix of anxiousness and determination. I remember that time in my life vividly and fondly. 10 years later, I’m still filled with curiosity but am now armed with a solid sense of accomplishment and a deepening well of experiences to pull from.
From those experiences came the understanding that leisure travel, when possible, should be approached with a mixture of a loose itinerary and mindful, targeted wandering. Wander, don’t speed run everything, especially a richly cultural city because you’ll regretfully end up with a blurred, inaccurate or incomplete version of the story of your life.
2019 saw me taking a break from international travel after my trip to the Caribbean at the end of 2018. Then we all know what happened last year and what’s still happening. So I feel it was symbolic to return to France in hopes of starting the cycle again. So I booked a ticket to Paris with meaningful memories of another life and with hopes of creating more reasons to smile at my daydreams.
France was the first country to take me in outside the North American continent. Touching down in Nice in the French Riviera to visit Monaco for two days before heading to Spain and then London for the 2012 summer Olympics. Since then, I’ve visited over 20 different countries and have visited a few more than once. I’ve met some great people and have so many memories, experiences, stories, and photos. I feel so incredibly fortunate to have accomplished this much and to have gone this far. Here’s to another 10 safe and healthy years of exploring.
For eight lazy but busy days, I wandered the streets of central Paris. Enjoying two days of historical magnificence in The Louvre. Sampling a defeating variety of French pastries and charcuterie. While leisurely strolling the Champs-Elysees, I realized that I’m in another phase of my life compared to the first time I visited France. My first trip to Nice was highly-budgeted and I woefully misjudged the available sightseeing time and how many things I could do in a day.
As expensive as Paris is, I’m now more established in my career; earning more money so I could stay in a higher-end hotel and not have to worry too much about the price of things. If I wanted something, I bought it. If I wanted to do something, I did it. If I wanted to eat something, I ate it. I can’t even start to tell you how aware and grateful I am to be able to write the previous sentence.
Parisians were nice and accommodating so don’t believe the generalization that all Parisians are inherently unkind to Americans. Be as kind and as patient with them as you want them to be with you. Learn some rudimentary French. Or at least make an effort instead of impatiently expecting everyone to speak English. It will go a long way. Learning a bit of the native tongue will vastly improve your experience no matter where you are in the world.
International travel during a pandemic was obviously different and more complex. I’m not sure if I want to participate in international air travel in the near future but as Kafkaesque my experience departing from CDG was, I was fine respecting the safety measures as they were a small inconvenience to acquire new and lifelong memories. If anyone has questions about the pandemic measures in Paris and at CDG, I’d be glad to help you.
Travel photography is still my favorite type of photography. Paris is a strikingly beautiful city to photograph especially in black and white. I used to worry about capturing the photo and sacrificed chances to simply absorb and tattoo moments into my soul. Ultimately I prioritized the experiences and burned everything I could into my memory. The photography came second but I’m still happy with the results.
So here we are. Another successful and educational experience of another part of the planet. Below are my favorite photos from my trip to Paris. I experimented a bit with color and black and white as I’m having more fun creating the compositions I like as opposed to attempting to achieve photorealism. I hope you enjoy. Until next time. Wherever that ends up being… Au revoir.
If you’d like to see the much larger and complete Google Photos album of snapshots, including some of the amazing French cuisine and pastries, you can find it here.
This is the first time I tried to use an iPad Pro for the entire workflow. Uploading photos from my camera and phone, editing, organizing, and publishing this post. It’s going to take some getting used to.
Photos taken with a Nikon Z6. Mostly with a 24 – 70mm f 4.0. Google Pixel 3. Edited in Lightroom for iPad and Lightroom Mobile.