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Paris Disappointment

FRANCE | Wednesday, 14 May 2014 | Views [145] | Scholarship Entry

We were on a tourist boat on the Seine River in Paris when my heart sank. I was in the city I had always wanted to visit, and yet I was having to hide my disappointment. My mother had just come across the fine print down at the bottom of a page in a tour guidebook.

My family and I had spent three weeks touring Western Europe. During the whole trip, both of our parents kept telling my brother and I that if there were any place that we wanted to go, we just had to tell them. I only ever had one answer for them: “I just want to go to the Louvre.” It was what I was looking forward to most on this trip.

We had seen the Eifel Tower, we had seen the Arc de Triomphe, we had even been to Notre Dame. The only thing left was to spend our last day in Paris exploring the Louvre, something we were going to do the next day.

But the next day was Tuesday. And as my mother read in that fine print at the bottom of the tour guidebook, the Louvre was closed on Tuesdays.

It was nearly 4 in the afternoon, the Louvre closed at 5, and we were stuck on a boat on the other side of the city. But the choice was clear. At our next stop, we got off and took a cab to the Louvre.

We got there not long after 4:30, but even though it didn’t officially close until 5, they wouldn’t let us in. I was mere feet from the Mona Lisa, but the closest I ever got to seeing it was a giant glass pyramid in the palace courtyard.

But as I sat on the side of a pond, watching ducks swim in the clear water, the thought occurred to me that if I wanted to see some of the most famous pieces of art with my own eyes, then one day I would have to come back. That was the first plan I ever made for my future. Before I knew what college I would go to, before I knew what I would study or what I wanted to do with my life, I knew that I was going to come back someday. But it wasn’t just the Louvre. There were so many other things that I could see, so many other places I could go. I wanted to see the Roman Colosseum, I wanted to see the Egyptian Pyramids, I wanted to see the Sistine Chapel, the tower of Pisa, the Parthenon. Suddenly my mind expanded beyond the 50 states it had dwelt in for the past 16 years and let my mind entertain the idea of a life spent traveling the world.

From that moment on, I was never satisfied with the idea of a normal life. But I’m sure that one day, when I’m standing on the streets of Rome, or looking at the Mona Lisa with my own eyes, I’ll know that this is life to the fullest.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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