Paris, France - Summer of 2012.
Sometimes in life, you experience incredible moments of serendipity. Our trip to Paris came about as a matter of such serendipity. You see, in addition to my Spanish teaching duties, I also taught one section of German 1. Every other year, our school would take a trip to Siegen, German to visit our sister school. As luck would have it, the other two (probably more qualified) German teachers couldn't make the trip that year. The chaperon duties fell to me - guide 20 high school students through international travel, make sure they return home in one piece, and be their touchstone throughout their time abroad. The students stayed with host families, practiced German, experienced what life was like at a typical German Gymnasium (high school), and visited some castles. We arrived on a holiday weekend, so the students' host families had activities planned for them. Some went out of town, others got tours around the city, etc.
Good chaperons that we were, my husband and I dropped the students off with their host families, left the phone number of a cell phone we had borrowed from one of our hosts, and hopped on a train to Paris.
We had 2 full days to hit all the classic Paris destinations - the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Eiffle Tower, sunset boat ride on the Seine, the Arc de Triomphe, and Champs Elysees (that I still can't pronounce). I all but wore a hole through the sole of my Toms walking to our various destinations. Not only were we short on time, but also on cash.
Each one of those destinations was awe inspiring in its own respect. Justin marveled at the Arc de Triomphe. I raved about the crepes we purchased and subsequently consumed in a park along the Champs Elysees. We got the obligatory Eiffle Tower at sunset photos.
For me, however, the best memories of our weekend jaunt in Paris came on our last night in the city, followed by the morning of our train ride back to Germany.
On our sunset boat ride, while trying to tune out - or eavesdrop on - the group of American high school students in front of us, we saw group after group of youths along the shores of the Seine drinking and laughing. Justin and I looked at each other with wide eyes. We knew what we had to do later that night.
After dinner, we hustled back to our rented apartment for the complimentary bottle of wine that we had somehow not yet opened. There was no time for glasses! We threw on an extra layer for warmth, and made our way back to the river. No historical building could compare to the memory that followed. We passed the bottle of wine back and forth, taking swigs as we discussed the future, joked around, and enjoyed the spectacular vista.
The next morning, we hauled our bags through the empty Paris streets on our way to the train station. We found ourselves with some extra time on our hands, so we stopped at a corner café across from a bakery. We sipped our café au lait and watched as the Parisians went about their daily life - grocery shopping, bike rides, and walks with their children. When the little bakery across the street opened up, I wasted no time in walking across the street to get my last chocolate macaron.
Ahhh...wine, café au lait, and a chocolate macaron - that is how I remember Paris.