In 2000 (or maybe 1999â€” I canâ€™t quite remember exactly), my grandparents flew in from India to visit my family. During this visit, we all went on a roadtrip to New York City; there was six of us cramped up in a â€˜91 Toyota Corolla, driving for eight hours from Aubrey Grahamâ€™s birthplace to Nasir Jonesâ€™ place of birthâ€Šâ€”â€Šsounds like fun, doesnâ€™t it? And I mean the latter part in the least sarcastic way, because although there were complications and inconveniences, the trip is still a bright memory. It was trips like this that played an integral part in my childhood growth and opened my eyes to the world outside of my four wallsâ€” they birthed the traveller that is writing this blog. Of course during these trips, there were many minor hiccups; but thatâ€™s all they wereâ€” minor. I never let them take away from the overall greatness.
Itâ€™s been four days since the three of us left Ottawa (and since two of us wrote haikus on the airplane), and what a fantastic (and at times turbulent) ride itâ€™s been thus far.
Our trip started off in Paris, where we took in the free croissants, fine art, glorious cuisine (we only ate McDonaldâ€™s onceâ€¦), historic architecture, and unique odour amongst other offerings. I also took many, many, many selfies.
We started our Paris adventures with a night-walk across the city with a traveler from Kanye Westâ€™s birthplace (notice a theme going on yet?). The architecture had a consistent feel and beauty, and the lights were magnificent. We walked up to the Louvre and enjoyed the glass pyramid for a while. At night it illuminates quite powerfully and makes for a magnificent photo subject. It looks great in selfies, too.
Day 2 was quite the adventure. After taking pictures outside the Louvre the previous night, it was time to take pictures of the pictures inside the Louvre. It really helped that we went with an art history major, as she had some great insight behind most of the artists and their works. The Mona Lisa was alright, but the real show stealers were the sculptures, which made for some great selfie companions. Once we were done with the Louvre, we made our way to the Eiffel Tower. On the way there, we saw the towering obelisk and I purchased souvenirs from one of the street vendors (he was from Senegal, like Akon; our conversation started off with â€œCanada good,â€ and ended off with â€œCanada no good,â€). As soon as we got to the Tour dâ€™Eiffel (sp?), we nabbed some front row seats on the grass and spent the night shooing away â€œbeer, champagne, wine?â€ vendors. Iâ€™m not going to bore you with details of the Eiffel Tower, â€˜cause who doesnâ€™t know about it? Once we left the Eiffel Tower and got back to our hostel, we were welcomed by an unpleasant surprise. This set us back a bit as we only got to bed at around 4AM. Luckily what happened wasnâ€™t as bad as some other hostel horror stories, but it still sucked.
But all in all, things worked out and we woke up on Day 3 @ 8:30AM ready to go to Chateau de Versailles. Our feet were finally given some rest as we embarked to King Louis XIVâ€™s palace. The sun king dressed the place up really nice. All. Gold. Everything. Trinidad James would be very jealous. Needless to say lots of amazing photos were taken in the palace, the garden, and the maze. Once we left the Chateau de Versailles, I felt satisfied with Parisâ€™ attractions, but not its culture. We covered a lot in a short amount of time, but I still couldnâ€™t appreciate the cityâ€™s atmosphere, as I felt this truly was just a tourist cityâ€” one where people are in and out, thus it didnâ€™t feel as welcoming as expected.
With Parisâ€™ major attractions covered, we made a last minute decision to go to Rotterdam and take a breather before we ventured off to Amsterdam. Before we left Paris though, we had to endure 45 minutes of conflicting instructions from SNCF workers as to which platform we had to take. Once we finally boarded the train, which had lush, green pastures and windmills as our scenery, we met two guys from Georgia and we all laughed about getting kicked out of the first class compartment (thank Gods no fine was imposed on both parties), spoke about doing what you love as a career vs. doing it for the money, and eachothersâ€™ travel plans. Meeting people on trains and planes is cool. As soon as we walked out of the Rotterdam Centraal train station, we were in aweâ€Šâ€”â€Šthe city is so clean, friendly, beautiful, efficient, and thereâ€™s so many bikers on the streets! People here love smiling. I love that. Oh, and the architecture is phenomenal. Iâ€™ll probably fill up the remaining 42GB on my 64GB SD card with pictures of the buildings beside our hostel.
We donâ€™t really have much of a plan for Rotterdam, but thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m loving about this trip so farâ€” weâ€™re making everything up as we go along and so far, itâ€™s all working out (with minor speed bumps, of course).
14 years after that New York City roadtrip with my family, I look back and donâ€™t even consider the uncomfortable drive, questionable accommodation, and lack of extensive photos as bad parts of a tripâ€” they were all integral elements of one of the greatest experiences of my life. And for that, I appreciate those events. The shady street vendors, long walks that killed our feet, unhelpful train station employees, hostel roommate that made a bad first impression, and odour of the city were all critical pieces that shaped the awesome first few days of this Eurotrip. In a few months, Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™ll miss hearing â€œ5 keychains for 1 Euroâ€.