Week 4: Meeting Up in Paris

As some people may already know, my fiancé has been working for the U.S. embassy in Moscow, Russia during my time in Bosnia. Before I left for Sarajevo, we had planned to meet up in Moscow halfway through my 8-week stay. Call it ignorance, or just chalk it up to being an American, but I truly did not think I would have any issue applying for a Russian visa in Sarajevo. Especially because Russian citizens can apply for an American visa virtually anywhere. I found out about a week into my trip that I would NOT be able to apply for a Russian visa abroad, only in the United States. Freaking out, my fiancé and I began scrambling for another destination. Looking at flights to various European cities, we finally chose Paris, France.

After we decided on Paris, I told my fiancé that I had to come clean about something. When we first started dating, he had shared all of his amazing travel adventures with me. Impressed that he had traveled to over thirty countries, I decided to stretch the truth about where I had actually traveled. When he came to my apartment for the first time, he looked at my collection of Eiffel towers on one of my bookshelves, asking me if I had ever been to France. Embarrassed to say no, I casually answered “Oh, yeah. I went to Paris on a trip with my French class in the eighth grade.” I had no idea that we would end up dating, and then eventually engaged. When I told him that this was actually going to be my first trip to France, he burst out laughing, “I can’t believe you did that, you’re ridiculous.”

I’ve wanted to go to Paris for as long as I can remember. One of my favorite movies growing up was “Passport to Paris” with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who play the granddaughters of the U.S. ambassador to France in the movie and fall in love with cute French boys. Instead of taking Spanish, I opted for French all throughout middle school and high school. When I got to college I made it to the intermediate level, quitting during my junior year when things started to get too hard. I couldn’t believe after all of these years I was FINALLY going to experiencing Paris for myself. When the plane started to descend, I looked out the window and could see the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, which looked like miniature figurines from the air.

I waited in arrivals for my fiancé’s flight to land for a little over two hours. Lost in my phone, I didn’t even realize he had arrived. Suddenly, I felt two hands on my shoulders. There he was, standing right behind me. I felt a rush of overwhelming joy come over me. We’ve never been apart from each other for more than two weeks.

That night was crazy. France had won one of the final Eurocup 2016 games against Germany, and the city was going wild. Cars were honking in celebration; people were hanging outside of their windows flying French flags, screaming. Crowds begin to form around every major landmark. We passed by every sight that I had waited years to see. Our cab slowly made its way through the traffic and finally we arrived at our AirBnB, which had an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower.

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The view from our AirBnB apartment!

The next morning, we woke up and took a cab to the Louvre. Luckily, the crowds weren’t that big, and we had gotten there early enough to not wait on any lines. We started with the Islamic art, and then went on a mission to find the most famous work of art in the world, the Mona Lisa. Passing by masterpiece after masterpiece, we finally found her. There she was, a tiny little frame protected by a glass shield surrounding her on all sides. Tourists from all walks of life pushed forward, gasping in awe (or maybe disappointment) and crying out in different languages. Several people stopped to take selfies (I’m also guilty of doing this). Finally, Dan and I made our way to the front. “That’s it?” I asked. “That is what all the fuss is about?” We both laughed. It was amazing that people had come from literally all around the world to catch a glimpse of this tiny, underwhelming painting. The crowds surrounding the painting were more of a sight to see than the painting itself.

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The Mona Lisa… as tiny as ever.

After the Louvre, we made our way to the park, which is also home to a little amusement park of sorts, with a giant Ferris wheel. I begged Dan to get on it with me. We paid, and got on, and rode all the way to the top. Immediately I started to regret it. Here we were in this tiny little metal basket, over a hundred feet in the air, swaying back and forth. I tried to focus on the view, but I was hanging tightly to the edges of our little rusty carriage. I was relieved when we finally got down.

Afterwards, we got some slushies (which I ordered successfully en français) and made out way to the famous Love-Lock Bridge. I had brought a tiny little travel lock with me, which included two keys. I wrote our initials and the date on the lock, and we found the perfect spot to put it. Counting to three, we both threw out keys into the Seine. Legend has it that any couple that puts their lock on the bridge and throws the keys into the Seine will be together forever.

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On our way back, we decided to find a place for lunch. Both of us missed eating Thai food, which is a usual thing for us back in Denver, and decided to find a Thai restaurant on Yelp. After 45 minutes of walking, we arrived to the restaurant and found out that it was closed (even though Yelp said it was open). We sat down at a nearby bar, had some drinks, and plotted to find another Thai restaurant. Eventually, we found one that was more than authentic. We had an amazing red curry that seriously beat most Thai food that we have eaten in Denver. It was extra spicy, a luxury for me because spicy food is virtually nonexistent in Bosnia. We spent the rest of our day wandering around Paris, and that night we laid in bed watching our favorite TV shows while feasting on sushi (another thing that’s extremely hard to find in Sarajevo) and Pizza Hut. It was perfect.

On our second day in Paris, we made our way to the Palace of Versailles. This is somewhere else that I’ve always wanted to go, because I love Marie Antoinette (she was a feminist for her time!) and the 2006 movie “Marie Antoinette” by Sofia Coppola is one of my all-time favorite films. The soundtrack, the visuals, and the historical accuracy are incomparable. Versailles itself is breathtaking. It’s so decadent—the architecture, the gold, the gardens. They even have a Ladurée on site. After touring the main grounds, we took a tram to Marie Antoinette’s special hideaway, known as Le Petit Trianon. I was lost in awe. Finally, I was walking through the same hallways and down the very same stairs that Marie Antoinette herself had walked. It was a dream come true for me. I’m still amazed that Sofia Coppola had been granted permission to film her entire movie at Versailles and in Le Petit Trianon. It was like walking through a little piece of history, where I was Marie Antoinette for the day. Thank you Danny for organizing our trip to Paris and for making sure I got to see Versailles. You are the kind of partner that everyone deserves to have in his or her life. When we got back to the city, we spent the rest of our night eating baguettes and candy and drinking champagne. Just hanging out in our little Pied à Terre indulging ourselves in every way possible.

Our last day in Paris was a little hectic. We didn’t realize that the Eurocup Finals would be shutting down almost every street and the Eiffel Tower. The city was crazy, with crowds everywhere. We could hardly move in the area around the Eiffel Tower. Everyone around us was sporting either a French or Portuguese flag for the game. We walked our way down the Champs-Èlysées and found a Ladurée, where we stopped for some macarons. It’s one thing to have Ladurée in New York, but an entirely different experience to be eating Ladurée macarons IN PARIS. I was in my glory. Getting a cab back to where we were staying was almost impossible, but luckily we were able to make it back safely. Once again, we got Thai food, only this time we ordered it online and decided to stay in for the night, due to the crowds. I was successful in answering the phone and speaking to the delivery guy in French when he arrived! #SoProud. We spent the rest of the night finishing up Game of Thrones, because the last few episodes had aired while we were away. All night long we kept hearing banging, which sounded like fireworks. Later, we found out that the crowds at the Eiffel Tower had gotten rowdy during the game (France had lost against Portugal, 0-1) and started setting things on fire. The bangs that we had heard weren’t fireworks, but water cannons and tear gas being fired. Good thing we had decided to stay in.

Saying goodbye to each other at the airport was one of the most difficult things I ever had to do. We had a weekend away from reality, and now we had to go back to it. Being together in Paris made me realize how much I had missed Dan, but it also made me realize how strong our relationship truly is. We have spent the entire summer away from each other, following our dreams while still supporting one another and making sure we each achieve our independent goals. I hate to brag, but I truly have one of the best men as my other half. We are each other’s rocks, and we are a team. We are strong because of each other. If we had to do this summer all over again, we would, in a heartbeat. We know that the opportunities we are experiencing this summer are once-in-a-lifetime, and that no matter what, we will always have each other to fall back on.

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