When Chris and I first started dating Paris was the first place we discussed visiting together. He had been during his backpacking trip years ago and always talked about taking me there (a helpless romantic)
Here we were, two years and 17 countries later, standing at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in a truly surreal moment.
Over a year of planning and ten months of running from one country to another slowed down into a moment of awe in front of (arguably) the worlds most distinguished (and beautiful) monument.
We spent three days in Paris, which was much too short but allowed enough time for a great mix of activities. We stayed with Chris’ friend Justin who had been working in Paris for the past year and made us feel right at home in the city of love.
We enjoyed the Musee D’orsay and made sure to catch the Eiffel Tower in the morning and evening, both times being absolutely magnificent. Sneaker sight seeing was our tour of choice boosting Paris to the top of our list for favorite places to run… in the world.
Although we didn’t take time to explore the Louvre, we walked around the gardens and enjoyed our rendition of the obligatory “jumping pictures” (sadly, the only jumping pictures of the trip).
The beauty and character of Paris is unmatched.
We left the city Friday, Nov. 23rd around 5:00 in the morning with a Car Share arrangement we made earlier in the week. Isolated from news and internet for our first day in London, it wasn’t until Saturday afternoon that we discovered the devastating news of the attacks on Paris the evening before.
Family and friends were relieved to hear from us, but digesting the news was painful, making the past three days even more surreal.
How could it be that the lovely historic city we just left was now changed forever?
It was a nightmare that left us sad and speechless. We were overwhelmed with questions of what this means for travel safety and comments about the dangers of being away from home. It worries me that people may use this incident as a reason not to travel, which would be even more devastating.
Now, more than ever, we need a better understanding of individuals seemingly different from ourselves. The unfortunate reality is that similar attacks can and have been happening right here at home. Whether the terrorism is fueled by religion, race or cultural differences, it all stems from hate caused by a misunderstanding or lacking acceptance of human differences.
As Dr. Marcia Sirota puts it so eloquently in her wellness blog, “We are all connected, even if the terrorists try their hardest to push us apart. Our true power comes not from hatred but from love; not from defensiveness or aggression but from compassion.”
Traveling opens the doors to see and accept these individual differences and allows for compassion and empathy to thrive. We’re all wired to focus on negatives (violence, deaths, war, terrorism) but for every violent individual full of hatred, there are millions of people making the world a better place.
We can’t let devastating events like these hold us back from seeing the good that’s all around us.
Chris and I were lucky enough to see first hand the love and generosity that flourishes all over the world. I encourage others to move past fear to see for themselves and take time to get to know this (truly) awesome world we live in, especially a beautiful city like Paris.
Not only do I hope that people resist the natural reaction to fear travel, I hope that events like these inspire us to travel more so we can better understand these global issues and move towards a solution, together.