I said farewell to the good ole USA on Wednesday, January 8th at 6:10pm to start my first-time experience over seas. This flight was just shy of twenty-two hours after returning to Wisconsin from a Student Leadership Summit in Dallas the previous five days (shout-out to SLS14!). Up until ten days ago, I had never been on an airplane before. Since then, I have taken five flights. You could say I am a pro. Regardless, I felt more along the lines of Jim Halpert before his new job: “I am leaving early today for Philly, because tomorrow is the first day of my new job. So I figure I’d get in at 5:00, check into a hotel at about 6:00 so I can get a real good night of restless sleep and nervous puking.” Luckily, only half of this quote was my reality (the restless sleep part, just for clarification). Eight and a half hours later and on a grand total of five hours of sleep the two previous nights, I found my sister who has been in Italy for the past three months and just like that, we were ready to live it up in the City of Lights.
After squeezing out luggage in a tiny closet of our hotel by defying the laws of physics, we hit the streets with a map and a plan . . . well more like a loose list of sights we were interesting in visiting in three days. With Krista’s savvy navigation skills, we found our first destination: Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. Translated as Basilica of the Sacred Heart. A basilica dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and has held perpetual adoration for over 125 years! Bronze equestrian statues can be seen of both Saint Joan of Arc and King Saint Louis and although you are not allowed to take pictures of the interior, I can promise you it is stunning.
While enjoying a tasty late lunch of cafe and beef bourguignon, we discussed our next plan of action. Silly us, what better way to start off a trip in Paris than a trip to the Eiffel Tower! Holy iron latticework, Batman! But seriously though, the Eiffel Tower has 18,038 pieces held together by 2.5 million rivets.
Ready to turn in for the night, we made our way through a grocery store to find some (more reasonably priced) dinner. In French style, we began looking through the various cheeses. We settled on some Camembert and a baguette from a bakery down the street. Little did we suspect that this cheese would taste and smell eerily like broccoli. Apparently not knowing French caused us to miss the “CAUTION: contains essence of broccoli” label. Thankfully we had also purchased some strawberry-rhubarb jam and yogurt to sate our hunger.
By the end of the night, the anxious Jim Halpert in me had completely dissipated and was replaced with Sophie and the gang.
Through pure grace was I able to make it through the day without collapsing from exhaustion. I owe that one to prayers and adrenaline. That night definitely wasn’t a restless sleep.
“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine of Hippo