This is part of a blog series called “Cool Things I’ve Done on Vacation”, an exploration of the greatest moments I and other travelers have had while traveling the world.
This is a guest post by Roxana Oliver, travel blogger and contributor of Style by Asia.
I’m sure that most of you get very excited once Valentine’s Day approaches: the weather is nicer, the people are warmer, shop’s windows come to life with romantic decoration and you can taste the aroma of love in the air. For the past three years, Valentine’s Day carries an extra special date as it was the time my dear John took us on a trip to France. If any of you are thinking about going abroad on a romantic getaway with your loved one – I say go for it!
It all started pretty naively when John approached me with this idea of going on a brief vacation somewhere far away from all the stress that we were stuck in. It sounded like the perfect idea as we both were going through some major difficulties with our jobs and as the year 2013 was closing in, we decided to go to Europe, to the capital of love – Paris. Strangely enough, he didn’t want me to bother much with the booking details. He took it upon himself, so I was free to plan our trip and all the sight-seeing tours we could fit into only a couple of days.
The moment we arrived, we left our bags in the apartment and rushed to the busy streets. The vibe of the city is palpable, you can smell the history embedded deep within the beautiful facades of the tall buildings, the streets are just as you have imagined them and seen them in movies – cafes packed with neatly dressed people, busy discussing important topics over hot coffee and fresh pastry, top names of the fashion industry having ultra-modern stores in some of the most rustic building I have ever seen (the blend of the two worlds seems like a piece of art itself) and that’s just something you pass by every day. Can you imagine what the monuments look like in real life?
Our first stop was the Sacre Coeur – Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. It’s situated atop the hill of Montmartre, the highest point of the city. Once you manage to climb up all the steps and grasp for air, you will be lost for words when you realize you have the entire Paris literally at your feet. For as long as your sight goes, all you can see is the city. Amazing. Montmartre has always been a sanctuary for artists and artisans, as it is today. When the weather is nice, you can see painters at just about any corner doing their work – you could even have your portrait done by an independent French artist, how cool is that?
After having lunch in a small restaurant on the hill, we took a long walk deeper into the district of Pigalle to one of the most iconic places of Parisian nightlife – the magnificent Moulin Rouge. The tickets for the show were completely sold out (you should consider booking them in advance if you want to witness the spectacle first hand), so we merely pondered the beauty of the huge windmill from the outside.
The red light district is just around the corner and it seems as if you are in Amsterdam, only the streets are more narrow and the girls are a bit prettier. We wrapped up the night drinking exquisite wine we bought in a local liquor store at our apartment and marveled the beauty of this city before going to sleep.
The second day was reserved entirely for the Louvre museum. Now, I could write a book about the wonders of the artwork on display, so my only comment would be to visit the museum yourself. It’s a must when in Paris. Our third day was another sight-seeing round: we started with a casual walk down the beautiful Champs Elysees along the many luxury stores and fancy cafes to the fantastic Arc de Triomphe. Once you get there and gaze upon the boulevard from the top, you feel like a true champion. We took a metro and went to the memorable Eiffel Tower just to take a few mandatory tourist photos.
Then we went a few more stations further to the Montparnasse Tower where you don’t have to wait as long to get in and the tickets are cheaper than for the Eiffel Tower – and you get to see this famous monument in a magnificent panorama view!
Our last day was John’s choice (and I easily understood why) – another must do – we went on a river cruise in France. We let the river Seine take us deeper into the wonderful countryside with the rich landscape – perfect postcard material. But, that day was extra special as John decided to take me out to the deck just before dinner where he got on one knee, with the perfect speech and all the movie-like moves, and popped the question. It was as surreal as the scenery that we were passing by and I could only say “yes”. I never imagined to have the full blown cheesy proposal and love it – turns out I did. Very much!
So, three years have passed since that fateful trip to the land of fantastic wine, lustful perfumes, historical art, smelly yet delicious cheese and I can’t help but wonder every single year – when are we going to go back there?