It was late December as my birthday was approaching number of years ago in the late 1990s, I was starting to pack for a weekend away to Palm Springs to celebrate the passing of another year. While I was packing my Better Half walked into the room with an envelope. He handed it to me and said “I think you had better open this as it may help you pack.”
I opened the envelope to find a round trip ticket to my favorite city on earth, Paris. We would be leaving in 48 hours. Wow, what a surprise! A week in Paris, a week in Paris the first week of January. Yeah, I guess the bathing suits I was packing weren’t going to be useful for this trip.
I had only been to Paris once before but it had already secured that special place in my heart that it still holds today. My first trip there had only been probably some 18 months before. On that trip it was high tourist season. Getting even close to Notre Dame was almost impossible on that first trip. However I remember my first glimpse of that imposing structure that was also one of the most beautiful works of art I had even seen. Still to this day I can feel my breath leave my body as I turned the corner to look up and see it’s magnificence.
I was transported to another time. I knew this beauty. I knew this cathedral like I knew the back of my hand. I knew deep inside of me, having never even paid attention to photos much less studying anything about it, that I had been there before. Whether it was some dream or maybe a past life experience I’ll never know, but I had been here. I knew her grandiosity to the point of intimate comfort. I could not wait to get inside to re-visit the interior that I knew so well. However this story isn’t about that trip. That was the first trip there. The trip where I actually laid eyes on a familiar place for the first time. The first time at least in this lifetime.
This trip, this special trip that the man who would one day be my legal husband gave me as a birthday present, was in the dead of winter. Turns out tourists don’t go to Paris in the dead of winter, or at least not the first week of January. It was cold but it was magnificent. It was the two of us freezing Southern Californians and a city with its doors wide open and no one in our way.
We walked right up to the ticket counter at the Eiffel Tower, with not a soul in line to buy a ticket, and walked right up to step onto an elevator. An elevator all the way to the top with only two others aboard. We walked into The Louvre only to walk right up to the Mona Lisa, when before we couldn’t even get into the room where the Mona Lisa was. We walked right into the magnificent work of art that is Notre Dame and spent hours enveloped in the beauty, history and majesty that I adored. I adored not only from my previous trip but knew from some other time, some other experience that was still a mystery to me. We walked right over to the corner, where we previously may have had to wait outside in line all day to even hopefully possibly access, only to take our first step into her infamous towers and walk right up to the top.
Seeing Paris from The Eiffel Tower is incredible. Seeing Paris from the towers of Notre Dame is life changing.