December 29, 2012

What is Paris? (Day 55)

There was so much to write about Paris…


… and so little too.

Much of what we know — the Sacred Heart cathedral, the Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Obelisk, all other famous tourist spots, ones that one is obliged to see, we saw. If anything, I thought it was overrated. Some streets stank.

That is such a negative lead paragraph.

I liked the lit Eiffel Tower though — we found a spot, supposedly only so we could park the van, but from that corner in the road, we had a full view of the tower, one that we marvelled at. We helped ourselves with taking endless photos of the tower with ourselves, individually and as group, as the foreground, wondering “Is this actually the Eiffel Tower?”


I liked the view of Paris from the Arc de Triomphe too. I was informed that Napoleon would stand on top of the structure to view his entire city, to monitor if there were riots brewing in the city or rallies on the streets. From the top, you could see a perfectly-lined web-like view of Paris. It must have been hard for an ordinary Parisian during this leader’s time to be idling on the road at night and not be caught.


I didn’t get enough sleep last night.

I woke up too grumpy to take pictures. I didn’t see the point. Why did we have to stop at a spot with a very nice background, smile, wait for the click of the camera, turn 45 degrees to capture another backdrop, then another angle, another shot, one more, and another, and a last one? As if we were modelling these places.

I wished we had more time. But there was no time to observe, to feel the cold breeze brushing my cheeks, to keenly gaze at the gilded arcs of a church and wonder how come it still stands here after all these years. There was no time to look at people and tourists and ask what brings them here? What are their tragedies and conveniences and luxuries in life that they’re here? And what will Paris do to their soul? There was no time to care, no time to blink for a normal tourist like me who chases all the famous spots, when there was always something beautiful to see at every corner, to notice some girl who wears a black-knitted bonnet and wonder why she chose that colour that day. There was no more time at all, but only to daydream of a kiss, a French kiss, maybe in the future, in Paris when I go back here, the most romantic city of all.


*This is part of a 68-Day Travel Diary called Reflections of a Nearly Thirty. Read the full Reflections Series here.

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  1. […] these European cities — Cologne, Nuremberg, Munich, Salzburg, Lucerne, Grindelwald, Geneva, Paris, and Brugge — in that order through a ten-day European road trip where I saw history and the […]



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About hellopenville

Writing is my one true north. (The other is eating spaghetti. I make the best pastas in the whole world I swear!) I have been writing since age 10. I remember being in another school a lot because of Campus Journalism contests. I was a grade-school copyreader, headline-writer, and feature writer, who emerged to be a college editorial writer and eventually a TV news writer. However, I have always been an insecure artist. These constant condescending thoughts always stopped me from creating: “No one would read this.” “This has been written before and therefore no one would read this.” “This is not interesting enough and therefore no one would read this.” “This is not relevant, or factual, or trendy enough and therefore no one would read this.” But I learned to risk to write even if no one reads it, than not to have written anything at all. To resist writing is to resist truth itself, to betray that which comes freely to you when you do not allow it to be manifested through you. I didn’t think writing was serious work. But every time I thought about writing, it would make me nervous. It would rattle me and frighten me. I would shake the ground under me. Aren’t dreams like that too? Read more at


Europe, France, Travel, Travel Reflections Series (3 months in Europe)


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