This month has flown by! I head back to DC in less than a week, and I still feel like I have so much to do here. One thing’s for sure – when I left DC, I escaped a lot of things… except tourists. They are EVERYWHERE (and I suppose I am one of them?). From what I’ve heard, Parisians leave on vacation for all of July and part of August. I would leave too if tourists swarmed my city. Oh wait.
So here’s the dilemma. I want to do all the touristy things! I want to visit the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre and all the famous parts of Paris, but I want to there to be small crowds and mostly French people. This is obviously not possible. So as I’m running out of time, I feel torn between the tourists and just chilling with my friends. I feel like I’m having more of a “French” experience by sitting outside in the grass with friends and drinking wine and eating cheese than I do when I’m surrounded by Americans buying cheap souvenirs and snapping pictures left and right.
I went the chilling-with-friends route on Bastille Day (July 14th) and hung out at a friend’s apartment that overlooked the city. We had actually been discouraged from going to the Eiffel Tower to watch the fireworks show. Apparently the crowds are so dense that it’s actually quite dangerous (pick-pocketing and groping galore), plus the metro shuts down, so you have to walk home afterwards. I think I made the right decision. We had a lovely time with wonderful food and drinks and company, and a fantastic view of the fireworks overlooking the city! And I got home at a decent hour in time for a good night’s sleep.
On Wednesday, I had a relatively free day and was able to do a couple not-so-touristy things. In addition to walking around Montparnasse and visiting the Luxembourg Gardens, I visited the graves of Camille Saint-Saens and Cesar Franck. There are a few famous cemeteries in Paris, but this one was less famous, so it was a nice compromise of seeing sights and blending into the culture.
So we’ll see how I end up spending these last few days. Tonight, I’ll be hanging out with friends again at Ed’s apartment. Hopefully I can find a balance of friends and Paris amidst all of the homework and studying I have to do! We have three big final concerts next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I’ll be heading out a bit early…Thursday morning… to make it home in time for my brother’s wedding on July 31st! Then it’s over to Hermitage, PA for a celebration with old friends (I lived in Hermitage from age 2-9) before heading home to DC. But I’ll only be in DC for about a week…then it’s down to NC to be with my family during my dad’s bone marrow transplant. This week may be the end of one experience, but it’s the start of lots of other stuff for me and my family. All prayers and good thoughts are welcome!