Is it Me Or…
Everywhere I look, it seems as though travelers have happy stories of their travels. I often find myself imagining clear and sunny skies, perfect photographs of famous landmarks, a hundred smiling selfies suggesting an absurd level of honky-dory, the restaurants they chose (not forced) to visit, and the overall happy-ever-after ending. That’s it! Wait, what? No drama? And I’m not referring to the “how I almost missed my flight” drama because I almost miss my flight every time I travel—it’s actually sort of fun.
All possible law-violations aside, I frequently ask myself “where is that crazy story?”. Don’t get me wrong, I love the suggestions and regularly take heed. Nevertheless, I can’t help but wonder if the raindrops are falling only on my head. I just seem to have too many stories of being stranded at nightclubs from 12 to 7AM, defending some poor drunk woman—a stranger who passed out—from a flock of swarming pants-wearing vultures wishing to take more than pictures. Yes, I have some good guy tendencies somewhere in here. How about missing the last train and having to pony up 50 Euros just to get to my hotel? Perhaps, these incidents are all my fault because I’ve created the opportunities to solicit these whacky tales. I can’t be alone in this!
Masks and Jerseys
It was a perfect day in the month of May in Paris. My cousin and I were excited to escape the London overcast that clouded our weekend. Ironically, the sun pierced through the thin sheet of clouds as we made our way towards the train station en route to Paris. After arriving in the city of lights, we took the metro to get to our hotel and on our way out of the metro station, I took note of a woman who entered the tunnel wearing her face mask. In my sometimes whacky mind, I think of face masks as a harbinger of sorts, you know, similar to going for a morning jog and noticing a bunch of dead crows along the way. That’s usually a bad sign and if you ever experience that, then quit breathing and run in the opposite direction. Perhaps all the Nuclear and Biological attack training I received during my time in the Army ruined me for good.
Thoughts of the face mask left my mind once we placed our belongings in our room and set off for a bus tour of Paris. It was a hop-on-hop-off tourbus which was part of our Livingsocial package. We hopped on at the Eiffel Tower and on our way from the metro stop to the bus, I took note of the sea of Paris St. Germain (Paris’ top football club) kits surrounding us. I remember gushing with excitement because for me, football is religion and since I live in America, where their kind of football required body parts be reassigned, I was in Heaven.
Ride of our Lives
After touring the Notre Dame Cathedral, we hopped back on the bus. Champs-Élysées was our next stop. For much of the ride, I was much like every regular tourist—snapping pictures of jaw-dropping piece of French architecture. I fell in love with the entire Parisian ambience, down to the swarm of sirens that serenaded us, as if Jason Bourne was making an epic escape nearby. I remember seeing a squad of black mid-sized vehicles brandishing blue flashing lights as they dashed past us. Yet still, I found myself warped in the daze of French architectural masterpieces. It was a city, I thought—those sirens could mean anything. I remembered joking to my cousin that if I was the leader of France during WWII, I would’ve surrendered [too] not based on ideology but to stop Hitler and his Luftwaffe from reducing these masterpieces to piles of rubble.
As we got closer to Champs-Élysées, traffic slowed. But instead of other motorists, there was a human tidal wave. Fans, shouting indiscriminately as they closed in towards us. Having studied journalism, this became exciting for me. “Oléeeeeeee Olé Olé Oléeeeeeeee” I chanted back at them. I wasn’t sure if this was what they were chanting and besides, I couldn’t keep up the chant for long, my throat was a bit weak. The fans who heard me seemed to love it. The sirens grew louder but none of it mattered to me. This is awesome, I thought as we grabbed our cameras. I had no idea, the chaos that was about to unfold.
“I just seem to have too many stories of being stranded at nightclubs from 12 to 7AM, defending some poor drunk woman—a stranger who passed out—from a flock of swarming pants-wearing vultures wishing to take more than pictures.”