When Travel Expectations are Exceeded
In the midst of my ever-present pining for the Great Unknown, one country regularly grabs my attention: France. It might be cliché or even boring to focus on the most obvious travel destination, but the heart wants what the heart wants. The delectable combination of peaches, cheese and crepes paired with a finely honed sense of style and seasoned with a light dusting of pretentiousness brings this country from the middle of Europe straight to the middle of my heart.
Recently I was presented a gift; the best gift a traveller could ever want. It was the chance to go anywhere I wanted for the whole summer with my mom. This was to be our Trip of a Lifetime. We considered South America, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. But finally in a moment of unapologetic honesty we both admitted the place we wanted to go. You guessed it.
There was a weird self-imposed pressure to go to the most exotic, most extreme place possible. After all, we’ve already been to France together. But at the end of the day, this was our trip. It wasn’t for National Geographic. It wasn’t for bragging rights. It was for us. And hells if we weren’t going to France! So, armed with our berets, baguettes and best expectations we sashayed our way to the heart of gay Paris! Mom and Liza together again – what could possibly go wrong?
As I boarded the plane from Vietnam I confided to JD that I’d over-hyped Paris in my mind. Surely nowhere could live up to the outlandish expectations I’d created. I was prepared to be disillusioned shortly.
It never happened. Paris was pure magic.
Our few days in Paris just happened to include joining the parade through the Arc de Triumph on Bastille Day. We drank the most delicious wine I’ve ever tasted – for less than a Euro a bottle. We lost weight [no that’s not a typo] by living off of the most extraordinary fresh markets fruits and vegetables I’ve ever had. And everywhere we went people were nice. Yes, I said it. French people are nice. And not just the ones trying to sell us something. Men, women, old and young couldn’t seem to do enough to help us with directions, recommendations and friendly conversation – and this for two Americans who could barely say “Bonjour.”
We often try to protect ourselves from disappointment by keeping expectations low, or creating no expectations at all. After all, low expectations are the surest way to be impressed. But this time ‘round my expectations were sky high. And how glad I am that they were! Not only did I have an amazing time in Paris, I had the great pleasure of anticipating my trip. The company, the croissants and the cloudless skies left little else to alliterate on, alligator.
And so, while Paris overwhelmed us with her open arms, we wondered what Normandy would bring. We would soon find out.