Sometimes things happen to you while you travel, that just completely change the way you think about travel forevermore. Sometimes these things are vital epiphanies, filled with depth and soul-crushing meaning. And sometimes… you just wear the worst possible shoes on your first real full day out exploring the streets of Paris… and just get your soles crushed. (What? I had to!)
My first time seeing the Notre-Dame Cathedral. I look disgusted. This is because my feet are in deep pain.
Because it was our first time leaving North America, we were determined to see and do as much as possible. Which is all well and good if only I had the right shoes. But I had this vision in my head… you know, of me all dressed up and prancing around Paris wearing just the right outfit. I would be graceful and appropriately-dressed and look wonderful in all the pictures.
This was not reality. Especially not on our first day. Because I am not tall… but I had envisioned being tall and graceful. I’d need 3 and a half inch wedges for that… right? I mean, really, am I wrong? Wedges! Wedges are more comfortable than spiky heels. Come on — spiky heels — now THOSE would be ridiculous. But surely my feet would relish a day spent on hard three and a half inch wedged sandals, navigating the cobbled streets of Paris, exploring museums, taking the metro.
What? No, you say? That was very stupid of me?
Yeah… yeah it totally WAS stupid of me. Ugh.
So, on July 4th, 2007, we took the metro to the Grand Palais, waited in line, and then took the red bus (one of those hop-on, hop-off tours… we must have gotten a two-day pass or something) to the Notre Dame. There were many tourists, and yet the atmosphere was quiet and contemplative. The day was off to a pretty great start.
Then we walked to Saint-Chapelle, which as far as I’m concerned is an absolute must to see. I want to go back. It was very difficult to get in there — the line was incredible. It was also incredibly WORTH IT.
Well, this picture doesn’t do it justice. At all.
It was stunning. I didn’t feel that words could describe it, really. Even my feet, which were in the beginning throes of pain, could not stop me from enjoying this spectacular medieval gothic chapel.
After this, we headed to the Pompidou art museum…
Notice I’m the only one with an umbrella. I was being a tremendous wuss.
It’s inside-out design was a startlingly departure from the rest of the architecture we’d been enjoying in Paris, and I would have loved to explore it with Andrew… but my feet would not allow this to happen. I was in pain. The first exhibit we saw that had a bench in front of it, was where I sat, and spent the duration of my time in the Pompidou.
SUCH a shame!
I really wanted to explore with Andrew, but I could not. I needed all the off-my-feet time I could get. The day was beginning to feel quite hellish, all because of my incredibly poor choice of footwear.
It was going to get a lot worse.
We then went to the Louvre. The museum that everyone pines to see. At least, those that appreciate museums. And I DO appreciate museums! I honestly do! Though after I tell you what happened next, you may not believe me.
Andrew with the Venus de Milo.
After I took that picture of Andrew with the Venus… I went and had a nap. IN THE LOUVRE.
I FELL ASLEEP IN THE LOUVRE!!!!!
Who even does that?
I cannot for the life of me find the picture Andrew took of me sleeping in the Louvre… but it did exist for a time. I guess we didn’t select it for our Facebook albums… and everything we didn’t put on Facebook from that trip, had long since been accidentally deleted from our computer. (We have a better situation now, *knock on wood*.)
But yes, I wasn’t kidding when I stated in a previous post that I can and will sleep anywhere (except planes, grr).
So yes… I sometimes use sleep as an escape mechanism. In this case, my feet were in terrific pain… so I found a bench near a grand staircase in the Louvre, flopped over, and fell asleep. That is how Andrew found me when he returned.
I wrote in my journal: “We saw the Mona Lisa. Wow. And Venus de Milo. Wow.” Could I have even tried to create a more pathetic journal entry? I’m so ashamed of myself.
And so… I learned a tremendous lesson that day: wear comfortable shoes when you travel. This seems to be the obvious sort of thing that pretty much everyone else already naturally knows… but for me, I was so caught up in my Parisian fantasyland, envisioning myself flouncing effortlessly (and painlessly) in my elevated feminine footwear as Andrew and I explored the city of love together.
But I don’t think I’ll ever forget that pain… or how my insanely poor choice of footwear cost me the opportunity to see two of the world’s best museums.
Tomorrow, I think I’ll just talk shoes.