This week’s edition of ‘A world of inspiration‘ is brought to you by Ashley Bruckbauer who is from Dallas, Texas. Ashley is a recent college graduate who is specialised in Art History. Ashley shares with us a wonderful encounter with hospitable Parisiens (yes, they do exist!) on her first solo trip to this enchanting city.
The Hospitable Parisien
My first day as a solo traveler was unfortunately not all I had hoped. I arrived in Paris after the 12 hour flight slightly jetlagged but extremely excited about the adventures ahead. While in the taxi on the way to the apartment which would serve as my temporary home during my month-long stay, I phoned the contact person for the rental company who was supposed to meet me. After 30 minutes on the phone with three different people and a garbled story about a broken moped, I discovered I would arrive at the apartment alone. I was promptly left on the side of the road after the taxi driver unloaded my mountain of luggage on the curb. Nothing says “American tourist” like a hot pink Reebok carry-on bag.
Each excruciating minute of the 45 I waited on the street to be let into the apartment dragged on like a lifetime. Soon after my arrival one of the tenants in an apartment overlooking the street began throwing firecrackers at me, the small ones that pop when you throw them on the ground. Finally Fabien, my savior, rescued me by running up the three flights of stairs with my large suitcase to let me into the apartment while I huffed and puffed with my small carry-on. As he introduced me to how everything worked in the apartment and I began to get settled into my charming new digs, I thought to myself how everything was definitely looking up!
Unfortunately, after Fabien’s departure I discovered a major problem. The adapter I had bought for my laptop was not compatible with the sockets in my recently renovated apartment. No adapter meant no charger, which meant only about 3 hours of total battery life! As I fretted over the computer catastrophe, I realized I was hungry. Nothing but a bag of granulated sugar was in the apartment, so I ventured out into the streets of Paris. Did I mention I arrived on a Sunday? On Sundays, most everything is closed in Paris. Walking along the near-empty rue de Rennes, I became more and more depressed with each darkened shop. Finally, I found the one thing open: McDonalds. McDonalds? I left America for France to eat at McDonalds? I must say, as I sat alone eating my dry filet-o-fish sandwich at this American chain all I could think was “What have I gotten myself into?”
This encounter was Parisien hospitality at its best
Thoroughly depressed, I decided to go to one of my favorite places in Paris: the Eiffel Tower. I know, oh so cliché, but this iconic monument seems to have curing powers for the dejected American tourist. While sitting in the surrounding gardens enjoying a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower and beginning to feel slightly better about all my mishaps, a young Parisien boy and his father stopped to talk. I don’t even remember their names, but I do remember the young boy was very interested in my Ozarka water bottle. As I asked him his name and how old he was, his father sat down on the bench next to me, and began asking me about my own life in America and what brought me to Paris. I told him I had visited the city for the first time the previous summer on a study abroad program and that this summer I was here doing research for my thesis. He was very impressed with my art history background and proud that I was making a return trip to Paris to study French art.
We continued to talk about the city and art history and he shared about his own love for the magic of Paris, saying he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. This encounter was Parisien hospitality at its best and on a night when this American solo traveler desperately needed it! People often discuss how rude the French can be, particularly Parisiens, to tourists. However, this random meeting of two (well actually three) strangers offered me an alternative view of how Parisien pride and hospitality can intersect to make even the most downtrodden of tourists feel at home. Though I still hit bumps along the way and dealt with many not-so-pleasant Parisiens, this one showing of hospitality stuck with me and gave me the courage and the heart to continue on what would become one of the most challenging and rewarding journeys.
About this week’s guest writer
Ashley Bruckbauer is a recent college grad and avid art historian researching 18th and 19th century French and late-Imperial Chinese art history. Her goal is to eventually become a university professor of art history, facilitating intercultural understanding between Asia and the United States. She intends to soon depart for Shanghai, China where she will be teaching English to kindergartners while learning first-hand as much as possible about the Chinese people, culture, and language. Read about Ashley’s adventures on her travel blog La Vie en China?.
Follow Ashley on Twitter.
Read other ‘World of inspiration‘ articles:
- Ghosts of the Past
- A Lesson in Humanity from a Thai Ladyboy
- A Survivor
- Pay It Forward
- Memories That Last Forever
- The Man from Mandalay
- Her Generosity of Spirit
- The Rebel
- Traveling the World Ten Days a Year
- An Inspiring Safari Field Guide
- A Familiar Face in a Foreign Land
- The Cellist & the Historian
- His First Flight
- The Man Behind the Miracle