This whole thing started on the third day of Thanksgiving break; we’d been in D.C. for two days at that point, and had seen more than half of the sights on my D.C. To Do List. And yes, that required capital letters (or, perhaps, capitol letters). My husband, worn out from a day of sight-seeing, looked at me and sighed–“can we PLEASE go somewhere with a pool and blender drinks next time?” he pleaded. Yes, yes we could, I told him. But there’s only one place on earth I could think of that I’d be ok with such sloth and gluttony–Las Vegas.
We visited Vegas last summer; it was my first visit and his third. I loved it there. I LOVED it there. I LOVED IT THERE. And while I did drag him out into the hot desert in an overpriced rental car to see Red Rock Canyon, that was the extent of our ‘to dos’; the rest of the time we lounged by the pool (ok, it was 104 degrees out–we lounged IN the pool), ate fancy meals, and took in various Vegas shows. It was very relaxing. And I couldn’t even feel badly about it, because there was absolutely nothing educational, historical, or cultural for hundreds of miles around.
I can’t say the same for any other vacation I’d ever take. We did Ocean City Maryland one year–the first and last year we will ever do that–and the Jersey shore is simply NEVER going to happen, for many good reasons. But anywhere else I’d go–even to a beach to ‘lay around’–would involve some other type of tourism. Florida–I’d want to see Epcot and St. Augustine. Mexico–that’s a no-brainer, the Mayan Rivera. Ditto with anything in South America–we’d be trekking through jungles more than we’d by sipping drinks poolside. Even on our honeymoon we took a 6 hour glacier trek (sans helicopter–we hiked in). But the people who designed Vegas did a damn good job making sure that leisure was the only option. I think it has something to do with the fact that it is in the middle of the desert; that and the ‘to go’ cups for drinks at restaurants. And so, on Christmas night, we smiled and clicked ‘book this trip’, and secured a week at the Paris Hotel for our first week of summer vacation.
We booked this trip with the understanding that this was what my husband wanted–a relaxing vacation–with the understanding that I’d also get what I wanted–an experience vacation. We started out planning a trip to New England and Canada. I don’t know what happened, but at some point we started looking at Canada and New England Cruises. I think my husband didn’t want to drive (and knew that I wouldn’t drive). This led me to look at cruises to Bermuda, which I was doing one evening with my mother when she randomly suggested “just look at see how much it would cost to go to Paris”. At some point the next day, I purchased Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door, and now here we are.
To be fair, the Europe trip has been downgraded considerably. We spent an entire evening making ‘must-see’ lists and planning a trek that spanned the continent, from Amsterdam to Prague, down to Rome and over to Paris. We created and saved a google map. We learned how to pack three weeks worth of clothing in a backpack. And then I spent five minutes researching Eurail Pass fares. And that was the end of that.
We decided instead to focus on one must-see location per year. It made sense to start in Paris; my main goal was to see Paris and his main goal was, well, to make me happy. And so it was that we found ourselves looking forward to the summer of Paris Squared. Let there be light.
This was our original plan. Ha!