I’ve dreamed of traveling to Paris for as long as I can remember… I even took French language courses in high school while most kids took Spanish (a much more useful language to learn as Texas has a lot of hispanic culture) because I hoped to one day get to explore the magic of Paris for myself. When my now-husband and I started dating in 2020, I told him all about my lifelong dream of Parisian travel, and he was more than happy to hop on the bandwagon with me. As an avid traveler himself, he’s always looking to add new destinations to his never-ending travel bucket list, a quality of his that I truly adore. The Global Pandemic quickly took over and travel became basically nonexistent, so we spent hours upon hours researching and planning future travel adventures to help pass the time. Finally, in 2023, we were finally ready to set our Paris plan into motion.
The first 9-hour flight from George Bush Intercontinental Airport into Amsterdam Schiphol Airport felt like a breath of fresh air after having taken multiple 14+ hour flights to India in the past year. What a relief! Here, we had a couple hours of a layover until we would board our final flight to Paris. While waiting, we decided to have breakfast at McDonald’s as they have different menus in each country, and we love to try local menu items. One of the specialties in The Netherlands is fritessaus, a delicious dipping sauce that the Dutch pair with their French fries, and Mickie D’s version was absolutely tasty! Next, we popped into Starbucks for Moni to get his daily “coffee fix”. The first thing that we noticed about this Dutch Starbucks was the amount of pastries available. They had a much larger array of options than that of the cafes in the U.S., which Moni and I decided is a good thing because we don’t need that kind of sugary temptation on a regular basis. While there was an enormous selection of sugary sweets available, it was interesting to notice that not many people were actually purchasing them. We were curious if Europeans have less of a sweet tooth than us, or if it was just pure coincidence.
After grabbing our coffees, we found a nearby area with some outlets available, so we took a seat and spent some time charging our phones as we still had at least an hour until our boarding time would begin. Moni got up to find the restroom and not long after leaving, the lady sitting at the table next to ours looked at me and said “do you…” then proceeded to finish her sentence in Dutch. She apparently thought that I looked like I speak Dutch, which I found to be hilarious! When I told her that I don’t speak Dutch, she quickly apologized then continued the conversation in English. She told me that she is the director of a children’s choir and is heading to San Diego, California for work, then asked if I could take a video of her sending a message to her students about traveling to America for the first time. I have no idea what she said in the video as the message was in Dutch, but I thought the idea was really sweet! This was the first of what would become many interactions with strangers throughout Europe where I was assumed to be able to speak a language other than English.
While sitting on our final plane into Paris, the trip did not feel real quite yet. I’m not sure why, but it might have something to do with not being able to fathom that this dream that I’ve had for so long was finally becoming a reality. I often struggle with imposter syndrome and feeling like I don’t deserve good things in life, though I believed that as soon I could see the Eiffel Tower in-person with my own two eyes, that these feelings about this particular trip would quickly wash away…