Everyone who knows me will tell you I’m crazy for Paris – especially the Eiffel Tower. So much so that whenever my father spots anything even remotely connected to Paris or Eiffel Tower, he brings it home for me. The Eiffel Tower is a mandatory theme at my birthdays. Hera, a dear friend of mine, knows just the extent of my obsession, since she has been making those Paris themed presents for me for quite some time now.
It was my first semester of grad school when I got to know about this trip to Europe my university was planning. Wanting to seize the opportunity, I immediately told my father about it.
I mentally prepared myself to see my dreams shatter. Knowing just how protective my father is, I was expecting a big fat “NO,” followed by some emotional blackmailing.
To my surprise he gave me the green light! Yes, my father who gets extremely paranoid if I drive alone granted me permission to go live my dreams, as long as my sister tags along with me. I could see myself roaming the streets of Paris already…Who could say no to Paris? As I predicted, my sister hopped on board the let’s-go-to-Paris express in a heartbeat.
We were with a group of students, but I was the only one from my class. This meant I wasn’t even acquainted with any of them.
My sister and I explored Europe by ourselves mostly. Just the two of us.
We hopped aboard wrong trains and jumped off the right ones. Learnt valuable life lessons, such as one should not speak in Urdu in a taxi because the driver just might understand what you are saying, resulting in making a fool of oneself, adding to the list of embarrassing stories that one’s future generations’ will remember one by.
We managed to walk for hours in Venice, and strictly followed the guide since one can easily get lost in those narrow streets. Not the oh-what-a-beautiful-street lost, but where-the-hell-are-we lost.
Luckily, we also managed to protect ourselves from the dreaded pickpockets in the streets of Milan.
Not to forget, we also survived the Zurich weather and didn’t turn into human popsicles. For a Karachite who wears socks on a mere 14ºC night, it’s every bit as an accomplishment as winning a medal at the Olympics.
We dined with a kind lady, who helped us find a Halal restaurant on a rainy day in Frankfurt. We were so engrossed in our conversation that it completely slipped our minds to exchange names, make proper introduction. It was raining, we were starving, she was nice, and so we just left it at that. Just one of those chance encounters that makes trips like these so magical.
Then there was this guy selling Eiffel Tower key chains and souvenirs in front of Eiffel Tower. He gave us about 15 key chains and a giant souvenir, free of cost. He was so sweet and happy to see us. We were blown away by his generosity, considering the fact that these souvenirs weren’t that cheap.
We were walking towards Mont Fort in Zurich when a dog, Max, was coming our way with his owner. Being a dog lover myself, I couldn’t resist and sat down to pat him. He was such a happy baby and I will never forget him.
We were lost at a train station in Frankfurt; a kind gentleman helped us catch the right train. Not just that, he accompanied us and made sure that we reached our stop safely.
Our bus driver, Thomas was with us for good 12 days. He took us for sightseeing, from one country to another. Moving our luggage to the bus was not a part of his job, but he was kind enough to do that for us. Not only was he kind, he was the BEST driver I’ve ever seen, considering he managed to get his huge bus in narrow streets without getting a slight dent.
I totally forgot to mention my sister’s behavior, didn’t I? Well…we learned not to fight. Surprisingly (to me, anyway) we co-operated a lot with each other.
This trip didn’t only allow me to cross one huge item off of my bucket list, but I found a twin-soul whom I am hoping to cherish for the rest of my life, Xindagi. Yes, Xindagi with an X. She was travelling with us; we had never talked before but when we got to talking we realized just how similar we are. Along with happy memories, I came back home making a new friend.
Although I had the wistful regret of wishing we could spend a lot more time in Paris, the time I did manage to spend was worth it. Eiffel Tower is a masterpiece and it did not disappoint me. Even though I am back, the Eiffel craze hasn’t faded, and I cannot wait to go back.
With that said, I am super thankful and happy. Alhumdulillah!
This article is submitted by Areej Jiwani.