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Paris 2000 - First impressions of a novice tourist

Learning to travel at the age of 48

View First trip to Europe - France 2000 on littlesam1's travel map.

Bel Kaufman in her novel Up The Down Staircase tells the story of a young teacher's first year at an inner city school. The novel opens with the teacher in her first day with her home room class. She has planned to read them a brief essay she prepared on first impressions. In the hectic and chaotic first hour of teaching with a room full of unruly students doing their best to distract the new teacher she never gets the opportunity to share with them her thoughts on first impressions. Much like Sylvia Barrett in the novel I have unsuccessfully wanted to share a series of travel blogs on my first impressions of places I have visited. And much like Sylvia Barrett I have found myself distracted and never had the time to finish my thoughts on first impressions. I thought I would start out with my first travel experience in Europe, a trip to Paris. However my introduction here of the novel and memories of reading the adventures of Sylvia Barrett have already distracted me and unless I use some discipline I will never start this series on first impressions. I will just have to put Bel Kaufman, her creation Sylvia Barrett, the novel and the movie starring Sandy Dennis on the back burner and return to them some time in the future for another blog. So let me get focused and start this blog on first impressions with the words of the character Sylvia Barrett from the novel. "First impressions are very important"


This photo is the best representation of my first impression of Paris. It was chilly, damp and rainy. The skies were overcast for three days. I took this photo from the top of the Arc De Triomphe. I did not have a digital camera so the photo was taken with film. After having the photos developed I had them also digitized on a disc. So they look faded and are of poor quality but they held all my memories of that visit. When I returned home and back to work this photo became my background on my home and work computer. I looked at it over and over and could never get over the thrill of seeing Paris for the first time. On bad days at work I looked at the photo and had an escape. After a long day I could return home and once again there was the photo. I joined a web site called Virtual Tourist not long after the trip. I had been bitten by the travel bug and was planning a second trip to Europe, this time to Italy. In my research photos from Virtual Tourist popped up so I decided to take a look at the site. . There was no Facebook at this time. Virtual Tourist became my very first social media web experience. This photo was my introductory photo on Virtual Tourist. And Paris was my first place I wrote about as a new Virtual Tourist member. Although Virtual Tourist has long since disappeared this photo remained on my page until the last day of that site. A chilly,damp, rainy day in the city of Lights.


We booked a hotel on the internet which was a first for us. We basically went into Yahoo and searched on hotels in Paris. We found one that was affordable near Pere Lachaise Cemetery. It was named "Hotel Modern". I learned my first travel lesson with this hotel. Don't believe the name or what they say on their web page. If it's inexpensive there is a reason it's inexpensive.


The room was not great. It was not even just OK. It was pretty nasty. But look at my face in the photo. I was so thrilled to be in Paris. The room did not ruin the experience. I learned my second travel lesson also from this hotel. You don't spend a lot of time in the room. So don't over pay and don't fret if it's not beautiful. The city awaits you. Get out and experience it.

I will never forget my first impression of Paris. It was magical and beautiful even on a rainy day. I had my first taste of true French Vanilla Ice Cream. It was the best ice cream I had ever tasted. I had a scoop every day. I had my first rump steak in peppercorn sauce, a taste I will never forget. I knew very little about wine before going to Paris. I drank very little wine and when I did drink wine it was usually White Zinfandel. So you can imagine my shock and delight when I had my first true French wines. I was surrounded with people speaking a foreign language. I remembered from high school how to say hello, good bye, thank you and Where is the library. I could also say I fell down in the street. So basically I spent four days saying hello, goodbye, or thank you as often as possible so I could feel like I was speaking the language I got to use my last phrase, I fell down in the street, on my second to visit to Paris in 2008. But that is another story for another blog.

Since that time I have traveled a lot. I have learned a lot. I now consider myself a seasoned traveler. I have been to many of the worlds great cities. But nothing compares to that first moment in Paris. I thought the magic might have been because it was my first trip overseas. I returned eight years later and was a bit concerned. I was afraid I would be let down this time. I thought it might be different the second time around. It might not as wonderful as my memory had made it. But I had nothing to worry about it. It wasn't me. It wasn't because it was my first time to be in Europe. It was magical because it was Paris. I took the photo below when I returned in 2008. It's the Eiffel Tower once again and taken from the top of the Arc de Triomphe once more. And it was still a chilly, gray, rainy day. And it's still Paris. And it's still my favorite city of all.


My first visit was in 2000. I returned in 2008. It will soon be 2020 and the beginning of a new decade. I think it's time for another visit.


Posted by littlesam1 06:55 Archived in France Tagged paris france eiffel_tower first_impressions 2000 virtual_tourist modern_hotel

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Love this! I really feel your excitement at being in Europe for the first time I too fell in love with Paris on my first visit (as a teenager - my second trip abroad and the first without my family) and have been back many times. The magic never fades :) And great to read your Virtual Tourist memories too. Just think, if it weren't for VT I wouldn't be reading this now, and quite possibly you wouldn't have written it!

by ToonSarah

Sarah VT changed all of our lives in such a positive way. I remember Berni writing about how VT changed her way of life. We all became family and life long friends.

by littlesam1

Loved this! My first impression of Paris was magical, too.

by Barbara S

So true Larry. Whenever anyone is critical of how the internet has changed our lives I tell them about the positive impact VT has had on mine - the friends I have made and the places I have travelled as a result :)

by ToonSarah

This is great Larry, love your website and your story. Can’t wait to read more. Congratulations.

by Diane Lnaus

Your story almost made me in love with Paris too and I have never been! :)
And I agree wholly on your opinion about hotels! You don't spend much time there. But I learned that there is one thing important about choosing the hotel and it's location, and not just about where it is but is it quiet or not. At one hotel I didn't sleep much becouse of the noises, of bars, and from other rooms..

by hennaonthetrek

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