It was everything I expected and everything I wanted it to be. One my think that I would be appalled by such sites after living in Africa where mud-huts are the norm – but surprisingly I just felt amazed, maybe bewildered, but not appalled. Versailles was pure ridiculousness – this gilt castle, the extra palaces, the extensive grounds, the make-believe peasant’s cottage. I could just imagine myself playing a epic game of hide-and-go-seek in a huge ballgown while running through shaped hedges and around Classical sculptures.
This was my reason for coming to Paris. We had it narrowed down to a few places in Europe. But when I thought about what I wanted to see if I was never to come back to Europe – the Louvre was it. The chance to see that much art and culture in one place, to be surrounded by all the stuff I study in university, to experience the masters in person – I had to take it.
It was like everything I had imagined and more. All of the stuff I had seen in movies and read about became magnified by the deprivation of Western culture I felt living in Africa. Walking out of the subway tunnels and seeing sites like this made me want to cry.
A city to the north of us was home to the emperors of the country in the 17th and 18th centuries. This sort-of imperial city is now in ruins but still commands a magnificent presence. I just wasn’t expecting to see buildings like this in this area of the world. A walk through the old castle grounds made for an interesting and very peaceful afternoon.
I still have some photos from my trip in late summer that I haven’t shared…so I thought I would just post them together. The first set are from the pyramids in Cairo. I think it was “neat” to be there and see something that is so important in history but, for some reason, the actually experience of visiting the area wasn’t really that awesome. I am sure the culture is lovely there, but I bet going to see the most tourist-y thing there wasn’t the best example of what Cairo has to offer. So I am not judging the place as a whole. (I do have to say, the felafel I had was pretty wonderful.) The second set of images are from the city center of Amman, Jordan. Amman was absolutely lovely. The people were friendly, the city was for the most part accessible, clean, and full of things to do. I enjoyed walking around in the evening when it was cool and everyone was out socializing and eating. I have never had so much good food, for so little money, in one place in my life.
On our last night in Istanbul, I went out by myself and walked around our part of the city. Late into the evening, people were still gathering together to eat, share stories over drinks, and walk down the promenade. I may have been alone, but it felt like I was a part of something that night. The city felt alive and really historic at the same time. The city was young – with all these people living in the moment and having adventures – but you also knew that you were walking down roads and sidewalks where people had been having those experience for hundreds of years.
In the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city, we found some peace.