I’m just sayin’.
One thing that has remained consistent in my life for the past 20 years, truly the only thing, has been my passionate desire to visit Paris. My father encouraged my brother and me to learn French as children (which worked on me but flopped big time with my brother) by reading us bilingual picture books, and ever since, I have been fascinated by French language, history, and culture. And croissants. Who doesn’t love croissants?
I started taking French in school when I was ten and continued through college. I even took a French film course sophomore year! Jules et Jim, La Femme Nikita—all the classics! I’m pretty sure that my
basic existence inspired Childish to rap “I’mma be on these tracks like indie girls on Amélie“. I read (and loved) the book How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are. Trust me, though, Francophilia is hardly a sympathetic condition. Revealing that you speak French at a party is like revealing that you have whooping cough—no one wants to be around you after that. So I’ve been quietly biding my time, waiting for my moment to finally hop the pond and visit la Ville Lumière.
But what’s the biggest obstacle to any dream? Money, honey. International travel is expensive af (or at least it has been presented to me that way), and until a few months ago, I was a broke college student working a retail job. I mean, now I’m a broke prospective grad student working a retail job, so, not much better, but we’ve got that wedding nest egg squirreled away and my credit score is on the rise! #tmi
So, why bring this up now? After 20 years of futile dreaming, why put a Paris trip back on the table? Well…my parents. Let me explain. My mother’s husband has family in Germany, so they recently appended a few days onto their trip to visit Paris. That’s correct—a woman who know zero French words and has no interest in coffee, wine, or fattening food has been to Paris. That was a bit of a dagger in the back, but she deserves to travel, right? She works hard! Then, my dad revealed that this year, he wants to turn 50 in Paris. It has also been his lifelong dream to go there (apple, tree), so he’s in the early stages of planning a trip for his birthday. 50 is a big occasion!
Since I’m the tech-savvy one in the fam (which is a sad, sad reality), I’ve started browsing for flights and AirBnbs in order to help him get a realistic picture of the expense of the trip, and what I’ve found has shocked and delighted me. A trip. To Paris! Is totally doable! You can get round-trip flights for under $600 if you don’t mind stopping in Iceland! AirBnbs go for as cheap as $50/night! I haven’t even begun to factor in the cost of meals, nor have I converted Euros to dollars (the exchange rate is super close right now), but still: with each Internet search I become increasingly hopeful about my chances of making my dreams a reality.
Turns out, the touristy stuff that one simply must do is all super affordable!
There are so many more free or inexpensive things to do in Paris, which is super inspiring to the broke among us! The money saved on attractions can go towards food! According to Pinterest, eating vegetarian/vegan should be a breeze there—for all of my Francophilia, classic French cuisine just doesn’t do it for me!
So, when are we going, guys? Tomorrow? All I ask is that I see Paris before I die, so let’s pack our freaking bags! That might be the most stressful thing of all—how to dress in the world’s most fashionable city. My wardrobe is not worthy!
À bientôt, mes chèrs!
New Orleans, LA
NOLA is pretty much a no-brainer. I can’t believe it wasn’t first on the original list, tbh. History, music, Cajun food? Sign me up. You can throw your own parade with a police escort in New Orleans! It seems like such a vibrant, colorful city, and by all accounts it shouldn’t be missed. You can even stay in haunted hotels!
I’ve actually missed two opportunities in a row to go there (our cousin’s company hosts a retreat there), due to lack of funds & time. Next year, if they do it again, we’re GOING.
Palm Springs, CA
Okay, so my father is convinced I’ve been here before but I’m pretty sure that’s not true. Fancy hotels? Desert heat? Mid-century architecture? Sinatra? How do I not already live in Palm Springs? Bonus points that it’s only about 45 minutes away from my grandmother’s house. I’ll definitely be swinging through town next time I’m in Southern California…
So, in the same week last year I watched a documentary about the Louisville Orchestra AND actually met someone from Louisville! Trust me—you don’t meet a Kentuckian every day in Boston! From all accounts, it is exactly as adorable and cool as I envision it being. Also, nearby bourbon distillery tours? Kentucky Bourbon Ale is one of my favorite beers.
Louisville is about 3 hours away from Nashville, which might make it a little too far a destination for a honeymoon day trip…but we’ll see.
Omaha & Lincoln, NE
This one’s a twofer, since these cities are only about an hour apart. Omaha has been on my radar for a decade, because it’s famously the home of Saddle Creek Records. You know, as in Conor Oberst? It also gets name-checked in a great Rilo Kiley song, “The Execution of All Things”: let’s go to Omaha to work an exploit the booming music scene.
Lincoln makes an appearance on here because my best friend attended a conference there last year and said that it was surprisingly awesome! I’m also a sucker for capital cities—state house tours, anyone?
Boulder & Denver, CO
So, I guess by now you’ve deduced that The Stand by Stephen King is one of my favorite books. How else would a New Englander have even heard of Boulder?
I included these cities together because they’re about a half an hour apart (sorry, Telluride, you’ll have to be in Part III). Colorado seems like a land from a fairy-tale. I mean, look at that picture. How is that even real? I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Rocky Mountains apart from flying over them, but it’s always been a dream to view them in all of their majestic glory. My knowledge of America’s topography is (apparently) so limited that I’m now realizing that the Rockies feature in at least 2 of my other listed cities.
Boulder is apparently a “hipster’s paradise,” which to me signals coffee, tattoo parlors, and craft brews. I’m in!
Okay, in truth, I only want to go here because of that episode of 30 Rock. And because the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is there. Apart from those two tiny nuggets of knowledge, I’m clueless about the entire state of Ohio. But, as they (definitely don’t) say, cluelessness is the mother of exploration!
I will say, this post was originally written before the RNC, and now with the open-carry laws and stuff I’m a little wary…
I’ve actually been to Pennsylvania three times but never made it to either of the great cities it boasts (Philly & Pittsburgh). I’m something of a history nerd, and Philadelphia is such a historical hub (much like my hometown). I feel like it’s mandatory for every American to the Liberty Bell, or to tour the rooms where the Declaration was drafted.
I’ll pass on the cheesesteak, though.
Walla Walla, WA
Walla Walla is a city in the southeast corner of Washington. One of the colleges I wanted to apply to is there, and it also made an appearance in one of my fave YA novels from my younger days. I can’t say that there’s any specific reason that I want to go there. It’s just one of those names that sticks in your mind, and I’ve heard that Eastern Washington is stunningly beautiful.
Where else should I roam? There’s so much America to explore!