Radley isn't exactly what you'd call a picture-taking kind of guy, so our three-week trip to Europe is mostly documented in awkward solo shots of him, or in slightly less awkward selfies that he snapped of us both. And then there's this photo of me, which Radley took on our last afternoon in Paris.
Taking advantage of the somewhat rare sunshine, we'd spent the day walking and walking and walking, meandering our way through the Tuileries gardens, past the Louvre, along the Seine, over Pont Neuf, and throughout both of the city's islands, where we let ourselves get lost again and again. We took that walk more than a few times over the course of that week, the the two of us charmed and
a little bit completely in awe of the views. Later, I came across that same route in a guidebook, which called it the best romantic stroll in Paris. And it really, really is.
That last afternoon, when Radley turned around mid-walk and told me to smile for a photo, I remember feeling so grateful that he'd asked at that exact moment, because it was such a good one — such a light and easy, I-hope-I-never-forget-this-feeling, pinch-me kind of moment. I'd been sick for six days, my body struggling after two weeks of traveling, but damn was I happy. (I suppose there's nothing quite like waking up in Paris to make you feel totally, suddenly, wholeheartedly dedicated to ignoring any and all physical and/or emotional discomfort.)
Now, a week after returning home, it's this photo that makes me laugh as I sort through the hundreds taken throughout the trip. Because for all the posed pictures beside monuments and for all the smiley selfies in front of sunsets, nothing captures my experience quite like this spontaneous, in-the-moment picture. Those clothes were in need of a wash by then, and so was my hair, and thanks to a wide range of ill-fitting shoes, my feet were rather impressively dotted with blisters on just about every side. By then I was fueled mostly by caffeine and DayQuil, but also by a big, all-consuming, childlike sense of excitement. I felt grateful and satisfied and in-my-bones happy. Damn was I happy.
I'm still sort of reeling in the wake of our trip, overwhelmed by the experience and already (inevitably) a little bit nostalgic about the whole thing. It will surprise approximately no one to learn that I very meticulously recorded all the details of our vacation in both a paper notebook and a digital app, so I apologize in advance for the ridiculous influx of travel posts that will be filling these pages soon. In any case, I hope you'll bear with me over the next few weeks as I gradually share bits and pieces of it all, and for those of you who have reached out about specific questions and recommendations, I'll also be putting together individual city guides to outline more detailed travel suggestions!
In the meantime, here's to returning, and feeling rather grateful for that, too.