It was a chilly, overcast day in Paris, and I’m sitting upon the hill that is home to Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Montmartre. My second day in Paris has led me here via the Metro. For the first time while on my European excursion, I am taking time to breathe and relax.
Amsterdam was my first stop. I was getting used to the city and did not know what to do with my time every moment of each day. I wanted to explore and do it all. But as I sat on that hill in Paris, I came to an important realization: It can be so much more fulfilling to NOT try to cram every little thing into a trip like this. I am given 12 days to see five major cities in Europe. There is NO way that someone can have enough time or money to check off all the sites or places on his or her list.
As I sat there, in the heart of Paris, I just looked. I looked out at this beautiful, rich city below me. I looked around at the people walking up and down the stairs that led to the Basilica. I heard accents and languages of all kinds. People of all ages surrounded me. Some people were alone while other met with friends.
“I am in the heart of Paris, one of the most amazing cities in the world.” I thought to myself. I took a few deep breaths and consciously told myself to not freak out and obsess over what I couldn’t fit into my time there. These cities are not going anywhere. The history and monuments will still exist if I don’t get to them all in one trip.
That moment was an important turning point for me. I always romanticize and over-plan vacations like this European one. There are times where I forget to breathe and just enjoy where I am. I have to constantly be moving, going, seeing. But it is just as important to stop, breathe and just look around you. Whether I was trying this in Paris, London or Edinburgh, it helped me put things into perspective.
I had another moment of clarity like that as I sat around at the top of Calton Hill in Edinburgh.Each of these cities are massive and full of life. They all have a million things to offer a new time tourist there. But can you really appreciate the city if you try to sign on for all of those things? I don’t believe so. In order to do everything, you’d need a good two weeks in each city.
So enjoy the time you have when you travel. Don’t obsess and worry on fitting it all in. No matter where you go, take some time to truly just appreciate the city and journey that got you there. Enjoy your travels when you are lucky enough to go.