Achieving Euphoria

“The difference between a tourist and a traveler is that a tourist seeks only comfort while a traveler seeks discovery. They take more risks. They get pleasure in overcoming difficulties and discomforts, and they seek out the people.”

-Lea Lane

I found this quote today while browsing the web and I felt like it almost hugged me. Lane’s words really got to me and made me ponder what it sincerely means to be a traveler. When I talk about my travel experiences, the idea of staying in a hotel v. a hostel came in mind. In fact, I had a pretty heated conversation with an older cousin today when I told him I’d be couchsurfing in NYC pretty soon. Although I have some amazing friends in NYC that I could stay with or sleep in a hotel, I knew I wanted to give this popular sleeping arrangement a shot. My cousin couldn’t understand why I dreaded the idea of staying in a resort where the staff would cater to my every need. For me, it’s not about the financial concern. I’ve stayed in both 4 and 5 star hotels as well as hostels of all sorts around the world. It’s much more difficult to find that sincere sense of authenticity when staying at a place like a resort. My takeaway from the high-end spots have left me feeling empty whereas the hostels made me feel like there was a sense of empowerment and reason to live and explore. The people who were there didn’t care about life’s futile attempt at just gaining an extra buck as opposed to gaining a new outlook on life. Your wealth is defined by the impression you make on others, or how you make them feel as Maya Angelou suggested, rather than your bank account.

At the end of the day and for as long as I can, my natural desire steers me towards the more adventurous route. While I’ve never couchsurfed, I’m thrilled about the opportunity to meet people who can share with me their personal stories and philosophies on life. My thought process is to open your mind to as many new ideas as possible. That includes seeking out people and befriending others who you never thought you’d have any association with in life. I love being surprised by people and that’s something I’ve found in the people I’ve met “randomly” through life. Sure, sleeping in a room with strangers can be a terrifying concept, but trust me, those encounters can prove to be some of the best experiences of your life. Take it from me – a good number of my very best friends to this day were founded on these random encounters (I’ll elaborate more when I have time). And so it is, on your next trip to a new location, or even just wandering through your own hometown with a new set of eyes, I ask that you follow Lane’s tip to “seek discovery.”




A Traveler’s Regret

I’ve traveled to numerous cities and countries around the world. Looking back, if I could do one thing differently, I’d send myself a postcard from every city I’d ever visited. I’d buy postcards from Prague, London, Basel, Paris, everywhere, capture the highlights of my time in each city on the back, and send it to myself. That way, I’d always have a souvenir waiting for me at home. You’ll never forget some of your fondest memories like what you did, who you were with, and what you ate. People tend to send postcards to friends and family whenever they visit a new city, but I challenge you to start this trend for yourself.



Paris – A Truly Unforgettable City

Oftentimes, we lose ourselves in the everyday fast-paced world, forgetting to just live. Close your eyes, breathe, and relax. You are free and unstoppable while your surroundings wander into this mass confusion that we call “life.” Slowly, you start to feel like you are in a fairytale as you begin to smell the subtle scent of freshly made croissants and the sweet lingering aroma of delicate macaroons at the nearby bakery. All around you, you hear the beautiful sounds of one of, if not, the most romantic languages in the world. Left and right, you are hearing the two-syllable phrase, “Je t’aime,” being rolled off of people’s tongues.

Open your eyes. You are in the city of love and of lights. The beauty of bright, bold colors surrounding you is overwhelming. The grass is lush and looks as green as the Irish countryside, whereas the roses at the street vendors are a dark, bloody red. It is true what everyone has told you about this city. Between the woman in the royal blue dress with white polka dots, forest green cardigan, brown leather messenger bag, and the classic black Louboutin pumps and the man in the slim fitted dark jeans, white button-down, black leather jacket, and black leather pointed shoes, you know you are in the world’s most fashionable city. Above all, this man and this woman are not even a couple. This is simply the normal style for the everyday Parisian.

You are wandering the streets of Paris, searching for one of the most famous monuments ever built. You simply cannot miss it. The Eiffel Tower never looked more iconic than during this stunning moment when you realize that you have made it. The monument engulfs you in its enormous size and stature so much that you feel chills running down your spine. “How did anyone create this?” is your thought. You had always seen it in pictures and magazines, but you never realized just how massive it was until you were standing right under it and thinking how many days it could take you to climb. Couples, young and old, laugh on the rich green, grassy fields by the tower as they share a bottle of champagne and savor a baguette, fresh out of the oven, with comté cheese. You can almost taste the creaminess of the cheese against the warm, fluffy bread.

Thank you, Google, for this awesome shot of the Eiffel Tower.

Thank you, Google, for this awesome shot of the Eiffel Tower.

Venture out and spend some time with the dead. Take a light stroll through the Père Lachaise Cemetery. There, you will come across the tombs of some of the most famous and influential people to have ever existed, including the tomb of Oscar Wilde. The tombstones here look almost like a gallery between the varying degrees of uniqueness with each memorial. It is too easy to get lost. Some are mini chapels with antique stained glass windows while others entail the shape of the actual deceased people. A crisp, light breeze encompasses you as you walk around and smell the freshly snipped lilies and roses that visitors leave in memorial for the dead.

One of my favorite writers happens to be buried in one of my favorite cities. Oscar Wilde's (1854-1900) tomb in Paris.

One of my favorite writers happens to be buried in one of my favorite cities. Oscar Wilde’s (1854-1900) tomb in Paris.

As you leave the cemetery, you come across a nice Frenchman who is willing to show you around the rest of the city.   He takes you to some of the other most famous places in Paris. First, you two savor a crêpe, smothered in the warm goodness of nutella spread on top while you walk around to your next, seemingly unknown destination. It lightly toasts your fingers as you grasp onto the dessert for the short amount of time it is in your hands before you devour it. You can only imagine how gratifying it tastes. It enters your mouth and tastes like heaven as both the crêpe and nutella slowly melt on your moistened tongue.

Your next stop is the Tuileries Garden. You start to learn from the Frenchman, Georges, that the exact area you are walking down is the place where Parisians celebrated, met, promenaded, and relaxed in the 19th and 20th century. The sandy path feels smooth and relaxing under your feet, which is a nice change from the tough, historic cobblestone roads.

Shortly, you will come to the Louvre, home to over 35,000 objects, including the original Mona Lisa. Those three glass pyramids in front of the museum look so fragile that you cannot help but want to go inside and see what all there is to offer. Walk some more and you will find yourself in front of the Notre Dame. There is so much to do in this city that you will never find yourself bored or alone. Between the shopping on the long strip of the Champs-Élyssées, the historical Arc de Triomphe, the infamous Moulin Rouge, the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre, and the Palace of Versailles just a short train ride away, you understand what “c’est la vie” really means. There’s no negative connotation, but rather, “this is what you should be doing with your life” meaning. This experience truly is “the life.”

Tourist-ing at the Louvre (April 2013).

Tourist-ing outside of the Louvre (April 2013).

What’s stopping you? Take a break from the real world, learn about a new culture, and get excited about your future. You can be in the most popular travel destination in the world right now. Your adventure is only a plane ride away from learning about all of the incredible and adventurous opportunities out there.

Touristy side note: From my 26th floor room window in Paris last year, I could almost feel the Eiffel Tower and its rotating light in my midst. It was a visual masterpiece to experience. My mind was overwhelmed with scenes from the film, The Devil Wears Prada. Check it out here: