One of the most intensive experiences I have so far traveling and sightseeing in Paris in my multiple trips to various museums. So far, I have visited more than 8 museums and I have much more on my list! Museums, from my perspective, represent a huge part of French and Paris culture and the history of economic, politic, cultural development. Each museum is presented in a unique fashion and represents a different aspect of the culture. And my journey walking through these museums have reflected my attitudes towards travel and the adjustments I have made throughout the few weeks.
One of the current attitudes that I have towards travel is: always take you time. Whenever I visit “touristy” places in Paris, I always see tourists rushing their way through everything without having the time to see the exhibitions and collections. I understand that everyone has the mindset that since I came all the way here, I should try to see as many things as possible in one day so that it’s worth the trip… Or, people regard taking pictures as a replacement for seeing things themselves. Of course I am not criticizing any of these attitudes, but for myself I prefer to take it easy and focus on the details of the places I visit. Whether it is listening to the guide or reading the printed descriptions (one of the advantages of knowing French – you can understand those French only description cards!), slowing down and learning the stories behind each attraction provide me with the opportunity to place myself in the scenery or reconstruct the characters in the history.
However, another attitude that I have, which might seem to be incongruent with the first one, is that skip whenever you want. I am referring to the other extreme of thinking that one should see everything to make the trip worthwhile. It is kind of a pain… to actually force yourself to look at things you might not enjoy, and as a result you might not gain an enjoyable overall experience in the end. It’s understandable that I am not going to like everything in a certain exhibition, so I just kind of selectively pick out the genre (ex. Classical Art) or the era (18-19th century) that I prefer.
Also, since I have the advantage of staying in Paris for an extended period of time, I make my “travel” into a series of activities that consist different forms of entertainment and experiences. For example, sometimes I would aimlessly wander around a street, and Paris never stop surprising me — and ended up walking into an antique shop or a historic building. I was also amazed by how Paris is a city with such a vivid combination of natural scenes and cultural sites — not only can you discover the cultural glory of this city, but you can also completely immerse yourself in the natural beauty of various gardens, forests, lakes, etc. I even consider walking into a cafe and talking to random people as a part of a legit travel experience — it was through this way that I learnt about work culture in Paris, French’s leisure style, how French people talk about other cultures and politics, etc…
I will be back with more thoughts in the following weeks, since my journey is still going on!