London is a riddle, Paris is an explanation

London is a riddle. Paris is an explanation.
— G.K. Chesterson

I finally understand this quote. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

I should start by sayin that this post is filled with privilege. It reeks of it. And I hate that. Because I sat here typing it as the sun fell down on my Parisian AirBnB while I drank a cup of tea and I read it back to myself with only one real thought in my mind "I suck!' 

I want to start by saying that I love Paris. Who doesn't? Even the biggest cynics can admit there is a magic that fills the air of the city. Could be the history. Could be the pastries. Maybe it's breathtaking architecture or the gorgeous interiors. I know, for myself, the fashion and the atmosphere play a part in the love affair I have with Paris. Also, our relationship is long-standing since I've been making pilgrimages to Paris since I was a child. I really don't know exactly what it is, because a lot of those things can be said of many other parts of Europe. 

Vienna too has great architecture. Berlin also has great food. London and I have a very committed relationship with one another, even more so than Paris. The fashion across most of Europe, in general, is incredible. So, I guess I'm not really sure what it is about Paris specifically I get so excited about. I think, like London, I just love Paris unconditionally. Despite the smell of garbage on the streets and graffiti on random historic walls. I really do. Hard love. I mean, Europe is fantastic. Even my least favourite parts of Europe excite me. 

But on this trip, something feels different.

Europe feels different. 

In London, I've felt a lack of ambition to see new places. I've made a list of things I haven't seen {at least not since I was a kid} and I've made only slight dents in it. I come home at the end of the day and I'm sleepy or it's rainy or my flatmate and I get to chatting...whatever it is, before I know it it's dark outside and I don't mind. Then the next day, I have this guilty feeling like 'T, don't waste a single moment.' And I try really, really hard not to. I go find free things to do, sunbathe in the parks, and check out new museum exhibits. I walk every street and take a new way home each day. All in an attempt to make the most out of all of it. 

Part of my reservations might be me saving money for the rest of this years' adventures {money trees should really be a thing}. Perhaps I'm subconsciously being a savvy spender? Or it might be the work/life balance. This isn't purely a holiday, it's first and foremost me working to make a name for myself in my chosen career path and secondly a chance to make the most of every weekend. The rest of that unadventurous feeling I couldn't figure out.

Then, I went to Berlin and Amsterdam and I felt reinvigorated. 

I made the decision to go to Berlin and Amsterdam as repeats to see people I care about and to explore the cities further. I typically like to spend more time in one place, so that I can experience it fully rather than feeling like I am seeing places as little stopovers. I had the best time in both those places. With Bastian and his family. With Kees and Taylor. I spent every hour I was in both those cities, even as return trips, on my feet. I soaked it all in. Then I came to Paris and, once again, I felt barely motivated to explore during my free time.

Which is completely unlike me.

So what gives?! I think I've finally figured it out. There's only one answer: Paris {and most of Central/Western Europe} is so familiar to me that I don't feel like much of an explorer here.  I feel lucky and excited and happy...but not in any rush or worry to see anything in particular. 

Can you even believe that? The ultimate passport privilege, aye? I hate even writing it. But it's true. Because the lack of motivation to go and see things in Paris is the same lack of ambition I have felt in London. There is so much to experience in both beautiful cities-- places I absolutely love and always get fully excited about-- so how could I stop being motivated to adventure around them?! I really don't know, but it happened.

Have I gotten out and made the most of my time? Yes, I'm not stupid or silly. But has it been work to make myself find new spots and move my ass around the grid? Oh yeah. I definitely have to motivate myself. 

It's such a blessing I get to be in Paris {and in Europe} again. I'm having an unbelievable time, truly! Getting to revisit some of my favourite spots on this familiar continent once more is an honest treat and meeting up with friends wherever I am, whenever I can, is always valuable to me. Maybe exploring with people is the ticket. Like I need to see places I've visited multiple times with fresh eyes to remind me how exciting it all is. Maybe it's even simpler than that and I have a sleep debt I'm foolishly not acknowledging. 

I know I'll find that buzzy feeling again when I get to see the bits of Europe I have yet to see. The ones still on my list {Estonia, Finland, Iceland, the islands off the coast of Spain and every square inch of Portugal} make me giddy just thinking about navigating them for the first time. Perhaps those are the parts that will put me back in the role of adventurer.

The girl who's always on the go with a camera in her hand + a deep curiosity.

I need to see new things. I would like to see them with people I care about. I would like to adventure across 'the rest of Europe' someday, but the woman I am right now has re-prioritized what she wants to see. And 'the rest of Europe' is a little farther down on the list than I realised until I got here. It took me coming here to realise that as beautiful and wonderful as this all is, it's not exactly what I need right now this very minute as I type this with every passing second. 

Which brings me to the decision I've made. Instead of continuing to venture around Europe, I'm heading somewhere new. Don't get all in a fuss, I'm finishing my internship {this is the dream role}. I'll be returning to London soon to finish up the last half of things. I'm going to make a larger dent in my list of  'new-to-me-British-must-sees.' 

But I always go with my heart and, while so much of my heart is on this continent and so many of my favourite memories remain here, I think I'm looking for something...more exotic? Watch this space and I'm sure I'll make an announcement just as soon as I've purchased my ticket! 

I'll be back in Europe again someday to finish her off. Scandanvia, the Eastern region, and bits I've missed of the Mediterranean-- I'm coming for you. Just not right this moment. You're delights to savor for another time. 

And I'll leave you with the best from my favourite.