I like to think that your money trail (the log of all of your transactions) is your best indicator of your real life priorities. It clearly shows your actions rather than your talking points.
Since making my life list my highest priority, my biggest expenses has shifted from food, rent and entertainment to airfare, hotels and transportation. The difference wasn’t that I spent more on vacations, rather the difference was I spent less money on everything else. I moved into a crappy apartment, cut out TV, stopped going to movies, cut out most of my bar bills and gave up driving. The result is that I get to experience trips like the one I just took to Paris. For me, this is clearly a step in the right direction.
I used to always try to celebrate New Years in a hot tub with friends. Some years this happened at friend’s houses, other years it happened after “borrowing” hot tub access from nearby hotels. This year I broke my tradition and stepped it up a notch. This year, I was fortunate enough to spend New Years with my favorite girl at the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Paris was a fantastic city! It was the most livable of all of the major European cities I have visited as of yet. I spent four days walking around the city, eating delicious food and constantly being impressed. The city was as beautiful and charming as it was tasty.
I have found that for trips spanning more than two nights, it is cheaper (and frankly more fun) to rent an apartment rather than rent a hotel room. This is easy to do with Airbnb. The process is simple. You pick a place and agree upon a price with a local and you get a private room in someone’s apartment or house. For this trip, I got an entire apartment right in the middle of downtown for less than $100 a night.
Everywhere that I have been in the past that has had French inspired cooking has been fantastic. France was (obviously) no exception. They even had my very favorite food of all time, ice cream.
The Mona Lisa and the Louvre
One of my cheesier life list items has been to view the Mona Lisa. It’s story has always interested me. (Is it a self portrait of Da Vanci himself? Is the version in the Louvre actually the original? What is she smirking about? What colors was it originally painted in?) For those reasons and more this life list item has always stuck out when I scanned my list.
Unfortunately after talking to fellow life listers who have seen the famous painting, the consensus was that it was disappointing. People told me it was nearly a big ticket item that didn’t live up to it’s hype.
I went in with low expectations and was very happy to pleasantly surprised! I really enjoyed viewing it! You could get within five feet of it, it was surrounded by lots of other fantastic art and it looked significantly impressive. Even if it wouldn’t have been the most famous painting in the world, I am sure I would have stopped and admired it had I seen it laid out with other pieces.
The Eiffel Tower and New Years
The climax of the trip was spending the year switch-a-roo under the Eiffel Tower. It was a lot like what I imagine Times Square to be like on New Years (amount of people wise) but took place in an enormous park. This allowed people to spread out.
The Tower itself was MUCH bigger than I imagined it to be. The full impact of this took me when I stood underneath it.
It was a true compliment to an aged and nuanced city. It was lit well which brought out its unique details and style. To add to it, the tower twinkled on the hour every hour after sundown.
My date and I found a bench about 100 feet from the Tower and shared champagne. It was a great night. We eventually ended up finding a perfect spot, with an adorable and lively older couple who had spontaneously left their small town in England. In addition to being a great source of conversation, they also supplied an endless supply of English treats (beer, whisky, smokes and stereotypes).
After midnight we met a fun group from Austria and attempted to crash a house party. We ended up walking for miles and enjoyed some great local drinks at a small pub and some even better (and after all of that walking, well deserved) pizza.
Between the people we met, the beauty of the Eiffel Tower, the delicious food and the spirit of the city, Paris has now taken its place as my favorite European city. This was an excellent trip and another indication that pursing my life list is a movement in the right direction. Unlike the Foie Gras I enjoyed, I am a lucky duck.