From the time I was about 6 years old, I wanted to go to Paris. I didn’t know why; I just knew I had to go. My father didn’t understand it either. “Why?” he asked. “The only thing over there is the Eiffel Tower.” The tower was the only attraction he knew. He was unaware of the plethora of other sights in the City of Lights.
At 16, I was given the opportunity to go. Our high school was offering students to go on a group trip to the French capital. I had been saving for years to travel and I wasn’t about to pass it up.
When we were flying into Paris, I remember thinking, ‘We’re almost home.’ At the time, I didn’t make much of it. Since I am a big believer in reincarnation, I just figured I had lived in Paris in a previous life.
Once we met our tour director, Andre Havard, we were taken to our hotel. Many of the group complained about the condition of the hotel and Andre agreed with them. He sent us out to tour the city while he attempted to remedy the situation.
By the time our bus picked us up at Notre Dame Cathedral, Andre had managed to change our accommodations to one of the Mercure hotels. Mercure is a high-end chain and we felt as if we were living the good life.
We were having a great time visiting the sights. At the Louvre, I was leaving the gift shop when an older gentleman stopped me. I was surprised and a bit afraid since I knew I didn’t do anything wrong and there was no reason for my being held up. It turned out; he just wanted to ask me questions about my trip to Paris and the museum.
The girls I was sharing my room with asked me what he wanted. They thought it odd he would randomly stop someone for no reason. I just shrugged and told them he was asking me about our trip.
We were taken around the city each day with Andre and our bus driver. We would have an occasional guide on a couple tours.
On Thursday, half of the group had booked a tour to the Loire Valley so they left early in the morning with Andre. The rest of us had a free day to go shopping and sight-seeing. We were excited to be able to do what we wanted.
Around lunch time, I heard a voice telling me I need to go. Since I knew the others wouldn’t believe me, I resorted to using the fact I had to take my medication in order to get the rest of them to go back to the hotel. After 10 or 15 minutes, I finally persuaded them to go.
As a compromise, we stopped for lunch before continuing on to the hotel. We decided to stop by a pizza place we had passed by several times during the week. We were curious as to why it was called The Golden Egg.
Once we were seated, which was next to the fire oven, it wasn’t long until we learned the reason. As soon as the pizza was taken out of the pit, a raw egg was cracked into the middle of it. Because it wasn’t something we had ever seen before, we were a little turned off by it and no one ordered pizza. We finished our meal and made our way to the hotel
At the time we were to meet Andre and the rest of our group, we headed to the lobby to wait for them. We began to worry when they didn’t show up as scheduled.
I told the chaperones that I thought I heard a page for us from the front desk. One of the chaperones went to the counter to see what the issue was. After several attempts back and forth, she and Andre were able to connect.
When she came back, she looked ashen and was trembling. She told us there was a bombing at the Champs-Elysees. Because of this, the other group had to detour and decided to go directly to the restaurant instead of the hotel. Those of us stuck were given a stipend to eat at the restaurant there.
I don’t know about the rest of the group, but I don’t remember any part of the trip after that day. What I do know is the CSPPA and Hezbollah – the terrorists responsible – did not stop me from continuing to travel. I was not about to let them win.