Paris & Barcelona: a sort of disclaimer

So I just got back from 10 days in Paris and Barcelona for Christmas and New Year’s.  I originally planned to write about my trips to Peru and Mexico first, but those will have to wait.  I want to get this trip down while it’s still fresh in my mind.  I’ll have the first post up tomorrow, but for now here’s a little disclaimer I typed into my iPhone a few weeks before this last trip began:

Okay, so I assume most of you reading this have been to Paris.  It seems to be one of the first places Americans travel to abroad, a jumping off point.  Well I’m going for the first time and I’m going to be seeing just about everything on the tourist trail.  I know most travelers scoff at anything touristy, but these are things that need to be seen.  If you moved to NYC after college and haven’t been to the Empire State Building or Coney Island, you’re doing it wrong.  The side streets, the dive bars, the small cafes with no signs, they’re all great but you’re still not seeing the whole picture.  You’re isolating yourself.  So my first trip to Europe.  I’m going to the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, The Louvre.  I’ll be in Paris again one day and maybe then I’ll scoff and complain about tourists, making sure to only do things off the beaten path.  But first things first.  Let’s see the big sights with cameras slung around our necks, fanny packs full of maps, travel guides in our hands.  Right now my mind is full of Henry Miller, Hemingway, Gainsbourg, Gaudi, and Guy Debord.  teenage dreams, everything is romantic.

After Paris is Barcelona.  Yeah, expect a photo of me smiling in front of La Sagrada Familia.


  1. John Hilton

    Boy Oh Boy do I know what you mean about Paris Mark. Yes I have been and it was one of my first trips abroad some 35 years ago and it does seem to be obligatory to any traveler. It’s just not one of my favorites not that I wouldn’t go again This summer I will be in Barcelona with the extended family so I will be tuned into your assessment of that city VERY closely. That is a city I have been dying to go to and the clock is ticking down.

    I hope it’s all I have been dreaming about. From what I understand there is no bull fighting there. So I will be along for this write up so lets get the show on the road. BTW… I happen to live in Boston and I have only been THRU NYC. I have never seen Coney Island or the Empire State Building but I have been to Havana. Go Figure

    • mark

      Yeah, no bullfighting in Barcelona anymore! I think it was outlawed just a couple years ago. I’ll try to write some good tips for you in my write up. Definitely do your homework before you go, it’s a huge, confusing city. It took me a few days before I started to find the areas I really loved.

  2. Nancy Miller

    Mark, I am so glad you are doing this trip. I am going to Barcelona in May and I am going to love listening to what you have to say. I have been to Paris several times and I LOVE the city. i could sit all day on the Champs- Elysees people watching. I also love to stroll along the bank of the Seine and walk over the romantic bridges along the river. Happy New Year and enjoy your travels. Thank you for sharing your adventures. Nancy (Cuba Trip).

    • mark

      Thanks, Nancy! Yeah, I really loved Paris. I definitely want to go back one day. You’ll love Barcelona, it’s a great city. Hopefully I can write some recommendations that will be helpful for you.

  3. Marisa

    My husband and I are going to Paris (7 days) and Barcelona (5 days) this June, so I’m glad to come across your blog on the trip advisor forum. Looking forward to reading all your posts, thanks for sharing!

  4. David Hilton

    Howdy doody Mark,
    I went to Barcelona a few years back with my family. I was struck by the young demographic. The average age of the people walking the streets was early 20’s or so it seemed to me. Ever since I have been asking my daughters to plan on living there for a year while in college. It is such a cool place to spend some time .

    It is a very civilized city. We all felt totally at ease there. We did the touristy stuff, of course (no disclaimer needed) but we also got a sense of the history and culture by reading and learning on the fly and just hanging out. Tapas rules.

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