Photo courtesy of largeprime

When I was fifteen I got to go to Europe with my best friend’s family. We country hopped for a bit, from Ireland to France to England. We only had about three days in France, and we spent those days rushing from landmark to must-see. They say it’s supposed to take three days to experience the Louvre? We had three hours. It was like the rest of out experience of Paris, a beautiful blur. But there was one day that wasn’t so beautiful, at least to start with.

We had walked about a mile from our hotel to a restaurant, and since it was a nice restaurant I had decided to wear strappy five inch heals. I was fifteen, remember? The scars from those blisters lasted for years.  After that lunch, we walked again, this time to the Arc de Triomphe.  It was a beautiful, memorable experience, but…there were so many stairs. I suffered in silence, but the two younger kids had begun to tire. They snapped at each other, so the parents snapped at them. Then my friend revealed that she’d been holding it since the restaurant, could we please just find a café?

More walking, more beauty, more searing pain. Everyone is rapidly deteriorating at this point. We finally found a café, and everyone gets exactly what they want. The younger kids get fries, my friend gets a bathroom, and I get a chair and a lemonade. But the fries are just something new to fight over, and the toilet is coin operated, and did you know that if you order a lemonade in Paris the waiter will bring you an imposter, like 7-up? Everyone continues deteriorating.

Then the youngest boy stares across the street, and with a dazed look he says, “Hey…” and then another quiet, “Hey.” We all turn. It was one of the many enormous tour buses that we saw navigating the slender streets like migrating whales.

But this was an obscene, migrating whale. The name of the tour company is writ large in hot pink block letters across the white bus:

We sat there silently as it passed, mouths agape. If we had been wearing hats, I’m pretty sure we would have placed them over our hearts.

Apparently this bus is from a German company, and English-speaking tourists snap pictures of it all the time. I prefer to think it was some kind of vacation saving angel, because as soon as we could we started laughing, and we didn’t stop. People looked at us in confusion, but just like that our entire day and vacation had changed. We stopped bickering, fries were shared, and I even enjoyed that 7-up.

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