Thursday, September 23, 2010

The thing about Paris

I struggle to sum up my summer in Paris. I'll start with what I know for sure: these past few months have been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. The uninhibited fun I had this summer rivals my college days. I'm certain I've never worked so hard or so much. My life in Paris required an inordinate amount of energy and the ability be highly functioning - even entertaining - on very little sleep. Even though my days were seemingly repetitive giving the same speeches on the same tour routes, every day was filled with an unexpected adventure.

Being a bicycle tour guide in the City of Light has to be the greatest job in the world. I met so many wonderful and interesting people this summer. I also met really annoying ones. How I'll ever sit in a cube again after having the streets of Paris as my office is hard to imagine. This job requires more patience and toughness than I ever knew I had in me. Back in July when I was working triples (16 hour day) and completely exhausted I thought that 31 August would never arrive. And now that it soared past I'm left me wanting to wind back the clock, not ready to say goodbye to the people or the position.

One evening a few weeks back after work a group of us had relay races on kiddie bikes. A bunch of ultra-competitive tour guides racing around on tiny 20 -inch bicycles was absolutely hysterical.  I recently went to an "en plein air" cinema in a park and watched Grease. We sang along with Sandy and sipped French wine. It doesn't take an organized effort to have a wonderful night in Paris. Like the night I biked to meet friends at super cool restaurant called Ave Maria and devoured Himalyan food, then pedaled around the city. Those are perfect nights.
Bike Race

I'm all about biking now. I love biking to the market and putting fresh produce in my bike's basket. Pedaling home with a baguette makes me feel so French. Fortunately I never had one get stuck in my bicycle spokes. I'd love to live in a city where biking is a popular mode of transport. Lately I find myself day dreaming about what kind of business I'd like to open in Paris....taqueria perhaps? I'm also noodling on starting an adventure travel company for women. One that combines self-discovery, reaching stretch goals and devouring delicious food all while staying in a villa on a beautiful ocean for a week. Many new dreams and ideas noisely roll around my head like my suitcase wheels on cobblestone streets. I may get tired of the noise so pick one of the ideas up and carry it somewhere new.

I met a man on a train on my way down to Bordeaux that challenged me in conversation on the idea of "blissipline." His thought is that we need not worry about being disciplined and instead focus on what makes us happy and content. Making money in and of itself should never be a goal for someone; rather it should only be a means to the real goals, be them traveling, gardening, shopping, golfing. Travel is my blissipline. Engaging new people and triumphing over challenges are my blissipline. The past eight months since I left the US have been charging after my bliss.

Ten years ago I took my first bike tour in Munich. That's when I got the idea in my head that it would be great to be a bicycle tour guide in Europe. It's been a dream of mine for years to pack my corporate life into boxes and pack a bag for a trip around the world. I finally decided to turn my ideas into reality. No one gave me this chance, I just simply decided to stop waiting for my dreams to come to me and instead go after my dreams. It is never too late, too hard or too impossible to experience life in the way we really desire. The biggest obstruction standing in the way is ourselves. Now I'm warming up a whole new crock-pot full dreams and ten years from now I hope to be writing about how fulfilling they were, and coming up with new ones.


  1. What a great article, Stefani! I am so proud of you and proud to be your cousin! I think you have a great idea with the women's travel agency. I can't wait to see what you will do next. "Most men live lives of quiet desperation," Thoreau. You, my friend are NOT one of those people!