Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tour Guide

A line of sycamores in the gardens of the Chateau de Versailles, France. Winter 1991-92.

Recently, Patrick, a Flickr member whose pictures I've been viewing regularly, mentioned that he was going to Versailles. So since then, I've been offering what I know about the city and places that I recommend seeing.

It reminds me how much I really enjoy doing this. There is just something inside me that wants to share all the great things that I have encountered. Be it in Chicago, Montreal, Versailles, Paris, or anywhere else I've been. It could be just giving tips before people head there. But of course I'd love to actually be there with them to see what they like compared to myself and also to see how much they enjoy the same things that I do.

Sometimes I'm almost too eager. Taking people on whirlwind tours of the city to see as much as possible. When people came to visit when I lived near Paris, on the first day we would start at the Latin Quarter, see Notre Dame, the Louvre from the outside, walk the length of the Tuileries and the Champs Elysee, see the Arc du Triumph from the outside, then head to the Eiffel Tower likely climbing to the top just before sunset to see the city in the daylight and at night.

But I always enjoy having visitors and taking them on tours of the places we've lived. You could say it is how I met my wife. After returning from my first stay in France, I introduced myself to the French students on the opposite exchange and offered to show them around. In the first month we visited Chicago, Springfield IL, Oak Park, and Pittsburgh on a grand tour of everything Frank Lloyd Wright. We were going out by the end of the tour. Even the following year, I organized trips through a student organization to many of the same places.

Of course the best is to share it with family and good friends. Again, my first stay in France was a bit bitter sweet. On one hand I was experiencing so many interesting things. On the other I could not share it with family and friends firsthand. Eventually that did happen, but it was really just a sampling of the total experience. It's one of the things I'd love to do if we ever won the lottery. Set aside money for each friend and family member, then take a trip with them. Whether it's a cross-country road trip or a trip to another continent. The key would be to share a place they would enjoy seeing.

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