Any bad impressions I had of Paris were completely wiped away after my second day there! Day two consisted of a trip to Montmartre, the location of the Moulin Rouge and the amazing Sacre Coeur cathedral. The streets of Montmartre are lined with artists selling their art while they painted. It was amazing to just stand and watch some of them as they worked. And of course I bought a painting to take home with me!
I could have roamed the streets of Montmartre forever, but I think I was most impressed by Sacre Coeur. After walking up 300 steps, I entered the cathedral underneath vaulting arches, and it just took my breath away. (Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures inside the cathedral.) I have to admit that I started crying. It was just overwhelming being surrounded by so much grandeur, and the solemn, spiritual atmosphere is palpable.
I think the experience at Montmartre was one of the most lasting impressions from my trip. We all think our world revolves around us and our little corner of the world, but traveling forces you to realize you are only one person in a million, and there is so much else out there: things you could never even imagine until you finally step outside your boundaries. Sometimes I think we set these boundaries for ourselves and refuse to step out of our comfort zone. But let me tell you, it is one hundred percent worth it! Was I in my comfort zone during most of my trip? Absolutely not! I was surrounded by people who spoke a different language; I don’t speak French at all. I was unfamiliar with the customs, language, streets, money, everything. But I learned and grew as a person so much through the experience. I don’t want to imagine a world where I don’t continue to step out of my comfort zone and force myself to expand my boundaries. Because once we cease to learn, we cease to live.