This is a descriptive essay have to write for English Proficiency. Note that am supposed to use imagination and write about somewhere that have not been to before, therefore inaccurate not to mention incredulous facts are inevitable.
The view is beyond the farthest reach of my imagination. Before my eyes lay the City of Light, stretching for miles and miles, blanketed by a golden mist of sunset. I feel light-headed, but I don’t know if it is because of the height or the breathtaking sight. Out of the corner of my eye, a beautiful French couple share the romantic view and an equally romantic kiss. My heart rues; never once had I not wished I could have shared my amazing day with someone, anyone.
Earlier in the day, I wasted no time once my feet touched French ground off the unplanned flight I took yesterday. I had several thousand ringgit (hidden in a trusty but somewhat crude location – my bra), but this was only the first stop of my spontaneous and ambitious backpacking trip of seven cities in seven days (!). I changed a substantial amount of ringgit into a couple of hundred of euros. It was a little after seven in the morning at the Charles de Gaulle; the almost deserted airport had an indolent, drowsy air to it. People strolled across the wide terminal, pushing their squeaking, shrilling luggage trolleys. Air hostesses sashayed leisurely, the click-clack of their pumps a languid beat, their luggage chanting the rolling lilt of their wheels. Cleaners lethargically swished their mops here and there.
With a mixture of English and halting French, I managed to locate the bus which would take me to the Champs-Élysées, from a passer-by. Sitting in the bus, I felt a shiver of excitement tingling down my spine. But I also felt a little lonesome; here I was, in the most romantic city in the world, but I had nobody for company in a land so foreign and different from my homeland. Thinking about this made me all the more homesick. I curled up with my knees up to my chin in my seat at the back of the bus. After a spell, the bus rumbled and moved. All gloomy thoughts of home vanished as my excitement returned. I was so wound up that my plan of memorising French phrases in the bus was forgotten. I peered out of the tiny window of the bus watching the traffic, trying to spot car models I had seen at home here.
After passing countless of Renault, Peugeot and Citroën cars, the bus had arrived at Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Stepping down the bus my stomach growled, so I fulfilled my gastronomic needs at a boulangerie called Le gros boulanger (The Fat Baker). Indeed, the jovial moustached man behind the counter was portly and he wore a baker’s hat. “Bon appetit!” he bid me adieu as I left with my purchase. I sat down on a bench while I watch life pass me by, munching on a warm and scrumptious pain au chocolat. My hunger satiated, I headed westward towards one of Paris’s more famous monuments, the Arc de Triomphe. The broad tree-lined avenue of Champs-Élysées housed numerous souvenir shops, cafés and restaurants but most were not open yet, thankfully, or I would have to submit to my uncontainable fancy for shopping.
The sun was pleasantly warm when I emerge from the underpass that led to the colossal 164-meter monument. There was a small crowd at the Arc de Triomphe even though it was only nine o’clock. I was admiring, in the most ungainly manner, at the arc when a flash of light burst out of the corner of my eye. A sandy-haired, blue-eyed French man had caught my gauche appreciation in his digital camera. He approached me to sell my picture at an exorbitant price of 5 euros! I haggled with him in broken French but he refused to lower the price. In the end I acquiesced, for my emotion in that picture was skilfully captured and I thought I look cute (in an ugly but adorable sort of way). He in turn indulged me with one more picture, this time a posed shot, before printing them out in his makeshift station of a table, printer and a bored-looking assistant. I wandered around the arc for some more before setting off to the Louvre.
It was almost twelve o’clock when I found the Musée du Louvre. I could not understand the directions given to me by an old French lady and it took me a while before I could get directions in English. There was by now a queue leading to the famous pyramid entrance of the museum. I could have entered the museum from its other entrances, but that would only diminish my French experience more in my already condensed tour of Paris. So I joined the queue, relieving my boredom with my Lonely Planet guide book and eating the slightly squashed pain au chocolat I had saved in my backpack from the boulangerie. Occasionally I listened in on the two French teenage girls behind me, who I gathered with my limited French, were gossiping about a friend’s latest beau. It reminded me so much of home, when I would chat to friends about the latest gossip, boys and such. It’s comforting to think that in spite of the immense difference in culture and physical attributes, girls around the world essentially converse about the same trivial things.
After what seemed like forever, I paid for my entrance ticket to the museum. Entering the pyramid was, as the French teenagers so aptly put it, “C’est trés cool!” (“This is so cool!”) I referred to my map of the enormous museum and located the only painting I wanted to see: the Mona Lisa. It was quite a walk to there from the entrance and I was distracted by many other exquisite paintings and outlandish sculptures along the way. The Mona Lisa naturally drew the most crowd in the Louvre and I had to wait some more for my turn to view the most famous painting in the world. Time really flies in Paris; it was almost 3 o’clock when I exited the Louvre. In my excitement, I would have forgotten about lunch but for my stomach emitting an irritable rumble as a reminder. I hurried to a café with the candy-cane-striped umbrellas and grabbed a chicken sandwich and a croque monsieur, which is a 3-tiered toast and a filling of your choice; mine was chicken mayonnaise. I was tempted to sit under an umbrella but I was pressed for time: it was half past three already and I intended to be up the Eiffel Tower at sunset. I jumped into a taxi and ate my lunch in it. I chatted a bit with the cab driver. He was really nice: he gave me a discount for the fare when he found out I was a student.
My foresight was right: the queue to the Eiffel Tower was almost twice as long as that at the Louvre. Fortunately it was only a little after four o’clock, so I had more than two hours to spare. I tried listening in on a French couple in front of me, but their conversation was um, queasily amorous. Again, I wished somebody was with me: we could crack jokes and distract me from my weariness. By now, my feet hurt, my back ached, my shoulders hunched; clearly I was unfit to any activity of the arduous kind. This, of course, caused me to wear out whatever good humour I had and made homesickness all the more awful. The queue inched forward agonisingly. I purchased my ticket a little after 6 o’clock. After climbing a mountain of staircases, I trudged into the elevator. But as the elevator ascended, so did my spirits. That was the real highlight of my day in Paris. When the elevator doors parted, at long last, I have reached the peak of Eiffel Tower. The sight of Paris from up there was spellbinding.
The sun’s golden shimmer is fast fading. Lights all over Paris begin to appear, twinkling one by one like stars down on earth. So this is Paris. This was Paris. I take one last, wistful glance before taking the slow descent down the Eiffel Tower. As I reflect the day’s events in the tiny glass elevator of Eiffel Tower high up in the sky, I feel so blessed to be alive, to be able to witness the splendour of Paris for myself, that I cannot lament being alone. This, after all, is my journey of discovery, not just the pursuit of seeing with my own eyes the sights that I have long pored over in pictures, but also the quest of searching my soul. And that is something that I can only share with my own self.
This is some real bullshit!