It’s a rainy Tuesday evening in Paris. My sister and I are exploring the neighborhood around our hotel. It’s our first time in France and we want an authentic Parisian dinner. We don’t have a guidebook, a map or a smartphone. We’re just walking, enjoying the twists and turns and hoping that a restaurant will present itself.
At last we find La Varanque, known colloquly known as “Philippe’s.” It looks dark inside. so I raise my hand to my forehead and press it against the window. Inside I see a bald man in his late 40’s wearing a white T-shirt and a stained apron. He notices me, points to the clock on the wall and then spreads his fingers wide. Five minutes. My sister and I wait outside.
At last, Philippe opens the door and welcomes us in broken English. We sit and he brings us a carafe of red wine. Later he returns with menus and we ask him to bring whatever is good. Soon enough we’re dining on escargot and beef bourguignon. There’s more wine.
A woman enters, dripping from the rain, carrying a large glass bowl that she bought from a flea market near the restaurant (my sister and I had walked past it during our restaurant hunt). We excahnge a quick “Bonjour!” with her and she begins talking to Philippe. As she does, the bowl slips from her hands and smashes on the floor. I help her pick up the pieces until Philippe returns with a broom and a dustpan. The grateful woman thanks us, pulls up a chair and spends the next fifteen minutes or so discussing her life in Paris and our lives in America. She struggles with English and we struggle with French, but that didn’t matter. We were all laughing together, smiling, eating, connecting. Four human beings who had never met before and, likely, will never see each other again. Enjoying each other’s company. Enjoying being human, alive in the same, temporary moment. It was one of the greatest nights of my life.
That’s why we travel.
There is nothing like experiencing a culture that’s completley foreign. Like connecting with people who do not live as you do, through their music, their food, their clothing, songs, holidays and flea market purchases, both broken and intact. I love travel, because it’s the most life-affirming thing I know how to do.
Starting this Wednesday, 52 Tiger will be doing a month-long series on traveling with your iPhone. I cover everything, including:
- Pre-trip planning
- Traveling to your destination
- Enjoying your visit
- Managing the return trip
- Preserving your memories
It’s going to be great and I’m excited about it. I’ve managed everything from a week in Paris to a Sunday drive with my iPhone. You can, too.
So pack your bag, grab your iPhone and get out there. The world is waiting.
This article is part of a series on traveling with your iPhone. You’ll find the other articles here.