There was a recent Saturday that I did not dare to go outside. The weather was fine and I had plenty left on my to do list, but it’s hard to be a tourist for 15 weekends straight. I needed that Saturday of Brooklyn 99 in bed. Looking back on it, it probably wasn’t my worst Saturday, nor was it anywhere near my best. This low-key much needed slump interests me in the concept of what constitutes a good weekend abroad. Would my travel fatigue have been suppressed had I been on a weekend trip to another country? Should every weekend be chock full of Mona Lisas and Montmartre? If so, how do you create the feeling that you’re living out your life and not taking an extended break from reality? Thus, I reflect on “weekends.”
There’s something to be said for weekends traveling. Many people maximize their time abroad by maximizing their country count. I will say that I heavily enjoyed the fact that Brugge, Belgium was only a two hour train and made for the perfect two-day stop. Or the weekend we went to see Champagne country. Although all of these trips unfolded in the blink of an eye, they got me to see beautiful areas while also maintaining the lack of need to establish any serious routine for Friday-Sunday.
The second time of abroad weekend is the “my friend is visiting” or my friend’s friend. While these weekends are also anti-routine, they unfold differently because you’re constantly on the highlight tour. With friends you try to work in the museums you haven’t seen yet, while also showing them your favorite little niches of your new city. These weekends are really fun because your purpose revolves around making the city perform as its most cheerful self. Simultaneously, however, they are also tiring, so you might start to see why I needed a Saturday to just relax between traveling and giving tours to travelers.
The three examples of how you might spend a Saturday abroad make up about 70% of your weekends, but they aren’t the weekends I felt most at home. A really, really good at home weekend involves long stays at your favorite cozy-casual bar. They’re 11 am french workout classes in new parts of town. 10 dumpling for 5 euro restaurants. While all of these things are not particularly exciting, they create a notion of home, while also immersed in the culture of French people themselves. I learned a pretty pattern for a night out with friends – french or otherwise – and I was challenged by the norms and language seeped into these activities. When I look back, I know that weekends like these impacted me the most in the longterm. I will surely travel more in my lifetime and make it to the countries I missed on this tour – Italy, Germany, the Netherlands – but I am not completely sure that I will be able to experience the cultures of another country while it is acting as my home base. So, these weekends spent really getting to know Paris are something special.