Parents in Town: A Culinary Tour

I’m not suggesting I eat better when my parents visit, but let’s just say their pocketbook is a smidge bigger than mine. At least, that’s how it felt during the week they spent visiting me in Ireland and traveling to Paris. But between bites of baguette and macaroon, we made time to see some famous sites as well.

It is difficult to balance family travel time and school when it’s only a vacation for some of us (not me), but it was so worth the extra effort despite the WiFi hunting tours and desperate essay writing attempts made over the course of the week. Traveling with family is a completely different experience than traveling with friends, even though neither I nor my parents had visited Europe prior to this trip.  My parents, being the culinary enthusiasts they are, naturally began their travels in Galway with dinner.

One of our main culinary adventures took place right here in Galway at Aniar. Aniar is one of those small portion, big price tag places you go to once every ten years, but they specialize in local ingredients–they harvest and source all of their ingredients in Ireland and modify their menu based on the day’s harvest. It was great to be able to connect with the landscape of Ireland in a new and delicious way!

A taste of the ocean at Aniar
A taste of the ocean at Aniar

After introducing my parents to the sites and sounds of Galway, we ventured into a new domain, Paris, France. After a bit of a steep learning curve, we figured out the metro system which is so handy! We were able to get everywhere we needed to go via public transportation. Our first stop took us to the Palace of Versailles which is an almost impossibly lavish destination. I felt like a real princess walking past the golden gates into halls decorated with elaborate paintings and chandeliers. The immaculate gardens follow a clear waterway into the distance as though they go on forever. I was ready to move in.

Hall of Mirrors, Palace of Versailles
Hall of Mirrors, Palace of Versailles

Of course, what first timer’s trip to Paris would be complete without world famous tourist destinations like the Eiffel Tower? It is strange to imagine such a culturally ingrained landmark for so long and finally see it in person. It was quite grand!

Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

We also toured the Notre Dame, my personal favorite landmark of the trip. I was quite surprised to find, upon entering, that a service was taking place. The contrast between the vast number of tourists and the actual service was a bit unsettling for me at first, but I’m grateful I got to hear a pair of boys sing for the crowd, and the experience on the whole was indeed heavenly.

Notre Dame, Paris, France
Notre Dame, Paris, France

As someone who is unfortunately not a museum person, I have to admit that the expansive collection at the Lourve is quite impressive. I also have to admit that I entertained myself by (internally and respectfully) making fun of paintings and statues. But in all seriousness, it is a truly remarkable collection of work and artifacts, and I envy the skill and patience it must have taken to create the world renowned works.

Classic art or a sassy family photo?
Classic art or a sassy family photo?

Last, but certainly not least, we took a break from the sightseeing and crowds of tourists to enjoy a picnic in the Paris sunshine at the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. The park was a breath of fresh air situated just outside the bustle of Paris, and features a temple atop a re-purposed quarry with a lovely view.

Picnic goodies
Picnic goodies
First steps into the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
First steps into the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

As all things do, our trip came to an end, and my parents flew back to Oregon. But with one week of classes left, I’ll soon be off on my final and longest journey yet. I’m looking forward to meeting up with familiar faces in some spectacular new locations. Send good vibes my way, as I attempt to complete my finals in spite of the upcoming Spanish sunshine.

Jordan Keller