Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

By Mark W. Danielson

Personally, winter isn’t my favorite season, nor is it for many Americans who live in colder climates. After all, it’s much easier staying inside, basking in the warmth of our homes. The adventurous may drive to the mall. The less adventurous only go out to retrieve their mail. But overseas, winter takes on a whole different light. The cold doesn't bother the city residents; it merely provides different scenery.

Last Sunday was a chilly day in Paris, but the sky was clear and the wind mild. Since my Montparnasse hotel is located a couple of miles from the River Seine, I don’t walk there as often as I did when our hotel was near the Louvre, but after enjoying lunch in the Latin district, I decided to take the long way back to Montparnasse. It was a wonderful experience.

After crossing the Seine, I made my way through the Louvre area, past the embassies near Place Concorde, and on to the Pont Alexander III Bridge. (Photo above.) Everywhere you look, Paris is magnificent, but this isn’t about its monuments. Rather, it’s about its people. Thousands of them were out enjoying the day in spite of the chill. Children rode Merry-Go-Rounds, played on swings, and ice skated at an outdoor rink while couples walked hand-in-hand, smooching. The parks were full, and smiles abundant. It is truly magnificent seeing so many people outside, enjoying their day off.

On my way past The Invalides, hundreds of roller bladders were out on a different kind of adventure. Their two-city-block procession was being chased by an ambulance and police vehicle. This well-organized event allowed its participants to skate comfortably enough to take pictures and shoot video as they rolled. It was another marvelous display of locals shunning winter. Monday brought snow, which is rare for Paris, so the school kids were out tossing snow balls and making snow angles. No, sir, Old Man Winter won't keep these people inside.

But such enthusiasm for the outdoors isn’t limited to France. I saw plenty of people walking in Almaty (see above) where the temperatures were significantly lower. Night time is play time over there, and the cold is just a way of life. It's the same in China, so what keeps Americans from taking a walk in the winter? I suppose everyone has their own reasons, but the next time you’re bored, rather then stay cooped up inside, why not take a walk through your own winter wonderland? Go visit a park that you haven’t seen in a while. Chances are good that there won’t be many people out, but that shouldn't keep you from enjoying it. Besides, you just might burn off a few of those holiday calories.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful photos, Mark. You've made me wonder -- why do we huddle inside where it's warm when snow falls or the fog comes in or the wind blows --- mercy, how the wind blows in Oklahoma!

Well, in my case, I'm too old to go walking in the snow. I think. And in Oklahoma we get ice, which is fine for skating for deadly for walking.

Glad you're enjoying Paris!

Mark W. Danielson said...

Pat, I must admit that it's easier to get motivated to walk in Paris than it is at home. Day or night, rain or shine, there is always something beautiful to see in the City of Light. Whether it be Oklahoma or Denver, battling strong winter winds can take the fun out of any walk.

Beth Terrell said...

I love the beauty of the snow, but I have a serious dislike of the cold. Mark, the photos are stunning.