An American Cripple in Paris

Most people would cancel a multi-city tour of Europe including a stop in Paris when they find out that they fractured their foot. But I am not most people. In my younger years, I had an undiagnosed case of FOMO (fear of missing out) and I always refused to miss a good time. So for four days in Paris I crutched up and down stairs, in and out of museums, and up to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel Tower Pose

I played professional basketball in Europe which afforded me the opportunity to travel, and in my first year in Sweden I badly fractured my foot in a game. At the time, my teammate Pam and I had planned a trip to Paris and Spain during a break that I had in the season. Of course, I found out that I broke my foot a week before we were leaving, and every Swedish doctor I saw recommended that I cancel. But I am nothing if not determined. Also I knew I would be drunk on French wine most of the time and not in much pain, so I convinced everyone to let me travel. They put me in a walking boot, gave me Tiny Tim‘s crutches from A Christmas Carol, and sent me on my way.

Notre Dame Cathedral

My teammate Pam and I are both tall, blonde and loud which attracts a lot of attention to begin with. Throw in one wielding European crutches while the other is yelling at the first to crutch faster and you’re going to attract a lot of stares. Paris is a walking city, taxis are expensive and hard to come by, and all of the sights have some kind of walking element to them, so I had no choice but to crutch. The trip ended up being wildly entertaining because my boot and crutches were a huge conversation starter with the gentlemen. We also had to stop every half mile so that I could sit down, which means we had a glass of wine an hour, so we were half shot in the ass the whole time.

St Michel in Paris

The Louvre

My favorite part of the trip was our visit to the Louvre. The Louvre is one of the biggest museums in the world and I knew that it would be difficult to navigate with crutches. I was hoping that there would be a wheel chair that I could use, and Pam was hoping there wasn’t because it meant she had to push me around for three hours. Nevertheless, we arrived at the Louvre excited to see some of the most famous masterpieces in the world. Immediately upon entering, the security guards noticed my crutches and ushered me to a wheel chair. I told Pam I would pay for drinks later in return for being my chauffeur as we begrudgingly headed to the Mona Lisa.

I need to describe the set up of the Mona Lisa in order for you to understand this story. There is a large cordoned off area which guests must stay behind, and there is a guard on each side to make sure that no one crosses the threshold. See below:

Mona Lisa crowd

As Pam and I come wheeling up behind this huge crowd, the guard takes pity on the fact that I can’t see over twenty Asians with long lens cameras, and personally escorts us directly in front of the Mona Lisa. Not to the front of the crowd mind you, but in the space between the tourists and the painting where no one can enter. As you can imagine, Pam and I acted like we were Jay-Z and Beyoncé when they visited the Mona Lisa, posed for about thirty pictures with Mona, took our time getting shots from every angle and really hammed it up. We were in every person’s picture who visited the Louvre that day.

Mona Lisa Smile

Paris ended up being a very successful trip, and the first of many misadventures I experienced over the next four years of traveling. If you have any of your own funny travel stories or interesting adventures let me know, and please subscribe to my blog for more. xo Meghan

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