Day 17 - Paris, France: Bella Ciao

Because this is a day that I plan to return to when I have enough time to give it the proper attention, this update will be brief:

Based on a friend’s recommendation, I started the day seeking the view from the cafe on the summit of the Arab World Institute in Paris. Little did I know, they had an excellent exhibition on Hip-Hop inside that I spent most of the day absorbing its selections. There were some extraordinary examples of spray paint art produced on site, a tour of hip hop with Arabian influence (from Morocco to Paris to Palestine), and some other excellent selections regarding a very specific cultural heritage. I have done my best to choose the few that really spoke to me during my visit and share them with you all.

From the Arab World Institute, I made my way to a massive park in Paris to meet a few friends that I was put in touch with by another friend (who is quickly becoming my best resource in Europe). We were meeting to attend a Spritz party, which despite my efforts to find out what a Spritz party *was* online, I don’t think I could have been prepared.

Spritz, an orangey cocktail that is being heavily promoted at the moment in France was throwing a party at the pavilion in the park, drawing a modest crowd of a few hundred throughout the evening. Having limited access to places to stand, I chose the menu outside as an appropriate meeting point. It was there that I met my first new friends in Paris, hereafter referred to as M an H.

A charming and charismatic duo, M and H were excellent resources for learning about European and International culture, and were both *hilarious*. They reminded me quite a bit of the relationship that I have with my youngest brother (M being the eldest sibling, and H the youngest). They were both originally from my next intended destination, Lyon, so it was nice to hear some suggestions from a native for things to do there.

As the night continued, an Italian band (which as I understand it is influential in recruiting other Italian bands to Paris) started playing inside. We went inside to get a closer view of the band, and to join the dance floor. The music, while entirely foreign to me and difficult to play along with the words, still has its own universal language in a way. Plus, one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned in my life is to never turn down a dance with a beautiful woman, regardless of whether or not you know what you’re doing (you’ll figure it out somehow). The highlight of the night was being a part of the crowd as they asked for more music, and hearing the revolutionary song “Bella Ciao” (a famous song that I had no personal context for, but will remember now for a long time).

With a mad dash to the metro, I managed to make it from the park back to my hotel. I am, and will always be grateful for the kindness of strangers, and am very glad to have met M and H. May they both enjoy long and fruitful lives.