Story Day Saturday – Brothers in Paris

As I sat on the train, listening to the clacking noise of the carriage passing over the tracks, and glancing over the passing of houses and farmland in the northern part of England, I found myself lost in the thoughts and melancholy of the previous couple hours. There we were, my brother and I, planning the next big adventure together to Japan for the summer Olympics. Despite the noise and bustle of a Leeds student union full of young adults preparing for their next class over a pint, the light fragrance of the lunchtime meals being devoured, and the distraction of catching up after having not seen each other in just under a month, we managed to finalise the travel dates and book our flights. It’s in these memories that I then found myself lost in the déjà vu feelings of the years before…

Angelo and Leon Versailles Gardens
The two of us brothers in the Versailles Gardens

It’s not often that the two of us travel together just us, despite being very close. Actually the last time was in 2014. This was the year I was soon to be starting university on a 4 year degree with a year abroad, away from our home in London, and away from my brother for a long period of time. Furthermore, as he was still going to be in highschool for a couple more years, the only time we would now be able to hang out would be when I’m back for the holidays. So with this sudden change in time spent together I felt it would be a nice treat for the both of us to go on holiday together, just us (albeit with the convenience of having family to stay over at). And so I worked hard to surprise him with a holiday treat to go to Paris and to also visit our family there. I remember calling my aunt and asking when would be convenient for us to come over, and then making all the travel arrangements and booking our Eurostar train over. All very sweet memories as I look back.

Now a part of the reason I started to think back on these memories of our trip together before I went off to university, is because now as we plan and prepare for the next trip, this holiday break actually comes a month before my university career is to end, as I hand in my dissertation for my Masters degree this September. It’s almost like a cycle is coming to a close here. A fitting end to a beginning. And just like how I treated him back then, I’m also partly treating him on this adventure too as I paid for the Olympics tickets.

Mid-Flight Sky View
Dream a little dream of flying away

I am sure to talk more on our Japan trip when the time comes, but for now let us return to Paris, and the musings of travelling with family. I remember planning this trip with my brother as one where we get to hang out and have a good time before saying goodbye for what was meant to be approx 3 months before I returned home – actually turned out to be a little over a month as I returned home for a spontaneous weekend back, but let’s not dwell on the details! It was going to be a nice couple weeks for the two of us visiting Paris and also visiting and staying with family there. I had now been to Paris two years in a row already, whereas the last time he had visited and seen our family there, was a few years before that, so although I could have picked anywhere in Europe to go to, I felt this would be the most meaningful place to be.

The somewhat funny part of all this for me was that I was now going to play the role of the tour guide. Having been to Paris two years in a row, and having explored most of what tourist destinations this city has to offer, all that was left were the ones that neither of us had been to and the ones he hadn’t seen in years. Besides getting to hang out, it was now an opportunity for us both to experience more of the culture, and so we did things like visit the museum of African art and the Asian art museum, places where previously my friends I’d travelled with had not wanted to visit. Actually one of my favourite memories of the whole trip, was when we went up the Eiffel Tower together and got to experience the cliche romantic sunset from the Eiffel Tower. I remember us looking at each other and joking if we should have bought champagne as people around us clapped as the sun dipped under the horizon. It’s in these sorts of memories that I wonder what to plan for our next trip, especially with myself having been to Japan before. It’s also in these memories that I think on what it can be like to travel with family.

Paris En Scene
Paris En Scene

I think we’re both quite fortunate in that we have similar interests when it comes to sight-seeing, and that we also have similar personality traits. Reminds me of a time when I was with my brother and his friends, and I made a joke much like how he would make one, and his friends humorously chimed in that they were now having to experience another ‘Angelo’ (my brother’s name). It’s quite endearing to think that we have grown so similar and now get on ridiculously well, especially when thinking back on the typical sibling fights we used to have as kids. So with that being said, I guess the question I’m trying to dwell on here, is what is it like to travel with your family?

I think it really depends on how well you get on and how understanding you are of each other. Although the two of us have similar interests, that doesn’t mean that everything we like is the same – I know he enjoys listening to liquid drum and bass whereas I can’t stand that music genre! And so how you engage with that when travelling is what can really change a trip from being enjoyable to one being soured. It’s really important to know that actually, you don’t always have to be together and doing the same things, or when you are together it should be something you both can enjoy. I don’t view these decisions as compromises, but rather logical choices that maximise the potential enjoyment. On and aside, I remember going on a vacation with a friend once, where I felt I had to compromise my enjoyment by completely avoiding the things I wanted to enjoy because there was no real scope to do things separately, as these were sites they held no interest in. Although that trip was overall enjoyable, there were certainly pains trapped within. Looking back, I should have just gone solo in the mornings when they were still sleeping, but well not much can be done about that now. So, as I look forward to the next trip with my brother, I think to myself what can we both do that would be interesting and how I’m fortunate to know that with him, there are no compromises or pains when it comes to travelling. From brothers in Paris to brothers in Japan. What a 6 year (university spurred) adventure!

Leon and Angelo Hall of Mirrors
Us two brothers in the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles Palace

So in my case, I can safely muse on the fact that when it comes to my brother, travelling with family is fun and without problems. Do you yourselves have people you to find no issue in travelling with? Thank you for reading. Please do comment below on your experiences in travelling with family or friends, and any of your own techniques of making a trip better without feeling like there is compromise.

Editor: Leonardo Buter
Uncover Our World
Instagram: @lwcbuter

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