Travel opens one up to a multitude of experiences. The luckiest of us see the realities of life in the midst of our journeys, good and bad, and even in the most everyday and simplest of situations are confronted with truths about the world we live in.
I am an idealist, and those stereotypes often heard in stories and read in books, are just that to me. Stories and history — after all, we have come a long way and are well into the most modern of times. Until we sat down to grab lunch at a restaurant in Marseilles, with tables of people being served their food, and a waiter comes over to our table and tells us that they are closed and no longer serving food when it was clear they were still taking other people’s orders.
Why us? Was it that I am Asian? Was it because my boyfriend is American? Was it that we were together and from the States? Did they not like the way we looked, how we were dressed that day? No matter their reason, nothing would have justified them refusing to serve us.
When we encounter something like this, it forces us to look at the other, but also ourselves. The truth is, we all have our own biases and we need to push those aside and make an effort to understand.
Fortunately, this was an isolated incident. In years of traveling, there were a lot more great experiences, those that were admirable about each country’s culture and of the people we met. So much more that affirms one truth: that we all have much more in common than those things that make us different.
As for Marsailles, we still made the best of our visit. Walking our way to the spots we mapped out (thanks to my super planner boyfriend), across interesting streets unique to where we were, and eventually found beautiful Palais Longchamp, a monument built to commemorate the construction of Canal de Marseille. Photos are below.