Whoa! Did I Just Spend $18 on a Glass of Orange Juice?
Recently my wife and I returned from a European vacation to Dublin, London, and Paris. We traveled with six other friends, meaning there were eight of us running around trying to catch taxi's, trains, and flights together.
The trip was amazing. We visited many places that have been on my bucket list for quite some time, including Stonehenge, the Eifel Tower, Giant's Causeway, and the Tower Bridge in London. Each was more breathtaking than I imagined it would be, especially because my wife and I had been looking to the trip for so long.
We drank Guiness in the Gravity Bar in Dublin, sipped wine on the lawn of the Sacre Coeur in Paris, and watched the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. Like I said: amazing.
On our last day of the trip, we set out to have breakfast in the Luxemburg Palace gardens in Paris. By this point, we were all pretty tired after climbing what seemed like a million stairs during our travels.(Which consequently helps explain why Europeans are so skinny!)
We found a quaint restaurant called the Les Fontaines and tried our best to order off a menu written completely in French. My wife and I ordered a salad, crepe, omelet, two coffees and one glass of orange juice.
Like all the food in Paris, it was truly delicious and quite a memorable meal. It was outside in the gardens on a cool, clear day and there was nothing to worry about except perhaps the health of some obese pigeons who seemed to be permanent residents of the cafe.
Then came the bill.
Now the exchange rate at the time was $1.56 to one Euro, so it was already expensive to begin with. Add to that we were dining in the garden of a palace in the middle of Paris and wa-la, our breakfast cost around $90 with the glass of orange juice alone costing $18! My heart immediately went into palpatations knowing that we had already drastically exceeded our budget, but then I realized two things.
First, I was with a great group of friends in a place none of us will ever forget. We'll always be able to share the experience we had at that cafe and laugh about how each of us could have bought six half gallons of orange juice for what was spent on a single glass. It wasn't a special day because we spent it in such a fancy place. It was was special because I was with my wife and great company.
The second thing I realized was that we could do whatever we felt like doing, with only a few suitcases to worry about. We were a continent away from any worries in our lives. This was following a period in which I had worked long hours for several weeks and desperately needed a break from the grind.
While we were in Europe, there was no working late. There were no emergency tasks that had to be completed or problems to solve. There was just me, my wife, our friends, and a lot of simple and enjoyable things.
Looking back now, I realize that the location could have been almost anywhere and it still would have been an amazing ten day trip. We could have just thrown two changes of clothes into the back of our car and driven away and it would have been delightful.
Even though we went ridiculously over budget at this breakfast and our trip as a whole, I wouldn't change a thing because the experiences were priceless. It'll take a little longer to pay off the trip, but it was worth it. You might run into broken hotel beds, scalding hot shower handles, or forget a power cord or two...but hey, that makes the trip just that much more memorable. Great memories don’t come from expensive trips or meticulous planning. They come from spending time with little obligation other than to enjoy yourself.
This blog doesn't focus on the usual money saving tips or why it's important to know where you are heading financially. Instead it recognizes that every once in a while a relaxing break is just as important.