Across the Pond

Semana Santa shenanigans pt. 2: A tale of two cities

Grace Schutte

More stories from Grace Schutte

May 10, 2023

Photo by Grace Schutte

So, I’m going to do what I, as a pisces, do best: avoid and evade my reality.

Note: “Across the Pond” is an on-going column in which freelance writer Grace Schutte will be writing about her study abroad experience in Valladolid, Spain.

As a fantasy indulging, daydreaming pisces, I find myself reminiscing over my Semana Santa travels before they’ve even concluded.

Those who read last week’s article have already heard me drone on and on about my obnoxious traipsing throughout Italy. For the sake of everyone’s sanity (mine included), I will not put us through that again.

No one wants to hear about my running through the streets of Paris at night, nor my afternoon tea on the River Thames. To describe how the light filtering through the budding trees on the quiet lanes would be to bore everyone to tears.

However, being the selfish journalist I am, I do feel obligated to chronicle this past week in some way. I mean, once this week ends, it’s back to the grindstone in Valladolid. 

Exams, 10 page papers written entirely in Spanish (god forbid) and the crushing realization that we are nearing the homestretch will all come to fruition.

So, I’m going to do what I, as a pisces, do best: avoid and evade my reality. And I’m taking you, dear reader, with me.

But instead of copying and pasting my itinerary down, I will instead expose my inner romantic and describe all the strangers I fell in love with within the past few days. 

Because there are many of them. 

A note: The kind of “falling in love” I’m talking about here is not limited to any traditional, binary, run-of-the-mill sort of love. “Love” in this case is synonymous with the combination of appreciation, admiration, joy, baby-heart-sparkle, hope, gratitude, resonance and even more — platonic or otherwise. 

Paris, France: The City of Love 

  • The Vietnamese graduate student from the airport shuttle who guided us not only to, but through the metro — we never learned his name.
  • The Prometheus statue admirer at the Louvre.
  • The entire jazz band that played “La Vie En Rose” by the Notre Dame.
  • The couple who took their engagement photos outside our restaurant (I cried). 
  • The tall man wearing glasses and a suit I made eye contact with as he biked past me. The encounter lasted less than 10 seconds, but I’m madly in love with him. Yes, in the traditional sense, too. 
  • The guitarist who busked on the bridge with all the locks.
  • The older gentleman from the airport tram who hummed the whole ride. 
  • The Starbucks baristas who were so patient with us and our complete inability to speak French.

London, United Kingdom: Resisting Accent Mimicry  

  • The ticket agent who let us out of the train station when we did our tickets wrong (Please don’t tell anyone, I really don’t want to get deported).
  • The bartender at The George Tavern who poured us two white wines and a pint of pale ale at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday.
  • The besties who gabbed together while walking their dogs through Hyde Park.
  • The police officer who commanded the crowd of spectators at the Buckingham palace gates during the changing of the guards that we just so happen to stumble upon. She was something to behold.
  • The protester who danced to a chorus of drums during an anti-fossil fuel march holding a sign that read ”Love is Action.”
  • The Poet-for-Hire by The Globe who wrote me a poem about life and adventure when all I had to offer was £1.  

There are undoubtedly more people I could add to this list — folks that don’t seem flashy enough for the page, people I’ve already forgotten and some I want to keep just for myself. 

But regardless, let this serve as a reminder that there are beautiful people in the world and some of them are right under our noses. 

Schutte can be reached at [email protected].