We can’t afford to fly to Paris right now, but we did walk through this “Paris” a few months ago.
After our good friends supplied us with their extra Disney tickets, we decided to go for a leisurely stroll through Epcot’s World Showcase. Yes, Paris is much smaller in Orlando than it is in France, but I was impressed by the artisans’ fairly accurate model of the city. (You can compare it to the photo of the real Paris below.)
The real appeal of substitutes like the World Showcase is that they are often easier–and just as enjoyable–as the real experiences. I didn’t have to find a plane ticket or learn another language, and it was easy to walk from Europe to Asia to Latin America in a matter of minutes.
After shopping in the bazaar in Morocco, we moved on to watching the drumming in Japan and learning about the terracotta soldiers in China.
I have never been to Morocco, Japan, or China. They’ve all been at the top of my travel wish list, though, so I allowed myself to suspend some disbelief as I “visited” each of these countries.
In Morocco, I meandered through the bazaar and looked at intricate pieces of jewelry and colorful tea glasses, which are fun to drink tea out of when I want a cultural experience at home. Eventually, I noticed a small decorative mirror with a brass frame . . . and my nostalgia kicked in. The first time that I had visited this Moroccan bazaar as a child, I had been in awe of its exotic treasures. And I had bought a small mirror that day, symbolizing my desire to go to the real Morocco when I grew up. Since I no longer had that mirror, I decided that it was time to replace it with a new one on this trip. Maybe, someday, I would renew my dream of going to Morocco, too.
Tony and I ordered our dinner from a fancy food stand outside of the bazaar, and I have no doubt that we would have gotten more food for less money at a food stand in the real Morocco. But I enjoyed the delicious lamb kebab, the couscous with vegetables, and the small pancake-like pastry covered with nuts and honey.
We spent a shorter amount of time in Japan. First, we watched the drumming show, which was performed by three young people. Then we went inside one of the buildings to see the newest art exhibit. After realizing that is was full of creepy monster images and artifacts, though, we didn’t waste much time in there. (That’s just not my kind of art.)
China had more to offer. I enjoyed the Reflections of China movie, which was shown in 360 degrees (in a round theater). Watching a movie was a nice break from the heat and the walking, and the movie showed China’s beautiful and varied landscapes: from the Yangtze River to the Gobi Desert and the Great Wall to the Forbidden City.
I also learned about the discovery and excavation of the Terracotta Army in China. It was fascinating to find out that each of the 8,000+ terracotta soldiers in the emperor’s tomb had been given its own distinct face–meaning that each sculpture was probably modeled after a real person.
Before we walked away from China, we watched the adolescent Dragon Legend acrobats. I was most impressed by how the girls swiftly passed things to each other with their feet.
Before we left the countries, we made sure to go on the splashing Viking ride in Norway, and we walked through the indoor marketplace in Mexico. We also did my favorite thing of all . . . relaxing in the square that was modeled after the Piazza San Marco, the main square in Venice. (You can see how it compares to the real Venice in the second photo.)
As I sipped on a lemon-flavored drink and watched the high-energy juggling act, I allowed myself to leisurely take in my surroundings: the architecture, the people, the laughter. This was the kind of experience that I had enjoyed most about Europe: unhurried moments in magnificent locations. And even though this wasn’t a real trip around the world, this was the best substitute in the country.