When Zachary Kelly got on a 30-hour bus ride to Paris after finishing up his summer missions internship in Bosnia, he had no idea what to expect.
This probably had something to do with the fact that he did not speak French, knew no one in Paris and was traveling alone, his only plan being spontaneity.
His spontaneity led to one of his photos being featured on CNN.com’s Travel Photo of the Day.
“It was a little scary, but I guess it was more enjoyable. I loved the idea of not having any idea of where I was going to go because I wanted to see places I’ve never been,” Kelly said.
The senior intercultural studies major began his post-missions trip adventure by simply looking up the bus station’s website while in Bosnia. He saw that the farthest place the bus went was Paris, so he decided to go there.
While on the bus, Kelly befriended an English-speaking 25-year-old who was returning home to Paris after visiting a friend in Bosnia. When he learned that Kelly was unsure of where he was going to stay that night, he offered to introduce Kelly to a friend, who then graciously welcomed Kelly to stay with him at his downtown Paris home.
Kelly went to Paris thinking that people would be rude and dislike him because he was an American, but he was touched by the kindness and generosity extended to him by complete strangers.
“I had almost a bad impression of Paris before, but it was the total opposite. I never once got an attitude and they were all really friendly, which was shocking to me because I was expecting them to be rude. It was way different than I expected,” Kelly said.
Over the next three days, Kelly was able to immerse himself in Paris culture and visit famous sights such as the Louvre, Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe. He marked the stark contrast between the immense wealth Paris was bathed in and the poverty so characteristic of Bosnian life.
“I had been in Bosnia almost eight weeks, and I guess I had just gotten accustomed to the life. Every house had bullet holes in it, the cars were old and a cup of coffee was the equivalent of about 75 cents a cup. When I arrived at Paris, I remember the first time I saw a new car, and it was like I was I was almost entering a whole new world,” Kelly said.
Like any tourist, Kelly took pictures using a Sony digital camera his mom had given him in high school. One of the photos he took was so he could remember how to get back to his house in Paris, and it was this photo gained special attention.
The picture features the historic Arc de Triomphe de la Porte Saint-Denis and the Rue Saint Denis, one of the oldest streets in Paris, as well as a restaurant and apartment buildings that are typical to downtown Paris.
Kelly decided to upload this picture, along with a few others, onto CNN’s iReport. A few weeks later, received an email from someone at CNN asking if they could use his photo from Paris. After a few weeks later, on Sept. 30, it was featured as the Travel Photo of the Day on CNN’s website. Kelly was ecstatic.
“I was really happy because I used to go to CNN and look at the travel photos of the day, just to see where people have been. It kind of inspired me to travel and see some of these places and now I go to that site and my photo is part of the album of people who’ve traveled the world,” Kelly said.
Not only did he get his photo featured on one of his favorite websites, Kelly said that the whole experience and his love of traveling has piqued his interest in photography.
“I’m more into photography now because you want to show everyone what you saw. Not because I enjoy taking pictures but I enjoy the beauty and difference in cultures and that’s the best way of showing people,” Kelly said.
ABRAHAM is a feature reporter.