There’s a few times in my life when I’ve been really afraid of doing something. One of things I feared the most was learning to drive. I hated driving, and I prolonged getting my license until I was nearly 18 (sorry, mom). The other was my fear of studying abroad. Everyone patted me on the back as they said, “have fun in Europe!” like it was no big deal to spend four months of my life away from my family and home. I was freaking out so much about leaving the United States for the first time that fun seemed the least likely emotion I’d experience (shoutout to Akeel and Marlon for dealing with my daily freakouts).
However, at the end of my four months (omg how did time go so quickly?!), I feel like a different person. My fear of the unknown wilds of Europe is no more. My fear of traveling around a place where I don’t speak the language is also gone. What was left in place of that fear was the best trip I have ever taken.
So I went to the most romantic city in the world by myself… hey, I have a lot of self-lovin’ to do. And the best thing I’ve learned from traveling is that you’re never truly alone. I had friends who happened to be in Paris at the same time as me so we spent a gorgeous day together at Versailles and then went into the creepy Catacombs under Paris. Friday I spent the day exploring Paris by myself, seeing everything from les Jardins de Luxembourg to the Eiffel Tower and feasting on a sugary diet of crêpes and macaroons. That’s when I decided to “Treat Yo’Self” in the best Tom Haverford style by booking the 11pm show of Moulin Rouge, including a small bottle of champagne to myself.
Yes, I was that loser drinking by myself, watching women dance shirtless on stage. Oops. But it was a great opportunity to see the namesake of one of my favorite musicals and it meant I wasn’t on the other side of the loser spectrum watching Netflix alone in my hostel bed (definitely the biggest downfall of traveling by yourself as a female– for safety’s sake you can’t really stay out too late). I enjoyed Moulin Rouge so much that I didn’t want the night to end. So I went to an Irish Pub down the street to get another drink (sidenote: Moulin Rouge is in the red light district of Paris. I was out alone in the red light district… double oops.) That’s when I met a group of nice guys and my plans for the rest of my stay in Paris took a different course. And that’s also what I mean by you’re never truly alone. There’s always the opportunity to meet new people.
Due to the fact that I stayed out so late bar hopping in the red light district, I had a very late start on my Saturday plans. I planned to marathon the museums and get lost in 15th century paintings. What ended up actually happening was I only experienced a fraction of the Louvre, saw the overrated Mona Lisa for the sake of seeing it, and oogled at the couples leaving locks on the Pont des Arts bridge. Then I figured, hey, museums will always be there in Paris. But what I had right then was my youth and a date set with one of the guys I had met the previous night. We covered all of our Parisian clichés as we wined and dined outside at a Parisian cafe not far from Notre Dame. The night was still young, so after dinner we metroed over to the Eiffel Tower to see it lit up at night and hopefully to enjoy a bottle of wine (again, we had the clichés covered). The wine ended up not happening there, but we settled for sharing a bottle at the Washington Poste (shoutout to my home!), a classy little bar right off of the Champs-Elysées. When that bar closed, we went to another, staying out until 4 in the morning just chatting about life.
Sunday morning I got my hungover butt up and out to the airport to fly back to Madrid. No, I didn’t accomplish everything there is to see in Paris during my few days I was there. But I’ll be back. For now, I’m quite happy with my little [not-so] alone trip to Paris.
À tout à l’heure, Paris.