As I walked through the empty streets of Granada at 5 a.m. I thought about the possible attackers hiding behind all the bushes (thanks for all the warnings to be safe mom, they didn’t enhance my paranoia at all…)
But I also felt overwhelmingly excited: I was heading off to Paris! I’ve dreamed about visiting the big cities in Europe since I was a child, and now was my time. I honestly hadn’t prepared very well, I ended up packing the night before and didn’t even have time to Wikipedia the main sites I planned on visiting with my friend Courtney, but I had the feeling of being ready to take on Paris!
After a few flights filled with crying babies and generally unhappy people, I landed in Paris. Then the real adventure began.
I love to travel, and I’ve now used the public transit systems in more than a dozen European cities, but somehow I still usually end up going the wrong direction on the metro/ bus at some point. This time I missed my stop and had to get back on a different train and go back, but I wouldn’t completely go out into the middle of nowhere France until later in the trip.
After meeting up with my friend Courtney in front of our hotel we went in search of a true French café. We found one with friendly service and delicious café, orange juice and croissants.
After a quick siesta in our room we headed off for the Louvre.
On the way we stopped to look out at the Seine river and the many locks lovers have left to commemorate their time in Paris.
That’s the thing about Paris, it’s beautiful and can be enjoyed as a single twenty-something with a best friend, but we were often reminded of our singleness (while standing in line behind couples who didn’t want to take the time to breath, trying to escape the sounds coming from the other side of the wall in our hotel room and the adorable old couples who made me think of how being an old cat lady might get a little lonely).
At the same time, I was grateful we could truly enjoy the sights of the city and not have to possibly cut/ burn (depending on how awful they ended up being) our traveling companions out of photos later. Also, we’re constantly told we look like twins/ sisters, so we could theoretically just pretend they’ve already made cloning commonplace in Paris if we grow to abhor our similar personalities…
(Sorry, these are the things that go through my head on an overly bumpy flight to Barcelona).
Back to visiting the Louvre: We’d heard they let people younger than 26 in for free on Friday nights, and we were excited to safe some money and hopefully skip some lines.
We were not disappointed, not only was it less packed than normal, but we also got to get up close and personal with the Monna Lisa (yes, there’s really two “n”s) without waiting for a lifetime in line. We got this brilliantly original selfie with DaVinci’s most famous masterpiece:
While fast-walking with the masses towards the Monna Lisa, Courtney and I commented on how the other artists must be a tad salty about how they’d also spent their lives creating magnificent art, but failed to make it to the point where Snapchat gave them a personalized filter.
Note to non-Snapchat users: this app lets you take photos of your face and then put a filter on them to make it look like you were the Monna Lisa. Yeah, my generation really does have a lot of free time.
After the Louvre we headed towards the famous ferris wheel so we, two people afraid of heights to different but substantial degrees, could watch the lights of Paris from a swinging glass container suspended 200 feet in the air.
To our delighted surprise, we survived and got some pretty awesome pictures in return for facing our fears.
Here’s a part my mom probably shouldn’t read… the metro system in Paris is not what I expected.
I talked with other friends who visited Paris and they said it was full of soldiers and police while they were there, but while we were there it wasn’t. The metros were empty of officials of any kind and I only made it through one of the turnstiles because a kind older man saw my ticket wasn’t working. Also turns out, when your ticket doesn’t work at the turnstile and you’ve walked down a bunch of hallways marked “Do not enter” for opposing traffic, you’re pretty much stuck relying on the kindness of strangers.
The Paris metro system is convenient because it has stations practically every block, but it was also a bit worrisome at times. Since I have a knack for getting lost on the public transit in every city I visit, I tend to like public transit more when there’s lots of people there to help when I get confused.
The next morning we took a stroll to the Eiffel Tower.
We were surrounded by runners, because Parisians know how to burn off their bread and wine like no others, and people trying to sell us selfie sticks, but I was too excited to care. We spent our day visiting the different levels and sides of the tower, eating overpriced macaroons and running back to the hotel through the rain. It was kind of amazing.
Afterwards we visited Notre Dame and ate some delicious crepes. I know, I lead such a rough life.
We took the metro to d’Orsay and found out it was closed, but we still got to walk around more of Paris and find some interesting statues.
The next morning we went to the Jardin de Luxemborg.
I’ve had dreams where I was dancing around a beautiful garden, but the Jardin de Luxemborg was incredible and grounding. It reminded me of the parks at home and what I imagine the back yard of my future palace will look like…
(I’m trying out The Secret effect by imagining I’ve already become a princess without marrying a prince. I’ll keep you updated on how it goes…)
The park was huge, but not overwhelming. We found some chairs looking over the pond and sat for awhile watching little kids put boats out onto the water and birds fight over their food. It was calming and a perfect way to finish my time in Paris.
Except I still had one more adventure.
On the way to the airport I parted with Courtney and then tried to prove my city smarts were better than Google Maps. This is still under debate, but I ended up going out into the suburbs of Paris, and then riding the train all the way back to where I began.
Sometimes getting lost gives you more time to enjoy the scenery, and I like to think that’s why I love to get lost in each city I visit…