Paris, France Revisited

Hey all!
Only 13 days left of my trip! Wow, time flies!
So, I owe Paris an apology. Although I saw many amazing sights during my last visit, I told people it was the worst city I had ever been to.
I’m sorry Paris, you deserve more than that.
First: Paris is not ideal to visit, for your first time, as a solo traveler. Find a friend to go with you, or find yourself a partner at the hostel. It made a world of difference wandering the streets of Paris with someone else.
First stop:

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Rue La Fayette. Inside Galeries shopping centre they have their swavorski crystal Christmas tree on display! Phenomenal! I don’t have he type of money you need to shop on this road but I still enjoyed the displays. Some of them were robotic and they danced to the sound of music playing through speakers on the street. I really loved Cartiers window displays.

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Carolyn and I just spent hours admiring the displays.
Then we headed to the famous Louvre! Well, we sort of stumbled on it after wandering around for hours. We got there just as the lights were being turned on!

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Unfortunately I didn’t go inside, but many people have told me I should. Next time!
Then we headed into La Marais area–my friend I met during my travels told me I would enjoy this area, and Carolyn had been told the same, so we took a peak. Oh wow! Specialty shops, tea stores galore, perfumeries, candle shops, specialty chocolate and plenty of restaurants. This is the ‘gay friendly’ area of Paris, and it was exactly what I needed in order to change my mind about Paris.

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I don’t have a picture (my phone died) but my friend Matthieu took me to the Sacred Heart Church my first night. I’m sure on a clear day the view is breathtaking, and I can tell you that by night it was one of the most amazing sights! So definitely check it out!
I’m a bit behind on my posts. Stay tuned for London and Scotland!!

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Homesickness: It will go away

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Traveling is awesome! Whether you’re just taking a day trip in a town next to yours, or you’re trekking across Europe, it’s an amazing feeling.
While with my friends I didn’t feel too homesick. There were moments of wishing I could take a break at home, but for the most part I didn’t have time to think about it.
Then I was alone. I’m sure even if you travel with friends you’re bound to get homesick.
Confession: I have horrible anxiety. My brain goes into over-drive and people always tell me that I ‘think too much’ and my heart races and I become overwhelmed. Experiencing this, alone, in a foreign country, is horrible!
My first two nights alone I cried. Not just a little, but a lot!
You will get homesick. It’s a horrible feeling. I called my mom and my best-friend during these moments and they did their best to console me, but sometimes you just want to be home. My first night in Paris I literally started to think of how I was going to get myself home in the next couple days–forfeiting all the money I had already spent.
You will feel this way: especially if you are alone.
The bad news: it really is one of the worst feelings ever!
The good news: it goes away.
For me, these feelings are the worst at night, when I’m alone and there is nothing to do to distract my thoughts (beyond French television).
My mom gave me great advice that I am now going to pass along. It’s common sense but sometimes you just need another voice of reason.
Breathe.
If traveling alone were always simple more people would do it. Traveling with friends is also difficult. But, the good will always outweigh the bad.
Breathe.
A situation always feels the worst at night when there is nothing you can do but sleep. But that’s the point: just sleep. When you’re traveling you sometimes forget to take care of yourself. You probably need rest.
Breathe.
Sleep.
I didn’t have a hostel in Paris so I had to pay 90 euro for my first night in a shady hotel-I was worried about not having a place to stay the next few nights. After a 20 minute self-pity party I took a deep breath, got on the Internet, and found a hostel. Next, I looked up times for trains to Madrid, where I already had a hostel booked.
Breathe.
Then I took a walk.
When you feel overwhelmed, put the situation in perspective. Yes, you’re alone. Yes, you’re not entirely sure what your plans are. Yes, you might be paying too much for this hotel. But, yes, you are in Europe!
”I’m in Paris! I am exactly where I wanted to be”. You have choices: sit in your room and sulk, looking at stained walls in a cramped hotel room OR get outside and experience a different culture!
I needed some comfort so I went for some Sushi (it’s my comfort food) and then walked along a busy side-street. The restaurants were packed–it was a Friday night and people were out enjoying the gorgeous weather.
I went and bought myself some wine (2.5 euro bottle!) and a bar of chocolate. I needed some comfort.
Then, because I didn’t want to be alone at night on Paris streets, I went back to my hotel room, poured myself a glass of wine, ate some chocolate and turned on Air Bud 5 — en francais.
Breathe.
Within 45 minutes I was asleep. I kept the tv on in the background as noise to distract my mind and I had one of the best sleeps yet.
I woke up, took a deep breath, and went to my hostel.
I was homesick. I was alone. I was overwhelmed. I remained alone all day.
But, it gets better. I made friends, and I had an awesome night drinking wine in front of the Eiffel tower learning French, Portuguese and Spanish.
Take a deep breath.
It will get better. I promise.
Just remember: breathe.

Cheese, bread and wine in Paris, France

Oh hey there!
I am so sorry I’ve been MIA! I only have my phone as a way to write my posts and post my photos…and sometimes the Internet isn’t very reliable!
Wow…I don’t even know where to begin! Instead of starting from the beginning, I’ll write about my night in Paris, since it’s still fresh in my mind.

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I travelled to the Eiffel Tower solo my first full-day in Paris. It’s big. Really big.
And it’s crowded. Very crowded. I have a hard time appreciating a place when it’s crawling with people. But, amazing none the less.

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Then I got lost. Well, not literally. I knew what tram station my hostel was at so if I really did get lost I could just go to any tram station (they’re everywhere) and head back.

I stumbled on an outdoor market on Rue Cler. There was fresh produce, fresh croissants, buskers, cafes over-flowing with people and tents with antiques and furniture and random trinkets.

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It was an awesome discovery! I wanted to go to Luxembourg park, but somehow I kept getting turned around and ended up walking in the wrong direction, north instead of south, and ended up on the Seine!

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There was a fence with ‘Locks of Love’ (I don’t know what it’s actually called), but it was the perfect photo opportunity, and I’m certain I’ve seen photos of it before. Then I walked across to The Islands and explored the boardwalks along the Seine.

I had been walking for 3 or so hours by this point, and as if someone heard my prayer I stumbled on Luxembourg!

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It was so gorgeous! There were people sitting on chairs all around the gardens, and I did the same. I had my book with me so I put my feet up and read in the sun for an hour. Ah, now it feels like a vacation!
Around 5 I headed back to my hostel (20 minute walk), and then I met my roomies: 2 very friendly Brazilian women! Immediately they invited me out with their friends and that’s what this post is really about.
When you go to Paris (because you will go), don’t waste your money in a crowded cafe. Around 7 head to the Eiffel tower with friends and bring fresh baguettes, French artisan cheeses, a few bottles of wine (don’t forget the cork-screw!) and sit on the grass and just enjoy the tower at night. They also do a 5 minute light-show at 9pm! There were tons of people doing the same thing as us, and it was exactly how I imagined Paris would be. And, since wine only costs 4 euro a bottle (a good bottle, you can get a bottle for as low as 2 euro!), and cheese and bread are also inexpensive, you get an authentic Paris experience without spending crazy amounts of money!

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I promise I’ll write more posts about Ireland (Guinness and skinny-dipping) and Morlaix, France once I’m settled in Madrid! Next stop: Madrid! I met a friend, Pablo, while I was in Dublin so he is going to take me around Madrid while I’m there for a week 🙂