I remember being so ecstatic when I finally purchased my plane ticket to Paris back in March, I had been saving up for the past 3–4 summers. Then it dawned on me, for 2 months I'm going to be on my own—this was going to be the first time that I traveled on my own/overseas—and I won't be able to speak the language. I also didn't have time to properly plan my trip, I was buried under my university work load—from March to June—and any spare time that I did have, I planned for the first leg in Paris. I did however manage to roughly plan the route around Europe, everything after Paris was somewhat spontaneous.
I started to completely freak out (over what I thought, were the weirdest things) as the departure date grew closer, they were, in no particular order:
- How am I going to get from one city to the next? What happens if I miss my flights? etc.
- How on earth am I going to do laundry?
- Toilets! Lack of public toilets...
I also had a mini meltdown when I found out that my credit card charges for withdrawals and I didn't have enough time to sign up for Citibank card. This is what happens when don't do your research adequately. I had also left insurance, buying my backpack and packing my bags at the last minute. So you can imagine how totally stressed I was.
My flight to Paris was a tiring 26hrs+. When I finally arrived, I felt disgusting and just wanted to shower, but unfortunately not yet, I had to figure how to get to the apartment first. After catching a bus into town, it took me approximately 2 hours to find it—with no map or GPS—but I was too in awe to give a damn. The apartment is located in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, an easy 5 minute walk to Musée d'Orsay or 15 minute walk to Musée du Louvre. Though it only had roof windows—I could only tell if it was day or night—the location was bloody amazing.
I had downloaded Google Translate and several language packages before I left. The only few words and phrases that I retained from 3 years of learning French in high school were: "Bonjour! Ça va? Parlez-vous anglais? Pardon. Je ne comprends pas. Je ne sais pas. Merci. Au revoir." I would try my best to buy pastries in French, but then always felt like a complete idiot after the words came out. (I didn't eat much while in Paris, but did splurge on pastries and sweets. I went to Ladurée and sent my body into a sugar coma. If I could, I would do it all over again.)
I quickly learnt that the best way to explore Paris was by foot, and averaged 7—10kms a day. Though summer had only started, I was told that I was very lucky that the weather was nice and sunny for the duration of my stay. Every day I pinched myself to make sure that I wasn't dreaming, it felt so darn surreal. I had lived Europe through my friends' photos that they posted online, but I never thought that I would have the chance or the money to make here.
The first place that I visited was Musée d'Orsay—my brother, who travelled to Europe in 2013, would constantly talk about how it's his favourite museum in Paris. The museum was once a train station but now exhibits the largest collection of impressionist/post-impressionist masterpieces. I slowly walked through the rooms and made up way up stairs to a huge clock that was facing The Seine, as I looked out of the face, I was reminded of Hugo 2011.
On my second day in Paris, I spent a good 6hrs+ in Musée du Louvre. I grabbed a 3D Nintendo interactive audio guide and started at Cour Puget without realising that I should've started by finding Mona Lisa. By the time I reached her, it was lunchtime and very crowded. I managed squeezed myself through the crowds of 'Mona x Selfies' to take a quick peek at her, but was unable to appreciate the painting as I was pushed and shoved by other tourists who were only interested in taking photos and selfies...
It didn't take me long to come to the conclusion that I looked extremely herp derp in all my tourist photos, so I decided that I would jump at these landmarks instead of standing awkwardly smiling like an idiot.
I constantly thought, "These legs better be damn sexy when I get back" as I walked to the Eiffel Tower from the apartment on the third day. The line to climb the Eiffel was much shorter than the lift (and cheaper) so I thought, "Why not?" It was well worth the climb, after 650+ steps the view from the second level was magnificent.
I took the lift down and wanted to relax in the garden a bit before walking off to Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile. I was approached by a group of African men holding bracelets as I was about to sit down. They greeted me in Japanese, Korean, Mandarin and then finally asked if I speak English. I continuously shook my head without bothering to say anything, walked off to a bench with bunch old lady tourists and sat in between them. On my walk down Avenue des Champs-Élysées, was approached by gypsy girls asking me to sign "petitions", I was warned not to by them by a friend who went to Paris the pervious year. To top it all off, I witnessed the ring scam happening to a tourist near Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel (she didn't fall for it) and just laughed my head off.
During my first visit to Paris, I would always spend a part of my day in Jardin des Tuileries, away from the hustle & bustle of the city several metres away. It was also my favourite place to do some people watching. (I always feel a little bit like a creep when I was say that I like to "People Watch", but it does get quite interesting)
La Fête de la Misque was on during my last day in Paris. I wandered the streets and stumbled across a few musicians/bands. The streets were cray packed at night as I went to meet up with some locals. We hung by The Seine near Norte Dame, drank rosé and watched the sunset at 11pm.
(I freaked out again when I came close to not having any accommodation for my next leg in Rome. Internet is LYFE, Paris lacks internet cafes and free wifi. Luckily my brother back in Melbourne quickly changed my mobile plan to include international roaming, I was able to tether my phone and found a nice place via Airbnb.)
My first leg in Paris was in surreal, sunny and quiet.