2.06.2014

A PARIS STORY


A year ago today I was in Paris. I was alone in Paris and it was wonderful. It was magical. I dont get personal on the blog very often but in the spirit of being honest here it is…

For me 2012 was a tough year, I won't get into the details but sometimes you need those challenges to teach you how to pick yourself up and be strong. I promised myself that when I got a new job, I would take myself to Paris for the week. This seemed like one of those silly things you say to yourself, like you are actually following the advice of a print you see on Pinterest. But the day I handed in my two weeks notice, I actually committed to it. For someone that obsessively plans everything this was really something out of the ordinary. I bought a ticket to Paris less than two weeks before I was leaving. My passport was expired so I got it renewed. I called up a hotel I had stayed at with my family, and booked their smallest room.

That Friday I left for Paris came so fast. It still didn't seem real as I handed in my laptop to my old job and headed to the airport. I was determined to look the part of a chic single lady headed to the most romantic city on earth. I was channeling Carrie Bradshaw in that iconic striped outfit. Then I fell, I tripped in the middle of the airport. Not like a little trip but I full on splat. Splat in the middle of everyone going about their travel. I guess my new shoes weren't really broken in yet. To add insult to injury, no one helped me up. I just sat there on the floor in the middle of the airport. So I picked myself up and composed myself and walked to the gate. I was shaking at that point, was I really going to Paris all alone?

The key to my adorable room.




Once I landed in Paris I was jet lagged beyond belief but it was early morning and I was determined to make the most of the day. I walked around the freezing Jardin des Tulleries for an hour forcing my eyes to stay open then I headed back to my hotel to rest because I couldn't take it any longer. When I opened my eyes a few hours later the jet lag had hit full force and I was questioning what I was doing in Paris. How did I get here and what was I thinking traveling half way across the globe on a week vacation alone? I Skyped my family and, thank God for technology, because that conversation made me feel like they weren't so far away. I decided to go out and procure a little dinner which ended up being a baguette, jam and French butter (which doesn't compare to anything else in this world). I ate it and went to bed. I woke up at 2am starving and had my second helping of bread and butter. Things were looking a little better.

My first Parisian meal.




When I woke up in the morning I was ready to conquer the city. I ate breakfast at the hotel and was starting to get used to being alone. Now I have to tell you that I am very comfortable being alone. In fact I really love it but during meals its not very fun, a little boring. That was the time of day that I really missed people. But otherwise I didn't mind it at all.

View from the top of Notre Dame



Notre Dame selfies are the best.



Im not going to go into every day that I spent and what exactly that I did because Im not sure that would be as special to you reading as it was for me to experience it. But there were so many magical moments during those days exploring that incredible city.

A scene from a very memorable lunch one day. 



One of my most fulfilling days was when I took the train to Chateau Fontainebleau, Napoleon's home. You may have guessed this from my previous posts but I am a big history nerd. And the opportunity to see where Napoleon slept and ruled, was incredible. When I arrived at the train station, I was able to buy a ticket speaking to the lady in French and determine where I needed to leave from. For those of you that have taken trains in Europe, you know just what an incredible accomplishment this is. It being February, there were no tourists on the train with me, just locals going about their daily lives. I watched the French countryside whirl by and made sure that I got off at the right stop. Upon getting off, I hopped in the lone taxi at the small town station and asked for Fontainebleau. I spoke broken French all of the way to the chateau.

When I got out of the taxi I was the only one there. I stood at the entrance to this grand castle, gray rain surrounding me, just hoping that it wasn't closed. To my luck it wasn't closed but nearly deserted. I wandered room after room of the house alone, completely quiet. I know this might seem eery, but to me it was a wonderful glimpse into what it might have felt like when Napoleon lived there. I also wandered around the expansive gardens and with the swans, in the rain it felt so magical. It was there that I realized why I had come to France, to give me my courage back to do things that were scary and to know that it would all be alright in the end.

Empty Fontainebleau all to myself.



One of the stunning chapels. 



The tiny throne.



Swans for company. 



Such a magical place. 



I could tell you so many more stories but this post is getting 100x longer than they usually are. I dont know what motivated me to tell so much, I guess it just felt like something I wanted to share with you. The truth is we all have good days, good months, good years and we all have bad days, bad months and bad years. But things will change, things will get better if you are in a tough situation. You just have to have the courage to keep challenging yourself, to keep telling yourself that you can make your situation better. For me Paris taught me to give myself more credit and trust in who I am and what I have the power to accomplish.

The last night I had a two hour steak and two glass of wine dinner, all by myself. Two hours just enjoying the food in front of me and soaking up the last of whatever magic lies in the Parisian air. I heard two French people talking to each other, they were saying "Oh that poor American girl eating all alone" I wish I had said something smart back to them in French but in my mind I was thinking "No need to pity me. I am doing just fine on my own."


See more pictures from my trip on these posts:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4


6 comments:

  1. How incredibly magical, courageous and breathtaking!!! What an amazing adventure you will remember for the rest of your life :) I love roaming around San Fran by myself for a day...but a whole week aboard? sounds scary and awesome :)

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  2. I've contemplated going on a trip alone - and this makes me feel like I just might!

    Sometimes the longer posts that are the most difficult to write are the ones that make the most impact. Keep exploring doing more of them here and there when you want to :)

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  3. This is beautiful! I know what it's like to share something super personal, and I admire your courage....- xx

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  4. I feel like I am where you were last year and could use a trip away! Great advice. Sometimes you are your best travel companion.

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  5. Thank you all for your comments and support. I am so glad that you liked my special post. I think that traveling is one of the best investments that you can make.

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  6. I can so relate to this post! I moved to paris solo at the age of 34 for work, on a two-year contract. It was tough but it has been amazing and a real learning experience at the same time. Next time you are back - I am building up a great list of recommendations!

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