From Paris With Love
Most people plan their trip to Paris for years. Most people dream of going to Paris. I was part of that group that always wanted to see the “City of Love” with the man of my dreams in a romantic whirlwind. I’ve learned that not everything happens the way we dream it up, or does it.
On November 16th I met a dear friend of mine for a drink after work, for the purposes of this blog we will call him Jack. Both of us have helped each other through an emotional roller coaster of a journey 2018 had been. We both had long term relationships we ended in 2016, and used 2017…. and 2018 as rebuilding years. We had seen each other through “the dating game” and had been there to laugh and cry about how life, and love, had treated us for that time period.
Well on November 16th, I started to look at life slightly differently. I had always had this underlying desire to travel the world and experience different cultures, most call it wanderlust. Jack had told me that through a series of events, he was going to go to Paris….. in a week. I kind of was shocked, but in the same breath could hear myself saying, “That’s one of my dreams.” Most people would just say “Yep, I’ll let you know how it is.” Not Jack. Jack turned to me and said, “So come!" as we cheered our glasses of wine. We both slept on it, nervous that the other was bluffing, after all neither of us had traveled together before. This wasn’t the normal traveling together though, for a couple of reasons. Jack and I had always had a deeper connection than most people, we understood each other in a way not a lot of other people did. We also could call each others bluff more easily than others. I could sense Jack was nervous about us being in the same place at the same time because mutual friends would make a lot of assumptions, and with those assumptions comes unnecessary drama. We decided that I wouldn’t post anything on social media to avoid the drama, but we would have the best time.
Even after I decided I was going, there was still so much to do before leaving for Paris, and it was Thanksgiving week. I had to book my hotel, and flight, and what was I to do once I landed. A single girl, in a foreign county, that did not know anything about the country except of its legendary beauty and romance.
Everything came together quite quickly, and that’s how I knew it was meant to be. In life, whenever anything is super easy, its normally the road to take. When you keep hitting the wall, reevaluate if this is the road you should really be going on.
I booked my hotel through Marriott, and stayed at this BEAUTIFUL boutique hotel that was in a beautiful neighborhood. I was able to get on a great flight (even got upgraded to first class on the way to Paris). I booked my travel wifi that was delivered right to the hotel, and my Paris Explorer Pass to see all of the sights.
Jack arrived in Paris a day before I did, and all he could tell me was how beautiful it was. I couldn’t wait to be in the crisp air and see all of the sights i had only dreamt about for years.
When I had landed in Paris, even the airport was magical and I couldn’t help but start to cry. I had made it. I had booked a trip, gotten on the plane and arrived within a week. As a little girl I was always made to fear being solo, that something bad would happen to me, so this was a test for myself.
I got my luggage and headed to the taxi line, and was immediately snookered into taking a private cab (I didn’t know the difference at this time, but that will never happen again). Private cabs are about double the price, and coming from NYC I should have known better.
I put my luggage in my very small but adorable hotel room, grabbed my backpack and guide book and headed off to eat my first croissant and espresso. I had no idea how much I would fall in love with the city at that moment, and myself. As I drank my espresso and ate my chocolate croissant, I didn’t even open my guide book. The cafe I had walked to from my hotel had a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower. I tried to just live in the moment, take it all in and realize, I really was in Paris.
The next few hours were filled with touristy items and the jet lag set in. Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour (included in the Paris Explorer Pass), Notre Dame, A lunch with a glass of wine, escargot and a crepe, and finally the top of the Eiffel Tower. Travel Tip: Keep your watch on your hometown time, try to stick with that as much as possible and the jet lag won’t be too bad.
It’s funny, the top of the Eiffel Tower I just did because I felt like you had to if you went to Paris. I didn’t expect to love it and breathe it in as much as I did. I spent 2 1/2 hours up there. I watched the sunset and was up there for the first twinkling of lights (that happens every hour). If you go to Paris, go to the top, don’t just do it to say you did, really enjoy it. Have a macaron and a cup of coffee at the top and think of all the people that have visited that sight, and those that dream of being there.
When I was there I FaceTimed everyone in my family, mostly because Paris always was someplace my grandmother wanted to go and never got a chance. This was for her, this moment was for her.
I should mention that Jack and I had told each other that when we wanted to see each other, we would. We had planned on meeting for dinner that night.
At dinner, we discovered we had been at the same tourist sights at the same times. Notre Dame, and Eiffel Tower, and wound up meeting at the carousel we had planned to take the river cruise. My romantic side had taken this all as a sign, Jack, not so much.
The next morning I woke up refreshed, walked to get my croissant and espresso, and headed to Montmartre based on a recommendation from my ex boyfriend who had visited Paris a few times. I walked along the cobblestone streets and truly fell in love with this part of Paris. Its for lovers, and artists, and the bohemian in me was thrilled to be a part of it for a short period of time. I had my portrait drawn in pastels (really not worth the money, but hey, it was Paris). Walked along the side streets to the entrance of Sacre-Coeur, and truly was breath-taken. I was not raised Catholic, but I was raised Christian. No matter what religion you are, I think that beauty that is Sacre-Coeur would make you take a step back and appreciate it. The architecture, the history, the true magic that is within those walls. I spent an hour there just mystified, and just as I was about the leave, I heard my name.
That’s right, it was Jack. Yet again we were in the same place at the same time, unplanned. I again thought this was a sign, Jack did not.
We spent the rest of the day together feasting on fresh seafood and mulled wine (“vin chaud”) while enjoying each others company and the surrounding area. We were two souls trying to find love, but had found each other. We parted ways because Jack had tickets to see a show and I just wanted to take a nap, after all only so much vin chaud can be consumed before it catching up with you.
I woke up from my nap and went down to the hotel champagne bar and ordered myself a flight of champagne. After all, I was in Paris, so why not? I tasted three different champagnes, one better than the next, and much better than anything I had ever tasted before. Highly recommend having as much wine, cheese, champagne and bread as you can while you’re in Paris. People say calories don’t count when your on vacation, which I 100% agree with. Truthfully with all the walking I did, I actually lost a pound. Who knew Paris was good for a girlish figure.
I wound up making friends with a lovely couple at the hotel bar, who I wound up spending my last night in Paris with too at the Marche du Noel (Christmas Market). As Jack said, I tend to make friends wherever I go. I think that’s important when you’re traveling solo. Its a fine line between creepy, and distant, but that line is worth treading to talk to interesting people.
I went to the top of the Arc De Triomphe the next day, based on a recommendation from another friend of mine. I thought it would be pricey, but it as around 12 Euros. In my opinion, best 12 Euros I spent. I will say this…… the trek to the top is long and steep. I didn’t think I was going to make it after ingesting so much bread and cheese (and wine). However, the view at the top, my favorite in the city. This is because you get the view of the city, with the Eiffel Tower in the pictures too. At the bottom I made friends with a french cop who later met me for a walk at the Christmas Market. Actual the first time I had ever been on a motorcycle, probably not my smartest move, but it was invigorating! What a way to see Paris!
I had prayed and prayed before I left for Paris to find love. I had taken all of the signs from the universe that maybe this was Jack and my time to have a go, but the universe had a different plan. Part of me was crushed, part of me felt disappointed, but then a realization hit me. I had fallen in love in Paris. I had fallen in love with myself. My sense of adventure, my sense of wanting the experience other cultures and the people than inhabit them. My ability to make friends wherever I go, and no matter what to enjoy myself. I had never really realized before that not a lot of people have the ability to live in the moment. I had enjoyed every last drop of espresso while looking at the tower, every last bubble in my champagne that was better than anything I could imagine. I had enjoyed every drop of rain that I felt in Paris, because I was experiencing it in Paris.
Not everyone has the ability to travel to Paris, sometimes anywhere at all, but everyone has the ability to live in the moment, and appreciate the little things life has given us. If you are breathing, and heck, even able to read this, you have been blessed.
Paris did give me love after all. Paris gave me a love for life, and a renewed love for myself.
So, go forth, try to enjoy and appreciate one small moment of today. Whether it be your hand roasted beans from your favorite coffee shop, or a kiss from a relative, or a text from a friend. Enjoy it and live in the moment. Each moment is special and deserves to be appreciated.
From Paris, with Love,