With love, from Paris

Oh Paris, where shall I start?

Paris is a place that I have always wanted to visit, ever since I was a little girl—watching the Olsen twins eat snails, in Passport to Paris, and say that they taste like balloons. However, I’ve also always been the type of person to put the things that I want to do in the future. Forever saying that I’ll chase my dreams when I grow up, which may have worked when I was 14, and couldn’t even look after my own passport without losing it—but at 21, with the finances to do things, and a more organised approach to life, that excuse no longer works.

In August, I went through one of my midlife crisis’. My mother says that I’ve been having a midlife crisis since birth, and I must agree. Whenever I get stressed, even the tiniest bit, I say that it’s just another midlife crisis. Anyway, back to August. I was being dramatic, as I can be from time to time, having one of those midlife crisis’, and said: “F*** this. I’m going to Paris!”

At the time, of making that statement, I was very much in my feelings, and the mere thought of going to Paris made me feel better. But, I never thought that I would actually do it. Yet, 7 days after booking a flight, and a bed in a hostel (for the first time ever), I was in Paris on my lonesome. Even now that I’ve done it, it still amazes me that not only did I travel alone, but that I travelled alone to beautiful Paris. For someone as anxious as myself—anxious to even go to the shop alone—travelling solo to Paris felt like a major accomplishment.

Generator Hostel, in Paris, is where I stayed—and it was fabulous. I used to think of hostels as somewhere gross, and the thought of ever staying in one was the furthest thing from my mind. But after giving it a go, I was pleasantly surprised, and don’t regret it at all. The hostel decor was modern and cosy. Checking in was easy-breezy. And within 10 minutes of arriving, I was putting my suitcase away in my dorm room. It was a win-win situation.

I stayed in a female-only dorm-room, with 4 bunk-beds (able to sleep 8 girls). On arrival, there was only 1 other girl in there—asleep—and there was also a messy bed, making me aware that there was another girl staying in there, too. By the time I went home, there were 6 of us in total—from all over the world. It was a great way to make friends, but I was still too shy, and kept the conversation minimal.

On my first night, I visited Café des Deux Moulins—the restaurant that Audrey Tautou worked at in, the movie, Amelie. I walked from my hostel, in order to see more of Paris, which took me approximately 45 minutes (baring in mind that I took a slow stroll, read my map a lot, and stopped off at a few shops).

I went past a kebab shop, and wish that I remembered the name, because it sold the best slushies in the world. It was located on the strip that has a lot of sex stories (if that helps). After getting very dizzy, probably due to my Fibromyalgia, I went to get a drink, and the man in the shop gave me a slushie for free. I assumed it wouldn’t be very nice, simply because it was free, but I was proved completely wrong. It was delicious! So delicious that when I finally arrived at the café, I had to stand outside for a while—because I couldn’t take my drink in—just so that I could finish it. And it was raining, too. I got drenched in rain, just to continue enjoying the slushie.

As soon as I went inside, I felt like I was in Amelie. That only lasted until the food arrived, however, because it wasn’t nice at all. I wasn’t a vegan yet, and I chose to have a Nicoise Salad—channelling my inner White Chicks—which tasted like it had been cooked 48 hours prior to my arrival, put into the fridge, and then taken out and handed to me. Just like that. I also had a hot chocolate, which was actually quite nice, but the cup was only half-way full—and the cup was already small. The bread that I was given on the side was too hard to eat—making things even worse. I love carbs. Carbs usually make things better. But not in this case. Café des Deux Moulins disappointed me, which was a shame because the environment was absolutely lovely. So lovely that I stayed for a while, just people watching, before I was ready to leave.

After asking the waitress for the bill, and waiting for about 15 minutes, she finally returned with it. I waited for my change, of about 9 euros, but after waiting for 10 minutes the waitress waved goodbye to me, and thanked me for coming. Yes, you guessed right. She stole my change. I was sure if this was just a ‘thing’ in France, so I left.

After leaving, I went for a little stroll around the area, to find the Sacre Couer. The surrounding area, near the Sacre Couer, is so pleasant and beautiful. I bumped into numerous couples, who all asked me to take pictures for them, and everyone just looked so in love. It was beautiful. And I bought myself two delicious crepes, and even had a woman draw me (although I didn’t ask), whilst I was people watching. The only downside was that a strange man kept trying to whisk me off with him, to apparently go and see a flower garden—down a dark path, after 10 at night—but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the evening. Finally, I had made it to the Sacre Couer, but unfortunately my battery died so I couldn’t take pictures. My phone also had my map on it, so I was lost, and afraid to tell anyone that I was lost—because I had watched Taken about 20 times at that point, and did not want to get kidnapped.

The journey back was a long one. A long journey that is a headache to try and explain, but long story short: 3 hours later I made it back to my hostel. I had a great sleep after that, though.

On the next day, I tried to do as much as possible, starting with the Louvre Museum—which I’d recommend to anyone who wants to visit Paris. The museums beauty cannot be measured in words—but it is phenomenal.

I didn’t have to pay, because I’m from the U.K. and had my passport with me (be sure to have your brutish passport for free entry). Everything about the museum, I loved. I walked for hours, and hours, taking in all of the spectacular artwork—and still feel as though I didn’t see everything. And as awkward as it felt to ask strangers to take photographs of me, it was well-worth it, to capture the moments. The only disappointing factor was the Mona Lisa, which is ironic because that it what I went there for. It was smaller than expected, and didn’t stand out as much as I wished it would. But at the same time, it was a main attraction, and I squeezed myself through tons of people to see it.

After that, I went to Pont des Arts, to see the love locks. There was a cart selling crepes, right next to the love locks, and I ordered a crepe to accompany me—then sat and read the locks one by one. The crepe wasn’t as nice as the others, but hey—the love locks were beautiful, and I was emotional. Ruining my emotional moment of romanticising over strangers love locks, I was bothered constantly by two men. One kept asking me to go with him, whilst the other followed me around from a distance. Only for me to later find out, they were both together. I felt weirded out, like they were plotting to kidnap me, and so I left.

I decided to visit the Eiffel Tower, and after walking through the 7th arrondissement, and finding a train, I made my way there. After finding yet another delicious slushie, I felt amazing on my walk towards the Eiffel Tower. I met a young girl who wanted to take a picture with me, and although I’m not sure why she wanted a picture with little old me, I took the picture—because she was adorable! Then, in typical L style, I fainted. Right in front of the Eiffel Tower. Embarrassing in thought, but not so much in reality, as I was saved by a lovely guy named Nic who found me—and saved me, in return for a selfie together (bargain!). He also showed me the way to the canal, so that I could go on a cruise—which was nice. I’m scared of boats, so going on the cruise was a big deal for me, but I was still feeling a bit off—from fainting—so I relaxed, and enjoyed the ride, instead of feeling scared.

After a day full of emotions, from excitement to anxiousness, I went back to the hostel and slept. I was starting to feel very ill, so literally spent a lot of time in bed until the next evening. It was my last night, and I just knew that I had to make the most of it.

My final night was lovely. I went to the rooftop terrace of the hostel, which was gorgeous, to eat a salad, and drink a mocktail. I sat and enjoyed the view, and the mocktail, and had a session of lonesome chain-smoking until the boy next to me spoke. His name was Anand, and he was from India. We exchanged cigarettes: I smoke Vogue’s, and he smokes some black cigarettes (I didn’t get the name) from India. I guess that’s how you make friends these days: by smoking cancer. But I don’t regret the moment, because it was great. Anand has just arrived, to find that the people in his room were all out, and he wanted to make some friends. Although I’m not really the type of person that jumps at the chance to make friends, I felt bad that he was alone—especially because he seemed really cool—so I offered to show him around Paris with the little I knew. He accepted.

Off we went, firstly to the Notre Dame, so that he could take pictures. I became his photographer, and enjoyed that for a while, until I craved ice cream. Once his photo-shoot was over, we headed off on an ice cream hunt.

I found a banoffee ice cream, which had me psyched, because I love anything to do with banana’s. We then decided to just keep walking around, until we found a cool little bar/club. The music was really good, and everyone was having the time of their lives. The club sold Virgin Mojito’s—aka my favourite drink—and I introduced my new friend to them. After an intense back and forth, because he thought it was alcoholic, and he doesn’t drink alcohol (nor do I), I finally convinced him to try it—and he loved it! We made a toast to making memories with new friends, and then headed back to the hostel. After walking through the beautifully lit Parisian night streets, covered with lovely people, and live music. We exchanged pictures, and parted ways, wishing one another safe travels—I do hope he enjoyed the rest of Paris, and got back to India safely.

The next morning, I woke up early to catch my flight home. I  as way ahead of schedule, which is what I had planned, and made my way to the train station. Then my train was delayed! I almost had a panic attack, whilst waiting for such a long time for my train, and by the time I had arrived at the airport, I had 15 minutes left to catch my flight. I ran around the airport like a headless chicken, trying to find out where I could print my boarding pass. After finding the machine, I was told that it was too late to make my flight. My heart was racing!

At that point, all I wanted to do was go home, and see my mother. I went and spoke to a member of staff, who informed me that I had to queue for a later flight. Yet, after queuing for 3 minutes—that felt like 30—I was told that I could, in fact, catch my flight. She printed my boarding pass, and with 6 minutes left to catch my flight—without having my bags checked yet—I ran for my plane. And guess what? I made it! Usain Bolt who? Maybe it’s the Jamaican in me.

And that was the end of my first solo-travelling journey. I hopped off the plane, and walked outside of the airport to hear the ever-so familiar Birmingham accent all around me. The sound was so comforting, because although I enjoyed Paris, there’s no place like home. That being said, I would definitely love to visit again—but with someone else next time.

Love and light, Liss x 

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