The 4 Day Solo Traveler Story
Traveling to Paris on the 8th and returning on the 13th of July 2017 got me two free gifts among many others. The others, still gifts but definitely not free, one could consider an accomplished mission.
The two free gifts
So, one was the ever changing 22-28 Celsius degrees, mostly cloudy, classic European weather. The second gift were two genuine smiles I exchanged with complete strangers. One on the subway and the other one in a pub over Nadal making a remarkable point over Müller on the Wimbledon cup.
Such moments I believe should always be appreciated. It’s like pressing the pause button on Life for just a second. And my personal opinion is that such eye- contact, catching moments only happen to anyone but tourists.
This is one of the many reasons I consider myself lucky. I’ve visited Paris before. This gives me the good excuse of not acting as a tourist, not visiting the main sights and not even going out of the house if I feel like it.
The non-tourist perspective
The whole “non-tourist” idea lifts off of me the pressure of planning and counting the days I have in that place, so I like it. It does have some drawbacks, of course, but I won’t go into these now.
So, Paris is a big city. And if we consider all the people are currently in the city, we could divide them in two – tourists and the regulars.
Although both groups come from totally diverse backgrounds, I cannot imagine anyone being happily called the later.
And here I am, solo visiting Paris. I have no backpack, no camera is hanging on my neck and my hands are nicely put in my pockets. From there, I occasionally take out my phone to take a picture or to look at the pre-loaded Google Maps app, just to make sure I am on the right track.
Walking around the streets is what I do best I guess. And I could argue that looking at all the tourists gathered around Notre-Dame de Paris, as it has been once again evacuated, wondering if and when will the guards let them in, is as amusing and fulfilling as actually queueing with all these people and walking in in herds.
By the way, while walking with my hands in my pocket I did get asked for directions bu two lovely old ladies trying to fold properly an analogue copy of a city map. As I was in no rush, I decided to wait and give all of us a chance of thinking that I might actually help them. So I did. I waited and I was rewarded. They asked for Notre-Dame and here it was. The moment of my 3 seconds glory. The 1 thing I could truly show them to. That was easy, yet reassuring and empowering. 🙂
My new discovery – rue Montmartre
The good thing about revisiting a place is that new discoveries come with a greater surprise. This time, my personal astonishment came with rue Montmartre. It starts at Les Halles and it mingles all the way up, changing its name to Rue du Faubourg Montmartre and then to Rue Pierre Fontaine, when finally reaching Moulin Rouge. It is full packed with little shops, cafes and restaurants and what amazed me the most is how the scenery changes while walking on this very same street. It’s as if I was walking on a treadmill in the fitness and someone has been busy changing the decor as I walked along. If you have a chance to go there, find that road and just walk for a while. Then, if you feel like sitting down and having a glass of wine – do that but before you actually sit anywhere – walk some more. This is when you will find the perfect spot for a short break.
Another good place I found on my petite promenade à Paris is Place de la Contrescarpe. A colourful little square with tiny streets coming into it and many places to eat, sit, drink coffee and enjoy the atmosphere of this part of la Rive Gauche of Paris.
Purely technically speaking:
- Walking around could be tricky as the streets are not straight as one might think by looking at the map. getting lost, however has always been exciting and challenging for me.
- The subway is easy to use. They’ve put colours to the different lines (which wasn’t the case some 20 years ago) and the single journey ticket now costs about 2 Euro, unless you buy a “carnet” of 10 single tickets for 15 Euro.
- Nowadays everyone speaks English. This could be a bit disturbing if you want to practice your fragile French but then again, you have to insist. When you say “Bonjour” and they reply “Hello”, you just keep on talking in French. That’s it.
- Water is free in most restaurants and coffee shops which is kind of nice and surprising knowing the world we now live in but always – welcome.
- And last but not least – there is wi-fi in most places now available for free and often properly working!
To sum it all up
If one is not freshly heart broken or in a casually depressive mode, I guess walking around the streets of paris among people holding hands and obviously being in love is some what nice. Paris after all…
And on the very top of all positive and wishful thinking, destiny or faith or whatever you might like to call it, decided to fully reward me for on my way back home, I travelled business class by mistake. I still don’t k
now how this happened, but it did and I enjoyed my A1 seat as much as I could. Now, if that’s not luck, I don’t know what it is. And it always happen when you least expect it and exactly when I got myself into serious thinking about who on earth would actually travel business class when all there is to it is a curtain separating the business from economy travelers. Well, now I know, but I won’t go into that thing now, neither will I try to fix the mistake and inform the airplane company.
Vive la France, vive le Paris! 🙂