Monday, January 12, 2015

Paris in The The Spring!

My new year’s resolution was to start blogging again.  So I found my old half completed Paris blog and decided to complete it.  A year or so late but I still have fond memories of this adventure and I hope you enjoy it too!

I have lists of places I would like to travel but often I end up at a place I never intended just because someone invites me or the stars align or whatever.  Such is the case of my recent Paris trip.  I was invited by a Belgium Facebook friend to stay at her dorm in Paris.   She’s much younger than I am and I didn’t know her well since we’d just hung out a few times when she lived in Orlando the previous summer.  But I readily accepted her offer anticipating I’d do much of the exploring on my own since she would be busy with school and work.  This was a big step for me since I’d never traveled this far alone and especially not overseas to a different country when I really didn’t speak enough of the language to get by.  But it seemed like a fun adventure so c’est la vie!

I didn’t know much about Paris since the last time I was there was for a school trip in 1989.  So I did a bit of research for cell phones, ATMs, the Velib bike share program and many other things that didn’t even exist when I last traveled to the City of Lights.  I didn’t have much time to plan and I was nervous since I was traveling alone but everything went very smoothly.  I arrived at the Charles De Gaulle Airport, withdrew some euros from an airport ATM, purchased a sim card for my unlocked phone from an airport store and bought a carne of metro passes and one more expensive pass from the airport to downtown Paris.  All this took less than one hour.  (And it would be even easier today since my T-Mobile phone works in Paris without having to do anything. I love progress!)

My friend met me at the RER station and showed me my new home for the week.  I would be staying in her dorm room which was tiny even by my standards and I would also be sharing a kitchen.  After unpacking and catching up a bit with my friend, I ventured out alone to see what I could find.  I quickly rented a Velib bicycle from the Paris bike share program.  This was amazingly easy since I had already signed up for a one week membership prior to my travel.  I biked around my friend’s neighborhood and was amazed by the number of people and different ways to commute.  There were skaters, walkers, bikers, cars, scooters, a trolley and of course the metro with people coming and going all the time.  This was a big change from the much smaller city that I call home.

Seeing as I was still not recovered from travel and not familiar with the city I decided to eat a bit and call it an early day.  I found a pizza place and ate outside watching people go by.  I felt a bit lame getting pizza but I didn’t see any true French restaurants in the area and with my limited French speaking ability I chose a place where I could just point and sort of try to say the words best I could.  It was a delicious if not a typical French meal.  BTW I later discovered you don’t have to tip.  Tip and tax are already included in the price listed for a meal. You can leave a little extra if you like though. 

Day one was a “no big deal” day except for the excitement of this big adventure alone.  But travel days are never the highlight of the trip so stay tuned for my actual adventures in future blogs. 

Cat “Oh La La” Cathy

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