So, unbelievably, one month ago, i was in Paris. Wah? Honestly—people say it all the time, yadda, but—time passes so quickly. So i guess, before time gets away from me and i start to have to blog about how i’m leaving Senegal in T-minus 25 days (again, wah), i should chat a little bit about my time in ol’ Paris.
So, a big thing that colored the trip for me was that i was completely alone (save the first day, when i met with my bud Laurel, and the last day, when i met some friend from Women Writing for (a) Change in Cincinnati for dinner (yup, time passes quickly and the world is small)). Completely alone after spending two weeks straight with Avery traveling and chilling and eating and talking and all. So, perhaps needless to say, i was pretty sad and lonely some of the time. Not so much during the day, when i kept busy exploring, but when evening began to fall, i wished really hard for someone to debrief the day over dinner with. It was tough, but in a sense it was also liberating, and sort of felt like a good “fast,” a period of contemplation on the cusp of the new year.
That aside, i saw many things. If you’ve been following this blog you may recall the handful of days i spent alone in Copenhagen in September, and i recall that i ended up not doing a whole bunch of exploring. The same cannot be said of my solo trip to Paris. I visited many museums and landmarks, including le Musée d’Orangerie (art museum featuring Monet’s waterlilies, breathtaking), le Musée de Cluny (medieval history, so cool), Notre Dame (i was a little scandalized that we were allowed to tour the church while a mass was taking place), the Opera Garnier (setting, of course, of The Phantom of the Opera, the story with which i was heavily obsessed in junior high and what made my trip to Paris feel as much like a pilgrimage as a vacation), and the Parisian catacombs (also POTO-related and just generally goth and awesome).
Also kept myself bien amusée by seeing Skyfall and The Hobbit, drinking kirs pêches (white wine mixed with peach liqueur) at a café near my hostel after the day’s wanderings, reading one of the numerous books i’d bought in Paris/acquired from Avery before her departure, and just wandering around Paris. Now that i reflect on it a bit, i realize one of the things that i liked the most about being in Paris was the freedom: i could get to wherever i wanted to be using a map, or by looking up the address on the Internet. I liked being able to just wander around and be able to just hop on a Metro if i got too lost. Navigation has actually been an unforeseen challenge of my time in Dakar. Because street names change frequently, and businesses often close or change locations, the addresses you find online for a restaurant or whatever are often incorrect—if you could even find one in the first place. Add to this the fact that i’m pretty bad at getting around and the result is me being too lazy/afraid to try to find places on my own. So, it was nice to spend some time in a place where i was reasonably competent in getting where i wanted to go.
Six days isn’t a lot of time for Paris, but i found myself pretty unstressed by it, as i anticipate returning in the future, hopefully multiple times. I don’t think it was my kindred city—way too fashionable, ha—but i loved it quite a lot.
Also, it was my birthday the other day.
Not my first birthday away from home, but my first out of the country. I went to the beach with Fiona and my new co-American, Gerrit (and went in the ocean even though it was freezing!), listened to Fleetwood Mac, went downtown for dinner with my friends at an Indian restaurant (called Indiana, ha), had my customary peanut butter birthday cake (courtesy of Julia and Laurel), and went to the bar. All in all, not such a bad day.
Even though i missed the States/Avery/home/other friends, it came down to being surrounded by people who care about me, and who i care about, and that’s all i can really ask for. Thanks for making it a wonderful birthday, friends!