Flying Solo to the City of Lights – Paris
There comes a day in your life when waiting anymore feels like a waste of time. Euro Trip was just that for me. There came a time when I decided to take the plunge all by myself. Sounds like m talking about getting married or some bigger decision in my life? It was big to me. Introvert by birth, in this trip, I was like a panda trying to learn kungfu. But just like in the movie, I started to enjoy every minute of it.
Now that I had decided to fly solo, I decided to put myself in self created experiment by not only travelling alone but also making sure that I am surrounded by more and more strangers – instead of cozy hotels, I decided to crash at hostels sharing room with other travelers and I purposely did not carry any internet or phone with me when I was out on roads.
How did it feel? On the first day, it felt like I was a self torture trip but as days passed by, I became more comfortable with choosing my own path, deciding my own routes, and dealing with last minute gate changes at airport, finding my way around the cities while taking directions from strangers, and meeting some great people on the way. All in all, the trip changed my opinion about myself. I, quite literally, surprised myself.
Paris was my destination first on this experiment. I mixed myself with early morning walk on the by-lanes of Champs-Élysées to reach India Gate of Paris – The Arc de Triomphe on day one while wondering what I am doing to myself. Arc de Triomphe is public monument with patriotic significance. It was built in 1806 to honor soldiers who died for France during Napoleonic Wars and French Revolution. Names of these soldiers are inscribed in inner and outer surfaces of this structure. It was the first time I was breaking out of my comfort zone and I had all sorts of mixed feelings one can ever experience.
As the day passed I spent lot of time with myself, and realized that it wasn’t too bad. I had funny incidents running in my head and I would start smiling to myself, thank god I had Eiffel Tower in front of me to make me look sane. A giant rot iron tower, built between 1887 and 1889 as an entrance to world’s fair, was highly criticized by artists for the design. A structure which is tallest in Paris till date and is the most visited paid monument in the world epitomizes strength of imagination. Sight of Eiffel Tower glittering for 5 minutes every time minutes hand kisses 12 at night lighted up romance in me and I made a promise to myself – I will travel more often.
How could I miss the ICONIC Love Locks Bridge. You must be expecting Notre-Dame Cathedral with this description, but believe me with all buzz about possible fall of the bridge, I went to see the love locks bridge first. The amount of locks on the bridge was overwhelming. Locks must not have felt so important anywhere else in the world. Next to this bridge standing tall was a massive cathedral, yes this time it is Notre-Dame, a medieval catholic cathedral. Even though bustling with crowd, it was really peaceful inside the cathedral. At-least I felt it that way. It is known for finest French gothic architectures and is among the largest churches in the world.
After visiting these most well known places in Paris, there came a time when I thought to myself, lets establish that I do not understand works of most painters and artists, unless they are really pretty to look at. I bought the ticket, stood in a 2hour long queue, to enter Louvre, museum with largest art collection in the world. Like all other tourists in the museum, I was also following signs to reach “THE Mona Lisa”. It was a nice painting but I had imagined it to be a bit bigger than it actually is.
The place which first time made me realize the benefits of travelling alone was Disneyland. I transcended back to my childhood and lived all those fairy tales, with a twist of roller-coaster, boat rides, and many more. I was in my kiddie land, with no one to judge me for taking the most childish ride in the park. This for the first time made me realize that my fear of new people and places was all in my head and had nothing to do with the big bad world.
I visited many other places in Paris in this 3 day long trip and fell in love with solo travel for the first time. Something which I ever thought I was capable of, as I said earlier, I surprised myself. Today, I suggest that everyone should travel alone at-least once in their lifetime, it not only surprises you it also introduces to your own self. On my last night in Paris, I raised a toast to my new found love for solo travel and to many such trips in future.
Where to Crash
If you are travelling in a group, you can also look for private rooms in hostels, Airbnb and hotels.For solo travelers, I suggest you book hostels. There are so many good ones you can find on Hostelworld to fit your budget and travel style. I booked BVJ CHAMPS ELYSEES – MONCEAU and it was amazing experience with delicious breakfast to kick-start my mornings.
Best way I like to explore any European city is by foot, you can also take 3-4 day travel passes which work on all public transports. These are available at Airport, train Stations, and metro stations.
Things to Do Paris (in addition to article)
Seine River Cruise: Take this in evening so that you can see the evenings blending into the night lights right when the Eiffel Tower glitters for the first time.
Other Attractions: Grand Palais, Alexandre Bridge, Pantheon
There are no violent crimes in Paris, all you need to do is be aware of your surroundings and keep all your belongings in your sight. I walked down to my hostel at mid-night and it was alright. Keep a copy of your passport in your bag and leave your important documents in your hotel/hostel lockers, just in case. Apart from this, just enjoy Paris.