As you might know if you read this blog regularly, I used some of my Peace Corps vacation time to travel to Paris (and London) from December 24 – January 2. My traveling companion was my volunteer friend, Chelsea. Chels and I have a similar approach to travel, in that we’re spontaneous and don’t like to plan ahead too much. The only events on the following list that we pre-planned and bought tickets for were Versailles and a train ticket to London.
Despite not planning ahead, we covered a lot of tourist ground. Here’s what we did, day by day:
- Saturday: Arrived in Paris, checked into our hostel, and went grocery shopping
- Sunday: Took a long walk around our neighborhood, saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time, had Christmas dinner and drinks
- Monday: Visited Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen (flea market) and toured Sainte-Chapelle, saw the outside of Notre Dame
- Tuesday: Versailles
- Wednesday: the Louvre
- Thursday: day trip to London
- Friday: Met up with my friend Nicole from Boston and went to the Catacombs. That evening, Chelsea stayed in while Nicole and I walked by Moulin Rouge, visited Sacré-Cœur, and had dinner at a French Bistro and drinks at a speakeasy.
- Saturday: Nicole visited Musée de l’Orangerie, while Chelsea and I went to Musée d’Orsay. Had food and drinks together for New Year.
- Sunday: Nicole went to mass at Notre Dame before her flight back to Boston. Chelsea went to Père Lachaise Cemetery and saw Jim Morrison’s grave. I stayed in and watched movies.
- Monday: left Paris and returned to Kosovo
Chelsea and I had a private room/bathroom at Arty Hostel. (I wish I’d taken my own pictures of it.) We had a great experience there. The staff was super accommodating and happy to give directions/make recommendations on what to do. Our room was only $80 per night and included breakfast. Arty also has a nice kitchen we used to make a lot of our own meals.
I’d been nervous about what to wear in Paris. It IS the fashion capital of the world, after all. I imagined a bunch of angry Parisians chasing me out of their posh city in disgust. (I bought two cheap sweater dresses in Kosovo before the trip, figuring it was the best way to look presentable while also staying warm.) After Chelsea and I checked into Arty, we walked to the store to buy food. Two older men were walking down the sidewalk behind us. One of them was wearing a snowman tie. I started to feel better about myself.
As it turns out, I needn’t have been so worried. I saw plenty of un-fashionable looks in Paris, including one offender wearing socks with sandals and sweatpants. I also saw plenty of sneakers (I’d heard French people NEVER wear sneakers. Ha.)
I’d also heard French people loathe Americans! French people hate to speak English! This is also untrue, in my experience. Almost everyone we encountered was kind, and seemed happy to speak English if they were able. We got lost plenty of times. I’d walk up to people on the street and say, “Excuse me, where is blaty-blah?” And people would answer.
I’ll be writing more about our trip tomorrow and next week. 🙂 Stay tuned!