The first time I went to Paris I left in a flurry.
It was 2000 and I was 22. While visiting relatives in England, I decided to take the Eurostar to Paris for an excursion. I wanted to see all of the major sites. I was alone and little did I know that I was in for a major culture shock. I boarded the train in London where everyone spoke English and got off in Paris where it hit me that not only did I not know a word of French, I also didn't know where I was going to sleep that night. Yes, I have an occasional adventurous side.
My three days in Paris played out like a movie script, complete with several "meet-cute" moments:
Meet-Cute #1: While still in the train station, I met another American woman who was traveling with her young daughters. She didn't have hotel reservations either, so we partnered up to find a budget hotel and shared a taxi. She was so nervous that she kept slipping into Spanish while trying to speak French.
Meet-Cute #2: Once I was safely in my hotel room (which I swear to this day only cost about $5 per night, but had the best coffee I've ever tasted in my life), I sat on the bed thinking to myself, What the hell am I doing here alone? After about five minutes of sitting there in self-pity, I heard foot steps coming up the creaky stairs and the sweet sound of American voices. I jumped up, opened the door and there they were: two female American college students backpacking together across Europe for the summer. I introduced myself and the next thing I knew, we were all sitting together having dinner in a restaurant nearby. They invited me to explore Paris with them and I was happy and thankful for the company.
Meet-Cute #3: While in line for the Eiffel Tower the next day, we met another American, James, who was also traveling alone. He stuck with us for Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe and a couple of meals.
After a few days I couldn't wait to get back to London. I started to feel like a third wheel after we said goodbye to James, and I wasn't confident enough to set out on my own. So on my last morning, I woke up, pulled out my map and dashed for the train station.
Cut to 2010 and I kept reading on blogs how fabulous Paris is. It is? I'd think to myself. Perhaps I should give it another try.
I'm so glad I did. In May of that year I spent four days in Paris: I wandered around with my camera, ate pastries that changed my life (seriously! see the berry tart pictured on the bottom left below), and tried to reenact the route that Jessie and Celine walked in the 2004 film, Before Sunset. Even though I was alone again, I was much more confident to get out and explore. I can now say that I love Paris. Here are a few of my favorite shots from that trip.