beautiful, COLD, busy, fulfilling, and overwhelming.
“Traveling tends to magnify all human emotions.” - Peter HoegI have been learning this each day, each moment, that I am abroad. The beginning of my trip started off with the overwhelming sensation of regret: Why am I going here alone? Will I be okay? Is this what I truly want? Am I going to meet people once the program starts that I will feel comfortable with? Comfort is something that I see now as a little bit of a crutch. We do not travel to far and distant places to seek comfort, but to remove ourselves from this and experience life abroad. And this is why I did come to Paris.
I began making a 21 hour journey from San Francisco, tearfully saying goodbye to my mom, through Seattle and then Iceland before reaching Paris. I maneuvered (somewhat difficultly) through the Metro and the streets with my backpack and suitcase and arrived at my hotel - the Lenox Hotel Montparnasse, which lies in the heart of the Montparnasse business district in central Paris. There were loads of diverse restaurants, some shopping, lots of Boulangeries, and people. Paris is very crowded and everyone is in that fast-pace, New York City type of lifestyle. After settling into my hotel for the first night, I met up with a girl who lives in Paris. Her cousin goes to school with me at HPU and was my French tutor last semester. Camille, her boyfriend, Etienne, and myself went to the 18th Arrondissement where the beautiful hilltop of Montmartre is with the Sacre Couer church. We enjoyed some bubble tea at a local shop, walked around the hilly streets, which fondly reminded me of San Francisco, and walked in the Pigalle area (famous for Moulin Rouge, see above)
|La Seine on my birthday|
|Jardin des Tuileries|
|The Glass Castle|
|Enjoying some ice cream in Plaza Mayor|
flower gardens and trees. We sat on the steps by the pond and enjoyed the people-watching and the warm weather, which we were missing from Paris. Madrid is also home to the Plaza Mayor, a huge square that was similar to the Grand Place in Brussels, where many people sit and enjoy food, drinks, venders, and the architecture. It is right next to Puerta del Sol, a massive tourist area filled with shopping, restaurants, statues of famous Spaniards and people dressed up with character costumes for tourists to take pictures with. We actually witnessed a refugee protest going on there on Friday night - an issue that is widely being discussed throughout everywhere in Europe currently. This area is home to a lot of street performers, protests, and other large-scale demonstrations because of the amount of foot traffic that comes through. The last attraction we saw was Catedral de la Almudena - probably one of the most beautiful churches I've ever seen. It was massive with extremely detailed and colorful ceilings, incredible stained-glass windows, and ornately-decorated displays.
|Above Madrid at the Catedral de la Almudena|
|Les Catacombs de Paris|
|Friends in Pigalle|
My advice to anyone coming to Europe or wanting to see Paris is this: get ready for a culture that indulges in all life has to offer, whether it's food, drink, or love. There is no better place to experience life than here, where a fast-paced lifestyle is set in an ancient and beautiful backdrop. No matter how in a rush I am, I can always slow down to enjoy what is right in front of me.