Paris- A City for Lovers

This post was originally for my travel blog, travelling lighter, but I thought you might like it. I have been binge-watching and loving Emily in Paris. Known as the City for Lovers, for me, it’s a city for; fashion lovers, food lovers, art lovers, architecture lovers, history lovers and simply lovers of life….

The Netflix series has come in for some criticism for using cliques of Parisians and their life’s, whilst I do see this a little bit, it does also portray the Paris that I have seen with my own eyes. And after all it’s a light- hearted, series which offers escapism, (which we all need right now) not a gritty, realistic drama. I am sure when we can travel for freely, myself included we will be flocking to spent time in the beautiful city of Paris.

I have been to Paris, many times but not for several years, and I think that it has undergone some upheavals and changes, but like a fading beauty queen, she will never totally lose her true glamour. There is an under-side, as in all major cities and caution is required, particularly where muggings and pickpockets are concerned. But by using some common-sense, essential for all travellers it is still relatively safe. Leave your valuables in a safe place and pay attention when you are out and about if you a female solo traveller.

Parisians, it has to be said are a law to themselves, a bit like native New Yorkers, however their attitude is to envy, confident, arrogant and so very French, as a self-enfacing, English person it’s quite refreshing to see, well in small amounts.

Anyway, less of the people and more of the city, I love walking around Paris, as a poor student, I didn’t have any choice, but by exploring this way, you always find a wonderful little street or bistro and I discover something new everything. Walking is very Parisian thing. People- watching is one of by favourite things to do, and siting with un café et une croissant and watching the world go by is a Parisian tradition, I can easily adopt.

A break in Paris, offers something for everyone, from wonderful shops, restaurants, galleries and museums, there is so much to see and do. I always think its best to see less and savour the experience, rather than trying to fit everything into a few days, as you totally lose the vibe of the city by doing this and its great to have a good excuse to return.

Guide books and maps are helpful particularly if it’s your first visit but by going off the beaten track you discover things yourself, so I make loose plans which I can then change easily. I prefer to eat in smaller local places, as sometimes the well-know destinations can be full of tourists and a bit disappointing. An open mind when traveling can give you a better experience. I learnt French at school and have been re-learning French in the lockdown, I always aim to speak French in Paris, sometimes you will not be understood, (often on purpose)you may even be corrected but it’s just the Parisian way.

The blog the Every Day Parisian is very interesting with some great tips, as an American photographer writes about her time living in Paris, the photos are lovely too. Paris is perfect for any time of year, as the seasons are quite different, just dress correctly. It can be cold and wet in Winter and very hot in Summer, pretty sun- dresses are great, in Paris, summer fashion is not too revealing and don’t forgot comfortable shoes for all the walking, the cobbled streets are not great for heels. An umbrella is often necessary as it can rain a lot.

I might just watch Emily in Paris again, why not!

Traveling Lighter

On reaching the age of 50, I realized I had spent most of my adult life constantly busy and stressed. Always 10 minutes behind schedule, I was dancing to someone else’s tune: work, family, friends etc. There never seemed to be enough time for me in my own life, perhaps it was time to change the song!  At 50 it was also time to face facts, that I was now a GROWN – UP.  My life was sensible, responsible and comfortable, I worked hard and tried to give as much time as I could to loved ones, but was life exciting or fun? To celebrate my milestone, I wanted to do something memorable and quite possibly life-changing. I was going to go on holiday not just for two weeks but for a whole year. My mid-life teenager was demanding a grown-up gap year.

What was the worse that would happen? Had I gone a little mad? More than likely, but I could always blame in on my advancing age.

Well, everything turned out just fine and dandy. My first Airbnb was not great, however, my second Airbnb was wonderful, I even made a return visit to the same apartment. So, apart from a few little hiccups along the way my solo traveling had been very positive and I would encourage others to give it a go.

 In a quiet, gentle way it was a life-changing experience. My life did not change beyond all recognition. I still have a similar job role, still work too hard and still have many responsibilities to others. That’s just life, there are always going to be bills to pay, even if I won the lottery. What I did learn was the importance of having a family I loved, work I am good at and enjoy doing and the opportunity to be given responsibilities, and at the risk of sounding like a quote from a self- help book, I realized there was a great deal in my life to be grateful for. Sometimes we just don’t appreciate the good fortune we have in our everyday life’s. A couple of years on and I still feel the same, certainly the current Lockdown would have been a great deal harder to cope with without gaining this knowledge.

 Through travel it’s almost as if our eyes open again for the first time in a while. Nothing changes the way you view your own life experiences than by seeing the way other people have to live.

Since I decided to start my journey in August 2015; I have made 7 trips, lasting up to 3 months in length, spending around 15 months in Spain, I have stayed in 32 Airbnb properties and volunteered 3 times. I stayed in; Mallorca, Ibiza, Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Malaga, Granada, Valencia and the Canary isles. During my trips I met many wonderful, interesting people, making some very special friends who I have continued to stay in touch with, I tried lots of new things and immersed myself in a different culture.

What did I discover along the way? Well oddly, enough I found myself, my younger, braver self that is. I remembered my long-forgotten childhood dreams and goals. Traveling teaches us to explore and discover new and old parts of ourselves. To think about what’s really important. Investing in this rather than what no longer serves you well, not dwelling in the past. Been happy now.

Did I have any regrets? Not at all, there were some laughs and tears along the way, sometimes things didn’t go to plan. Learning how to be calmer and not get frustrated or upset when things went wrong was a hard challenge but learning to roll with whatever came my way was one of the most valuable skills acquired. Been totally independent means that you also spend large amounts of time alone. I missed my home very badly, on occasions, I had to accept living standards well below what I am used too. But knowing that this was only a temporary situation helped me realize, that we can get through any situations by just changing our mindset and trying to stay positive. We can learn and grow from everything we encounter, good or bad.

Where next?  I’ll continue to travel, that I know. My love affair with Spain is the real deal and not just a holiday crush, so who knows where I will go in the future! At the moment, I am unable to leave my house until the end of July, so, I’m writing a blog of my journey, finding new destinations on Pinterest and watching A Place in the Sun. Life is pretty good. So, whilst I prepare for my next adventure, for now I can indulge in some Arm Chair Travel until I can travel for real.

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