Paris, the city, that is.
I returned from a quick trip to one of my favorite cities, Paris, France, about a week ago, and I still miss it, almost like a homesickness. Some might wonder why a single person would go on a trip to the City of Love for a vacay. Indeed, I saw many a couple engaging in PDA while there.
Yet I wasn't jealous of them. Rarely did I wish I had a boyfriend on my arm as I roamed aimlessly the rues of Paris. I was just so happy to be back after nine years!
Because I never have had a boyfriend, I don't know what it's like to travel with one. I've only traveled with groups and alone. I must say, travel can be quite fun and satisfying while single. I can go wherever I want, however I want. If I want to walk or take the metro everywhere, I don't have to worry about a fussy travel companion who wants to take expensive taxis. I can stay in a cheap, "real" French hotel (which means just a twin size bed, desk and sink, if I'm lucky...). I do not have to negotiate with a travel buddy who wants more "American" accommodations and therefore end up paying beaucoup euros. I can linger, or leave quickly. I can be serendipitous. I can sit down and have thé au soymilk at a café or just grab falafel "take away." I can be as scheduled or unscheduled as I wish.
Don't eat take-away falafel in Paris, btw. Or take-away Chinese food, for that matter. Really, don't eat anything take-away there...
Upon returning from France, a friend of mine loaned me the movie, "Paris, Je T'aime." I immediately watched it the night she gave me the movie (this was just three days after returning from Paris, by the way). Of course, I loved it, though it was a little painful to see the places I just visited days before.
The short that hit me the most was actually the last one, which was narrated in French by a middle aged woman who had a very American accent. She was a mail carrier and imagined herself delivering letters on the streets of Paris as she strolled about. I admit, as soon as I returned, I wondered what it would take to move to Paris, and get a little job and a little apartment there. It's hard not to imagine dropping everything and moving to Paris after visiting! She described how there were a few times she wished she had someone to say, "Isn't this beautiful?" to. However, overall, she was happy, and cried tears of joy and sadness, but mostly joy. She said that she fell in love with Paris, and believed that Paris also fell in love with her.
Word. That is exactly how I felt. That Paris loved me. I felt surprisingly normal there. I think it was partially because I'm conversational in French and also because I purposely didn't dress like a tourist. No backpack, bandanna and gym shoes this trip! I upped my style a bit. Indeed, I was mistaken for a local a few times while there! The private, introverted nature of Parisians was also very appealing. If Parisians DO hate Americans so much, I can understand why when I think of a stereotypical boisterous, fussy American. Everyone was friendly with me, however.
So no regrets for traveling alone, not even to Paris. The city is beautiful, magnificent, enchanting enough to distract you from whatever tribulations await you back home...er, your other home, rather.