Staying in the same theme of spontaneity that I’ve reverted to throughout this entire endeavor, I booked a last minute trip to Paris for the weekend. My friend, Nadia, is slated to start classes in Berlin within the next couple of weeks, but until then she’s been exploring Paris and staying with friends of her native Parisian father. Another friend from school, Olivia, who is currently studying in Copenhagen, was scheduled to visit a childhood friend who lives in Paris that same weekend. More than enough justification for a trip to the City of Light.
This weekend marked my very first stay in a hostel, an option of accommodation that I believe every solo traveler should experience. My 8 bed dorm-style room hosted women from Germany, Canada, New Zealand and Chile to name a few: a holistic international experience for which I’m very grateful. I stayed at St. Christopher’s Inn (if you book directly, you get complimentary breakfast!) in the heart of the bustling 10th arrondissement, a stone’s throw away from the Gare du Nord metro station. Parisian’s pride themselves on the interconnectedness of their comprehensive public transport system, and it was the gateway to many of the sights I visited. My favorite among them was the Louvre museum, the old palace of Louis XIV before he ordered the construction of the Palace of Versailles. It’s a magnificent structure housing more than 500,000 pieces of art. My favorite exhibits included Egyptian Antiquities, showcasing a sphinx and remarkably well-preserved mummy, as well as the Galerie d’Apollon, with its opulent fresco ceilings and enormous portraits. It still blows my mind that people could conceive such elaborate works in their minds. We got to see the Mona Lisa, which was truthfully underwhelming, perhaps because of its surprisingly small size. This individual piece had far more security measures than any other in the museum. The crown jewels of former French royalty, including Louis XV, were absolutely dazzling with the integrity of each precious stone impressively maintained. I don’t think I’ve ever had the opportunity to immerse myself so fully in history and artwork–an enriching experience to say the least.
After an all too fleeting weekend, Italian food has some serious competition courtesy of the French. I had the best pastries and bread OF MY LIFE. Words can’t even express how phenomenal the food was, so I’ll consider myself lucky that our average mileage per day exceeded 20km. My first day of excursions included walking all the way up to the Sacré Coeur, a famous basilica with one of the world’s heaviest and loudest bells. Located on the summit of Montmarte, the highest point in Paris, the base of the church offers an unparalleled view of the entire city. We walked away with sore feet, but they were ultimately well worth it.
Huge thanks to my personal photographer, Nadia, for capturing these moments when my iPhone 4 could not 🙂