My fourth weekend in France, I decided it was finally time to take a weekend trip to the French capital. I had visited two weeks prior on a Sunday, but did not have much time to explore, nor did I have a camera with me. My classmates were indisponible, so I decided to make a solo journey to the City of Light.
After checking into my hostel I decided to sit along the Canal next to the pont levant due la rue de Crimée, watching the night fall. It felt appropriate that I was listening to Bon Iver’s latest album, 22, A Million. His music has a way of making one feel completely alone, and at the same time being OK with it. However, after a certain amount of time spent contemplating solitude, one begins to be less OK with being alone. I began to doubt myself: what I was doing here in a strange city, in a foreign country, where people did not speak my language (or rather, I did not speak their language very well)?
Sometimes this feeling of being an outsider persists; I still do not feel that I have fully integrated into the culture I now live in. Luckily, on this night all I needed was a bit of perspective. I re-entered the hostel and went straight to the bar, ordered a drink, and asked the first group of people if I could sit with them. To my surprise (and delight), they spoke English, and welcomed me to sit and share their plate of nachos. I later learned that at almost every hostel in Paris, English is likely to be spoken. I also learned that hostels are a great place to meet other solo travelers; even if you are not staying at the hostel, you can likely find a hostel bar open to the public, with travelers from all different backgrounds sharing their experiences (and their nachos).
The next day, I had plans to meet up with my friend Ana at the Opera. The show did not start until 7:30pm, so I had an entire day to walk around the city. I stumbled to the nearest falafel joint and sat down, drinking Coca-Cola and charging my devices. I came across this colourful display shortly afterward:
I continued on my way, wandering in the general direction of Gare du Nord. I decided to book an extra night at another location of the same hostel. After a few hours and a café pit-stop, I reached the hostel, stored my things and left for the Opera.
(Continued in Part 2)