Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Paris Diary


The days that I spent in Paris were both magical and memorable.  Part of me still can't even believe that I actually went and experienced it for myself in person after years of literally dreaming about it.  The whole time it was just so surreal for me.  It was also challenging as this was my first time being alone in a country with a language barrier.  I heard so many different things that I needed to be cautious and aware of.  I would be lying if I said that I wasn't a little nervous to visit the city of lights by myself, but I am so happy that I did it. Words can't really describe what Paris did for me.  In such a short amount of time, it pushed me and made me realize a lot of things about myself.  You can read more about my personal experience in my most recent Life Chats.  It's now time for me to share everything that I did, where I went and a couple of tips I learned along the way. I included a few of my snapchats too! This is going to be a long post, so I hope you've got a cup of coffee or tea to keep you company.
 
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I took the Eurostar train from London to Paris and then a taxi to my hotel.  If you read my Paris Hotel post, then you already know that I stayed in the 8th arrondissement right near Champs-Elysées. My blogger friend Lindsey was in Paris for a few more hours before she left to Greece, so we met up for a few to snap some pics on the hotel balcony.  Once I got settled in, I started to explore my area just like I did when I was in London.  I couldn't stop looking up at all of the Parisian windows and balconies.  They were everywhere. Since Champs-Elysées is very touristy, the restaurants there are a bit expensive.  I think I only ate on that street once and it was the first day.  I have to admit that people had warned me waiters were rude in Paris.  I did not experience this once.  In fact, I think I made friends with them at almost every restaurant I went to.  I think they appreciated my attempt at speaking French, although it wasn't always good lol. I did master a few words by the end of my trip though. :)  After eating and wandering around a bit, I actually got a little lost heading back to my hotel because I turned down the wrong street.  Typical Naty.  I eventually found my way though, changed and met with my friend, her mom and daughter for dinner since it was their last day in Paris.  We went to Cafe Charlot in Le Marais. So yum!  


The second day is where I felt a little discouraged. In the morning I decided to get on the hop on/hop off bus.  It cost 33 euro, but my friend had said it was worth it because it takes you to all of the main touristy spots.  So I figured I would give it a try.  It took me about 20 minutes to find the actual bus stop and the first 2 busses wouldn't let me on because they didn't have any change to give me back after paying.  I finally get on a bus and suddenly it was 95 degrees.  I was literally sitting there drenched in sweat and dehydrated.  The bus ended up getting stuck in traffic at one point and I was like I neeeeeed to get off of this bus.  I think I had only done 2 or 3 stops and then just never got back on the bus.  In my opinion it was not worth it.  I feel like I wasted several hours when I could have just done more by taking the metro and walking around.  Lesson learned though. The one good thing about the bus was that it brought me to Trocadero.  It's this amazing spot where you can see the best view of the Eiffel Tower.  After seeing it in person, my mood changed and I just embraced where I was.  It was seriously magical.  I ended up spending an hour or two over there just soaking it all in.  I did not go up the tower because the lines were so long.  There is so much to enjoy in that area though.  

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It was super sunny and really difficult to take good photos, but somehow I managed to get a ton! Later in the day I met with Elsa.  She had been following me on snapchat for a long time and we would exchange messages back and forth. It was so great to meet her.  She showed me how to take the metro and we went over to the Lourve and Palais de Royal.  She was super sweet and I am happy that I got to spend some time with her.  After that I got to meet Sonia.  She had been following me for awhile on Instagram and many times asked when I would be visiting Paris. We finally got to meet and she took me to dinner to this place near my hotel called Le Paradis de Fruit.  The food was so good and I loved spending time with her too.  Both girls made my trip extra special! I took some snaps with them ;) I think that is one of the coolest things about blogging and traveling.  It connects you to people all across the globe. 

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The next day I took the metro on my own and was so proud!  It can seem intimidating at first, but it was actually really easy once I got the hang of it.  Visiting the Love Lock bridge was always on my bucket list and I was so sad when I had heard they took the main one down.  There are several others in Pont Neuf though, so I knew that I needed to go.  I decided to do a love lock for myself because self love is the most important love.  After I did the lock, I threw the keys into the river, made a wish and promised myself that no matter what I would always be good to ME. It was seriously an empowering moment and a little bit of an emotional one. 


After this I was wandering around the area and met this family from New Jersey who pretty much added me into their family for their afternoon.  They took me inside the Lourve with them and let me use one of their free passes, I just had to act like I was 17. It worked! lol They were so sweet and I enjoyed spending time with them.  The Lourve is massive and absolutely gorgeous.  I was in awe at everything from the ceilings to the artwork and sculptures.  There's no way I could have seen it all in one trip. 


After that I went to the Tuileries, one of my favorite places in Paris! It's actually right in the back of the Lourve and it's this beautiful garden area with two outdoor places to eat and people watch. The big ferris wheel is on the end and it just makes for the perfect backdrop. Literally my favorite.  I had wine and a cheese plate all to myself and was in heaven.  I ended up making friends with this guy and girl who were sitting next to me and just talked to them the whole time. The guy is actually from New York and the girl had lived in Paris previously teaching English.  We had talked about going to Versailles together the next day, but I actually never went. So mad at myself and must do that the next trip.  Since I was out and about all day, I ended up having a quiet dinner back at the hotel with even more wine.  I finally tried Bordeaux and loved it so much.  After dinner I walked over to Champ de Mars to see the Eiffel Tower light up at night.  It was about a 10-15 minute walk.  Seeing the Eiffel Tower light up was another emotional moment for me and one I will always remember.  I talked about this in my Life Chats if you want to give it a read. All in all, that day was one of the best days I had in Paris. 


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My last day I decided to head over to Sacré Coer in the morning.  It's an uphill trek with a ton of stairs, but well worth it.  It's absolutely stunning and the photos don't even do it just.  There's a bunch of touristy shops over there to get people souvenirs and there's also some cafés. I had a late breakfast there and soaked in the views. After that I ended up going back to Trocadero to see my Eiffel Tower one last time and of course, took a bunch more photos.  Then I went to the Ritz Hotel, which is super gorgeous by the way, to their outside restaurant to have a cup of coffee.  My friend had told me it was really pretty there and worth checking out.  They were so sweet and attentive since I was alone and must have asked me at least 5 times if I was ok and needed anything.  It took longer than expected for my coffee to come out, so they also brought out some chocolates and would not let me pay for anything.  Now that is great service! I had also always envisioned myself sitting at restaurants and cafés in Paris with my coffee, so of course I asked one of the waitresses to take a few pics of me. haha The top made me feel Parisian too! I went back to Tuileries after this for some relaxation and wine.  [I swear I was bouncing around everywhere] 


After a full last day, I went back to the hotel, changed and went to my last dinner in Paris. I was so emotional and did not want to leave lol. I went to St Germain des Pres, which has a bunch of restaurants to choose from, and ended up eating outside at Café Flore. I randomly ended up there as I asked the uber to just take me to the main street to pick a place. Later on I found out that this is actually a popular spot! I cried my last night.  I just felt so connected in Paris and wish that I had more time.  I think the first time you go, you want to do and see all of the touristy things.  Now that I have gotten most of that out of the way, the next time I can start exploring more of the other arrondissements and see what else Paris has to offer. 


Here are all of my Paris Travel Tips:

- When you leave the train station, there is a line to wait for a taxi.  Do not get in a taxi with anyone that comes up to you and asks if you need one.  They will charge you way more than a regular taxi.  My friend learned this the hard way and gave me the heads up.  She was charged about 80 euro and I was charged 20-25.  I was asked by at least 4 different guys if I needed a taxi.  I told them all no and waited on line. 

When you order water, ask for tap water.  Otherwise they will automatically bring out a bottle of water that costs about 5-6 euro.  I learned this at the very first restaurant I went to. Also if you want coffee with milk, order a café au lait.  Initially I didn't specify and was brought out expresso. Just a heads up!

- There is a lot of pit pocketing in Paris.  I heard about this from many people and was told to especially be alert in the metro and touristy areas.  Because of this, I used the same crossbody bag almost every day.  It has super secure enclosure and would have been noticeable for me if someone tried to open it.  Just be cautious, don't leave anything in your pockets, and use a crossbody bag so that it's in the front of you and not the side. 

- At the train station and on Champs-Elysées there were these women with a clipboard.  They will come up to you asking if you speak English to get you to sign something.  Don't pay them any mind.  Their goal is to distract you so that another person can try to pit pocket you while you are signing.  I just shook my head that I didn't speak english and walked away.  I saw this happen at the train station while I was on line at the ATM. Like I said above, just always be alert. 

 - Download the iPhone app Maps.me.  It's free and extremely useful when traveling.  While you are on WiFi, download the map for whatever country you are visiting.  Once you have that downloaded, you can use it to navigate your way around even when you are not connected to WiFi.  It's seriously a life savor! 

- Convert your money at the ATM when you arrive at the airport or train station.  There's no need to do currency exchange at the counters.  You will get the best conversion rate at the ATM. I have done this for the last 4 counties I've visited and I think it's the best way to go!


I hope you enjoyed this post!  I know it was a long one, but there was seriously so much to share. Hopefully I did not leave anything out.  I took over 500 photos in Paris, so there was no way I could post them all.  Narrowing it down was not easy.  As you can clearly see I have no issues asking strangers to take my pics and many of them. ;) Let me know if you have any questions about Paris! I know you will love it as much as I did.  A piece of my heart stayed there for sure and the experience will be with me always. <3

8 comments:

  1. Paris is my favorite city!! These photos are amazing! Looks like you had a ton of fun.

    xx, Elise
    www.sparkleandslipper.blogspot.com

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  2. Been waiting on this post forever. :)

    Lovely photos and glad you had a great time. Thanks for the tips, and thanks for inspiring me to go on solo travels. Taking one very soon!

    Ashleigh Em
    www.ashleighem.com

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    1. haha so sorry! It took me forever to do this I kept putting it off because there was an overload of photos to sort through. Thanks for checking it out and I am so happy it's inspired you! xoxo

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  3. I loved your pictures . I'm glad to know you're having so much fun and making your dreams come true . I went to Paris like 10 years ago and I also enjoyed it a lot .
    X,Abril
    The color palette

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    1. Thank you Abril! It was such an amazing experience. I can't wait to go back!

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  4. I love to read your Parisian story and the photos are wonderful!

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    1. Aw thank you so much Darina! Happy you enjoyed! <3

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