On My Own
Paris Travel Blog› entry 2 of 3 › view all entries
I've always imagined that my first trip to Paris would be with my future husband on our honeymoon. I have pictured the two of us holding hands walking by the Eiffel Tower, saying cheesy lines to each other, marvelling at the sights, and buying crepes and croissants from every patisserie we find along the way. After all, Paris is all about love and romance (and food) right?
But apparently, I have this patience problem and just couldn't wait for that, so last November 2006, I decided to go to Paris and see the city in all its splendor all by myself.
I don't want to turn this into a day-by-day blog since this happened almost a year ago, so I will just concentrate on the good and bad side of traveling alone, and share some things I've learned along the way.
1. Unless you carry a tripod everywhere, you will have very few pictures of yourself. Whenever I was in a picture-worthy site, I had to look around and carefully choose people who looked decent and avoid those who could possibly run away with my camera. I have even developed certain fool-proof rules for that. Couples or families with children are reliable (the boyfriends or dads take better pictures), or you can choose those people carrying good cameras (because they will definitely know how to handle your camera properly and take good shots of you, too). Japanese tourists are reliable too :D. At the very least, choose people who look like they have steady hands. In Disneyland, I was so desperate, I made the mistake of asking a woman (in her 50's I guess) to take my picture and to my horror, she almost dropped my camera!! good thing there was a string.
2. The city is oozing with romance so you'll find couples entwined in an embrace or kissing everywhere so if you are broken hearted or bitter about love, you might cringe at the sight, or if you have a special someone, you're really going to wish they were there.
3. You become a target for some creeps waiting for solo people to prey on at the Eiffel Tower, wanting to take you on a "date". You really have to be careful around that place. You also become an easy target for other petty crimes especially if you're female. You will need to take extra precautions when travelling.
4. After a while, it can get tiring to be not speaking to anyone, keeping all your discoveries and adventures to yourself, or not laughing out loud when you really feel like it.
1. You are free do anything you want, anytime you want! :D Travelling solo means you have complete control over your schedule with no compromises. You can create your itinerary but you can deviate from it anytime without affecting other people. For instance, I created an itinerary that starts with visiting the Louvre at 10 am.
2. People seem to be friendlier when you are alone. I have heard numerous stories about people being treated in a rude manner by the locals when they spoke in English but I honestly didn't have that kind of trouble. In fact, I found most of them rather helpful specially when you need directions. There was a lady at the airport who, instead of just giving me directions to the shuttle service to the train station, actually walked with me all the way there. And there were people who volunteered to show me how to purchase train tickets from the machine. Maybe I look like a lost little girl, I don't know but I did encounter some people who went an extra mile to help and make me feel welcome there. It was nice. :)
3. You meet new friends. :) I didn't necessarily learn this from my Paris trip because I had my own room then, but from my other solo travels, I learned that you can meet lots of new friends specially if you stay in hostels or join groups.
4. You learn a lot of things about yourself and come out a stronger and better person. :) This is true for me. After having survived Paris, I felt like I could go anywhere on my own. It gave me confidence that I can go absolutely anywhere I want and I don't need to depend on anyone. It was empowering. :)
So as a conclusion, while it would be nice to go to Paris with someone, I would still recommend going to Paris even if you are alone. The place is so overwhelmingly beautiful, you do not need a special someone to appreciate it :) We shouldn't let being alone prevent us from seeing the places we really want to see. After this trip, 6 months later, I came back to Paris, this time with my mom, and she was so surprised and proud that her "little girl" was able to take her around in a land that was so new to her. My trip alone has taught me so many things and made me discover things I didn't know I was capable of. I would recommend everyone to take a solo trip at least once in their lives. You'll never know what you can discover about yourself. :)