Native New Yorker - Paris Never Gets Old
All around the continental Europe I go. For the last 10 days I’ve been living out of a duffle bag while exploring Europe on my fall break. Why did I choose to explore as many as four countries in ten days? Well, that is a question I still can’t answer, but what I can say is that it was definitely worth it, despite some long hours spent in trains. With my duffle bag in tow and good friends for company I went from Paris to Rome, Bologna, Warsaw, finally ending my European grand tour with a stop in Brussels. From the Eiffel Tower in Paris to pierogies in Warsaw those 10 days will never be forgotten. It would only be right to share my experiences in Europe, from the places I enjoyed the most all the way down to the restaurants with the best waffles.
Paris was the first stop on my 10-day journey. It was my second time in the beautiful city and it felt as if it was the first. Even after a 10-hour bus and ferry journey the Parisian in me came out the moment I took in French air. There are 3 things to keep in mind when traveling to France from the UK.
1. Bring plenty of snacks
I’m fortunate enough to be able to fall asleep just about anywhere. Whether it’s a packed train or a hot room, I can close my eyes and take a nice nap. Before getting on the bus I figured that it wouldn’t be necessary to bring a lot of food with me because obviously I was going to sleep all the way to France. To my surprise I didn’t fall sleep at all and constantly smelled the mouthwatering aromas of food around me. Whenever someone opened up a bag of chips (or crisps as the Brits would say) I wanted to kindly ask them to share. I did bring two sandwiches with me but they were soon gone and all I was left with was a few cookies and some water.
Bring enough snacks and then some for long journeys, especially those of you who don’t intend to nap your way to France. You will regret not bringing enough, especially when you realize that a single hash brown on the ferry will cost you almost £3!
2. Never go to Europe without cash
Of course being the person that I am, half of the time I don’t carry cash. Ever since I got a debit card on my freshman year, carrying cash has become a thing of the past. Instead of taking out pounds to convert to euro, I decided to wait until I arrived in Paris. Mistake! I forgot that I would need money to get to my hostel from the bus station. After wandering around Paris at 7am (the sun wasn’t even up) looking for an ATM, my friends and I decided to pay for each other to get on the Metro. Make sure to bring at least 20 euros with you in cash – trust me, you’ll need it.
3. Overpacking is never fun
When it comes to helping people pack I’m basically the packing Fairy Godmother. I’ll tell you what you won’t wear and how to maximize small spaces. However, when it’s my turn to pack I am not as cut-throat. I have a tendency to overpack because I love options: after sitting on a long flight, train or bus ride I always want to change my clothes. So naturally I stuffed my bag full of clothes and for 10 days I felt like I was carrying around a dead body. Not fun at all. Of course what’s even worse than heavy luggage is the fact that it will get heavier as you travel: think about all the souvenirs you'll want to buy! When the souvenirs won’t fit in, you know you’ve overpacked.
Despite these hardships I had amazing moments in Paris. There is nothing like seeing the Eiffel Tower at night, especially when the lights start to flicker. Even though this was my second time in Paris, it was different. I was there with people who had never been to France and I got to appreciate things I’d seen before in a whole new light. Their boisterous excitement upon seeing the Eiffel Tower brought back the memories of seeing its imposing frame for the first time.
Another great moment was putting a lock on Love Lock Bridge, also known as Pont de l’Archevêché. It may have taken us an hour to walk from the Eiffel Tower all the way to the other side of Paris, but it was worth it. A group of us all wrote our initials on the lock and threw the key over the bridge.
The best part of my second and final night in the city was a visit to the very first crepe stand I went to in Paris with my mom. It was one of those happy moments that I couldn’t explain to anyone. Deep down I knew why I have always been in love with Paris. Though I can’t speak the language and I get lost, Paris reminds me of home.
Since I was breaking off from the group to go to Italy, I was in Paris just for two days. On my second day I said goodbye to my friends and decided to round off my stay in the City of Light with a trip to the legendary Shakespeare and Company bookstore before getting on the train to Italy. It was only right to go inside and buy classic Shakespeare books as proof that I was really there. After my purchase I found my way to a little café by the train station and bought some of the tastiest quiche I’ve ever had. Alone, with my duffle bag, baguettes and quiche I was off to Italy for the first time in my life.