“I think I should leave as early as 5 in the morning tomorrow,” I told Fares.
I woke up at 5:00 in the morning the next day, checked my phone, and hoped to sleep for at least 30 minutes more.
“Hey Alaizza, you should wake up,” Fares said, tapping on my shoulder. “What time is it?” I tried to open my eyes. “Uh, it’s 8, meaning you’re late.”
I got up, showered and left Fares’ apartment, hoping the line at the entrance of Museé du Louvre won’t be so bad.
But instead of panicking, I decided to take my own pace, and just prayed for the best — “Inshallah” or “God willing”, one special thing I learned from Fares.
I needed to go back to Brussels in a few hours anyway so I might as well take my time and enjoy the view.
I spent most of my 2nd day getting used to commuting in Paris and trying different modes of transport, and walking. It wasn’t easy, but it surely was exciting!
From Gare de La Croix de Berny, I took RER B to Gare de Châtelet – Les Halles, took RER A from there to Charles de Gaulle – Étoile.
Transferring from RER B to RER A was one of the most frustrating (yet funny) parts for me as I basically walked back and forth — twice — in the ginormous Gare de Châtelet – Les Halles for a really long time, and finding out that the RER A train was just beside the RER B train I got off from. Silly me!
Now, imagine expecting nothing while going up an escalator and being surprised by the monumental Arc de Triomphe!
Did you know that before it was the Arc de Triomphe, the space was almost dedicated to a giant elephant? Also, it took 30 years to finish, and is the world’s largest triumphal arch.
My next stop was Musée du Louvre, and as usual, I got lost plenty of times (even when I asked random locals where The Louvre was). I bumped into a fellow Filipina, and for some reason, we both felt the need to ask each other directions, and unfortunately, we both had no idea. Hahahaha, I live for weird, funny moments like that.
From Arc de Triomphe, I walked to The Louvre via Avenue des Champs-Élysées and Rue de Rivoli, and passed by some scenic views. Views that are probably more beautiful in the summer, but were still mind-blowing nonetheless.
I arrived at The Louvre and it was packed with tourists. Every first Sunday of each month, entrance is free for everyone that’s why I wanted to visit early in the morning. It sucked that I wasn’t able to go inside because I was already running out of time, but there’s more to Paris than spending the few hours I had left in line.
One of the reasons why I was hesitant to go to Paris at first was because of the flood — it even caused travel disruption. It was on alert for flooding as the River Seine swelled to four meters above its usual, and kept rising each day.
Things that don’t usually happen in Paris? Snow and flood. I mean, what are the odds. What a welcome gift!
I walked along the River Seine and took a few photos and videos, wishing I had more time. Even just one day more.
Strolled along Parc Rives de Seine on my way to Cathédrale Notre-Dame and bought Eiffel Tower keychains from a friendly french man who was also selling tons of paintings and postcards and old books as souvenirs.
Facts I didn’t even know: Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991, Notre-Dame is the most visited monument of Europe.
The bus my host parents booked for me from Paris to Brussels was scheduled at 4:00 in the afternoon. It arrived late and I was first in line but unfortunately, the driver couldn’t find my name on the list, and I found out later on that my ticket was booked for February 2019 by mistake. I had no choice but to book the next available bus that was leaving at 10:00 in the evening and to wait for 7 hours at the station. Glad they had free Wi-Fi and sockets!
Ah, the vivid memories of bliss, sheer luck, and misadventures. A totally exquisite time and place I will surely never forget, and something I will always be inspired by, excited about, and grateful for whenever I see visuals of it online or remember specific moments or just by thinking of it.
(I swear, I still think “WTF? I WAS THERE?!” to this day.)
Although frankly, I was never a fan of Paris — I used to think of it as super mainstream. I mean, come on, baguettes and croissants were just the same as any other type of bread, the Eiffel Tower was composed of iron, and the Arc de Triomphe was just an arch…. Until I experienced it first-hand and took the time to appreciate every detail.
I had very basic expectations before I went, but it’s safe to say that my time in Paris was such a magical, straight out of a story book, unforgettable experience.
It has made me more open-minded, understanding, patient, and present.
Sitting quietly on my way home, I had a moment and thought to myself, “If I’m always unsure of every path I take, if I don’t always get things right the first time, if it always hurts when I leave a place and breaks my heart every time I say goodbye… Is my passion really worth a try?”
Le plus beau voyage, c’est celui que tu n’as pas encore fait.