France

It has been a dream of mine to visit France and I finally had the opportunity to see it late last year. The country was everything I imagined it to be and more! The people I met, the food and the places I visited were all so great. Travelling on my own was a little daunting but I was ready to explore and see the wide world.

I landed in Paris where my trip in Europe began and my first night was spent walking through the streets of Montmartre near the hostel to get a feel for the area. It was already dark and cold, as I had expected, but I wanted to get out and walk after the long flight. I wasn’t out for long, the lack of sleep eventually caught up so I went back to the hostel to rest and get ready for the next day.

Sacré Coeur was the first place I visited the next day and the climb to the top revealed a view of Paris I didn’t expect. It was breathtaking. It was sometime around 8 o’clock and the sun was just rising above the horizon. Visiting in winter made the days short so getting up early was a good way of making most of the day.

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Views of Paris from Sacré Coeur

The air was crisp and still. There weren’t a lot of people around yet and so I had the place mostly to myself. It felt magical, almost as if I were in a dream but I really had flown half way across the world to be able to stand there. Even so, the experience was somewhat unbelievable.

I walked around for some time to explore the rest of the area before eventually heading to Gare du Nord station to buy a pass that would let me take the metro as many times as I wanted. The next stop was Paris Notre Dame. Another impressive sight.

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Notre Dame, Paris

The inside was just as beautiful as the outside. There was a long line of tourists waiting their turn to see it, luckily the line moved quickly and after a bag check I found myself staring at the famous stain glass windows and stone statues decorating the iconic building.

It smelled of incense and burning candles. Inside there were nativity scenes and moving models depicting everyday life from some 100 years ago. There was a sombre, spiritual feel to the place and a reverence that belongs only to churches. The crowd moved through the church and I followed the flow, taking in as much as I could, knowing I wasn’t likely going to come back for a while.

I found a boulangerie on a small street in the surrounding area and tried my first croissant and pain au chocolat, the real deal. There’s nothing like trying food in the place that it originated from and my expectations were fulfilled.

The last and most significant of the places I visited that day was the Louvre, which I happened to stumble upon after my wandering around the Latin quarter in Saint-Michel. The moment I realised I was at the Louvre and saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time from Jarden des Tuileries was striking. I was hit with the sudden realisation that I was in Paris and I had travelled there all on my own. I was amazed at the surrounding scenery and also by the fact that I was really there.

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Pictures can’t capture the mix of emotions I felt during those moments but they do make for good memories. I only hope I can visit again soon.

Until next time!

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The List

I like lists. I like knowing what I have to do or to buy or to pack because it’s all in ‘the list.’ Shopping lists and the lists I make for travelling have items that can be easily crossed off.

For example, the average shopping list:

shopping list

However, there are some lists that are harder to finish or are never started. I have a number of lists like that and here’s a few of them. 

The language list:

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I haven’t had any formal classes in any of these. 

I love learning languages but they take a long time to become fluent in them and they also take a lot of energy and motivation. I want to learn Chinese and Spanish, I have attempted to learn Japanese and Korean,  and I’m currently learning French. The joy I get out of being able to understand a few words spoken by someone in another language is what keeps me going.

Places-I-want-to-travel-to list:

countries
This list grows and shrinks as new countries are added and others crossed off. 

I’ve been lucky to have had the opportunity to visit some of these places already and I hope to be able to visit more of these countries soon.

 

Then there’s things like a list of food I want to try but don’t know where to find or haven’t had a time to go out and eat:

food
It would probably be longer if I could remember more of the food I actually wanted to try. 

 

Don’t even get me started on the list of books I want to read and movies I want to watch. I think if I keep working on these lists, slowly but surely I’ll get them done. If you have any recommendations on what I should add or how best to cross off some of these items, let me know.

Are you a list writer and what are your lists like?

Ordinary, but not really

Whenever I come across a famous name I’m always curious about how old that person is and what they’ve achieved in the years that they’ve lived. It makes me wonder about the potential my life might have if I were to try something new or spend countless hours focusing on a skill and trying to master it. The disheartening part is when I find out that they’re younger than me and already an expert.

Like that seven year old kid that can play Flight of the Bumblebee on the piano, blindfolded.

I’m 23 and can’t play one song on the guitar. I’ve owned one for 10 years. How can I compete with that seven year old? The logical answer is that I can’t and I will never be able to.

I know I shouldn’t compare myself to others but I suppose it’s human nature to do so.

I think about how old I am and what I’ve achieved in my time and it makes me feel, ordinary. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with being ordinary. Ordinary is just that, nothing of particular interest and easily able to blend in with the crowd. The thing is though, I don’t particularly want to be ordinary and I don’t always feel ordinary. There certainly are aspects of my physical self that aren’t ordinary, my hair for one. I don’t know too many people that share the same voluminous locks as I do.

There really is no other way to say it, I have big hair.

My personality isn’t one you’d normally come across either. Some people probably find me straight forward, sometimes lacking a filter and may describe me as too curious for my own good. I have been called nosy more than once but I think being curious is healthy. These are a few things that set me apart from other people and make me different enough to say that I wouldn’t call myself ordinary, (what is ‘ordinary’ anyway?)

I guess what I’m trying to get at is, maybe it is time for me to try something new. Maybe it is time for me to start focusing my time and energy on a skill or set of skills that I can be proud of, so I’m not depressed when a seven year old can play Mozart and I can’t even memorise the chords to ‘Happy Birthday.’

What skill/skills have you always wanted to learn but never given the time to?

(I have many skills I want to learn and develop, playing the guitar is just one of them)