First Solo International Trip

Why would a 66-year-old overweight, half-deaf woman with a bad knee want to travel abroad all by herself, especially when Covid was resurfacing? Because it is now or never. With many upheavals this past year, including losing people I love, and my own personal health scare that reminded me of my mortality, I knew I had to do this sooner than later. No more procrastinating of the things I want to do while I can. Just do it, so I did.

In the late fall, I researched a December holiday trip to Paris, and then told the husband I was going. So I booked it. One week in early December to experience the city of lights with even more holiday lights.

I’ve traveled solo many times for work conferences in the US and always enjoyed the freedom that solo travel provides. I can do what I want when I want without having to accommodate anyone else. But I had never traveled abroad alone, and I don’t speak French very well.

Of course, I had some anxiety about it. And my trip did encounter a few minor hiccups (temporarily lost luggage, for example), but overall, it went as well as I could have hoped. Even the hiccups were more lessons on patience, optimism, working with others, going with the flow, and breathing. Just breathe. But I also sweat in cases like that. Boy, did I sweat even in the dead of winter!

Due to my luggage being temporarily lost, I missed my pre-arranged driver at the CDG airport in Paris. I was tired and frustrated (and sweating) when I happened upon a “taxi” driver looking for fares. I took him up on it, then realized soon after, that he was not an “official” taxi driver, but one of the rogue guys hustling to make a living. It turned out fine, he didn’t kill me or rape me, and actually charged me 5 Euros less than the official taxi drivers, so I gave him a 15 Euro tip once he delivered me to my hotel safely. And he was nice.

My first day getting in was a complete waste of tourism, as I needed a nap and a shower. So arriving mid-day, the nap came first after checking into my hotel. Then a shower and a nice dinner downstairs in my hotel.

Next day I was off, but due to the Covid protocols, my first stop was to the pharmacy to get my official French health care pass. I am fully vaccinated and boosted, so no issue getting it, but paying 34 Euros to do so. The proprietor of the pharmacy was a lovely French woman who could not have been more kind.

I won’t go into my full 6-day itinerary, but just to say that I never had any fear or concern about traveling alone. In a nutshell, the highlights for me were: my first trip to Versailles; a personal guided holiday light tour with a most charming guide, Milan; and flaneuring (the most important thing to do). I had an idea to one thing that didn’t work out, so decided at the last minute to go UP the Eiffel Tower, which to be honest, I never had a desire to do that. But I’m glad I did it this one time. I’ll attach some photos instead to show how this little old lady managed to make the best of a chilly December in Paris all by herself. Paris, j’taime. And carpe diem!

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