Around this time of the year, wanderlust has set in and the mundane of the year is at it's all time high. Thankfully, I have my documented European adventures to keep me going for a bit. I am so pumped to be traveling to Cuba is a few months but more importantly to be traveling alone. I am great with people but I LOVE solitude especially while traveling!
The challenge of a language barrier, the awkwardness of being by myself, and the chance to see how well I do. Also, I DO NOT have to consider anyone else's agenda or food preferences. So as I wait so impatiently for my upcoming trip, I am reminiscing hard on my first solo trip abroad.
Enjoy my first day in Paris - a nervous, American trying real hard not to be American.
"My first full day in Paris was awesome. I woke up a bit worried. Aside from being known as the city of love, Paris is equally notorious for rude French people and pickpockets. So when I got ready to leave this morning I felt a little nervous...and slightly fearful. Then I paused. I have travelled across the world on an all expense paid trip. I am covered by my Savior. And I'm cute! (This didn't cross my mind until after I prayed to God to help me.) But, for real, He did not give me a spirit of fear (at all) but of power, love and a sound mind. So I pumped myself up (like a serious, inner peep talk) and marched right out the door. Interestingly enough, my prayer consisted of something about keeping me safe and letting me come home with all my belongings. Also, to place nice, patient Parisians along my path.
As I approached the train station for my first interaction, I silently repeated the French word for ticket over and over. Only to get to the window and say "Anglais?". Haha! I tried. But the guy was so nice and tried so hard to help me. We struggled together to get me a day pass. He ended the convo with "Whew! That was embarrassing!" He now has a slight idea how I feel. I went about my day not having to say much in French in the tourist attractions until it was time for lunch. I really wanted a small brasserie type of place to eat and I knew the language challenge was coming up. I was seated easily with a few hand gestures. Then it was time to order. The waitress said a bunch of stuff and I said "Anglais?" She said no and the fun began. She was patient and I said as many "merci" as possibles. I pointed to what I wanted but needed to order a coffee. I'm usually in a coffee shop when I've ordered coffee but here I made the mistake and just said "un café". Most Americans like myself wouldn't expect an "un café" to come in a baby tea cup but it does around the rest of the world. Fortunately for me, Michael (a random Parisian man sitting across from me) stopped the waitress before she went to get my tiny espresso shot. He corrected my order because he knew I really wanted an "Americano" (the big coffee). We talked for a while, exchanging life stories. He gave me some pointers and told me I was doing great by just being kind and patient. He wished me well and told me "the world needs more people like you". 😍 He went on with his life and left me with the non-English speaking waitress.
As I finished my meal, I rehearsed asking for the bathroom and check. I did that correctly. Toilet is essentially toilet in French! She walked me to the bathroom and gave me a coin. I was confused but pretended I knew what to do with it. She didn't bother explaining it because I wouldn't understand anyways. When I went into the bathroom, I saw that you had to pay to go into the stalls. Merci beaucoup nice waitress! I said Thank You to everyone in the restaurant as I paid and was on my way to wonder around the streets of Paris. My "luck" didn't stop there either but this post is already too long. :) Let's just say, I shared lots of laughs with the owner of a boulangerie (bakery) as I bought my bread for dinner. She showed me she can count to 11 in English and I showed her I can order 3 croissants and a bagette in French. We both threw out all of our best words in the opposite language.
Oh, and I didn't get pickpocketed! The night is young though.
Posted from my old blog - started when I spent 3 months traveling around Europe and the first few years of my LA life.