In 2008, when I was 21, I came up with the idea of booking an Interrail ticket and touring Europe for a month. I decided travel to Paris, Madrid, Granada, Barcelona, Venice, Rome, Athens, Istanbul and Vienna. And I felt the strong urge to do this tour alone.
Day 1 – Paris (France)
On August 28th, 2008, I set out on the first leg of my journey and took a plane from Berlin (Germany) to Paris (France). Having developed a nervous light fever the day before my departure, my mother had suggested for me to take two paracetamols before my flight and then rest for the rest of day at my hostel.
Thinking back the flight and how I made my way to the youth hostel Jules Ferry (close to the metro station République) are kind of a blur. Psychosomatic illness is no joke, I was feeling lightheaded and weak even though physically I should have been fine. Regardless, once I had secured myself a bunk bed in the youth hostel and freshened up a little bit, I felt way to exhilarated to stay put. After all, I wanted to make the most of the 3 days that I had scheduled. So I secured my belongings in my assigned locker and set out to start exploring.
I had picked up an old-school paper map at the hostel reception and let myself wander across central Paris, checking sporadically that I was heading in the general direction of the sights I wanted to see. Starting with a quick metro ride to the Arc de Triomphe, I made my way down the Champs-Élsées, passed the Petit Palais, made my way to the Tour Eiffel and across the 7ème arrondissement to l’Île de la Cité and Notre-Dame de Paris.
And bit by bit, I let myself be carried away by my wonder and curiosity, my previous anxiety and insecurity about the journey ahead fading away with every new discovery. In a way, that is still my favorite way to discover a new city: Drifting along the hustle and bustle, being deterred by interesting side streets and taking in unexpected details along the way. Letting my inner wandering explorer lead the way and finding peace and happiness in the present.
Cover picture was taken of Notre-Dame de Paris in Paris (France) in Aug 2008
Missing the beginning of this story?
Around Europe in 30 days #1: Forming a plan