I hold on to all my old travel books – mostly out of nostalgia, but also out of a sincere hope that I’ll need the book again. A pretty silly notion when said book lists prices in French Francs, offers pre- wifi and pre-9/11 travel advice, and all recommended lodgings are youth hostels. I’m not exactly a luxury traveler, but I can safely say my days of youth hostels are far behind me. Definitely time for a new book, but I’ll still never get rid of this book.
This is the first travel book I ever purchased. I was in my last semester of college and planning my first ever trip to Europe – all based around a semester long study in Spain. I decided to start in Paris for a few days because, duh, Paris! And here I am almost 15 years later and I’ve been to Europe multiple times, but never back to Paris. I’d like to say I’ve just had other places to see, but the truth is I’ve been avoiding Paris.
When I think of Paris, I instantly think of that naïve college kid. Look up the word ‘rube’ in the dictionary and I’m pretty sure you’ll see me and my best friend our first day in Paris. I had never ridden a subway and found the colorfully lined map in the back of the book a complete mystery. Good thing I’m a quick learner…I can’t even think about our luggage situation without cringing and feeling deeply ashamed. Let’s just say new backpacks were purchased (500 FF*) and many things** were left behind in our crusty old youth hostel***.
So many things went so terribly wrong (lost reservations, bad weather, etc.). Those first four days in Paris were both horrifying and exhilarating and literally changed me forever. It was a mindboggling trial by fire that introduced me to the low lows and the high highs of travel and I’ve been hooked ever since. Travel is my drug of choice. I don’t know if I’m scared to return because I’ll feel like that that kid again or if I’m scared that I won’t.
*Roughly 80 USD which felt like an absolute FORTUNE at the time, but (as we discovered over the course of the next few months) was money so incredibly well spent.
**Including, but not limited to, a life-sized cat stuffed animal. Don’t ask and let’s not speak of this again.
***It was so far out of town and sheets were not included, but just the very Parisian-ness of it charmed us completely – the too tiny elevator, the spiral staircase. I still remember it so fondly.
The shameful proof - me cuddled up with my stuffed kitty on my sheetless bunk in Paris. Thank goodness for creepy friends who take pictures like this.