Introduction: My Third Journey to Paris
Let me start by saying, I am a wanderer, avoiding tourists spots and looking at the world through my lens. The summer of 2014 has presented me the opportunity to live in Paris. Spending two months living in Paris is an insightful adventure. Living here, renting an apartment and really living here, I am able to gain insight on the many wondrous paths through Paris. With my camera, sense of adventure and profound lust for photography, I will share my favorite experiences, walks and sights for other like-minded photogs, artists, writers or just non-touristy tourists.
First, let me share a little background about me. I am a 40-year-old woman, although most of my travels are made solo. By trade, I am a graphic designer, ex-graphic designer, turned publisher. I have spent the last eight years making the transition from the creative to production and carefully carving my existence into a digital nomad. Like many, I was born with the wanderlust and I figured out in my early 30’s that cubicles, nine-to-five, commuting, and a pathetic two-week vacation was not going to suffice.
In Planning the adoption of my daughter from Ukraine in 2006, I made the switch to a work-from-home employee, to a freelance designer. It wasn’t until my chaotic adoption provided me that extraordinary experience to catapult me into a self-published indie author. Turns out pre-adoptive parents do not actually want to read the horror stories of adoptions gone wrong, but what did happen is I found my voice, found healing and a new profession along the way. What I do now, is help fellow authors share their voice by providing publishing formatting and consulting. Now, the important part is I do this from my laptop, every book, every client, every word from my beloved Mac. My life of a digital nomad was born.
My daughter is preparing for college in her last years of high school and my husband is done traveling after a decade of living abroad with the U.S. Army. So, I prepare for my years as an empty-nester, untethered. Being a mom of an independent child with straight A’s affords me some time traveling. As college begins in 2016, I will begin a 15-month adventure traveling Europe, India, Indonesia and Bali, Thirty countries in all! In the meantime, before I get ahead of myself, I started with a month in Paris and four years later a summer with my daughter by my side.
Why Paris? As cliché as it may sound, I found myself in Paris! My first trip here was during my honeymoon, a three-week exploration of Paris, Tuscany and Venice. I did not like Paris that first time, despised it actually. The typical American/Parisian dilemmas as an elitist advertising designer and stuffy military man expected more. More service, more joie-de-vivre, more sun and happiness. Paris is none of that. Paris is gritty, real, honesty, artsy and independent. I learned the true beauty on my second visit to Paris, which was by chance. My fathers company was bought by a French company which afforded my parents a world-wind trip to Paris. When realizing how much work needed to be done, my mom was left lonely in the hotels, hence my arrival as an adventurer, cultural attache.
Things were tough at home–artisic brooding and all. I welcomed the getaway. It was on this trip that I found myself in Paris. I did not come as a tourist, I had seen that and meh. I came, I sat, I watched, lingered and scribbled. I loved Paris, the longer I sat, the more the waiters talked––and even bought me drinks! Turns out they just don’t like Americans … at first. Upon further evaluation, there is curiosity and even interest.
A short story … My first night in Paris on this second trip, mother had asked that I find a cafe within sight from the window. I sat until sunset at 10:30 journaling. I found my cafe La Liberté on the corner of a 5-way intersection and the entrance of a small metro, ideal for people-watching. I sat and fumbled to order a beer.
“Par les vous francais?”
“Non, I speak Francais, you need speak Francais.”
“Une bierre sil vous plait?”
Of course I thought, What a jerk, he speaks English! But honestly, I had much bigger problems that this garcon. I drank my bierre and lingered until sunset with one nod in four hours.
“Une bierre sil vous plait.”
Again, little attention, I managed to point at the menu and order a croque monsieur (baked ham and cheese) and a side salad.
“Une bierre sil vous plait.”
“You must be Canadian?” He asked in English!
“No, Je suis American.”
“You cannot be American.”
“Yes, I am American, Why?”
“No American would tolerate such rudeness and come back.”
So, lesson learned. I shed my expectations and impatience and voila! The garcon and I had many conversations, laughs and he even bought me a round most nights. This became my ‘Cheers’ in Paris. And although I am a wanderer, I do like my home-base in the evening, a routine to settle into as a woman traveling solo after dark.
This, my third trip to Paris was a much fantasized and well-planned adventure. I spent the last four years strengthening my digital nomad business and saving. Buying single-ply toilet paper and Wal Mart brand food kind of saving. Let me first say, I am in no way financially blessed. I work, word by word and from book to book and count my pennies like most. I have researched and planned and worked to get here and I am not by any means–on holiday! This is a working trip, if you call working in the Jardin de Tuilleries working and I do.
Why Paris, again? I just needed more of the drug that is Paris flowing through my veins. I am just not done with Paris yet! I have been here a few days and realized I don’t know if I have a goal for this journey. I will plan to write and live and I guess we’ll see where that takes me. I do have an ideal of publishing a travel book or books someday, but somehow, I don’t even think a summer in Paris is enough time to advise on what to do, but I realize there are travel guides out there authored in much less time. So, I will blog my adventures, strip away many tourist attractions–not all and share my meandering walks with other like-minded, non-tourist wanderers. Possibly I’ll organize by arrondisments as I walk each day. Please feel free to share any suggestions or feedback on what would interest you as readers.
Thank you for reading and your interest in my travels.
By Shelley Glasow Schadowsky