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Ready, Set, Go!: Two Weeks In Paris On A Shoestring Budget

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

Tomorrow night, I take the train to Paris.

Even as I write those words I can hardly believe it.

Originally, Paris was going to be a one day layover-a whirlwind stopover on my way somewhere else.

But two things happened: I left England early, giving me a lot of time in France; and, I have to go to Paris to get my visa for India.

Getting the Visa for India has turned out to be somewhat complicated.

I should have expected this, but for some reason, it still surprised me.

Basically, I have to go to Paris, and visit the embassy a few times, just to get the whole process going. Then it could be a snap, or it could take a month!

So, I have a real reason to go to Paris for several weeks!

Luckily for me, I have a friend who happens to live in Paris that I can stay with.

Luckier still, I am on a limited budget.

Why is that lucky?

Well, I guess I consider it a challenge, to spend two weeks doing inexpensive (read: often free) things in the City of Lights.

I’m hoping if I find enough inexpensive things to do, I will have the money to spend several days in the Louvre…as well as go for a steamy massage retreat at the Hamman(Turkish Baths) near the Arabic Mosque.

Finding free, or truly cheap things to do in Paris online has proven to be exasperating. Articles called, ” Paris for Two Hundred Dollars A Day”, “What To Wear While You’re In Paris”, and ” Best Meals In Paris Under Fifty Dollars” come to mind.

The last time anyone went to Paris on a real budget and wrote about it was some time ago-I think it was called “Europe On Five Dollars A Day” or something like that. 

There were actually a few good sites with suggestions for surviving on a budget in Paris, but they were mostly all listing off the same things. I’ve decided to get much more inventive with my time there, and I’ve come up with some surprising things to do that don’t cost anything at all-or at least, not much. 

I have actually managed to come up with a list of over 100 free things to do in Paris!

What I plan on doing is actually doing all of them, and then writing about them when I’m all done.

I hope living on baguettes doesn’t get too tiresome!

I’ll talk to you all when I return to Rhemoz, France in a few weeks.


Top Ten Things I’ve Learned From Hanging Out In France

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

 1. It is possible to eat an enormous block of creamy French cheese in one sitting.

2. There is a distinct difference between French bread and any other bread in the world. It is just better, period.

3. French people and the ex-pats that live here eat alot of meat-in any shape or form-and it’s not good to be a vegetarian or point out your uncomfortability with the vast quantity of meat in all of its forms being consumed.  It is, in fact , wise to ignore the meat eating side of things entirely . It reminds me of Spain in this regard. I need to practice leaving my values at home. I remind myself constantly that I should think of it as living with a strange tribe, who is very industrious and wastes no part of any animal, which is a very positive way of looking at it. I imagine Germany will be worse. I will become a  vegetarian  again after Germany.

4. It is possible to be in France for weeks and speak not a word of French, particularly if you don’t go anywhere.

5. I can look a the same view all day long, and it’s never boring. Because it’s France, for goodness sakes!

6. French people, the few I have met, are not fitting into that crabby French stereotype. They are very friendly, actually. or at least, I think they are. Actually, since I’ve no idea what they are saying, who knows? But they seem friendly.

7. French men are exceedingly friendly and are not married. Ever.

8. People in France have little dogs who never bark and are extremely well behaved.

9. French women, at least so far, do not strike me as particularly well dressed. I was expecting them to be simply incredible, what with all the hype they receive for style. They all look so sensible, with their short practical haircuts and their nice low heeled shoes-especially after Spain, land of orange and pink high heels, brightly patterned little jackets, and costume jewelry. Spanish women were very bright and stylish-in a sort of crazy, done up way,  while French women are all in neutrals and their hair looks perfectly tidy. As I am not known for looking tidy, I think-so far-I prefer Spain, with its plastic hoop earrings and sexy messy hair. I should mention that I am in no state to judge, as I am wearing the same thing everyday and my wardrobe in practical enough to put anyone to sleep!

10. It is possible to enjoy a country very much without seeing any of  it to speak of. In spite of the fact that I have been here for some time and seen little, I have the distinct impression of being in France, and that’s enjoyable all on it’s own .(But, I’m looking forward to Paris next week!)


Change of Direction..Back to the Ngobe of Panama!

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008
What I've been doing alot of the last few days is thinking. I've been thinking  about the original intention of this journey, and how much my perspective has changed-not only from day to day, but on a fundamental level. I'm looking ... [Continue reading this entry]

An Unexpected Danger Of Volunteering Abroad:Falling In With A Cult

Friday, August 15th, 2008
This is a very long entry.... Anyone who's been reading this blog for awhile knows that the point of this almost 3 year journey around the world was to be of service, within the limits of what I have to offer, ... [Continue reading this entry]

Why I Love France, Even Though I Haven’t Left The House

Thursday, August 14th, 2008
I arrived in France a few days ago. I had arranged to stay with a reader of this blog, who has a house near the  Swiss border. So I flew into Geneva, and following my friend's incredibly precise instructions, found myself on ... [Continue reading this entry]

Airport Madness:Watching and Waiting For English People To Lose Their Cool

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008
This entry picks up where I last left off..waiting at the airport in London for my flight to Geneva. I often stay up all night in airports, waiting for flights the following day. I do this because it's cheaper to travel ... [Continue reading this entry]

I Go To Court, Have A Tiny Mental Breakdown, And Make Friends With Complete Strangers

Monday, August 11th, 2008
The following entry picks up my journey where I had arrived In London and was staying with The Catholic Worker, a social justice organization. I arrived in London in a strange state of mind. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted, and ... [Continue reading this entry]

Epiphany Part Three: Being Courgeous Enough to Leave A Cult

Friday, August 8th, 2008
I've left. It got to the point that..I didn't know what was really going on around me, I was losing touch with myself, and reality. When you are surrounded by people who believe something entirely different than you, and you' begins to ... [Continue reading this entry]

Epiphany Part Two:Being Courageous When Scared

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008
Part of a three part journal entry...this is part two. My dictionary defines courage as , " The state of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self possession, confidence, and resolution;bravery." Courage, it's a strange ... [Continue reading this entry]

Epiphany: Part One: Crisis of Confusion

Friday, August 1st, 2008
Be patient with me, dear readers..I've decided to keep writing the blog, as I seemed to have worked my way thru some things that were blocking my way. I'm calling this series " Epiphany", and it's got three parts: Confusion, ... [Continue reading this entry]