In my last post I mentioned my impetus for downloading The Bad App again was that I was off overseas to Europe. I didn’t actually end up swiping a lot – turns out the No Bio Epidemic is international, and weirdly enough most people wrote in their local language… three languages I do not speak, despite my awful, awful attempts (my hot tip? Learn your yes, no, please, thank you, and ‘I do not speak this language’).
I wanted to talk about the rather odd experience of travelling alone in deeply romantic places. I was not by myself for my whole three-week trip. During my time in Germany I was able to stay with friends, and I met up with my bestie in Berlin. But I took myself solo to Florence and…Paris. The City of Love. I was not at all phased about travelling alone – I live alone and I’m highly independent, so I’m used to my own company and making decisions about where I’ll be, when. My only concern was really not being lonely, but not having anyone to talk me down from my anxiety if something went wrong (fortunately, I only had one issue – when I missed my train connection from Italy to Germany. Four hours in Bologna station and a rather difficult conversation through Google Translate later, and I was on my way).
I’ve dreamed of Paris since I was a kid. What a cliche. But I didn’t realise until I was there how seriously they take the whole ‘City of Love’ thing. That city is PDA central. A quiet break from the sun in a park attached to a church delivered me two teenagers making out for a good twenty minutes straight. I never realised what prudes Aussies are until I witnessed the amount of physical affection people are willing to share when some random broad is sitting right there. Then there was the moment I had to jump out of two separate sets of wedding photos as I took a selfie with the Eiffel Tower, while I had another couple waiting for me to take their picture (I believe in Good Travel Karma so I always take people’s photos….but I feel like I need to add a disclaimer that I do not know their angles). I was shoved away in some pretty odd corners when I turned up in restaurants alone, like they didn’t really want me to be seen committing the repulsive act of eating with only a Kindle for company.
It’s a bit odd to be wandering by yourself in all that. The closest I came to romance is when a strange man called me over to his car when I was crossing the road and yelled at me in French, eventually communicating ‘You are very beautiful’. I’ll never know how close I came to getting robbed that day.
But just because you’re all alone in the most romantic place on earth, doesn’t mean you can’t fall in love. Because I fell in love with Paris. Not the one in my head, the actual Paris. With centuries of history and culture, dizzyingly intricate and ornate architecture, just the best afternoon light, and some of the most delicious cheese around. Also that pain au chocolat the size of my head. And people there know how to fucking live. Drinking a wine at a cafe on the boulevard before midday? No biggie. Picnics as soon as the sun shines? I’ll bring the baguette. Salsa dancing by the Seine? Welcome to Sunday evening. You can even find the occasional Aussie making a half-decent coffee. It’s kinda hard not to have a boner for it all.
Walking ’til your feet yell back, snacking ’til you nearly burst, feeling like your eyes will fall out of your head with SHEER BEAUTY EXHAUSTION, admiring the perpetual tans on almost universally attractive people. You can still do it with your eyes open. The people there smoke too bloody much, everywhere, and the hustle is seriously in your face at attractions. You can queue for eons to see the good shit. People will not fucking move for you on the sidewalk, probably because you’re Skecher-clad tourist scum or maybe just because they don’t feel like it.
But it just can’t kill that high. And I think that’s probably love.