When I first arrived in Paris, it felt like a dream. Almost every girl dreams about coming to Paris and seeing the Eiffel Tower and I was no different. I was there for a day so I was on a mission to see it. But no one tells you that sometimes things don’t go your way.
A Rough Start
When my friends and I arrived at the airport, we took a bus to the center of Paris. The plan was supposed to be that we drop our luggage off at the hotel and then we go out and explore the city. That didn’t happen (we had a walking tour scheduled) and we had to haul our luggage around for the whole day. I was okay with that; I mean, I was in Paris and I did not want to miss a single moment of it (I think my back is still recovering from carrying my backpack around for the whole day).
Anyway, we went to the metro station to get our day passes. Everything seemed fine but the metro system was very confusing and everything was in French. We ask someone for help and finally found the right train to get on. For some reason, the conductor does not wait for everyone to get on – my friends got on the train and it went off without me. I was standing at the metro, not really knowing what to do. I didn’t know if I should cry for myself, if I should laugh at myself, or if I should be afraid.
Nothing was Going My Way
By some chance, I found someone who was able to speak some Arabic and they told me that the train runs every 20 minutes. I notify my friends and they waited for me at the Eiffel Tower. I was very nervous about being on my own in Paris. Everyone says it’s not the safest city and the worst things came to mind. On the bright side, I was going to see the Eiffel Tower.
Except that didn’t happen.
When I finally arrived, my friends told me that we were going to be late and we were going to miss our walking tour (it bothered me because they went and saw the Eiffel Tower without me). That meant that I couldn’t see the Eiffel Tower. At that moment, I was on the verge of tears. Did I mention that we missed the walking tour and had to reschedule for a later time?
We found a place to eat and rest. I was so bothered with everyone. Nothing was in English on the menu and no one seemed to speak English either. I was just going through so many emotions but I managed to suck it up and order something small.
Right outside the restaurant, I wandered into a small shop and to my surprise the shop owner spoke Arabic. He told me that many people in Paris speak Arabic but I found it hard to believe. I bought a postcard and waved goodbye.
The Walking Tour
We made it to the meeting point for our walking tour and it was right next to Notre Dame. It was a heartbreaking scene: I completely forgot about the tragic fire that took place earlier in the year. Our tour guide took us to the Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysees, and the Louvre Museum, but not the Eiffel Tower. It was nice to see the city with the group but I wanted to explore on my own. The tour took up most of the day, my back was aching, and I was so tired. It was a long day and nothing was going my way. When I asked my friends if we could go back to the Eiffel Tower, they said no. I felt like I was being held back and I was not doing what I wanted to do. No one was being considerate of what I wanted to do.
In that moment, I decided to break off from the group. It didn’t bother them too much and I did not really care anymore. I was so fed up so I went up to a security guard at the Louvre and to my surprise he spoke Arabic. I asked him how I could get to the Eiffel Tower and he offered to walk me to the metro and show me the route and how to use the metro system. The entire map is in French and it was difficult to break down. He managed to break it down for me and I understand the metro system.
The thing about Arabs is that they are very welcoming; while we were making small talk, it felt like I knew him my whole life. In France, I did not need to know French to get around – Arabic also worked. I got around the city just fine with just Arabic. French people have a reputation as being rude but the city and its people were nothing but welcoming to me.
A Good Night
Anyway, when I arrived to the Eiffel Tower, I was just amazed. I never thought I would see it in real life so soon and figured it was something I would see when I was in my 30’s. I was alone in Paris – again – but this time I didn’t care that I was alone. This made up for the bad day I was having earlier.
I guess the biggest thing I took away from this trip is that sometimes you have to do what you want – even if it means being alone. I knew if I did not stand up for myself, I would not have seen the Eiffel Tower. Everyone owes it to themselves to do what makes them happy, even if it means being alone.