Saturday, June 8, 2013

If only the Type A part of me would take a vacation

 In just about nine days, I will be leaving on a jet plane and heading to Paris for the first time ever. I have to admit that I'm only now starting to feel really excited about this trip. This sounds so ridiculous when I say it out loud. I blame ennui (which is a very French thing to do).

Since the reality of the trip is finally settling in, it's now time for my favorite/least favorite part of any trip I take: planning. I know I am an exceptional planner. I love lists, am insanely prompt, and really enjoy a good map. I am not all that spontaneous. That being said, I also acknowledge that sometimes, particularly when it comes to travel, it's okay, nay, totally acceptable to just wing it. And by winging I mean not planning every second of every day that you're on vacation or on a trip.

I've been trying my best to embrace this concept of winging it (since I imagine this is what leading ladies do) despite the fact that my inner planner is having a nuclear level meltdown that I haven't planned everything yet. I've done the important things: booked my flight and rented my apartment (done months ago); figured out the closest Metro station to the apartment (I think); made copies of my passport; secured an international phone (thanks to one of my friends who is awesome); and started to map out my days in a general way. However, I cannot actually tell you what I will be doing when I'm there. This seems to annoy everyone who asks me about the trip. In the last week I've been asked this about twenty times and people make faces when I tell them that I can't really say. The three most common questions I get are:
  1. You're going alone? (Not so much a question I guess more like a statement said in a quizzical way.)
  2. Are you going to fall in love with some French guy and never come back? (Or some variation depending on the friend and how much they've had to drink.)
  3. What are you doing while you're there? You don't know? What's wrong with you?
I don't have a good answer to any of these questions and usually ignore the first two with a laugh and a smile. But the third one is getting to me. We all travel differently and I'm trying a new approach with this trip. I know the arrondissements/quartiers/neighborhoods I want to visit and have a general sense of some of the things I'd like to see while visiting each one. What I want to be able to do, though, is walk out the door with a general sense of the part of the city I'm going to and just go. See what happens along the way. Yes, I will buy my ticket to the Eiffel Tower in advance and be there at the agreed upon time (and have a glass of champagne at the very top) but how I get there is the key. I can walk in the most direct path available OR I can wander and see what I see. Isn't that the way to experience things? Get lost a bit and find something you weren't looking for? If we're to believe all the travel writers ever the beauty of travel is in the unexpected.

So I'm sorry Type A part of my personality - you don't get to win this time. I'll let you have your packing list, travel information file (with a copy for my mom of course), and you get to buy a ticket in advance for the Eiffel Tower this week. But that's all you get. Paris is not for planning.

Time to dig out some scarves and hope that my quirky Americanness is seen as alluring and charming.

Next time on the Island: A Tale of Two Concerts - chronicling my old lady concert going ways at the Best Coast and Go-Go's shows.

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