It’s an adventure after all!
First off, I think this is my one year anniversary without missing a week so yay! For a while there, I didn’t know if I’d make it!
But onto the topic at hand.
One thing that can be really scary about traveling, but is really worth doing, is staying spontaneous and taking chances on opportunities when they come up.
This is doubly scary when you are traveling on your own like I was on this Paris/Lyon trip. It is embracing the experience of traveling alone and taking advantage of everything that comes with that that makes the experience memorable and the reason we go out in the world and travel!
Before going any further, I’m going to say the same thing I always caution: Go have your experience, but THINK about what you are doing and do it SAFELY!
On this trip—besides embracing factors of traveling alone like setting my own schedule, where I went and what I saw—Lyon was the area I really embraced the experience of connecting with other wanderers (well, too a degree).
On my first day in Lyon, I dropped my stuff off at the hostel (the SLO Living Hostel is great by the way!), and went straight out to see the Roman ruins and the area surrounding it. The sites were incredible and I really enjoyed my morning climbing around and taking pictures of absolutely everything.
On my way to finding the cemetery and aqueducts, I happened upon an older French man who was also wandering the city but a little loss. We ended up looking for the same sights, so we decided to wander around together. While joining up with someone else means you don’t have the same amount of freedom to do whatever you want exactly how you want it (I couldn’t find the aqueducts so I ended up missing that as I couldn’t backtrack on the map to find where we’d met), but you can get access and insight to things and place you hadn’t known about before.
Which leads to the exploration of Old Town:
Exploring old town had always been on my list of this to do simply from the pictures of the buildings (and they definitely live up to and beyond my expectations), but, walking with the gentleman I had met, I was able to see much more than I would have known to look for on my own. In the old town area, there are courtyards and tunnel areas that as a public person you can go into and explore. Some of these have historical placards and some don’t but the trick to exploring is to press the buzzer button and try the door of any place that looks promising and a great many of them open right up.
I really recommend this for anyone who is at all interested in architecture or art because the structures are beautifully constructed and look like they are water colored and they are just fantastic (I really fell in love with the architecture of this city).
Back to safety, however. You have to be aware and know yourself well when deciding to venture forth with strangers, despite the experience you might get from them. You have to be aware of your comfort level and be willing and able to get out of the situation if someone is making you uncomfortable. A big part of this is keeping track of where you are and other people around—Safety in numbers extends to larger areas of strangers who can help you in a bind
Just because you are presented with opportunity however, doesn’t mean you have to take it!
During dinner at the hostel, I met a lovely group of younger students for the UK who invited me out to go bar hopping with them that evening. At first, I was very interested, however, as the dinner wore on, I could tell they were all in town for the party atmosphere away from school and that nightlife aspect (there was a comment about sleeping in late, like until the afternoon).
I realized that going out with this group (as fun as it might have been) wouldn’t really let me experience the sightseeing and exploratory aspect of the city I wanted which entailed getting up for breakfast and heading out well before 11 am, let alone the afternoon.
In the end, I opted out of the nightlife experience, but am still glad that the offer had been there.
As one final area, don’t forget to be prepare for cultural experiences you didn’t know were going to happen and join in! This brings us back before Lyon, to my second day in Paris which also happened to be Carnival.
When I planned this trip, I had no idea this was going to be going on while I was in town. I just happened to be talking to another girl in my room and she mentioned that there was some kind of parade going on the next day. After a few minutes of research and Googling, we figured out that it was Carnival and where and when the event would begin and end.
While I didn’t end up going through the whole parade route through the city (I ended up hitting some more classic tourist attractions with a friend who is studying in the city), we met up in the square where the parade ended, joining the crowd and taking pictures of the people, performers and creations.
Even though I didn’t do much besides show up and take pictures, being able to say I was there and see the different things going on made this day extremely memorable as part of the trip.
So, basically my advice is to embrace experiences that interest you (safely), don’t worry about those that don’t, and just keep an open mind.
Again, happy anniversary and we’ll see you next time,
This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.