Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 2 May 2014 • Abroad
How would you feel being single and traveling to Paris, the world’s city of love? I was nervous over the idea. Prior to arrival, I had cold feet because I didn’t know how I’d feel once I smell the air of love, and because winter was creeping in. However, I was relieved because I was going with good company, those that could hold me down once I felt a suicidal urge in the face of countless people kissing each other. Well, it didn’t happen, as I live to tell. I walked the streets, visited the iconic spots, and stared Eiffel in the eye (if it had one), yet I didn’t feel the love.
I guess the romance started to dissipate from the minute we had to buy a bus ticket from the airport to the city. It was a whopping € 16 per pax. It was quite far, so fair enough. Then we had to take the metro to our accommodation and one of the ticket machines turned out to be broken and robbed our € 2. Dude, I could have bought a decent meal with that money! Then we arrived at our place to crash, which was the only place online that we could find and could afford; a stabbing € 77/night. Ouch! The room was a studio shared with the host. Fairly spacey. This is such an expensive city. However, I thought it’s fine. I shouldn’t let money dictate the sensation of being in one of my dream cities. I can still slit my wrist once I walk the town, right?
But the subway was nice 🙂
Our host, a nice female foreign student hosting at her studio apartment, didn’t help me regain the excitement of being in Paris. We talked and we learned a few things about the city. She said it was a shame to only stay a night. It’s the city of lights, it’s so beautiful, and we should stay longer. However, I was also slightly annoyed listening to her complaint a little too much on, ironically, how the French like to complain. It was a buzz kill. Another thing was, our host had her French boyfriend sleep over and it seemed that he was really concerned about our health. He emphasized our host that we must be in bed by 1 a.m., no more activities including whispering. OK, maybe that part is just the nocturnal me. However, we had to be up early to use the bathroom before he did. Such hospitality!
However, as I roamed town, I met more friendly French people on the streets. I visited the Notre Dame and set foot on the 0 km in hopes that I will be back in Paris one day; as the myth said. I visited the Pont de l’Archeveche and pondered a bit on the locks of love latched upon it. I made a stop to the Arc de Triomphe, strolled down Champ-Elysees, and visited the Spanish Quarter (or I think it was). I tried the super delicious hot chocolate at Angelique (it ruined my low standards of the delightful beverage, for sure!) and the abundant Nutella crepes just to add chocolate in the equation. It still didn’t do the magic.
The sound of buskers with their accordion, guitar, saxophone, or mere voice didn’t sway me. I didn’t envy the people kissing and holding each other as much as I thought. The men, talking in French while offering crepes, didn’t melt me to the floor. It just didn’t work.
I don’t know if traveling with my female friends made me bias to the romantic feeling. I had a blast with them! I couldn’t imagine myself traveling with anybody else than my friends. Yet, that’s the thing, I didn’t feel the urge to bring a soul mate back for romantic purposes.
I’m not saying Paris is bad. It most certainly was the opposite. The Eiffel Tower is still a glorious work of engineering, the Louvre and castle around it is still magnificent, and the Notre Dame is still a grand cathedral I’d like to stare at for a long time. However, Paris as a whole was just another beautiful developed European city.
Having said that, I had romantic feelings in other cities that I visited. The cities that I consider to be romantic, still in the company of my female friends, were Granada and Budapest. I absolutely love the Al-Hambra and saw romance carved in the marble tiles. I could also imagine myself in warm loving arms and sitting in the Pest part of town, looking at the lit Buda during crisp chilly nights. More on that, another time. For the heck of it, any live-on-board experience in Indonesia is romantic, like on the boat to Tanjung Putting National Park, or on a boat to Komodo National Park. It’s just a beautiful natural scenery you’d want to share with someone. *sigh*
So, Paris broke my heart by breaking my expectations, but in a good way. I got to marvel over the city as grand as it is without sulking on being single. Maybe I’ll think differently once I travel back there one day. Hopefully, I’ll have more money so I can travel without calculation, spend more nights in a nice hotel, stuff in more chocolate, and travel for two.
Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be an Indonesian girl if I couldn’t find the good in everything, as I still had some romance in me. At a time where Internet didn’t exist amongst the common people, when travelling, we sent postcards. As a child, one of my fondest memories had to be receiving postcards from my father during his travels. One in particular was from Paris. I can still remember the Eiffel Tower picture on it and my father’s handwriting saying I have to see it one day. That day came and I sent myself a postcard for the romance of it all.
I made it to Paris, Dad. I hope you saw me do it.