The cost of a month in Paris

The entry you’ve been waiting for!

I pieced together my spending paper trail from all my credit card and bank statements, and this is how I spent my money in France:

Whether or not that was too extravagant depends on how you look at it. I went into the trip without a budget or spending plan, which probably would have made a tremendous difference in the end cost, but ultimately I’m not bothered by the total. I’m really glad I didn’t backpack it, staying at hostels or couch-surfing (seriously. I met 2 guys that we’re doing that). My apartment was incredible, as was all the food, and so are the clothes I came home with, so I’m going to say the experience was worth every penny.

So some of the above is paid for, but the majority is not. I’ve thought about doing a huge transfer from my savings and wiping out the remaining balance, but making such a dent in my bank account makes me a little sick so instead I’m going to stick with my original plan and pay what I owe over the next 2-3 months (so it will be gone right before I have to start making payments on my student loans!)… so for the first time in nearly a year I’m carrying consumer debt! Yikes!

I did the math, and it makes sense monetarily, too. I transferred what I owe to my line of credit which has only a 6.75% interest rate which is lower than what a good majority of my investments have returned over the past year, so my money is better kept in savings & investments at this point. If this balance was on my credit card at 19.95% or whatever, heck yes I’d kill it in about five seconds flat, but thankfully I’m not in that position.

Just so we’re clear I’m totally 100% an advocate of saving up first for a big trip, not just randomly deciding to spend nearly $6,000 with very little thought or planning. What I did was insane, and I don’t recommend it. The fact that I have to make $800 debt payments for the next three months SUCKS but… well, I spent a month in Paris, and that was pretty damn cool.

Paris Day 30

Today my transit pass stopped working. I was really confused because had bought it for the month, but apparently the 31st doesn’t count. I looked at reloading it but the smallest amount I could put on was one week at that was €40! what the heck France? The whole month was only €110! Well. I’m way too cheap for that sort of extravagance, so I decided to walk to the Musee d’Orsay. Despite being the coldest day I’ve seen this month, I’m still happy I took the long way to the museum so I could enjoy the streets of Paris one last time. The walk took me through les Jardins des Tuileries:

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To the Seine:

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Where I always stop to admire the locks on the bridges, and wonder about the people that put them there..

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I arrived at my destination, where admission was FREE for Tuesday! It meant waiting in line for an hour to get in, but since it was my last day I sucked it up. In line, befriended two guys traveling from the USA. One knew a lot about art, and that helped me enjoy the museum more than I would alone. Unfortunately, you can’t take photos inside so I don’t have anything to share but it was pretty cool.

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Look at those trees bend in the wind! Brrr.

After the museum, I went back to my apartment and finished packing my things. I showered, grabbed dinner, and the manager came by to return my damage deposit (€500! How happy am I to see that?). My stuff is packed and ready to go, and I think I am too, even if the only thing that’s allowing me to leave is the promise to myself that I’ll be back soon. Maybe I can find a way to visit D next year? Maybe I’ll eventually pursue my silly dream of being a single mother in Paris ;) Almost all of tomorrow will be spent on a plane, and almost of the time I’ll be annoyed because I feel like the flight home always seems 10,000x longer than the one going to my destination of travel. By the time I’m 1 or 2 hours from Edmonton every minute feels like an eternity.

At least I bought a box of macarons for the trip.

Paris Day 28 & 29

(Note: not sure why photos are coming up sideways; stupid wordpress app. Something to fix when I get home!)

I spent at least three hours in the cafe on Sunday. As usual every other place was closed, so I took the opportunity to fight with my resume. Besides, there were pancakes.

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My resume needed an update. It hasn’t been touched in over a year and frankly, it just looked bad. The design was poor and it read like a list of foursquare check-ins for my life: “department of chemistry, May 2007″. After reading some resume tips in books and online, I made some improvements. I’m going home to my part-time job, and while I can live on that income, I’d like to have more ;) I’m looking for a full-time position within the company, but I would consider one outside as well. Or maybe full-time where I’m at plus a second part-time job on top. I know I said I wouldn’t do that because I got so burnt out with graduate school + a job, but I’m starting to think I’d really like to shake those student loans sooner than later. Unfortunately, what I owe is a huge reason why I even have to return home and continue working. If I was totally debt free, I could live on my savings and continue traveling for… Well, probably a whole year.

Of course I’d be broke at the end of it though, which would kind of suck.

Monday I went to the Louvre, mostly because I had become convinced that Charmaine would end our friendship if I didn’t become cultured. I stomped my way through like a child dragged against their will. There was beautiful and historical things:

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I wanted to avoid the Mona Lisa, but I accidentally stumbled upon it:

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Now, I know everyone says it’s not worth the hype, but it kind of was for me. Which just goes to show how weird I am since I didn’t even want to be in the Louvre in the first place.

I did eventually find something I liked though: there was an exhibit devoted to the history of the museum. It was awesome! They had a collection of original drawings for the design and profiles of all the influential people that built or visited the museum. It was really cool. I think the Louvre itself was far more interesting than the works it contained. I only saw a fraction of the content of the museum, and I felt it was overwhelming. Every painting and sculpture is interesting, but there’s 53875823781 of them assaulting your vision at once.

I went here…

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And also saw two of these..

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And pondered the oddity of shoving a mall up against historical museum. I love Starbucks, but it felt so ridiculous after Botticelli and Rembrandt. Can you imagine the Louvre 100 years from now? Maybe they’ll incorporate the consumerism into an exhibition of its own, leaving the shops where they are and giving tours, “after seeing the Mona Lisa, Americans found it necessary to reconnect themselves within their commercialized society by flocking to the franchises they all hold most dear…”

I treated myself to vegetarian pizza and called it a day.

Paris Day 26 & 27

I am so glad I am not in Spain. Or Germany or Italy or anywhere where I wouldn’t be able to communicate or understand what’s being said to me. Today I had to see a doctor, and my language skills — horrid québécois accent and all — saved me a whole lot of anguish in what was already a distressing situation.

I went to the pharmacy nearest my house and asked for directions to a physicians office. I asked if they knew any doctors nearby that spoke English, but alas, because it was a Saturday afternoon it would have been more trouble than it was worth. I was sent to a French doctor, who’s office was separated from the front door of my apartment by a single restaurant. Yes, I had walked by a doctor’s office every day for nearly a month and had no idea, because they don’t look like clinics at all here, they just look like residences. I asked the pharmacists if I could use their phone to call to make an appointment with the doctor, and they said I didn’t need one.

So that was pretty weird.

I walked to the doctor’s office, rang the buzzer and he let me into the building. I was ushered into the plainest waiting room I’ve ever seen, completely devoid of pamphlets on healthy eating and STD statistics, with only a stereo playing classical musical quietly in the corner. There was no one else there. No one. No old men coughing their phlegm and pneumonia all over everyone else. No children screaming about an earache. N o o n e.

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The doctor asked if I had an appointment, I said no and he told me I had to wait. I settled into my chair ready for the mandatory 2 to 4 hour silent battle against my own malady until a physician was available. He told me he’d be ready in 10 minutes.

What?

I just wandered in to a doctor’s office without appointment, and thirty minutes later I was out with a prescription and a form to submit to my university health plan (my travel insurance is still through them) or government of Canada or whoever is going to reimburse me €50. My prescription was only €16 when I returned to the pharmacy, so the day cost me about $100 Canadian but it was so gloriously painless I would have paid double or triple that — which is exactly how I knew I was really sick: I’m way too cheap to shell out cash if I can conquer an illness at home.

So I spent all of yesterday and most of today fighting off a fever and watching MTV. Maybe not the most exciting or pleasant days of my trip, but I wasn’t at all unhappy. If anything I was grateful to have an apartment alone and no obligations whatsoever. Not having to call into work or worry about missed classes is a blessing when you feel like crap.

I think I’ve been on vacation too long because it’s starting to dissolve into normal life. If I blogged for a living it would be like I wasn’t on holiday at all ;)

Day 22, 23, 24, & 25 – Paris & Nice (yes, again)

Let’s just start by saying I’m still having a good time. I found an adorable dress in H&M and I had to buy a size 6 because I have eaten so many desserts I can’t fit into my usual size 2 or 4 clothing

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I then purchased the newest addition to my ludicrously self-indulgent and extravagant personal tradition of buying a piece of Tiffany jewelry from every place I travel. From NYC I own a ring with the address of the store, in San Francisco I purchased an anchor (that I just broke a few days ago and must get repaired ASAP) and for Paris a Fleur de Lis key — which I learned is not actually an official symbol of France but it feels very French to me:

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And then I went to Nice for a second spontaneous trip. I felt I hadn’t had enough of the south of France the first time around so I was happy for the opportunity. Unfortunately, I got a little too much sun & heat the first day that led to mild heat stroke and a very miserable Bridget. I had a headache for nearly 8 hours — one of those where you think “I just need a coffee!” then it was “I just need some food!”. But a hot pizza is probably the worst thing to consume when it feels like your brain is boiling in your head and I spent a good 20 mins at my table trying not to vomit up dinner. When bad news came that plans for the next 2 days were totally axed, I was pretty unhappy.

I’m working really hard on cultivating a zen-like, opportunity-welcoming open-heart, and up to this point I felt like a whole new person. Of course, it’s very easy to be cheery when your life is unfolding like some golden fairytale. It becomes considerably more difficult when things go wrong.

I couldn’t cool my body down and I swear, there was nothing I wanted more to be in Canada and just be COLD. I’ve probably never been so homesick in all my life. It’s only when you’re having a bad day abroad that you realize there’s nothing more comforting in the whole wide world than your own bed in your own room. Turns out all I really needed was to strip down and lie still for half an hour. My headache subsided, my mood improved, and I stayed in Nice a bit longer.

The next day I met an American couple when I took a side trip to Cap d’Ail. Beautiful place:

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They were not quite as in love with France as I was. I guess the French really are very rude to English speakers and Americans, because my new friends were really frustrated with their vacation thus far. I offered my translation skills and they repaid me generously in beer.

Maybe a little too generously, as later that night I woke up at 5am on my hostel bed with music playing from my iPhone. I was sporting a wet bathing suit and still had my contact lenses in, which now felt glued to my eyes. I remembered I was in a wet bathing suit because at 3:30 after the bar I felt it necessary to take a shower, but because the bathroom was shared between rooms, didn’t want anyone to see me naked. Yeah, like people are just wandering about at 3:30am on a Wednesday. So I showered in my bathing suit like a drunk idiot.

I’m probably too old for this stuff.

The next morning the Americans and I basked in our hangovers until noon, then I helped them return a purchase to a store in my ever-improving French — now my primary focus is beating out my horrid québécois accent. So far so good. The Americans left for Spain, and I took the afternoon to tan topless on the beach.

I love sunbathing topless. I don’t understand why this counts as “indecent exposure” back home.

I caught the train at 4:30pm beautifully bronzed and exhausted. Some Italian men on the train told me I look like Britney Spears, which I’m choosing to accept as a compliment. I arrived in Paris late at night, and I was so very, very grateful to feel cold night air.

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