*I've been sitting on this post since the end of March.
It was a trip of many firsts. It was the first time I've ever been in another city on my own, let alone another country. It was the first time there was no agenda. It was my first solo trip where no one knew my name.
I've never really done anything on my own. I spent my childhood with my siblings/cousins. As a teen, I spent a lot of time babysitting siblings and breaking out of a shell I'd built. My days in college also included my older sister. That was 18 years of my life.
At 19, I kinda ran away from "home." Packed up all my stuff and left overnight. Rented a room in a house in Coral Gables with a few girls. Got a used car. Started my sophomore year at UM. Was only in touch with my best friend, her sister, and my then boyfriend.
Within a few months, I withdrew from college and gave up my scholarships (because I didn't know you could stop going without withdrawing; also the same person that didn't know college applications had deadlines). Had a preemie. Spent over 4 months going in and out of a NICU. I've been a mama for the past 11-12 years.
At 31, after marriage and over a decade of parenthood, I now recognize I've never really done anything for myself. I never took care of myself. I've never separated myself from being a mama. All I've known was life with my parents and life as a mom. There was no in between.
When I became a parent, my life was no longer just my own. I was a plural. Every thought and decision would have my children in mind. I live and breathe for them. They complete a part of me. They're my reason. For? I don't even know. They're my everything. It's a complex thing to put into words.
Last year, I told myself that I needed to start taking care of me. To find out who I am beyond being a mother. And to stop feeling guilty for it. For a belated 31st birthday celebration to myself for myself, I booked a flight to Paris! I would've liked for a friend/cousin to join me, but the timing of everyone's lives doesn't coincide right now. I knew that I should do this by myself though. To do something I've never done. To do more of things I usually hold myself back from. And you know what.. it was kind of exhilarating.
I'm pretty no fuss, no muss when it comes to flying. Norwegian Airlines flies nonstop from FLL airport into CDG and a roundtrip is generally around $400-500 for economy. I went from March 20-24. I took a red-eye flight and woke up in Paris. Only packed one carry-on tote so I was in and out of CDG. The only decision I needed to make was Roissy-bus or taxi. Taxi won out because I just wanted to get into the city.
Hotwired a 5-star hotel in the Louvre/Vendome area and landed Hotel Regina a few weeks prior. Hotel Regina is right across from the Louvre/Tuileries. It's an easy walk to shops, cafes, a small market, and restaurants. Upon arrival, they upgraded me to an Eiffel Tower view. It definitely made a difference. I loved waking up to look out onto the terrace. At night, I would watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle every hour to the hour (sunset til 2am). It was magical.
During my stay, I didn't really do much. I just love being in the city. I love the architecture. The charm. The grandeur. The beauty. I love hanging out in the Tuileries. I love walking by the Louvre. I stopped by Maison Chaudun to pick up chocolates for Bubba and unintentionally stumbled upon Pont Alexander III.
I spent some time shopping along St. Honore and Avenue Montaigne/Champs-Elysees. I browsed through Galeries Lafayette.
I went to ate at familiar favorites. I finally got to try Sanukiya and it was the perfect lunch for a chilly day. Being in Europe, I often crave asian food. The Northeast area of Louvre/Vendome has quite a few asian spots. Ramen. Korean. Sushi. Sanukiya is udon. There's even a Korean Mart on Rue St. Anne.
Sometimes, it's a breath of fresh air to have no cares or responsibilities. To be able to get up and out the door without having to worry about getting someone else ready or whether we have everything. Maybe it's nice to sleep in too, but I don't know what that means. My internal alarm clock wakes me up anywhere from 6-8am (because of the red-eye flights, we haven't dealt with jet lag in Europe yet). At the end of the day, my mind would always go back to my kids. I couldn't sleep without them.. literally; I would fall asleep around 3-4am every night.
As much as I needed time to decompress and to challenge myself to do something outside of the norm, I couldn't help but think I love traveling with my kids. I love being able to share experiences with them. Gwyneth Paltrow went to Paris for the first time with her father. His reasoning? He wanted her first trip to Paris to be with the one man who is going to love her for the rest of her life. I adore that sentiment and I'm so glad I am able to do things/go places with my children for the first time together.
More Paris adventures: