"The best things in life are free. The second best are very expensive."
She could have been talking about Paris.
Paris is an expensive city, no doubt about that.
Some of us scrimp and save to get there.
So why in the world do we follow a borrowed formula for what to do in Paris?
Following a guidebook is like wearing a suit that doesn't quite fit.
I'm all in favor of professional travel guides -- but the key word is guide.
Tailor your trip to your own frame. Adjust the line, let out the seams.
It takes some work to personalize a trip.
Start with time and budget parameters, consider bucket-list must-sees.
Think about how you can get the most out of your time, money & walking shoes.
Don't just stick to the big themes . Do stuff you'd never do at home. Go rogue.
Don't do what's expected.
Confuse the well-ordered, follow directions side of you and go for broke.
Use both the Left Bank and the Right Bank of your brain.
Listen to your inner voice.
Making a list is good but remember it's just a road map.
Just because it says 'use red here' doesn't mean you can't use purple.
Vacation isn't meant to be a competition.
Don't try to outdo your neighbor's five star vacation.
Better to hit the bulls-eye on your own heart than throw the dart
at a board that someone else brought.
It's your party.
Fearless exploration is fun. Get lost. Forget about the photo op. Let it happen.
Whatever keeps you awake at night is there -- waiting.
Sweat a little.
Your personal Paris is going to be a delicious mix of Paris-discovery and self-discovery.
Paris is expensive but your options for free and cheap are endless.
The list of museums that offer free entry are mind-blowing.
Musée Carnavalet, Le Petit Palais, Musée Bourdelle just to name a few.
Parks are free and you won't find a better place to count your blessings.
You can sit at a café for hours, nursing one cup of coffee.
Cemeteries will make you feel more alive.
Flea markets, Tati, and vintage stores offer inexpensive entertainment.
Free concerts, free festivals, bookshops, Friday Night roller-blading, it all fits into not just cheap or free but into the real Paris, the Paris as locals enjoy it.
Put your own stamp on it.
I miss the paycheck .... but not much more.
When I said au revoir to that chapter, I knew from the get-go what I wanted to do.
I wanted to travel, to see the world.
Dictionary.com's definition of travel:
"the act of visiting and seeing places and objects of interest."
Dullsville. Definitely not what I had in mind.
I want to be equal parts Indiana Jones / Ferris Bueller / Tina Fey.
Less than perfect, what a relief!
Real life is silly enough.
And too short not to pay attention to the voice in your head that says
THIS IS MY TRIP.
THIS IS FOR ME.
I call it Paris Time.
Time to re-invent yourself.
Confuse your friends, make them wonder what you're up to.
"Wherever you go, go with all your heart." - Confucius
Paris is an antioxidant, a serving of kale and a martini all wrapped up in one pretty package. It's good for your soul, bad for your pocketbook and worth every effort to get there.
Thank you, Paris, for showing the way.
Paris was made for you and me.
Except that I prefer it my way. And I hope you get it your way.
Make it personal.