Paris Day 3

Today walked for around 8-9km. It was a roller coaster of a day.

I say that because it was amazing at first… my uncle took me to the Pรจre Lachaise Cemetery to see Jim Morrison’s grave. While there, also visited Oscar Wilde’s and Edith Piaf’s. Jim’s had a fence before it which was annoying (hate how some people ruin things for others) but what was hilarious for me was that there were 2 people there drinking beer at like noon and smoking while listening to “This is the End” from their iPhone and crying. ๐Ÿ˜‚ Like, I get it. Nobody loves The Lizard King more than I do but that was just too dramatic for me. He’s been dead a while. ๐Ÿ˜„


Oscar Wilde’s grave (had to have a glass protector around it due to taggers – again, people ruining things for other people) but it had lipstick kiss marks all around it


Edith Piaf grave:


Then we took metro to some other places (I’m such a bad blogger! Lol. Way too tired to write down the exact names and honestly, don’t care that much. I’ll come back another day and memorize it all). 

The rough part happened at the end where some guy selling stuff in a touristy spot got up in my personal space, trying to sell me a bracelet or whatever And I said no a couple times and kept walking. He then GRABBED my arm tightly and wouldn’t let go until I kept walking even faster. Immediately, I started feeling a panic attack come on. 

Side note for context and trigger warning: 

Some know this, some don’t, but I was raped 3+ years ago and despite hiking 648ish miles on the Pacific Crest Trail months later, I gained a tremendous amount of weight (because, I’m sure this is why, I didn’t want any male attention whatsoever), got flashbacks and panic attacks and became suicidal which is when I entered therapy over a year ago. 

Back to Paris: my uncle and I then went on the metro immediately after and some dude with his kid on his lap was just ogling my boobs and staring aggressively at me. I felt like crying. I couldn’t help my body’s response to all this. I could feel a panic attack coming on. Thankfully I’m a part of an amazing Girl’s travel group on Facebook and was able to get some feedback and a girl offered to meet me tomorrow which will be nice.

I’m learning that women travelers have to deal with quite a bit more. We are taught to be nice and polite yet we get harassed a lot more. I’m going to just start being a bitch to people if they don’t respect my space. It’s not worth the Helplessness and feelings of rage after.

Tomorrow, I’m going to try to see the catacombs as soon as they open unless the line is ridiculously long. Then I meet up with this other female traveler who used to live here.

Paris is very hectic but amazing. Definitely coming back when my mind is a bit more settled and open to the crazy energy. I can absolutely see how this place inspires so many artists. 

And, oh my god, the homeless here drink wine, not beer!!! Hahahaha. I’ve never ever seen that before. At first; I saw 2 homeless old men talking, one had a bottle of Rosรฉ that was nearly done and the other had a corkscrew and was opening another bottle, THEN, 2 blocks later, saw 2 younger homeless guys sitting on some throwaway couches sipping some Cab looking wine from plastic wine glasses, pinkies out and everything. Thought that was so funny (the wine drinking, not homelessness. That part is sad).

Ok here are some more pics of this magnificent city!

Day 2 in Paris

Yesterday was a tired blur. I slept so much, my uncle had to wake me up at 11 this morning. Granted, I woke up quite a few times but still. I DEFINITELY needed sleep and probably could have slept all day since I’m still feeling exhausted from the 2 days of no sleep.

For me, I’m finding beauty in the quiet moments and simple things. Like breakfast – I’d forgotten how delicious the simple bread/cheese/cucumber and/or tomato sandwiches are. No matter how many times I’d make them in LA, they didn’t taste the same. Maybe it’s the bread or the cheese. In Europe, I think both are just better quality. And the coffee! Oh my, just that alone is much  better than most coffees I get in LA.


๐Ÿ‘†๐Ÿปmy delicious and simple breakfast. YUM!

I was skeptical of the whole Paris hype, to be completely honest. You hear people raving about the city and it just feels like everyone is jumping on some sort of “Paris is cool” bandwagon. But just walking through the streets with my uncle, his wife and my adorable little cousin today, I couldn’t help but be caught up in the energy of this beautiful city. 

There is something powerfully raw in its history and in its architecture and it enchants with its hustle and bustle with quiet corners and streets full of book kiosks and artists. Many of the stores and restaurants look like some sort of film set and, many times, it just feels surreal. 


๐Ÿ‘†๐ŸปAbsolutely loving the buildings๐Ÿ‘†๐Ÿป

There’s too much to see here, I’ve already accepted that I’m not going to even see 1/30th of what this city has to offer. I do want to see the catacombs (bit worried about my claustrophobia but think I can power through it for the experience) and Jim Morrison’s grave (my dead man crush for life). Saw the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and some other landmarks from the outside but, if I have any time, definitely want to explore them longer.

๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿปsome sights from today and museum๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿป


I’m here in Paris at a pivotal moment in history. The voting is wrapping up and we will find out in 4 hours who’s won. There’s an anticipatory electric energy you can feel amongst the people. Having just been in the US for their election, It feels very similar although you see Le Pen posters scrawled on with words like “Paris will never accept you” and others with her face ripped off. 

In other non city related news: I’m a bit worried about my foot. It had swollen up yesterday from the flight and, having walked around a bit today in my shoes that were quite tight with my fat feet, the bunyon on the right foot is now aching quite badly. Hopefully the swelling subsides (elevating feet as I write this) and it won’t be an issue on the Camino. Fingers and toesies crossed! ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ

Paris

Just got here. Headed out first thing soon enough (my aunt keeps telling me to stop spreading my real time whereabouts so this is me trying to be cryptic so that all my many stalkers won’t be able to find me ๐Ÿ˜œ. She has a point though – better safe than sorry and it’s nice to know someone cares). 

Booked my first alburgue since I’ll arrive later in the day to St Jean Pied de Port and it’d be too late to start the trek (since I want to see where I’m going and pick up my Pilgrim passport).

I have realized – and this dawned on me before but was affirmed by some quiet time with uncle and his family today – that I need to slow down. I can’t handle mellow time around people, even family, AT ALL. It makes me super uncomfortable and I feel the need to keep moving (mentally and/or physically) no matter what. I think this is a direct result of my unusual upbringing where I was basically left homeless after being discarded and having to be on survival mode and high alert constantly. 

To be fair, being in survival mode was useful for decades (the high alert and activity) as it kept me from being in too much mental pain and kept me distracted while also not allowing me to be on the streets as a bum. But I’ve realized that it no longer serves a purpose and I am spiritually exhausted and depleted of any energy. 
So my first lesson from this trip- and I haven’t actually even stepped foot on the Camino yet – is to start being mindful and slowing the fuck down.

Holy shit, this trip is going to be life changing if I can learn just how to do that alone. 

2 Days left until Camino trip!

I don’t have anything packed, think I have some sort of an infection since it feels like I’m fighting off sickness,  I’m exhausted and supposed to see people before I go, buy some last minute shit and still weigh gear and tweak it out.

Looks like I’m going to bring only one additional (lightweight) outfit for my trip which means for France, Finland and Corfu, I’m going to be in only 1 of 2 outfits which is different than the PCT since, there, id just be in the backcountry so couldn’t give two shits how stinky or stylish I was. Hahahaha

To be honest, I’ve been super depressed especially since a friend recently committed suicide and just one bad thing after another seems to just happen since to compound the tragic news. I don’t even really want to go but I know doing the Camino will be good for my soul. At this moment though, I doubt it’ll hit me until I’m taking my first couple of steps on the Camino or get my pilgrim passport. 

A little worried that this disassociated feeling will stay with me abroad and that I won’t feel the magic that will undoubtedly be all around me. If I don’t get any healing from this trip, I’m truly scared that my depression will get the better of me and that I’ll give up trying to live in this crazy world. Because if shocking your mind awake with new beautiful landscapes and meeting new people doesn’t do it, what will?

But one day at a time. Today, doctor and REI last minute shopping and starting of packing.

I was told that bringing a tent on the Camino is not necessary… and I do enjoy cowboy camping so thinking of leaving my tent. Can anyone vouch for this? It’s only slightly over 1 lb so still debating whether to bring it or not…

Random Musings

I feel like anyone with a bunion is like 70+ years old but apparently I have one and it’s pretty painful. I have health insurance which would cover it but recovery is supposed to be a bitch and will take around a year. I can’t afford to not do anything for another year. I think I’ll go certifiably crazy and be institutionalized for massive stir-craziness.

I have several ideas as to my Euro-trip plans (which, just before, I’ll be doing the Trans Catalina Trail with some good friends for a shakedown backpacking/hiking trip) which I’ll just spout off here. If anyone has any ideas as to activities or people/places to see at any stage of my proposed itinerary, feel free to message me or comment! I love that, in this social media age, finding amazing (and cheap) places to stay, etc, is just a little bit of networking away.

So, I’ll fly into Paris, see uncle and fam and maybe tourist it up for a couple of days before catching the train and doing the Camino pilgrimage. From there, I’m thinking I’ll fly into Corfu, stay there for a few weeks and then fly to Helsinki and stay there for a few weeks and then fly back to LA, get my shit and my van and drive up to Yellowstone for a seasonal job in beginning of August (I got a job at Yellowstone!) to save up some money and gather my thoughts as to what I’ll be doing after that.

It’s a pretty packed itinerary. I’m now having issues with my car, have to change a flight (which is becoming an issue as they won’t refund or change dates without a huge $400 fee. Might be cheaper to just get a new flight altogether and then hope the original flight, which was to fly from Helsinki to LAX in September, gets cancelled and I get a refund then. That’s happened to me once before) and money is leaking out of my savings left and right but this has to be done.

Looking into possibly working in Corfu to pay for a room whilst also exploring but they require a whole season of work which I can’t afford to do. We shall see though. I did ask if I can just work to stay for 3 weeks and am waiting for a response.

These are at least all good problems, in the sense that I wasn’t decapitated or something more serious and that it’s for a trip that’s bound to be once-in-a-lifetime experience. Just need to put my head down and work and NOT go out to eat or buy additional things other than for the trip itself.

 

Camino de Santiago 2017!!!

It’s happening.

It’s finally fuckin’ happening. I can’t wrap my head around it. But flights are booked. I’m set to leave May 9th to Paris from LA. Then September 15th, I’ll fly from Helsinki, Finland back to LA.

I will see my uncle (who I haven’t seen in FOREVER) and his beautiful family in Paris and then take the train to St. Jean Pied de Port via Bayonne to start the walk.

I’M SO EXCITED!

Other than booking the flights, I have done nearly zero prep. I refuse to read people’s blogs and personal books about it. I want my experience to be untainted by others’ experiences. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great they document it and share their knowledge but I’m an empath so any negativity or zealous excitement about any of it ย kind of starts the setting of expectations for the trip, for myself and my goals based on the data I receive from others. Soooooo, in a nutshell, I’m only going to read some best-selling pilgrim books with trail data/maps and the hostel situation and that’s about it. For me, it’s about trying to have as much of an organic experience as possible.

I also need to start doing some Spanish classes or Rosetta Stone it up. Don’t get me wrong, I live in LA so familiar with basic Spanish but that’s very little and I wouldn’t dare try to speak it so want to get on that.

I have a friend – who I met on the train after hiking at Grand Canyon and roadtripping last year – ย who may meet up to do the last 100km (minimum requirement for the Compostela certificate). That’ll be a trip if we meet up. I love ย just meeting people while travelling that you just click with and then end up having adventures together later in random places. I’ll just need to figure out my mileage and when I’ll be where (roughly) to make that work.

After that, it’s wandering around Europe and somehow making my way up to Finland to see the rest of the family there and reconnecting with friends I haven’t seen in about 5 years, since I lived there for a bit.

Here’s the wikipedia with the history ofย Santiago de Compostela which is where I’ll end up unless I plan on going a bit further. My itinerary, other than the walk, is pretty much up in the air – the way I like it. I can’t plan things too much since life has a tendency to take those plans and shit on them.

Some people complain about this walk… that it’s not like any of the Triple Crown trails (Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail). To them, I say: Duh! It’s not. It’s completely different. You can’t compare them side by side fairly. For me, it’s a spiritual walk… I don’t really know what it is that I want out of it but, at the same time, I don’t want anything out of it – if that makes sense… I don’t have expectations but also expect to be changed somehow.

Hopefully my foot doesn’t fail me like it did on the PCT. Fingers and toesies crossed.

 

 

 

Howdy, my lovely readers!

I can’t believe I left that last depressing blog post about depression as my last post without an update!

SO much has been happening, guys. SOOOOO much. I don’t even know where to begin – I was stuck in NC for a while, with no car and no wifi (so couldn’t even do my remote accounting work). I thought I was getting a loan but that fell through. My friend who I was staying with somehow found a flight deal from Atlanta to LA for $100. Seemed unreal, turned out totally legit. Flew back to LA, stayed with old roommate for almost a month until he got a job in Germany and had to move family into the house. I also found a full time job on top of part time one.

I found a place through Craigslist. A seemingly quirky lady with a pirate themed pool in the back. That sealed the deal for me. Who DOESN’T like a pirate themed pool area!?! haha.

I gave her money early upon her request so I can get the room. Moved in, didn’t get the paperwork signed because her printer was either wonky one day or out of ink the next and she refused to send it to me at work. Long story short, she totally screwed me over. Ended up being a raging alcoholic with bipolar tendencies. She took my deposit and made the place a living hell to live in. So much so that within 2 weeks, I was already working out getting a van to live out of. At first, I thought it was just me. I mean, it’s not possible to meet TWO living psychos in a 6 month period. At that point, you should look within, I would think were someone else telling me these crazy stories I’ve experienced. But, TRUUUUST ME, it was her. Cops were called on her by some other prospective tenants for same shit. Another tenant while I was there left for the same reason.

It really brought up some bullying shit I experienced at the boarding school I used to be at. I had totally forgotten the details but the anxiety triggered them since it was so similar. I was placed in the “popular” dorm when I moved to the school. Of course, being a book nerd, they didn’t want me there and requested their more popular friends. The teachers refused to place me elsewhere so they took it out on me. Think “Bad Girls Club” but with older 12-13 yr olds picking on a 10 year old. They’d put my shit outside, yell and tease me constantly and even once got someone with a ton of lice in their head to roll around on my bed so I wouldn’t sleep there. I’d always sleep with one eye open with a pounding heart, worried they’d cut my hair or move my shit while I slept. That was the time I pissed in my bed too. Never did it before or after that period. Oh, good ol’ days! Weird how memories are so buried until a similar feeling, scent or views bring them out again.

Aaaaanywayyyyyssss… I digress. The good that came from all that recent apartment nonsense was that I DID find a Toyota Sienna minivan, custom fit with a mattress, stove and a faucet. All self sufficient – no hook ups needed. It took walking through hell and high water and being flogged for my bad credit but I finally figured out how to get it and actually got it. YAYYYYY!!!

That means, NO more living paycheck to paycheck. I can pay people back AND save for the Camino de Santiago next year amongst other adventures. SO stoked.

I like to compartmentalize so will be recording my version of van life on a different blog on WordPress: http://www.forthewanderers.com . Please feel free to visit me there.

I’d like to keep this blog specifically for my hiking endeavors.