Continuing in Paris (see Part 1 here).
We always try to make a point of walking as much as possible when travelling (weather permitting) – in Europe especially, the streets are beautiful and at least as worth seeing as the major attractions, and it’s easy to miss it completely if you take the subway everywhere. We walked some of the touristic districts of Paris – Marais, Montmarte, Pigalle, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the Latin Quarter. As touristy as it may be, I really loved the vibe of Montmarte – Christmas markets were still in full swing despite being post-Christmas, the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur was beautifully lit, the city laid out before us, and artists selling their talent in the main square.
Looking back at these photos, I’ve realised that we took a lot of photos of famous monuments but decided not to actually go into them – the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triumph, Sacré Cœur, Moulin Rouge. There are so many museums, galleries and monuments to see in Paris that I think it would be overkill to have visited them all in the short time we were there. Besides the Louvre (which I’ll cover in another post) the only other gallery we saw was the Musée de l’Orangerie, specifically to see “The Water Lilies” – a 360 degree depiction of Monet’s flower garden at Giverny, which was stunning. No photos allowed inside unfortunately!
We met up with another friend and the four of us planned to eat dinner at our little apartment before heading out for the New Year’s Eve festivities on the Champs-Élysées. After dinner The Boy and I decided to let the others brave the rain on their own and ended up ringing in the new year watching a movie on our laptop. I have no regrets!
I’ve mentioned before that The Boy and I were in the process of buying our first home – and now we’ve finally moved in!
Well okay, we’re still in the process of unpacking (as you can see from the Maccas box in the photo above we scrounged everywhere for free boxes), but we’re almost there. As much as I’ve been trying to be less attached to possessions, I have to say that I have really missed my stuff and having it back makes me so happy! Moving and unpacking it all however, has taken almost a week and still requires a lot more organising to fit, tetris-like, into the space.
Speaking of space, since our new place has one room more than our previous apartments The Boy and I can have separate rooms to use as offices. I claimed the bigger one for my ‘studio’, where I’m hoping to have a permanent setup for my sewing machine as well as my computer. I still haven’t decided on how I want to handle my standing desk, so for now I’m continuing to make do with propping up my laptop with a bunch of books. I’ve also been wanting low, long bookshelves (tall bookshelves seem to clash with the shape of the arched windows), so have laid my tall IKEA Billy bookcases stacked on their side in what is probably the laziest IKEA hack ever. I have a long way to go, but I’m happy with how my studio is taking shape.
There will almost certainly be some kitchen/wardrobe/shelves organisation posts coming up soon, you have been warned!
As we came towards the end of our big Eurotrip and were faced with returning home to depleted savings and a year on a single income, I started thinking about my spending habits. I reeled things in quite a lot whilst saving up for the trip, but ended up indulging in some fast fashion in Europe where I had access to Zara, H&M, Gap and other big brands that have yet to make it to Perth. Since returning, I’ve been doing my best to buy (almost) nothing new, and this is something I’m hoping to keep up for the rest of the year. This doesn’t just apply to fashion, but also kitchenware (we have at least as many boxes of kitchen stuff as all our clothes combined), gadgets, furniture, house stuff and camera gear.
Here’s the plan. When I want something, I will:
- think about whether I have something else that can serve the purpose
- think about whether I can adapt something I already have
- try and find whatever it is secondhand, even if it requires some alterations
- try and make it myself
- wait until next year to buy if none of the above works
- only buy new if the above doesn’t work and I actually need it now
The point isn’t to torture myself, but to think about the alternatives instead of hitting up online stores. I know that great things can be found in secondhand shops or verge collections, I know I can learn to make things if I have to, I know that I should take the time to properly think out new purchases – but I don’t do any of these things when it’s so easy to just hop on whatever online store has a sale on. By making the easy route the last option instead of the first, I’m hoping I’ll get myself into the habit of going through more of a thought process before buying things. Since this will result in saving a bunch of money, I’ll be able to consider more expensive but better quality and more sustainable and ethical products instead of making the excuse that I can’t afford to do the right thing.
It’s now been close to three months since I started doing this, and whilst I sometimes get a bit tempted I’ve mostly been too busy doing other things to feel like shopping. It probably helped that we were still living out of a suitcase and didn’t want to add any more things to our boxes of stuff when we can’t completely remember what we already have. I’ve had to buy a few things, like a new pair of running shoes and a new pillow (both replacing old ones which were well past their use by date), but they were properly thought out and very much necessary. Once we’re settled into our new place I’m looking forward to sewing and knitting more, and being on the lookout for things that I want in secondhand shops. It’s exciting and a little sobering to see just how much money we actually save when we’re conscious of not purchasing things. I thought we’d be struggling to make ends meet this year with a mortgage and The Boy studying, but so far not buying stuff is putting us in a pretty comfortable position. Fingers crossed it stays that way!
From Freiburg we made the journey to the City of Lights – Paris!
I had been warned beforehand to not have unrealistic expectations about Paris. No city can ever live up to the way it’s portrayed in the movies, and Paris has to be one of the most over-hyped cities in the world. So I tried to arrive with an open mind and not expecting too much. Maybe it’s because of this that it did wind up being one of my favourite cities that we visited on this trip.
To be honest, there are a lot of reasons to dislike Paris. It’s a big busy city so people will push past you on the train, on the footpath. The major spots was overflowing with tourists, even in the midst of winter whilst we were there, and a visit to any major attraction required an hour or more in line. Opportunistic pick-pockets and scammers follow the tourists like vultures (thankfully we didn’t fall victim). Everybody has to cash on Paris – I found the gigantic Apple billboard taking up most of one side of the Place des Vosges a bit over the top. But on the other hand: Paris more than lives up to its reputation of beauty. The locals were very patient with my few words of (badly pronounced) French. The pastries were amazing enough to deserve a post all of their own. The Louvre alone is worth a visit to Paris. We spent nine days in the city, but I’m convinced that no amount of time will ever be enough.
On our first full day we met up with our somewhat nomadic friend P and did the Paris walking tour. From our apartment just a bit east of Notre Dame we pretty much followed the Seine River past famous bridges, through the Tuileries gardens, past the Louvre and along the Champs Élysées. We were treated to a cold but stunningly beautiful and sunny day, apparently unusual for that time of year. Tourists and Parisians alike were making the most of the weather, soaking up the rays around the gardens.
Plenty more photos of Paris to come!