It was the beginning of May & as a Middle School Educator in the heart of Detroit, I was exhausted. Overwhelmed with state testing, meeting deadlines and relentlessly trying to turn my students into social-change agents. I knew I had 1 month left & I knew after that 1 month I was going to need an escape, a self-actualization escape. At this time, I was constantly getting flight deals to Europe. I decided that is where my next solo escape would be to. I booked my flight and didn’t tell a soul.
I originally booked my flight to Paris as that was the cheapest destination to fly to but I knew I didn’t want to stay in Paris for the duration of my trip. So I did a little research and found out there are budget airlines you can fly from one European City to another for very cheap. I booked my flight from Paris to Barcelona on Vueling Airlines for $63. June came and I was off to start my second solo adventure.
I spent my first 3 days in Paris doing all the typical touristy stuff like visiting the Eiffel Tower, putting my touches on the lock bridge and eating delicious macarons. I stayed in a nice Airbnb outside of the city in the Noisy-la-Sec Neighborhood with a nice woman and her daughter. I wish I spent more time in this neighborhood as it was super diverse and had a lot of entertainment and affordable shopping to offer. My second day there, I stumbled upon the Paris Pride Festival which I had no idea was happening. Was elated to be in the presence of self-love for those few hours as the parade bought me the greatest moments I had in Paris. I also stumbled upon a Carnival upon leaving the parade. I love Carnivals and the rides at this carnival were incomparable to any carnival ride I’ve encountered in the US. Snatched me a wristband & was a big kid for the rest of the day. All in all, I was not impressed with France though. Maybe I went during the wrong time, it was entirely too many people there and if you know me, you know I am not really a big city girl. By my third day there, I was ready to escape to a new place. Overwhelmed with the hussle & bussle, I spent my last day at a park outside the city reading and writing. I think France can be conquered in 2 days. I would probably never come back anytime soon. If I do come back I would come back with my Adam as France is the city of love and should be experienced with a loved one.
I was excited to take my flight to Barcelona the next day. A flight I almost didn’t make because I forgot that flying with a budget airline comes with so many stipulations. I made it there though and eager to start my Barcelona adventure, I took a quick cab ride to my Airbnb, met my host Pedro and was back out into the Barcelona streets. I visited Guell park first which I got extremely lost looking for. It is a huge park in the center of the city with amazing architecture by Antonio Gaudi. You could easily spend a few hours at this park, but you have to buy a ticket to enter the good parts so I decided to buy my ticket and come back at the end of the next day. I then visited The Sagrada Familia. Such an amazing place with great architecture. If visiting Barcelona, I would suggest getting your ticket a couple days in advance to Sagrada Familia. It is the number 1 visited attraction in Barcelona, especially during peak season and if you don’t get your ticket in advance, you will be like me, left outside, not able to witness the amazing architecture from within. The aesthetics from the outside was enough for me though, I was floored by the beauty.
The second day I decided to get a Hop-On, Hop-Off bus ticket as I didn’t realize how vast the city of Barcelona is. I rode the bus to the other end of the city where the beaches and Soccer stadium was. 2 days clearly wasn’t enough time to indulge in this amazing city. Barcelona is a fun city with so much to offer for any type of person. I would recommend spending more than 2 days here as I felt short-handed as I boarded my plane back to Paris because there was so much more left to relish in. Europe may not be my happy place but it is always a great place to travel solo to especially if you are a new traveler. Do it!
Paris & Barcelona Pro-Tips:
- Do The Black Paris Tour with Ricki Stevenson & after eat at Mama Jackson Soul Food Restaurant
- Paris is stupid expensive for no damn reason. Create a budget before going and stick to it.
- Try to learn the basics of the language before you go to Paris. Some people there are not all that friendly so asking for help may not be your best option.
- Hotels hike their prices up during peak season. Book a nice Airbnb to save.
- In Barcelona, book tickets ahead of time to places like Parc Guell & Sagrada Familia.
- Get the Barcelona Card for 3, 4 or 5 days that covers all public transportation for the course of those days. Also gives you discounts to certain attractions.
- Visit La Rambla if you wanna splurge a little. It is a street that offers a high-end shopping experience.
- Take a day trip to Montserrat if you have time. My biggest regret is not being able to do this.