Ok so here’s a story. Last year towards the end of December, I posted on my Facebook page that I will go to Paris for the first time by force in 2019. I remember I was at work, googling accommodation, sights to see, what to eat and wear in Paris and I didn’t have money but I just knew that it’ll happen. Never in my wildest dreams didn’t I think that one day I will live in Europe. I had always told myself that when I have money I will travel to Europe a lot but it was never to relocate there . But I guess the universe had its own plans for me because I now live in The Hague, a city in Netherlands. I am grateful for it because it gives me access to the whole continent.
Last Saturday, 09-11-2019 , I visited Paris for the first time. It was a last minute trip actually because my plan is to go to Paris December for my birthday weekend but when I saw on Instagram that South African artist ,Nelson Makamo will be exhibiting at the Also Known As Africa fair at Le Carreau du Temple in Paris, I figured well….I’m off to Paris then. So there I was in Paris for the first time and oh boy …..what an experience.
First things first , Europe really is a country . You can travel through all the countries without having your passport stamped. Which is great because then you don’t have to worry about paperwork even though I had hoped to fill my passport with stamps. But I guess that’s a petty thing to want over not dealing with document admin.
So when we arrived in France, I only knew because my mobile network sent a message that I can now roam in France. The first thing I saw was a gigantic stadium, then as we went into the city, I saw a small part of the Eiffel Tower. At this point I was just excited to be in Paris but not in love yet. ….Until I saw the Arc de Triomphe which is one of the most monumental places in Europe. This sight honors those who died fighting for France in the French Revolution and Napoleon Wars. It is breathtaking . I tried to get pictures but the line was too long with other tourists wanting the same thing, I ended up not liking the pictures I took. But looking at it, you feel the history and the beauty of the architecture. On that same street I saw Sephora but didn’t get a chance to go in. Definitely when I go back December I will buy something for myself, probably Fenty by Rihanna. Talking about Rihanna, later on I went to a cafe and the staff there thought I was her. It was the cutest moment of my life. I posted a video on my twitter page (@zinhlelakhumalo) ……
My trip to Paris was to see Nelson Makamo who is one of my favorite artists in the world. He’s South Africa’s most celebrated artist and his work was on the cover of Time magazine . He’s that huge. Oprah and all her famous buddies have bought his work. I am a huge fan even though I am yet to afford a piece . When I told him I can’t wait to afford his work, he said to me “Well you being here supporting me is enough ” and that was the most amazing thing ever. He’s showing at the Also Know As Africa fair which showcases work by African artists. I also met another South African artist, Morgan Mahape and I loved his work. It was fun to also have someone to talk isiZulu with. When you live in Europe, the small things about home are what you yearn for. It was really lovely to be surrounded by all that art. I did get lost trying to get there though. I took the metro and somehow I just didn’t find the place and google maps was not helping so I walked a lot but eventually found it . The whole experience of me getting lost in Paris was amazing even though my anxiety levels were high up. At least next time when I go back I’ll have an idea of what to expect .
A lot of tourists complain about how French people are rude. I didn’t experience that on this trip. In fact the people I interacted with were decent to me. One old lady even offered to take a picture of me and she took very nice pictures and I gave her a hug. Also when I got lost, a guy assisted me with directions. I think French people are rude when they have to speak English.
I ma not saying my French is good but I once took French lessons and I think its time I do it again because I plan to go to Paris at least once in 2 months for as long a is live in Europe. I loved it so much it was everything I expected it to be. I was there for 9 hours and it was the best 9 hours of my travel life. The Eiffel Tower was really the highlight of my day trip. It was so beautiful even at night. The weather was also so good because I was worried about that .
For all the time that I wanted to see Paris, it finally happened and 2 days later I am still living the moment . I think it’ll take a week for it to sink in because wow…dreams do come true. I do not take this for granted . If you are able, please do save up to visit this beautiful city. You can always cut on your budget by using the train to get around instead of uber. You can eat at affordable cafes also. I can’t wait to go back December for my birthday because that will be a proper holiday.
I am writing this with so much excitement which is why there’s no advice but my experience . When time goes by I will do a feature on things to do and where to go but right now I just want to fully experience Paris. I am so grateful .
Please do check out my YouTube Channel @zinhlehazelbird where I also document my travels .