The South of France is like a fairy tale come to life. On my solo trip to Avignon, I had the chance to visit Gordes on a small-group tour, but since it was the very last stop of the day, I only had 40 minutes to photograph this enchanting place! Fortunately, the center of Gordes is very compact so it didn’t take much time to explore the entire hilltop.
For a while I’d been considering the idea of traveling alone. I’ve read many articles about females safely exploring the world solo, and I don’t think there’s any reason why a woman shouldn’t be able to go places by herself, just like a man would. The majority of travel destinations are completely safe and you won’t be seen as a target just because you’re a lady – In fact, my friend who visited me for a week was shocked that she didn’t get a single cat-call or lewd glance when she went for a morning jog in Paris, because stuff like that happens to her regularly when she goes for jogs through her city in Southern California.
I was never nervous about safety when it came to traveling alone, and I never felt like my gender was barring me from having awesome travel experiences, but I suppose what kept me from doing it was the fear that I’d get stranded, lost, or my bank card would suddenly stop working and I’d have no money. But those are all things that you can take steps to prevent.
On a recent trip to London, my friend Natalie and I decided to take a day trip to Brighton beach. If we’re being honest, one of the biggest reasons we decided on Brighton (as opposed to Bath or Oxford, for example), was because of a certain YouTube sensation that we both casually follow. Her online name is Zoella and she’s one of the biggest beauty-lifestyle YouTubers out there, and she just so happens to live in Brighton. We had seen glimpses of the town in her vlogs, and it looked pretty adorable from the snippets we were able to catch.
Funnily enough, one of the first things we saw was a giant photo of Zoe and her friend Marc in the window of a photobooth boutique. Natalie spotted it first and said, “Oh hey, there’s Zoe!”
I didn’t really know what to expect from the little village of Auvers-sur-Oise, but I did know it had something to do with Van Gogh. I thought that perhaps there would be a statue or plaque commemorating his life, but there was actually so many things to see and do. The entire day trip ended up being much more emotional and touching than I ever would have expected.
Auvers-sur-Oise is where Van Gogh died, and it’s saturated with his memory. The inn where he rented a room, the fields and village streets that he painted, his friend and physician’s home (Doctor Gachet), and even his tombstone can all be visited. We didn’t have time for everything, but standing in some of the same exact same places where Van Gogh spent his last few days on earth really brought his story to life for me. I studied Art History, so I’ve read about Van Gogh countless times, but after the 50th time, it starts to feel like fiction. After visiting Auvers-sur-Oise, I had the realization that Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings were created by a real, breathing person, and his story took on a new dimension.
On my recent trip to Avignon in the south of France, I had the opportunity to spend 1 hour in the charming village of Roussillon nearby – that’s right, just 60 minutes in one of Provence’s most beautiful villages. Thankfully the village itself is tiny, so I was able to see lots of it during my short visit, but of course I could have spent an entire day there.
I took advantage of every single second I had in Roussillon, running around with hearts in my eyes at every turn. Everything I saw was so beautiful, so charming, so richly colorful! I flitted from here to there like a hummingbird, trying to get as many pictures as possible while still taking it all in.
The reason I had so little time in Roussillon was because my trip to Avignon only lasted 48 hours, which meant the only way I could see some of the beautiful sites outside the city was by booking a tour. I went with a half-day minivan tour that took me to three different sites in the Luberon region of Provence: the Lavender Museum, Roussillon, and Gordes.
Prague was beautiful and special, but I realized something while I was there. I’ve lost my sense of wonder when it comes to travel, or at least travel in Europe.
Voyaging outside of the United States used to be this incredible thing, this amazing opportunity that was almost too fantastic to believe. I remember on my first few international trips having intense butterflies in my stomach and actually squealing audibly while reading guide books and planning out my adventures. I remember watching Samantha Brown’s Passport to Europe and sighing dreamily as she visited Copenhagen or Paris or Vienna. Visiting these places was like a dream come true.
Now, however, that feeling has dwindled, and I noticed this conspicuous lack of excitement on my recent trip to Prague.
Of course Prague was beautiful and special and interesting. But out of the 4.5 days we were there, I only took out my camera a handful of times and I found myself tiring very quickly. The streets were pretty, but I’ve seen similar streets before. The church architecture was lovely but I’ve seen hundreds of others like them. I’m not sure if it’s due to the fact that I’m SO mentally ready to move back to California to be closer to my family, friends and everything familiar, but my European travel high has ended.
I probably sound ungrateful to those of you who yearn to explore Europe, but I think just like everything else we use to occupy our time, just like every other activity, after a certain amount of time, it looses its initial lustre. Plus, traveling is simply physically exhausting.
I think it’s time to put Europe on pause for a while. After I leave I think I’ll turn my focus towards other parts of the world, Maybe some more “exotic” locations like Bali, Japan, South Korea, South America… Europe is such a tiny part of the world, there’s so much more left to discover.