Finding Love In The City Of Love

This Week:

  • What they don’t tell you about music festivals – my first Martin Garrix concert.
  • Finding love in the city of love – Paris, France.
  • How 5 seconds changed the course of my entire night.

August 2023

Su M T W Th F S

Doing an early update this week since I felt like it made more sense travel-wise.

Where In The World Was I?

  • Orange, France
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  • Lyon, France
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  • Paris, France
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  • Amsterdam, Netherlands

Live Travel Map 🌎

Finally Music I Actually Know! (Positiv Festival)

It’s crazy to think I actually made it to Orange, France in time… considering I made the decision to go literally last week (Why You Should Go On The Pub Crawl Twice Instead Of Once) while I was on the entirely opposite side of Spain 😂

But alas, we made it!

And boy am I glad I made it…

But first,

It’s Friggin’ HOT Out Here

I got off the train from Avignon and it was 99ºF (37ºC). It felt cool compared to Sevilla, Spain! (see: The Week I Questioned Everything About My Travels)

Just kidding.


I learned my lesson and got a taxi walked 2.3km (1.4mi) to the exact opposite side of town to my hotel in the blazing heat.

Look, the only public transit option was a bus and it would’ve made the walk take 23 minutes instead of 29 minutes… 🤷‍♂️

Side note: stick around until the end to see how this compared to the weather in Amsterdam…

It was the same the next day on my way out.

My legs were so sweaty that my pants were literally wet 🥵

Ohmygosh Ohmygosh Ohmygosh It’s Martin Garrix!

It’s finally here! Positiv Festival in Orange, France, August 20th 2023!

The event was held in Théâtre antique d’Orange, this HUGE stone amphitheater.

And oh my lord was it beautiful!

I got there and listened to the 2nd DJ playing before the headliner.

10:00pm rolled around and the lights went dark as the crews set up the stage…

The night was pretty crazy, but not without it’s hiccups, so here’s my run down.

  • The venue had a floor area and then “seats” along the perimeter. I opted for standing on the floor to get closer and have possibly a better experience being in it.
  • However, I felt like I spent a lot of time worrying about my “bubble” of space.
    • At one point there was this group of rowdy drunk guys right in front of me jumping and bumping into each other. I spent a lot of time worrying about getting my front teeth knocked out by someone jumping in front of me.
    • And as the night went on, my “bubble” of space shrank and shrank, so I spent of time trying to not bump into other people and getting annoyed that people were bumping (bump as in “move/push”) into me.
  • It was a little bass-heavy towards the start. The sound techs fixed it a couple minutes in, but the bass definitely overpowered everything else. It was NOT like listening to the perfectly mixed song on your headphones.
  • BUT
  • Finally, finally, finally, I was in concert/bar/club/festival where I actually knew and liked the music. The music was great, there was a mix of everything. Martin Garrix is a fantastic DJ.
  • There were a couple moments of just full body chills, especially the ending. So good.

So generally I just wished I had a little more space to move, but I think that’s kind of the point of the floor “seating” at concerts… So these seems to be more about expectations… and definitely being a bit too sober 😅

I’m still a festival/concert newbie so I’m still learning 🙂

The performance ended and I kind of felt like I was in shock, totally exhausted (in a good way).

I stuck around another ~20min for the aftershow DJ then headed back to my hotel.

Oh How Everything Changes In An Instant (Lyon, France)

I decided to make a quick stop in Lyon because I wasn’t sure when, if ever, I’d get the chance to visit.

I did an afternoon/evening photography walk, but by the evening I was totally exhausted.

Going to bed early (i.e. not going out) was fully the plan.

Or so I thought.

It was about 10pm, a little too early to go to bed yet. So, I was in the bathroom filling my water, about to head downstairs to do some journaling/laptop work.

And in the bathroom was this guy clearly just showered getting ready to go out.

I was so close to striking up a conversation, but he recognized me from the hostel room and started up a conversation.

We chatted for a bit about where we’re from, etc. and then headed back to the room where we continued to chat for another 5 or so minutes.

He was this really charismatic guy pulling out all the tips from How To Win Friends by Dale Carnegie (smile, make the conversation about them, be interested in them, etc.) and it was working 😂

He said he was headed out with some friends and invited me to join, of course, if I wanted.

We parted ways and I thought man, he’s great, and I take these social opportunities… so maybe I should go out.

So after a couple minutes, I changed and headed downstairs to join him and a group of others from the hostel in the common room.

We played cards, chatted, bought some alcohol and brought it back, and played some drinking games.

I had a lot of fun!

By now it was 2am and I had drunk an entire bottle of wine 😂

Apparently that was a bit TOO much because I was really feeling it. Like feeling it enough that everything was dizzy, moving, and I couldn’t walk straight, so I opted to go to bed instead of go out with the guy I met and his 2 friends to I don’t even know where 😂

I just couldn’t help but be totally amazed at how much my night changed from such a small little moment. To think, if I didn’t go fill up my water bottles, or I left immediately after filling them up, or if he didn’t decide to strike up that conversation, how different this very story would be…

Life is wild sometimes…

France > Spain???

The next morning I panicked a little trying to book a train to Paris. There were a bunch of trains to Paris but the Eurrail website wouldn’t let me book them, it kept giving me an error.

So I decided to just show up to the train station and try talking with someone directly (like how Renfe does it in Spain). I was a little worried that they’d all be booked up and I’d be stuck (since I kept getting these errors).

But to my surprise things went drastically different.

I showed up to the TGV InOUI ticket office/customer service/etc. and asked the woman at the door how to book a seat reservation.

She said “oh just go over to that machine (*points to machine behind her with zero other customers around*) and when it asks for reductions put in your Eurrail pass details.”

So I went over there, waited in line 0 seconds, and sure enough, put in my Eurrail pass and booked a train for 30 minutes from then and walked around with my ticket in hand.

I had to WAIT 30 minutes in Barcelona and Madrid to even SPEAK to someone about buying a seat reservation.

WTH Spain???

This was so smooth, my lord.

We hit at least 280km/hr (174mph) 🤯

Trains are friggin’ cool.

The City Of Love ❤️ (Paris, France)

Finally, Some Routine

I spent 3 nights in Paris, which felt like a week because for the past ~7 days I’ve literally changed cities every single night.

My mornings consisted of waking up at about 9am-10am, going out for a little 5-15min walk to get a little bit of sunshine in my eyes before stopping by a coffee shop (the same one all 3 days).

I’d have an espresso and just watch the world go by before doing a bit of journaling.

Social Experiences | August 23rd, 2023
Has choosing a social experience ever NOT been worth it?
First thing to mind: Pub crawl #1 in Porto [see: Why You Should Go On The Pub Crawl Twice Instead Of Once]. But like... what is "not worth it?"
Because that night was uncomfortable, sometimes awkward, I felt like my self-confidence grow...
Isn't that worth it?
I think I'd have to say no [to the original question] because alone time is my default, it will always exist, but social opportunities (okay at least for me...) won't.

In the mid-mornings/afternoons, I’d spend some time outside by the canal. There was what looked like this event called Paris Plages going on right on the canal. There was a merry-go-round, lawn chairs everywhere, restrooms, boats for the canal, and so much more. I looked into it:

Created in 2002, the Paris Plages event offers Parisians and visitors free places to relax and take advantage of leisure activities during the hot summer days. There are cool lawns, sun umbrellas, deckchairs, palm trees, cultural and sports activities, but also swimming

Absolutely BRILLIANT.

I would sit for just hours on the lawn chairs chilling, doing Duolingo, watching some YouTube, etc.

Oh yeah! I started learning French on Duolingo and I actually have been really enjoying it!

See, I got really nervous that people in France wouldn’t speak English because it’s not THEIR language 🤬 and I know zero French.

That turned out to only partially be true, I had some really good experiences with French waiters/waitresses, but it pushed me to maybe start trying to learn a bit of French.

This app Duolingo has really gamified it and made it fun and rewarding to learn! I’ve at least got some basics down! It was fun to overhear a couple of phrases that I learned through Duolingo in the real world (À demain = “see you tomorrow”; À bientôt = “see you soon”).

I was really motivated while in France, but now that I’m no longer there, I’m not really sure if I’ll go as hard. I love the idea of being able to at least get by in both Spanish and French though, that’d be so cool.

Exploring Paris In 50,000 Steps

Okay I did do some touristy things.

  • ✅ Eiffel Tower
  • ✅ Arc De Triumph
  • ✅ Champs Elysees
  • ✅ Notre Dame
  • ✅ Montmartre
  • ✅ Lots of neighborhoods
  • ✅ 30,280 steps one day
  • ✅ 24,456 steps the next day

Taking Me Back To College

The first night there was a hostel event for free French wine and cheese, which I went to.

I didn’t really vibe that well with anyone there though…

But the hostel was part of a bar and they had beer pong tables. So after the event and some of the group dispersed, I stood by the tables trying to get in for a game.

Man, my heart was racing standing there. It took me back to college parties at the [REDACTED 😉] playing in the back. So many good memories.

I finally weaseled my way in and got to play.

I had fun, but I wanted to (and did) kind of get competitive, but the people I played with were all just casual and chillin’. I wanted to play with the guys playing at the table to the right who were going hard, but I never got the chance.

The next night was a Mojito Masterclass, but by the time I got down there I was ~15min late and the whole table was full, so I scrapped it.

And the next night I just scrapped it entirely in favor of more evening exploration.

The Night Life… Or Not?

See what I learned from some people I talked to that first hostel night and as I walked around in the evenings is that the French don’t party like others do (Americans, Spain, etc.).

I walked by a lot of bars with music bumping and colorful lights, but at every single one, the inside was empty and instead there were a ton of tables+seats outside with people sitting down, smoking, and chatting.

I walked by numerous squares with restaurants lining the streets and again, the insides were completely empty, but there were a bajillion tables+seats outside and every. single. one. was taken.

To be fair, I did see at least 2 places that looked like clubs with a line of people waiting outside to get in.

But it felt way different.

The only way I can think to describe it is that the French are… classy?

✅ Become French

Eat a flaky buttery croissant ✅

Buy a baguette from a boulangerie and just eat it raw walking down the street ✅

Eat a crepe ✅

Paris Feels… Different

Paris felt different. Different in a good way.

I just can’t quite pinpoint why or how.

I also don’t know how much my prior bias (hearing good things, wanting to like it, etc.) has played a role.

But some combination of the buildings, the streets, the metro, the nightlife, outdoor seating at restaurants, the canals, etc. caught me more than other cities.

Do I say I’m in love already? I mean mayyybe, but come’on it’s just been the first date 😉

I definitely want to come back and spend more time there. Based on my initial impressions and getting a taste of things (my goal right now), I like it. I just don’t know why 😂 🤷‍♂️

The City Of… Canals? (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Off to Amsterdam for the music festival that has shaped my entire travels thus far! (see: The Week I Questioned Everything About My Travels).

First impressions: the weather is amazing (cool, like 62ºF/17ºC) compared to this heat wave and the canals are absolutely gorgeous.

Last night I just grabbed a quick dinner and took an evening walk around the city and found some… interesting things 😳

I’ll leave it off there. See you next week!


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