I've been traveling about a month and a half now (and mostly by myself) and I just realized something -- I think I might be proud of myself. What I'm doing here (while lots of fun) is not easy. With the help of a good friend back in New York, I've met up with different people in Paris and found places to stay. I've gone multiple times to French travel agencies and (in French) figured out travel itineraries, rail passes and how to get around in this foreign country. With no definite "plan" before I left, I organized myself here and decided where I wanted to visit each day/week and when necessary, searched online and found hostels/hotels, etc... I might just be a good traveler!
As I write this, I'm leaving the Drome, one of my favorite areas of France. I visited this area - a tiny village outside of Valence called Ste. Croix - once before, 3 years ago during a summer study abroad trip with St. John's University and fell in love. Beautiful mountains, cute little towns, open markets, Clairette de Die (a bubbly and delicious wine specific to the area), horses, roosters, sheep... it's a simple and real way of living here.
I think I like it so much because it's such a different way of living than I'm used to. It's a sort of departure from my life -- I stay in a plain bedroom in a monastery built in the 11th century, eat delicious French meals until I think I'm going to pop, go on hikes, picnics, and horseback riding, speak only in French and have very little contact with the outside world.
But then again, this whole trip has been a departure from my life. I don't have to think about jobs, growing up, friends lost, boyfriends, or what I'm doing with my life. I can just be.
Sadly, this once-in-a-lifetime trip will be ending all too soon, and I will have to think about all of the above again, and make some very big girl decisions. But for 3 days, I was a French country girl, galloping through the mountains on a horse named Shepes without a care in the world...