F*ck Cancer

This is the fourth time my son is fighting for his life. The first time was when he was diagnosed at 5 years old with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). He only did two months of chemotherapy but it didn’t work (this is called refractory leukemia). We had his older brother tested to see if he was a match for a bone marrow transplant and fortunately he was a perfect match. After four years and seven months, he relapsed. The search for an unrelated match was an uphill battle (him being biracial). Usually your donor should be the same ethnicity as you. But by God’s grace, we found one all the way from Germany. She is full blooded German though which is interesting. Her stem cells were infused on September 2, 2015. Three years and eight months later, he relapsed again. That was just two weeks ago (May 6, 2019).

Cancer, we will beat you again. And thank goodness for science, we have a plan to kill you for good.

I’m angry and bitter but I can’t keep feeling this way. I need to be strong for my son. I need to fight for him. And cancer can go fuck off!

My Argentine Experience

This post is the last of my South American adventure and I’m so glad I was able to relive that journey through this blog. If I had to sum it up, Buenos Aires is a mixture of Manhattan and Paris—permeating the energy of New York (BA in fact made New York the city that naps 😊) and the architecture of Paris (hence the nickname, “Paris of South America”). Though my experience was not enough to be fully immersed in the Argentine culture, I feel incredibly fortunate to have seen and feel the vigor of the country’s capital city, that is Buenos Aires.

The “Argentine Experience” Dinner was listed as part of our itinerary in Buenos Aires and the description is as follows:

This evening’s highlight is the Argentine Experience: A unique blend of food, wine and interacting with the locals. Learn how to make traditional empanadas, dine on grilled provolet cheese with sliced chorizo sausage, warm bread and homemade chimichurri. Order steak (reputedly the best in Argentina!) in Spanish and make your own traditional mate. A convivial atmosphere and great food! Your guides throughout the evening will answer questions on Argentine cuisine and culture.

This seemed interesting and I looked forward to it all day. But it didn’t start until 7pm so I had all day to explore and to create my own Argentine experience.

I have read about a fascinating bookstore called El Ateneo Grand Splendid that was just recently named as the world’s most beautiful bookstore by the National Geographic. The building, in 1919, was originally a theater, then it became a cinema, and eventually became a bookstore in 2000. The stage, the balconies, the amazing architectural details, and even the red curtain were all retained from the original.

The bookstore also has a cafe located at the back and it is on a raised platform (as this was originally a theater). I was tempted to eat lunch there but I was still full from our breakfast this morning.

Each of the floor had a balcony where you can look down and take amazing photos. I searched for English books but didn’t find any. I found out later they only sold books written in Spanish. I was disappointed that I couldn’t buy a book from there but I ended up buying a stationary as a souvenir.

From the bookstore, we explored more on foot and found local boutiques (not the usual Zaras and H&Ms you’d find all over the world). I heard that once Argentina was famous for its really high platform shoes but no longer in fashion today (or I would’ve bought one!). By this time, I was ready for some food and Cafe Tortoni came to mind.

Café Tortoni is the oldest cafe in Argentina and was originally owned by a French immigrant named Touan. It was named Tortoni after the Parisian cafe in Boulevard des Italiens in Paris (thanks Wikipedia). The coffee shop has been visited by high profile names such as Albert Einstein, the King of Spain, and Hillary Clinton to name a few.

I wanted empanadas but they ran out so I ordered hot cocoa and churros only because everyone on TripAdvisor was also raving about the cafe’s hot chocolate drink. I’m not sure about those people but the hot cocoa was not great at all. I was picturing thick hot chocolate like the one at Angelina’s in Paris. The churros was cold and a bit chewy. I don’t really eat churros so I’m not sure if that was the right texture.

After a long day of walking and shopping, we were ready for tonight’s activity. The Argentine Experience dinner was in an unassuming building that looked more residential than commercial. We walked to the second floor and went into a room where two long wooden tables were set up. We introduced ourselves to a British couple who were sitting across us. The husband is a professor who is currently on sabbatical and brought his family to live in Argentina for a few months. They both seem to speak quite a bit of Spanish so l suppose living there paid off. Other tourists started arriving and when both tables were filled, the staff began the Argentine Experience presentation. First, we had wine and cocktails then tapas kept coming that I seriously can no longer remember the order they came. All I could think of was this was the kind of experience I’ve been looking for— anything to do with food and alcohol lol!

They showed us how to wrap an empanada and told us there’s going to be a competition on who gets to present the most artistically prepared empanada. I’m not very artistic and I knew I won’t win but I was fine as long as I get to eat good tonight. I made a heart empanada (see above photo) with an arrow across it but it really didn’t look that pretty so don’t judge me! My friend thought the arrow looked more like a man’s private part hahaha!

We made more empanadas, choosing between meat and veggies or both. I stuffed mine with both and gave them to the staff to bake. More food came and each one was super delish. Then came the main entree, the most famous food from Argentina—beef! Based on last night’s dinner from the tango show, I was very disappointed with the steak I had so I was hoping tonight’s steak is going to be way better.

The steak was juicy and tender. This is the quality of beef I expected from Argentina. I really have not had a mind blowing experience yet when it came to food while in Buenos Aires. I had researched where to get the best steaks in the city but my friend wasn’t interested in going so I didn’t go. Looking back, I should’ve just gone on my own.

They showed us the country’s national drink called mate (pronounced mah-tay). It’s similar to tea but more complex and contains more caffeine. The desserts were amazing as well. Towards the end of the evening, they announced the winner for the empanada contest and surprise…..I didn’t win haha!

I’m so thankful for this experience. It was absolutely the best way to end, not only the evening, but my South American trip! There are definitely things I would change (in this trip) to make it much more enjoyable but overall, I had the best time.

On the day of our departure, we had the morning free to explore before heading to the airport. We didn’t go far from our hotel (Palermo area) but we were able to do last minute shopping at the flea market. But the highlight of the day was this mural I saw of Donald Trump portrayed as the joker. It’s too good not to share.

**I’m so glad I finally posted all of my blogs on my South American vacation. It’s been a struggle to write lately, with all my life’s ups and downs. I also had distractions this past year but I’m thankful for everything that’s happened in my life. It’s definitely the only way to grow, learn more about myself and really know what I want out of life!

I’m ready for my next adventure!!!!!!

Hiking in Patagonia: Grey Glaciers

Our telephone rang and it was someone from the front desk to inform us that we missed our scheduled hike that supposedly started at 7:45am. I was confused because one of the guides last night told me that our Fauna Tour hike was at 9am this morning. I checked my watch and it’s only 8am. We spoke with the people at Patagonia Camp for other options and we were informed there were no longer hiking trips available that day. I was so disappointed and almost in tears thinking our last day in Patagonia has been ruined. The last thing I wanted to do was to sit around and do nothing.

After a few hours of fidgeting, the manager approached us and told us we could do a private hike with Fabian but only after he takes the people in the Grey Glacier tour to their boat and while waiting for them to finish with the ride. It was such a great option, even better than the Fauna hiking tour we were originally going to do, so we put on our hiking boots and off we went!

Fabian is a charming young man from Santiago. He took us to his favorite hiking spots, where he’d usually go when he is by himself.

The terrain wasn’t difficult, just right for me and my friend, but of course my ambitious self was thinking I could’ve done something more challenging (even after experiencing hardship yesterday). Although today’s hike wasn’t difficult, we still had to deal with long ascents (I suppose there aren’t any flat terrains in Patagonia. I reminded myself this ain’t Dallas lol!).

After our hike, Fabian took us to the Glacier, where we could see massive icebergs floating in the water. While walking towards the icebergs, it rained hard again but luckily the winds weren’t that strong.

This private hike with Fabian was a great way to end our hiking expedition in Patagonia. We had a great time getting to know about him and the reasons why they all decide to become guides. He said the money was good enough to sustain their livelihood and meeting people from different countries was the most exciting part of being a guide. Also, living in Patagonia was way simpler and less stressful than living in a big city such as Santiago.

We came back to Patagonia Camp where happy hour drinks were waiting for us. I think this was one of my favorite activities there! While we were hanging around the bar having drinks, a miracle had just happened: the clouds began to clear and there it was in front our very own eyes, the view of Torres del Paine National Park!

At dinner, our server was an adorable young lady who had just graduated from high school. She told us she was taking a break from school and wanted to do this job to make money and of course meet people from different parts of the world before she begins her college life.

Seated on the table next to us were a lovely young honeymooners from Denver. I immediately took a liking to them and after hours of talking we found out that during their wedding they had all their guests take a swab to be a part of the bone marrow registry! What are the odds! I told them about my son who battled cancer twice and had two bone marrow transplants! We all couldn’t believe what we had in common. At the end of the night, we all hugged each other and hopefully someday we will meet again! ❤️

It was a beautiful night to conclude our trip in Patagonia. The journey to get there was long and tedious, definitely was no easy feat, but the rewards are unparalleled: beautiful landscapes, friendly people, and amazing food!

Tomorrow we fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina!

Hiking in Patagonia: Condor’s Viewpoint

I haven’t been active here for several months now. My drafts have been left unfinished, finding no motivation to write lately.

My heart had been silent for so long and when it spoke, it only spoke of its sorrows. I tried everything to alleviate the sadness. I traveled, I hiked, I wrote, I drank. The battle continues. I contrived to stay afloat with my fighting spirit. But I can’t fight on almost empty. I was spiraling down to a place of total darkness.

Hence the lack of motivation.

Someone suggested I should go back to blogging and so I revisited some of my old drafts and was surprised that I haven’t posted anything on my hiking adventures in Patagonia. Imagine that! Hiking in Patagonia was my over-the-top, hiking dream trip and yet I neglected to write about it. It’s been almost ten months since I went there but the memories of Patagonia still lingers.

So here it is, get ready to read about my ass-kicking hiking experience in this part of the world where they call the last frontier of South America!

If you’re a control freak like me, forget about planning that perfect hiking trip in Patagonia. The weather, first of all, decides everything for you. Before I arrived in South America, I had planned to hike the French Valley and the base of Torres del Paine. Unfortunately, as soon as I got to Patagonia Camp, I wasn’t too happy to hear from the guides that the hiking we were going to do in the next few days were all dependent on the weather (and most likely hiking the French Valley and the base of Torres del Paine were quite dangerous due to the wet and slippery conditions). They talked us into going to several locations (where it wouldn’t be as windy and with less rain). Knowing I wouldn’t have the chance to hike the two most popular hiking destinations, I was disappointed to say the least. Eventually, we decided to to do the Cuernos + Condor Viewpoint Hike the following day, which marks our first day of hiking excursion.

Our day began at 8am, right after a sumptuous breakfast buffet at the camp’s main dining area. Our guide introduced us to six Americans who were going to be our hiking mates for the day. They were married couples— two couples from California and the other from Texas. They’ve all been friends for years and two of the gentlemen went to medical school together. They were older than us and if I had to guess their ages, they must be in their young sixties. Our hike started at El Salto Grande, a waterfall that’s 15 meters high. But as soon as we got there, it began to rain hard and the wind was blowing so heavily that I thought my body was going to fly and be thrown off the cliff. I could feel the rain coming down hard on my face which felt like little pebbles. No one moved from where we were standing, in fear of being blown away. But as expected with Patagonia’s crazy weather, the rain and wind stopped after a few minutes.

We continued with the hike, despite the on and off rain and heavy winds. Our guide had to change the plan and directed us towards a different path where he thought was safer. Everything around me was stunningly gorgeous. I was surrounded by beautiful landscape, abundant wildlife, and picturesque trails.

In all honesty, Patagonia was not even included in my travel bucket list. I was just curious and fascinated to be somewhere far away, to this fabled edge of the world! My aunt from Chicago, whom I ran into at the airport in Dallas before embarking on my trip, asked me where my destination was. When I told her I was going to South America but mainly to go hiking in Patagonia, she was shocked to hear it is actually a place. She thought Patagonia was just a brand of clothing. Well, this is why I chose to come here, a place somewhere on earth where many haven’t visited or even fathomed it existed.

Our guide announced we would stop for lunch, picnic style. To our surprise, he and the driver had set up our table so elegantly. Besides our packed lunch, we were offered wine served on real wine glasses (not disposable cups), beers, snacks and each of us had a tupperware with our sandwiches. I had smoked salmon and the regional Calafate beer. During lunch, I noticed my friend was drinking more than she should (I was worried she might get tired especially we still have the rest of the afternoon to do more hiking). But knowing her, she can outdrink anyone I know, thus I was confident she will be okay.

After lunch, our guide informed us we would be hiking to Condor’s Viewpoint. He told us that the hike difficulty is moderate although we will be ascending for a whole hour. Not knowing what to expect, I was excited to finally be hiking with the rain gone and with a little bit of sunshine. Well, shit, this hike isn’t the same as the flat terrain I’m used to back home. I was climbing uphill for what felt an eternity and worse…on a muddy trail! Using my hiking pole really helped especially the trail was quite slippery. I was getting tired and starting to run out of breath! When I looked up, the Americans were already way ahead of me. Holy crap, I was embarrassed and felt defeated. These people were at least 10 to 15 years older than me yet they seemed much more fit and way faster than I was. I looked behind me and didn’t see my friend. I knew she was trailing behind me but she was nowhere to be found. I waited for at least 15 minutes and still has not shown up. I began to panic. What if she fell off the trail and died? I started to blame myself for taking her to this trip. It was my idea to go on a hiking trip to Patagonia and now she is dead because of me. I was picturing a scenario on how I’d break the devastating news to her family!!! I looked ahead and saw our guide waving at me with the Americans looking impatiently. I didn’t know what to do, whether to wait for my friend or proceed ahead. I really wanted to catch up with the rest of the group but I felt responsible for my friend’s well-being. A few minutes later, I saw a glimpse of her body, moving very slowly. She did not look good. I asked if she was okay. She tried to catch her breath but didn’t say anything and instead waved at me to go ahead. I yelled and told her to stop and wait right where she was and take a rest. There was no point to encourage her to catch up. As exhausted as I was, I didn’t want the Americans to think I was a weak and inexperienced hiker. So I began my ascent and was determined to reach the summit. When I finally caught up with everyone, I apologized to my guide and to the six Americans. I blamed the delay on my friend who was resting down below. (It’s okay she couldn’t hear me and will never know I put all the blame on her)…LOL!

The view from the top was absolutely breathtaking! This hike was definitely unforgettable and if it hadn’t been cloudy that day, a panoramic view of Lake Nordenskjold, Los Cuernos del Paine, Valle del Francés and the Patagonian Andes would’ve been visible. As we made our descent, my friend joined us and told us about her low iron level which explains the lack of oxygen while ascending.

This was definitely a difficult terrain, but then again, I’m not a skillful hiker. It was quite easy for the six Americans who have been hiking most of their lives. I wondered what would’ve happened if I did the base of the Torres del Paine or the French Valley. I’m not sure I was ready for them after today’s experience. I was convinced that I need to do a lot more hiking in the future to be ready for any type of terrain.

Arriving at the camp, we wanted to chill at the bar after a grueling hike. We were introduced to a regional drink called Calafate Sour. It was so good that I must’ve had two or three glasses before dinner. All the dinners at Patagonia Camp were awesome. The first night was a buffet that included lamb (which was a Patagonian specialty). The second and remaining nights we were there, we were given a choice of an entree—with appetizer, dessert, and unlimited amount of wine.

Luckily there’s that unlimited amount of wine I indulged in after this first, difficult, and miserable hike.

Tomorrow, however, is a different story…..

Setting Me Free

Last year I made a pact with myself: in order to move on with my life, I need to stop thinking about the past, to stop worrying about the future, and to only focus on the present. But last night, it all brought me back to the past and once again felt all the emotions I have been trying to escape from.

Before I temporarily deactivated my Facebook a few months ago, I was answering all those silly questions that appeared on my profile page. The idea of these random questions was to learn more about the Facebook user. I remember writing, “Netflix binging” as a joke for my New Year’s resolution. It seems the joke’s on me because I find myself in front of the TV a lot lately.

Last night, I cried myself to sleep after watching Me Before You. And I don’t mean soft tears. I was actually sobbing and at times hysterical. I had an outburst of emotion, not really sure where it was coming from (most likely from my lingering PTSD). The movie’s story line does not in any way mirror my life but it somehow touched me deeply, taking me back to all the difficult memories I had at the hospital when my son was there for his cancer treatment. Then I thought of my dad and the last time we spoke before he passed away.

It must have been the subject of death and suffering that made me very emotional. Because those two things have unfortunately often touched my life in the past few years. We practically lived in the hospital for months and were surrounded by children with cancer, some in very terminal stages. I’ve seen kids who were sent home because there was nothing more that their doctors could do for them. We knew kids who passed away and after seeing their young life taken away from them, I couldn’t help but think, what is really one’s purpose on earth?

Last year I made a pact with myself: in order to move on with my life, I need to stop thinking about the past, to stop worrying about the future, and to only focus on the present. But last night, it all brought me back to the past and once again felt all the emotions I have been trying to escape from.

Another movie had me thinking of the future: Arrival (if you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it). In the movie’s ending, I was confronted with the question,”If you could see your whole life laid out in front of you, would you change things?” I pondered on it and honestly I’m not sure what I would do. Although if I have seen the suffering we’ve all been through, would that motivate me to change my life? Would I have married my husband knowing that we would eventually have difficult challenges, give birth to kids whose lives will become familiar with suffering—one from depression and the other from childhood cancer? My husband said he wouldn’t do anything differently. Because according to him life is all about suffering anyway (taken from the principles of Buddhism) and there’s no escaping from it.

The movie, Revolutionary Road, was perhaps the movie (out of the three I’ve seen recently) that made the biggest impact on me. The movie is about yearning for fulfillment and passion in life and seeking to escape from the conventionality of suburbia. Ah, sounds too familiar! As I desperately try to escape from conventional, something in the universe seems to conspire to always bring me back.

You might be wondering what this post’s title got to do with my Netflix binging lately. It’s me, living my life freely by laying in bed all day and binging on thought provoking movies….

Ok LOL that’s a joke!

The truth is I’ve finally woken up and realized I have been very conservative with my approach in life. By living freely is to take more risks, be more courageous, and just be able to say what the fuck! Life is too short to limit myself.

Living free also means standing my ground. On the day of my departure to France last October, my husband complained all the way to the airport when he found out I was going to be gone longer than he expected. Normally I’d budge and cut my trip shorter. Because that’s just me, always giving in and catering to other people’s needs. But I stood my ground and told him I’m not changing anything.

Living free is doing things that make ME happy and will no longer be subjected to people’s opinions. And more importantly, to not care if I’m being judged by others because they have certain moral biases. My goal is to make myself happy and fulfilled, but only according to my own definition of what “happy” is and not anyone else’s.

When travel is concerned, if you know me well, travel is my love language. I feel most alive when I’m traveling. After taking a solo trip last year, I found myself again, the person who’s been lost for quite sometime now. I recognized what truly sets me free is to escape from the humdrum of my life by traveling and exploring different countries and cultures, thus, I promised myself nothing will stop me now from doing what I love.

Going back to what my husband said, can we really not escape from suffering? Is life really all about that—pain and suffering?

Perhaps….

But today I am setting my life free by living to the fullest. To be in places I’ve dreamed about. To be happy without feeling guilt. To stop worrying about people’s opinions. And to realize that this is my life and I will live it according to my own rules.

Kong: A taste of Sex and the City in Paris

I can’t speak for all the women out there but I’m sure many of us wish we could get a little taste of the Sex and the City lifestyle. Carrie Bradshaw and her friends turned many establishments into major hotspots. An American Girl in Paris Part Une and Deux were the final two episodes filmed in Paris. In the Part Deux episode, it started with the scene at a restaurant. It was at Kong, a chic, luxurious, and uber trendy restaurant within walking distance from the Louvre. Visiting the restaurant gave me a little taste of a Sex and the City lifestyle in Paris!

If Carrie Bradshaw was a real person, it’s sad to think that someone like her wouldn’t probably be friends with someone like me. As much as I adore her, our lifestyles do not match. First of all, I don’t have a shoe collection worth $40,000! While she’s rocking her $400 five-inch Manolos in Manhattan, I’m in my Uggs, driving an SUV in the suburbs. It’d be a miracle if I met up with all my close friends once a month for lunch, she goes to brunch with hers on a weekly basis. On Friday nights, she’s most likely drinking cosmopolitans at a posh bar, while I’m in my pajamas sipping a hot chamomile tea watching Netflix.


I can’t speak for all the women out there but I’m sure many of us wish we could get a little taste of the Sex and the City lifestyle. Carrie Bradshaw and her friends turned many New York City establishments into major hotspots. Tour companies capitalized the show’s huge success and ran tours visiting some of its iconic locations. I’ve actually been to several locations such as The Boathouse in Central Park where Carrie and Big met for lunch and unintentionally swim. And in one of my trips to NYC with my older son, I took him to Buddakan, a trendy and upscale Chinese restaurant in the Meatpacking district. It was the venue for Carrie and Big’s rehearsal dinner in the series’ first movie. (By the way, my son hated this place. He described it as pretentious and mediocre food.) 😊

An American Girl in Paris Part Une and Deux were the final two episodes filmed in Paris. In the Part Deux episode, it started with the scene at a restaurant where Carrie met  Juliette (her Russian lover’s ex-wife) for lunch. It was at Kong, a chic, luxurious, and uber trendy restaurant within walking distance from the Louvre. Carrie praised the restaurant but Juliette  called it (especially the chairs) hideous!

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After spending a couple of hours on top of the Arc de Triomphe, staring at the Eiffel Tower, and saying my heartfelt goodbyes, I wanted to have a memorable lunch in Paris on my last day there. Kong was in my list for must-visit restaurants but I was having second thoughts. What if the place is too chic for me? Will the people intimidate me? Ah, what the heck, I’m going anyway! 

From Champs-Élysées, it was only a few metro stops to Pont Neuf. It didn’t take long to find the building address for 1 Rue du Pont Neuf. From the entrance, I took the elevator to the 5th floor where I was greeted by the hostess.

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I told the hostess I didn’t have a reservation but it didn’t seem to be a problem. She asked me to follow her upstairs and we both walked up to the green stairs to the restaurant.

The top floor is a stunning indoor rooftop glass terrace and the Philippe Starck decor is inspired by the ultramodern Franco-Japanese designs. The chairs were designed with three faces representative of the Kong spirit–a geisha (which is also on the ceiling), one that resembles Audrey Hepburn, and a more modern anime-like face.

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img_1037The restaurant has magnificent views of the Seine River and Pont Neuf Bridge (if you are lucky enough to get a good seat near the window) and the abundance of natural light makes the restaurant even more spectacular. And by the way, I disagree with Juliette, this place is far from hideous!

 The two servers were both very attractive. The waiter who first served me wore a black suit and the waitress who later came to give me my tea and check wore a mini skirt and a cross body bag (I was actually surprised that she was the server and initially assumed she  was a customer).

 I ordered the dim sum platter and a glass of red wine. I didn’t specify which wine assuming he’d give me the house wine but later was shocked to learn that he gave me a very expensive glass (it cost me €18!). But I have no complaints because the wine was excellent!

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There were only a few people in the restaurant when I arrived and patrons who came later were mostly Asians. Sex and the City must have been popular in Asia too! They were well dressed, just as you would expect. But their selfie taking was irritating the two gentlemen seated near the window, rolling their eyes at every selfie pose.

They were actually entertaining to watch and gave me something to laugh about. It was like a scene in a comedy show. Towards the end of my meal, I noticed that the restaurant hadn’t been crowded the entire time I was there. I suspected that since it was Sex and the City that made it famous, perhaps it is now in its decline? I looked at my watch and didn’t realize it was already 3pm (which explains the almost empty restaurant).

When I left Kong, I was glad to have had the opportunity to follow one of Carrie’s footsteps in Paris. Walking along the Pont Neuf bridge, I realized my time in Paris rates as one of my most favorite travel experiences. I was afraid that in my solitude I would get lonely or bored, but it turns out I loved every minute of my time alone, and more importantly, my own company.

I’ll always have Paris… 

“I need to move around a bit. To shuffle my surroundings. To wake up in cities I don’t know my way around and have conversations in languages I cannot entirely comprehend. There is always this tremendous longing in my heart to be lost, to be someplace else, to be far far away from all of this.”

My life had its share of ups and downs. It has seen a lot of heartaches and disappoitments. After my son’s relapse with cancer, life hasn’t exactly gone back to normal. Life at home is just as stressful as it was. Besides tending to my younger son’s medical and everyday needs, my husband has been suffering  from anxiety attacks. I used to think it was just a once-every-few-months occurrence but lately the attacks have  been occurring with increasing frequency. They often strike out of the blue without any warning even when the atmosphere is relaxed. I also worry about my older son. He recently came out and it was revealed to us in his blog that he’d been bullied in high school. Since this revelation, I’ve been worried sick about him. I’ve been concerned about his happiness and finding love, as I’ve been made aware by my gay friends that a homosexual lifestyle can be very lonely. I think about him a lot and sometimes I make myself sick by overly agonizing about his well-being. And as for me, I believe I still have PTSD. I’ve had countless of sleepless nights drowning  in sorrow. I have done everything to help alleviate the loneliness. I walked. I hiked. I wrote. I read. But no matter what I did, there’s always that feeling that something was still missing.

Perhaps I needed to take time away for myself to recharge my batteries and travel somewhere I’d always wanted to go. In a city where I could do as I wished without regard to what a traveling companion wanted to do. Where I was entirely alone and free. And to be far away from all of this.

I’ve always had this fantasy of being in Paris alone. To wander in the city, without any destination in mind. To go where the moment takes me. To stop rushing from place to place. I want to experience Paris. I want to take chances and have adventures. To learn the art of talking less. To take my time and savor each Parisian minute. To stay at a cafe and survey the scene. Take pictures of anything and everything that catches my eye. To contemplate. To have Paris all by myself, my way.

And I did just that….and more.

I also got to do some of the (touristy) things I missed out on in my previous visits. I have stood in front of the Eiffel Tower many times before  but never got the chance to climb it (that’s because none of my companions wanted to).
And so it was the very first thing I did on this trip.

I didn’t only climb the Eiffel Tower but treated myself to a wonderful lunch at the 58 Tour Eiffel.  For about $50, I had a three course lunch with wine and tea. Was the food good? It wasn’t spectacular. Was it worth it? Absolutely!

I also learned to use a tripod, and taught myself to be self-indulgent by taking a lot of pictures of me. I loved it for a change!

Like the Eiffel Tower, I have never made it on top of the Arc de Triomphe in my previous visits.

And so once again, I climbed another famous structure! The benefits of solo travel!

I took a million pictures of the Eiffel Tower in various filters. Regardless of how many times I have seen this tower, I can’t get tired of it. It never gets old. Paris never gets old.

I wanted to get lost in the moment, to go anywhere without a destination in mind, to walk around aimlessly, and…I did! My wish, granted: I wandered, got lost, but found my way back. Now I know what it means when people say do not be afraid to get lost!

But once again, I got lost…this time in the company of books at Shakespeare And Company,

Someday I’ll remind myself these words by Hafiz: I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.

And to also remember that little things can instantly bring a ray of sunshine such as a free bench.

I went for a walk at Jardin du Tuileries, to contemplate life…

and to admire the beauty of the autumn leaves.

Reminding myself once again that no matter what life brings, it is still beautiful just like those flowers in bloom…

To always stop and appreciate the moment. To look around me in awe and be grateful at how lucky I am to be surrounded by such beauty.

One of the great pleasures of being in Paris, that is truly très magnifique, is the art of cafe-sitting. And no one can deny that this city is a gastronomical dream!

I had tea at Mariage Fréres.

I indulged on a cup of rich hot thick chocolat at Angelina.

They say, “To err is human. To loaf is a Parisian.” My daily petit dejeuner were croissants and baguettes.

I drank wine. Every. Single. Day.

But I also ate light on some nights and had this fantastic Salade Nicoise with tuna at a bistro near my hotel. It was so good I went back twice.

I looked up at every building and swooned over the architecture,

and took pictures of whatever that caught my eyes.

I declared that my most favorite metro station is the Abbesses,

and spent a whole afternoon in the Bohemian and artsy Montmartre.

And there, in Montmartre, I found the wall. No, not Donald Trump’s wall, but a wall where love comes together in every language: Le mur des Je t’aime,

I love you wall.

Although Paris is the city of love, it is the perfect place to be alone. It is perfect for strolling by yourself without the constraints of pleasing somebody. Since I usually travel with my family I didn’t realize that this adventure gave me the opportunity to be completely selfish–something I don’t normally get to be when I’m at home. I almost forgot what it felt like to not have to worry about anyone but myself.  It took a lot for me to finally take a step and just go. I left feeling lost, lonely, and wanting to escape life. I was hopeful that during my alone time, I would find myself in the mystery of a new place.

I pondered each night on how much I learned about myself on this trip. I wrote journals with pensive thoughts: what had happened, I wrote, to the woman who loved spontaneity and great adventures? Had she disappeared?

Somehow, when I disconnected myself from the usual habits, I reconnected with myself. Perhaps this is what traveling alone usually does: you rediscover and reconnect with yourself.


Oh, but then again, I wasn’t completely alone. Paris was there with me the entire time–to accompany me on my journey of self discovery. And whenever I start to feel lonely again, or feel that life is passing me by, I will remind myself that I’ll always have Paris.