After what felt like a nightmarishly long day, I finally arrived in Paris on June 29th at around midnight. Unfortunately, I didn’t have WiFi or a working SIM card in my phone. So, on top of being exhausted from flying nearly 30 hours continuously, I had to try and figure the city out. Luckily a nice bus driver told me which bus to get on (all the metros were closed and the trains were off). I rode the bus down to the Gare du Nord and finally got some WiFi from a restaurant there.
Before I left, my good friend Luciano put me in touch with a Brazilian friend of his that lives in Paris. I messaged Kalie, and found a taxi that took me to his apartment building in the 18th arr. I finally arrived at Kalie’s place around 2:30 am and we talked for a little before I finally crashed. I got up the next morning (still the 29th) and decided to explore this area of Paris.
The 18th arr. is located near the Sacre-Coeur. From nearly all the side streets leading up to the amazing cathedral you can see a piece of the church playing peek-a-boo with the visitors. I walked down and the first thing I purchased was a baguette. It wasn’t hot but it was a euro and tasted heavenly. The area that I was in was populated mostly by people from Northwest Africa and there are a lot of shops catering to the Senegalese, Côte d’Ivoire, and other French colonies. Kalie is a great person and I met a lot of wonderful friends of his. He was able to give me some tips and helped me find my way around.
The night of the 29th, I left Kalie’s place and headed to check into my hostel. Beautiful City Hostel is a great place with a quiet location in a residential part of Paris. During the day you could hear kids playing and running around, parents with new babies were walking up and down the hills, and elderly people were shopping at the markets and sitting at cafes. I was a short 6 minute walk to a metro station and all of my needs were met perfectly. They even included a free breakfast with croissant, bread, cereal, orange juice, and coffee. If any readers are looking for a nice hostel, I strongly recommend this one.
On the 30th, I explored the city with a few of the other participants that arrived a little early. We wondered around the Notre Dame area, St. Michel, St. Chapelle, and ventured up to the Pantheon. It’s amazing how tall all of these buildings are and they are so old at the same time. We had a great meal at a cafe called Le Clou de Paris.
But today, I was finally able to move into the Cite Internationale Universtaire de Paris, Colegio de Espana (our housing site for the Nadia Boulanger Institute). My room is a lot bigger than I had expected and has a wonderful view out onto the greenery that is encircled by the University. There are people jogging, playing with their kids, and enjoying their beautiful city. Nearby are a lot of cafes, two markets, and a grocery store. Plus, the Paris-St.Germaine soccer stadium is next door to us, so there is mass transit everywhere. I am so deeply in love with this city, it will be gut wrenching to leave.
I would like to thank everyone that donated to my GoFundMe account or in personal donations:
Paul Novak, Tom Pfister, Ceil Tilney, The Miller Family, Steve Wilke, Barbara Shaw, Lindsey Short, Jonathan Kelley, Susan Swetnam, Scott and Nancy Engle, Susan and Dwayne Haakenson, Becky Crockett, John Dupaquier, and the wonderful people at Trinity Episcopal Church. I would also like to thank Dr. Dinos Constantinides for his letter of recommendation and encouragement to apply. Dr. Todd Queen, the Dean of the School of Music and Dramatic Arts, for helping me receive a travel grant. My mother for encouraging me to pursue music as a future. My wonderful in-laws for allowing my wife and kids to stay with them while I am away. And last, but certainly not least, my amazing wife that, even though she knew the money would be tight and times would be a little rough for a while, to apply and participate. She is always my rock and is always supporting me and all my dreams! Je t’aime!!
Thank you everyone for all your support and I look forward to telling everyone about my adventures in Paris as the days go by!!