As I sit on the bus back to Pamplona from Barcelona, having made it with just one minute to spare, coming back from my third solo trip, I take the time to reflect on the past month. Taking the leap forward is quite scary especially when no one is there to hold your hand. In fact, my first trip to Toulouse, France was not only fun but also frustrating. During this two day trip, I realized that getting locked out of your sim card (rookie mistake, I know) on a Sunday can be quite the learning curve. I was completely locked out of my phone that I could not even read the time. Now, this wouldn't be a big deal had I know my sim code or if everything wasn't closed on Sundays in Europe. To further add to the problem, I went during 3 Kings day, a holiday, in France -- making it even more difficult to find open shops. Fortunately for me, I had the opportunity of meeting some pretty amazing people. One of the people I met, Liv, walked all over Toulouse with me to help find an open Tabac Shop to find a new sim. Spending all day looking for the sim does have its perks. I got to discover not only the city, the people -- the French do not like to speak English, and most importantly Liv. We talked about everything from religious views to the crazy lady staying in our hostel.
During that journey not only did I gain a new friend, but she turned another wise frustrating trip into one filled with laughter, good food, and exploration of the city. Getting locked out of my sim card was not the end of the world and there is an easy fix for it, however, had I not met Liv I think the trip would have gone differently. For me it was more frustrating that I did not bother to think about the sim and was quite naive about it. Nonetheless, I genuinely enjoyed the city and the atmosphere it provided me. Had I gone with a friend this trip would have been different, I might have stayed in my bubble and not interacted with other people. I was forced out of my comfort zone and had no c choice but to lean on strangers for help.
The city itself was stunning, freezing, but beautiful. Not many tourists in site and what you saw was as authentic to the city as possible. Empty streets on a below freezing day with people lingering here and there. In the city center, I found stalls selling fresh, flaky, and absolutely delicious croissants and breads for the day. It was filled with families out and about buying the La galette des Rois, a cake sold during this holiday with a charm inside. There was something charming about going on the hunt for the cake and participating in the tradition like a local. I loved walking by the river and through the neighborhoods that aren’t advertised on TV. It showed the reality that some people live and how the poverty problem is bigger than what most perceive it to be. It puts it into perspective and gives a better understanding of the city overall. Venturing out into unexpected neighborhoods is something I do in every city now to gain a better view of it.
At the end of the day we did get a new sim card, however, we forgot the card that went with it. Nonetheless, it was enough to give me access to my phone and utilize it on Wi-Fi. This allowed me to access my tickets, call a taxi, and get myself back to Spain just in time for the start of the semester. While the ending to it was not perfect, I truly learned so much from this trip and gained an amazing friend.
I had been in Spain exactly three days and had spent two of those days pondering if I should spend my first weekend doing this solo trip. An hour before the bus left, I decided to do it and am I glad it happened. It pushed me to not be afraid of taking a step forward even if I don't know the outcome. Toulouse was perfect to take that first trip because it was not too big nor to small.
Taking the leap to do that first solo trip was intimidating but fulfilling at the same time. It taught me that while sometimes things go wrong, it is up to you to change the outcome of the situation.
P.S. my lack of pictures stems from the fact that I could not use my phone at all and Liv was out of storage.