I find that one thing I have found the most enjoyable of traveling is being able to get lost in a city. I mean travel guides are great and all but where's the adventure in having everything before you. It is funny that on my first day in France, I was forced to think on my feet and well for the first 6 hours I was like oh crap, had I just arrived on my own though things would have been easier as I had already a destination to be but I was concerned about the people I was supposed to meet up with however there was a time set to meet at our destination and so that forced me to move forward rather than continue waiting for people. Once at my hotel, I learned I had jumped the gun and was a day ahead of my group's arrival. It was nice though once I had dropped off my luggage with still plenty of time to stroll the streets, that I decided to do some solo exploration and well that was really my only solo exploration time. I discovered some great spots and because of getting lost I was able to orient myself better in the city.
I wonder why it is people panic when they are lost. I mean besides the fact panicking only makes things worst; you can only be lost so much before you find your way around. When in doubt, you can always ask a local. A few times I was even mistaken for a local but on most cases I was able to answer their questions pretty well. I never thought I look French but I guess being myself you blend in very well to most mixed races.
I even got lost on the Paris Metro going to Versailles if you follow my blog but in the end, I got there, by grace of God and I didn't at all despair. I may have accidentally mislead some other tourists though. Well it was bound to happen, some Metros are indeed tricky. I can only imagine what it will be like to maneuver through Japan's rail system. But Paris, was fairly straightforward and there were at least one person who spoke English available to help at the stations. However, one thing to also keep in mind, is its important to know the holidays of the country you will be visiting. On my way to Versailles, I had a long wait to get a ticket and there were some people running late to the airport who also were waiting long in line. I felt bad for them; I mean I doubt they were going to make it in time but it would have been good if they had gotten their tickets beforehand rather than wait in line. I nearly despaired when I kept coming back to the first train station twice, gah, but then I managed to get on the right one at last and once at Versailles, the whole getting lost in the Metro didn't seem at all a fiasco but more a tale to tell or a passage of right. Honestly, it was nice that I was by myself at the time too because being in a group is a lot harder to travel with I also realized. I am only responsible for myself and no one else at those times and I had no one to worry about getting lost besides myself nor any panicking person. Oh thank god for Douglas Adams and his very astute advice - Don't Panic!
It was an interesting thing to note how food in France is much a better quality. I mean junk food was just as expensive as our healthy food. They had farmers markets every week -though I am not sure about in the winter - and I noticed that these people don't stock pile food like most people do and I have of late been doing. My host mother for one thing bought the food that she was gonna cook with on that day and cooked it that day. Something I need to be more diligent about. Their fridge was a lot smaller and definitely did not cool as much. In fact, they reminded me of the old 50's model fridges. There was no pantry. The kitchen was a small one, smaller than my studio kitchen of my old apartment. Yet my host mother managed to cook delicious food in that kitchen; goes to show you, you don't need a large kitchen to cook well but you do need plenty of time to cook well. My host mother would be cooking for atleast an hour before the food was ready.
I recently read in a NY Times article that our body is very lazy and clever in its laziness. It adjusts to running on different surfaces and once adjusted stays that way. Hence, those so-called toning shoes don't really tone because our body only adjusts the muscles to work with it one way. However the article did say that certain people liked the feel of toning shoes better and well if that gets you exercising all the better. Similarly, running on soft ground is no better for your feet than running on pavement for the same reason. Our feet adjust to the ground and impact forces and shoes also help to manage it. If you, for instance, are like me and wear cushioned shoes that help your with your feet balance and level, then that same cushioning acts like soft ground would naturally. However, the one nice thing about pavements/asphalt trails is that the ground is usually flat and level and thus better for your ankles and less stress with uneven ground. So here I thought I running on soft ground helped lessen the impact on my knees but really the shoes are what do that. I am not sure they have measured the effects of running with the ever-growing popularity of the five-finger shoes. Though from my friends who do use them, they have all said positive things and become very much advocates for the shoes. However, I would not advise people to wear those shoes for casual outings unless they are prepared to explain to strangers the new shoes as they are still quite the novelty!