Subject: Contemplating Paris and/or Germany
Hello Travelers,

Well, I'm not sure I have the courage, time, or money to actually do this, but I'm going to ask anyway. After all, change starts with contemplation.

I am really feeling the travel bug and am thinking that I should go somewhere fantastic before returning to graduate school, which will begin in June if I am accepted. I really like the artwork of Monet and Van Gogh. In reading Rick Steves' Paris, I discovered the Orsay Museum. I keep thinking that maybe I should just go!

But, I know very little about France or Paris. So I would like some information on what it would be like for a single female in her early 40's who has never traveled alone to go to Paris. I think I would rather travel with someone, but I am willing to consider going alone.

I'm not someone who needs fancy hotels and can live very simply when needed (I love camping). I prefer quiet places and would need lodging that's budget or very moderately priced. How cheaply could one do a trip like this and still stay in safe, clean places? I'm not in good enough shape to carry a big backpack around to get from place to place.

If I can figure out a way to do this, I think I'd try to spend nine days traveling (two of those for flying). A little side trip outside of Paris might be nice. However, I would want to use public transportation as I really don't want to deal with a rental car and driving in a foreign country if I am on my own. Any ideas?

Since I need to go before June, and would need some time to get arrangements made, I'm limited to March, April, and May. Is one month better than another? Is there a music festival or any other special event going on in Paris during these months?

My dream has always been to go to Germany because my ancestors were from there. Maybe I should get a taste of Germany instead of France, although I'd always imagined staying in Germany for a longer period of time. If I can be in Germany for only a week, what area would you recommend? Should I just do that and leave Paris for later? Is it possible to go to Germany for a few days and to Paris for a couple of days or so?

Like I said, I'm just in the contemplation stage (as you can tell), but who knows? Maybe words of wisdom from some of you will help me to figure out something very exciting! Thank you.

Sincerely, majeba Seattle area, WA, USA