Posted by: sforshner | June 3, 2008

the grand tour

When I graduated from college I had no idea what I was going to do. After settling into my 2nd (not including my time as “undecided”) and final major – English – I had finally found what I liked to study, but when asked what I had planned to do with that major my answer was mostly, I don’t know. So I had garnered up some resume worthy experience like my intnernship at Main Line Today Magazine outside of Philly and when I still couldn’t make a decision, I went nonprofit at

Prior to graduating, I contemplated joining the Jesuit Volunteer Corps for a year like many of my other friends, but ironically taking a year to volunteer instead of work wasn’t something I thought I could financially do. And right after I graduated I began the process of obtaining Irish citizenship, looked into graduate programs abroad, and tried to figure out exactly what I was meant to do for 40 hours a week for the rest of my life. Okay, so I was lacking direction.

My brother just graduated from college and there is a good chance that he will be giving me a reason to buckle down and get dual citizenship because he might try out for a hockey team in Europe to spend that year doing what he loves best (hockey), traveling, and figuring it all out.

While I always contemplated “taking the year off” after college too, I never did. But I was interested to learn that the whole concept stems back to the 18th Century, when priveleged young Englishmen filled the time between university and starting their careers to travel The Grand Tour.

Matt Gross, the Frugal Traveler of the New York Times is doing The Grand Tour this summer. Over 12 weeks and on less than 100 euros a day, he will circle the continent in search of cool hotels, memorable meals and contemporary culture. New columns and videos will be posted every Thursday, with updates and frugal tips throughout the week.

So far he has hit Dover, England

[Taken from Frugal Traveler, NYT: A ferry near the cliffs of Dover]

Calais, France and Paris, France.

Of these places I have only been to Paris. But I do have some great ideas for keeping it cheap in the City of Lights.

Stay in a hostel – this was a few years ago, but I loved La Masion on 67 bis rue Dutot. It is independently-run, it was relatively cheap (meaning we could afford a 3 person room instead of a ten). The best part was that they fed us complimentary baguettes every morning for breakfast. Piling on the butter and jam for sustainence, we would eat as many as we could (fit leftovers into a purse) hold out all morning and then in the mid-afternoon we would grab a cheap baguette on the street for lunch.

I ate baguettes for dinner too.

The only time I ate a real meal was on Easter Sunday because it felt wrong to treat that day like the others. And before you deem me cheap, settle down I was a student at the time.




  1. Haha, the first time I backpacked Europe, I was 19 and going at it alone. I was on a very frugal budget, and Paris was my first stop after flying into London and Chunneling it. Unfortunately, I don’t like baguettes much, but I think I pretty much lived off croissants for those months. And I wonder why I was 15 pounds heavier then!

    Also, can I just say how jealous I am that you qualify for dual citizenship? The only thing that brought me back to the US after nearly two years abroad was that my visa ran out!

  2. Ooh yum! I wish I had a French baguette right now. And a hunk of cheese. The perfect meal.

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