Archive for July, 2011

Poor Me.

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Ok, that’s it. I’m having a whinge. It has been one of those days where I’m fairly certain an evil little man with a remote control and a general mean streak is sitting up in the sky and causing things to happen to me JUST TO BE ANNOYING. He is definitely French and he is most certainly short. I don’t like him. In fact, I hope his arms fall off because this is just ridiculous. Ok, here are the rubbish things that happened to me today:

  1. Whilst making coffee this morning, the plunger decided it was a volcano and spurted hot coffee all over my perfectly clean jeans.
  2. I had to take a tour today at 1pm so I left home at 12.15pm which gives me enough time to find a Velib (which can be tricky sometimes) and ride down to Place Saint Michel. I left the house and found there were no Velibs in the stations near me so I started to walk towards Place Saint Michel. On the way, I found a Velib station, took a bike and all was fine and dandy until BANG! I must have ridden over something sharp and my back tyre blew. So I then had to find a station to put the bike into so I could take another one which should have been easy except the closest station I found had one spot where I could have put the bike back except it was broken. So I then had to walk down the street, pushing the bike in search for another. It took me 10 minutes to find a station that wasn’t full where I could leave the bike. I then had to keep walking to another station as you have to wait five minutes in between taking bikes. By this time, I was late for work. I finally found another bike and rode like the wind (hitting every possible red traffic light) and made it just in time to be told that today was the day they were reporting back to the ‘Big Boss’ as to what time staff were arriving. Excellent.
  3. It rained for about 15 minutes of my tour – at one point quite significantly.
  4. I had an arrogant, know-it-all, likes to butt in, Frenchman on my tour who didn’t give me ANYTHING at the end. He brought with him his two know-it-all sons who proceeded to tell me the CORRECT history of France and how many things I had said wrong (this was probably a good thing though… I considered stealing his brain. Although I did wonder why on earth an 8 year old boy knows the names of every single King of France. He must get teased at school.)
  5. I had another arrogant Irishman on the tour who also didn’t tip me.
  6. My group was full of poor backpackers who are living on 4 Euros a day and therefore are disinclined to give any of it to me for taking them on a 4-hour walk.
  7. During the break in the middle of the tour, I bought myself a nutella crêpe because usually they make everything better. This crêpe was made by a 14 year old boy who had clearly never done it before and who proceeded to completely and utterly stuff it up. It was awful and I had to throw most of it in the bin because it wasn’t worth the calories.
  8. At the end of the tour I took a group to a ‘local French restaurant’ where they could have ‘real French food’ at ‘great prices’ and I proceeded to make measly centimes (that’s French for cents) for each person I brought.
  9. Someone gave me a Russian coin as part of my tip.
  10. I had to come home and cook dinner and then stupidly left the stove top on (I never do this.) Thankfully no fires resulted so clearly the little man has had enough.
  11. I discovered that an apartment that I have been trying to book for when Tom and I go to New York and that up until now has appeared to be available and the guy renting the apartment kept telling me was available, is, in fact, UNAVAILABLE. And now the internet is working at a snail’s pace and I am having to try and find somewhere else for us to stay.
So, as you can see, I’m having a bit of a whinge because I did also spend the day walking around Paris seeing the Louvre, the Seine, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Palais etc, and then I did come home to find that Tom had mopped the floor, defrosted the freezer AND bought ice cream for dessert. The ice cream did fix most things. Except for the internet. That’s still a pain.

Tour Number Two

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

My second attempt at tour guiding took place on Saturday and was far more successful than the first. Always nice when things improve. Half way through the tour a very black and evil sky approached us from over the Tuilleries.

Black sky

Yipes.

We managed to make it to the half way point where we sit in Starbucks and McDonalds for 20 minutes while people stand in the queue to use the facilities. Then it poured. Perfect timing.

Rain in Paris

Phew.

Ideas Please

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Hello.

I want to write a story and I sat looking at a blank page for about an hour yesterday and nothing came. So I need you to give me an idea/topic/first line/last line/something to get me started. Excellent. Thank you.

Bye.

Ohhhh the Champs Elysées

Monday, July 25th, 2011

J’adore Paris et le Tour. What a great afternoon! At 1.30pm, Tom and I met my ex-school friend, Pippin, and his girlfriend near the Champs Elysées and headed down to find a spot to watch the riders come in on the last leg of the Tour de France. I was expecting madness but all I found was “slightly busier than normal”. As a result, we managed to plant ourselves at the end of the VIP tents, right near the finishing line, but standing in mud piles with the rest of the average folk. No tiered seating for us.

Tour de France

Not a bad view apart from the annoying police folk who decided to stand in the way

We had to wait for a while. The riders didn’t hit the Champs Elysées until after 4pm so in the mean time we watched a parade of trucks and vans covered in sponsors’ logos and with tight-tshirted girls dancing and waving to the crowd. Now that’s entertainment. I must say the truck advertising laundry detergent with two six-packed men who were only wearing their red underwear was probably my favourite.

Baguette mobile

A baguette a day makes you ride like Cadel

The crowd was full of non-french people who had clearly come from far and wide to be there. It was a nice group of people and I only saw two drunken idiots, both of whom were escorted away by some of the many police officers standing around. When the riders finally arrived the crowd cheered and applauded and it was a vibrant and happy atmosphere. There was a very strong Australian support group who were surprisingly well behaved and oh-so-proud of Cadel.

Tour de France

Spot Cadel on the left of this photo, next to the policeman's cap

I have wanted to be on the Champs Elysées for the end of the Tour for many years now and it was such a great experience to have been part of. We chose a great place to stand as at the end of the race the award stage was pulled out and positioned within our view and we could watch Cadel being announced as the winner.

Tour de France podium

Cadel is the winner!

Sadly I didn’t get to see Jens Voigt but I felt good knowing he was within a few hundred metres of me. He’s so cool.

For photos and videos of my time at the Tour de France, and to hear Tina Arena sing the National Anthem (yes… that was depressing), head to my Flickr site.

A Fun Day in Paris

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

On Friday Tom and I met up with our friend, Pip, for an afternoon of lunch and cultural enlightenment. We went to a market in the Marais district called Marche des Enfants Rouges that has stalls selling food from various parts of the world – Moroccan, Italian, French, African. We chose Japanese as none of us had had decent Japanese food since arriving in Paris. We all had the same Bento box with fried chicken. Not bad but it was still a French version of Japanese food. And it wasn’t cheap.

Japanese

Bento Box au poulet

After lunch we decided to hear towards a contemporary art gallery in the Tuilleries but on the way we changed plans when we stumbled across the Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature – a bizarre, creepy and hilarious museum about hunting and nature. But mostly about hunting. There were so many stuffed dead animals in that place – I have never seen anything like it. In one section you walked into a tiny room that had the heads and feathers of three owls spread across the ceiling. We spent most of the time with our eyes popping out of our heads and trying to stifle our laughter.

A highlight of the exhibition was a large room filled with hunting weapons and on the walls were the heads of every possible animal you could possibly imagine. One of those heads was a wild boar with a motorised mouth and eyes that growled and I think spoke French to you when you walked in the room. His eyes rolled around in his head at the same time. It was fantastically awful.

Animal heads

You can see the talking pig in the bottom right of this photo

We left the museum feeling somewhat unsure about what we had just seen – it was an interesting insight into the importance of hunting in the past but it was also just plain creepy. We needed a drink. So we went to La Caféotheque so that Tom could have a hot chocolate, Pip a coffee, and I had a cup of tea. The perfect ending to a fun day in Paris.

Cafeotheque

My new favourite place in Paris

Le Tour est Ici

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

I’m so excited! For years I have wanted to stand on the Champs Elysées to watch the arrival of the Tour de France riders on the last day of Le Tour. THE DAY HAS COME! And to make matters even more exciting, Cadel Evans, Australian biking hero (according to Tony Abbott), is going to win. I suspect there will be a few screaming Australians standing on the road side today but instead of screwing up my nose at them like I normally would, I might join in and cheer on the riders.

To be honest I haven’t been watching the tour this year for two reasons:

  1. I’ve been busy
  2. The coverage is on during the day, instead of the easy post-dinner viewing time that we get in Australia. It’s much easier to watch it in Perth!

I only discovered last night that Cadel was going to win – I knew he was in the top three but I then automatically assumed a Schleck would come and take over. So may aim for today is to get as close to the Champs Elysée as possible, as close to the finish line as possible, and as close to Jens Voigt as possible. He’s hilarious.

Day 1.

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

I took my first ‘Free’ tour today. It went ok – it was a big group, it rained, an American family took forever to use the toilet… I managed to come away with some moolah but future tours will require me to squeeze more money out of those poor teenagers or it won’t be worth my while. It was fun and I managed to remember MOST of what I wanted to say. There were a few moments of “Umm… that guy’s name is… err….” but everyone seemed happy enough. I wasn’t supposed to start until tomorrow but was asked at the last minute to come in and cover. Tomorrow I am working again so we shall see how things go. I’m almost ready to hand in my notice… working takes up so much “walking around Paris aimlessly” time. Joking. Sort of.

New Europe

Spot me!

Meanwhile, I just discovered that I’m on their website! I’m so famous. Look at me!

What Happened?

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

I don’t know what’s in the water, but last night I turned into a mulleted man. And not just any mulleted man – MacGyver, to be specific. We had a barbecue/dress up party at the Récollets with a theme of “Mullets and mini-skirts.” I refuse to wear mini-skirts in the best of weather, let alone when it has been raining all day and is 15 degrees. So I chose the mullet option, taking on the persona of one of history’s greatest mullet-bearers.

MacGyver mask

Note my thick jumper in the middle of summer – it was bloody cold yesterday.

Summer in Paris

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

All it does is rain…

Rainfall

That evil blue cloud is heading north. So I don't think it is going to stop any time soon...

Le Bon Chocolat

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Good news everyone! I have discovered a new hot chocolate to add to my “World’s Best Hot Chocolate” list! This doesn’t happen very often so this is a momentous occasion. Recently I have been going to a café in the Marais district called Le Caféotheque that sells a wide variety of pure, organic coffees. It is a lovely casual environment with couches, a bar and a few tables where people sit and chat for hours.

Today I went there after visiting a free exhibition at the Hotel de Ville about Impressionism in Paris (very enjoyable and once again enlightening with my new found knowledge of Paris’s history.) I had previously sampled their ice coffee which was particularly delicious and this time ordered a hot chocolate because I spotted a very pretty word on the menu – Valrhona. For those innocent people who are unaware of what this word means, it basically translates into “one of the best chocolates in the world. Ever.” And when transformed into a warming drink, it maintains this deliciousness in its molten form.

hot chocolate

Hot chocolate love

It was delicious – rich, creamy and addictive. Perhaps a little sweet but I also put that down to my lack of hot chocolate consumption recently. It was served with a piece of chocolate which I stupidly left until the end and it was actually quite awful – someone had inserted some sort of dried fruit in it. Yuck. But still. Free chocolate. I’m very excited to have discovered a new café to hang out at. I spent an hour or so reading my book and drinking a hot chocolate. What luxury.

Book and hot chocolate

Jealous?