Posts Tagged ‘strange’

Very Confusing.

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

There have been many moments during my time in Paris where I have felt the need to slap myself because that is the only way I could possibly come back to earth and be able to reassess what was happening. One of those moments is right NOW. Allow me to vent.

After having received my Visa to live in Paris for another year, I returned to France and then had to send another stack of paper into the immigration department. Despite fellow Visa-Applicants telling me that I wouldn’t hear back for months, I received a letter in the mail saying they had received my pieces of paper and that they may, or may not, contact me again. Excellent.

Yesterday I was having a really great day – the sun was shining, I had started a new sewing project, everything was oh-so-lovely. I then went to my local indoor markets to buy food for dinner where I am fairly certain the vegetable shop man cursed on me by trying to hit on me while selling me carrots. After he had asked me if I lived far from here and if I lived alone, I then quickly paid and returned home. Upon my return, I checked the mail and discovered two letters – one from Orange, my useless telephone company, and the other from the immigration department. Wow.

The Immigration department appear to be working in some sort of super-speed power drive because they had already set a date for me to go and have a medical examination, hand in more pieces of paper and be interviewed, and this date is next week. WHAT ON EARTH?! Since when did any sort of bureaucratic process in France happen so quickly? Anyway, the big problem is that I will be in England on the allocated date and therefore cannot have my lungs x-rayed. So today I rode down to the Immigration office to ask whether or not I could change the date.

The office has the appearance of a shelter or squat and is an old, dirty, concrete building that clearly no one cares about. Only foreigners have to go there so why invest money in it? The security man at the door did a thorough check of my bag before asking what I was needing. When I explained that I wanted to change the date of my appointment, he said I have to wait until AFTER my appointment to make a new date. I looked at him like he had just told me the Queen of England is really a man and questioned whether or not I would get in trouble if I didn’t turn up to my appointment. No, it’s fine. Right.

Most of my brain believes that there is no way this can really be true, but there’s part of me that realises I am in France and so there is a high probability something this strange could be the case. I have spent the afternoon trying to call the office and get a second opinion but no one is answering the phone. At first I thought it was just lunch time but now I am thinking it is an exceptionally long lunch. Oh, and their website isn’t working properly so I can’t look at that either. I love France.

That’s Not a Beach

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

I don’t wish to disappoint the French, but they have been severely misinformed about what a beach is. From 21 July until 21 August, the Mairie de Paris has installed, on both the Seine and Canal Saint Martin, the Paris Plages. On Monday Tom and I walked down to the Seine to see what all of the fuss was about and to experience the Parisian tides. It was… well… interesting.

Paris Plage

Riverside beach

Basically a large amount of yellow sand is brought in and dumped into wooden boxes with umbrellas and lounge chairs strategically placed to allow for the best views of the dirty Seine water. There are then showers and mist-makers (I have no idea what you would call one of those things… a vapouriser? That sounds like something that would be used to kill ghosts) to ensure people can stay cool while lying in the middle of Paris in their bikinis getting a tan.

Water fountains

Cooling waters

Monday was a hot day (well, by ‘hot’ I mean it was 27 degrees and I was wearing a sleeveless top) and the sun was beating down quite strongly on that area of the Seine and the Parisians were loving it. Maybe I am half vampire because I shrivel if I stay in the direct sunlight and yet the folk of Paris will hunt out any inch of sunshine that they can, remove most of their clothes and soak up the rays. There was a lot of flesh. While most people had come prepared with their latest bikinis, lots of people were clearly there in their lunch break and underwear was passing as swimwear. Odd.

I will admit that it was an amazing set up. Walking along the Seine there huts selling ice creams and drinks intermittently all the way along the water. Once again it was an example of Europe being cool enough to sell alcoholic beverages in an area full of children. There were fußeball tables, sand sculptures, buskers, a pirate hut for kids to play in – all of this was set up for a month of enjoyment for the folk of Paris. The Mairie de Paris spends a lot of money on ensuring the lives of its residents are as fun and enjoyable as possible. It is very impressive and nice to be living in a ‘city that cares’.

sand castle

That's a big sand castle.

Since seeing an exhibition at the Hotel de Ville a few weeks ago about the history of life on the Seine and discovering that the Paris Plages have been around for quite some time, it was interesting to go and see what it was all about. I don’t think I will be spending any time there and I’m not sure I particularly enjoyed it as a place to visit, however it does bring some sort of bizarre happiness into the lives of the Parisians who don’t run away to the south of France during August. And that’s just nice.

Bikes

These two cool dudes were happy to have somewhere to roll

Mid-Travel Catch Up

Monday, April 18th, 2011

I have about ten spare minutes to write this as I eat my breakfast and drink my morning cup of tea. In 1 hour and 17 minutes my train for Saarbrucken leaves, which will then connect me to another train to Koblenz. Last night we arrived home from our weekend away in Lyon at 10.30pm and finally got to sleep after unpacking and repacking and sorting out train tickets at around 1am. Tom is already on his train as we had to book different trains in order to get the cheapest tickets. Ahh… the joys of travel.

Lyon was great – we had ate some awesome food, saw some awesome things and climbed some awesome stairs. You could say Lyon was awesome. Our hotel was less awesome – it was clean and well located and relatively cheap (all good things) but the place seemed to be a long stay apartment complex for some slightly odd elderly people who stood in the foyer arguing with the staff. On Sunday when we went to check out there was no one at the front desk and then after we’d handed in our keys and were about to leave, we happened to read a small notice by the lift that indicated you needed to clean the dishes and remove the rubbish (ie. empty the bin) from your room before you left otherwise you would be charged 30 Euros for each offence. When we’d checked in, the girl had briefly requested that if we cooked in the room and had smelly rubbish in the bin if we could please put it in the garbage bin outside, but nothing suggesting we’d be charge 30 Euros for not doing so. Anyway, that last day, the place just became stranger and stranger and we were quite glad to leave.

But none of us really wanted to leave Lyon – it has a young and exciting atmosphere as it is a university town and so there is a lot happening. There are amazing old buildings scattered throughout and the old town is on a vertical incline that required excellent thigh muscles to ascend. We saw Roman ruins dating back to 40 BC where Coup hopes to go back to in order to see a band perform on his birthday. Yes, bands perform on Roman ruins in Lyon. Amazing.

Anyway, time is ticking and trains are approaching. Time to finish packing and head off. Back Thursday.