Posts Tagged ‘trip’

I Need a Holiday

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Gosh… living in Paris is TOUGH. I need a holiday. So I am catching a train to England tomorrow morning to visit my brother. Almost everyone in Paris who has heard of my up and coming travels has questioned my sanity and why on earth I would choose to go to England, land of bad food, socks with sandals, and POMS. Well,

  1. My brother lives there
  2. I think country England is actually quite pretty and the pollution in Paris is making me nauseous again
  3. My brother happens to be the second-biggest hunter of delicious foods in the world (after me).

So I don’t think it will be all bad, but I’ll let you know how I go. In case it is a complete flop, (it won’t be – I am, of course, super excited to see my big brother) the day after my return to Paris, we are heading into the mountains (I believe the Alps but Tom and I are currently having an argument about where exactly our friends are taking us) where we are guaranteed superb fondu, cheese and more cheese. It is moments like this that make me forget that I currently am at war with French bureaucracy and allow me to remember why I am fighting to stay in this country.

And? How Did it Go?

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Sorry! I have been very slow with my updates recently… and I know you’re ALL hanging out to hear how my adventures in the world of The French Embassy went. Well, wait no longer! The moment has arrived.

I have never been the biggest fan of Sydney – I find it a bit commercial and there are far too many people wearing suits. I’ve always preferred Melbourne as a “If I had to live anywhere else in Australia” option as it is far more artsy and relaxed. But French bureaucracy and the fact that my best friend lives there, have resulted in me visiting Sydney numerous times over the past few years. I spent a weekend hanging out with my friends and we spent most of that time near Glebe – one of the more down to earth and small-community areas of the city. It was fun and nice to catch up with Gill again. But then Monday arrived and after a somewhat restless sleep the night before, I triple checked that I had all of the required pieces of paper for my visa and set off for Market Street.

The French Embassy is located in an awful tower block in the middle of the city and I really don’t understand why they force people to come and visit because surely the French would be ashamed at the lack of pizzazz their embassy holds. It is hardly palatial or impressive and really could be the offices of any old business. Anyway, I arrived ahead of schedule and was called up before my official appointment time of 10am. Things were progressing similar to when I first applied for a visa a year ago.

I had a woman interview me from behind a thick piece of glass. This made it particularly difficult to hear her although most of the time she was gossiping with her colleague in French. This had happened last time and so I was prepared for the lack of attention. I used all of my ear strength to follow the conversation and joked along with them when I realised they were talking about me. Oh yes, French Embassy People, I speak your language.

I have to say that I think the fact that I could speak French helped me win a few votes of approval and I responded to all of her questions in French to show just how much I like France and French culture. She went through my papers occasionally asking me questions and half listening to the answers. There were moments of panic when I thought maybe she wouldn’t be happy with my answers or that I was missing pieces of paper but in the end she took my finger prints and photograph, shoved pieces of paper into my passport and walked off saying “C’est bon.”

I took this “C’est bon” to mean “I will take your application and it is likely that you will receive a visa within the next few weeks.” When I asked about the time frame, I received a shrug of the shoulders, a roll of the eyes, and a very French, “Booofffffff…. About two weeks.” SUCCESS!

I walked out of the Embassy and searched for a paper bag to stop my hyperventilation (not really… but almost) and jumped around a little and smiled a lot and there may have been one or two tears. Nothing is certain yet and I am still waiting anxiously for the postman to arrive in his white van to deliver my passport but I am feeling significantly more confident. The fact that they accepted my papers is a huge relief and I am a step closer to being able to return to Paris for another year. I have heard stories from Tom and I have managed to miss so much over the past two weeks that I am keen to get back. I’m enjoying the beach and life at home with my folks here but there are so many more adventures to be had in France. Come ooonnnn Postman!

More Mud

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

It is currently 12.15am on Sunday 28 August and I have two woes.

Woe #1 – Underworld Concert

The main reason why Tom and I came to London was to go to the South West Four festival to see one of my favourite electronic groups, Underworld, play. I love seeing them live and have on previous occasions flown to other cities within Australia to see their concerts. So it wasn’t a completely out of the ordinary decision to buy a ticket to a concert in London seeing as it is just a 2.5 hour train ride away. I now wish I had saved my money.

The concert was out in Clapham, an area of London recently targeted during the riots. I wish they had locked up a few more people because I’m fairly certain half of the people at the concert would have been on the streets throwing bottles through windows last week. It was an interesting bunch of people – I always feel out of place at electronic music festivals as I stand in my fully-dressed attire waiting patiently for a certain dj/band to get on stage as drunken 18 year olds flirt, dance and throw themselves around provocatively nearby. I hate Australian crowds, but this was worse. EVERYONE was drunk. Usually it is only about 80% of the crowd – this was 99.9999999% with Tom and I being that last remaining percentage. Not only that, but at least six times during the four-hour period that we were at the concert I had guys with large wads of cash walk past asking the crowd if they’d like ecstasy, cocaine or marijuana. And there were a few ‘Yes, please’s.

Normally I would have just stood to the side and tried my best to ignore the idiots around me but it was a little difficult to move as every step you took resulted in you sinking into more mud. It had been raining for the past week or so in London and if there is one thing that rain, land and lots of people equal, it is mud. It was as if Tom and I had returned to the North Sea and were attempting to mudwalk with a bunch of intoxicated losers. It was awful. I had had prior thoughts of “Maybe I should buy some cheap shoes to wear in case it is muddy” but decided against it. When I arrived and saw what was in store I bid farewell to my Campers and plunged straight in. At least I am now a seasoned mud-walker and I didn’t fall flat on my arse. I did get a bit girly about the fact that my perfectly wonderful shoes were getting covered in mud. So when we were finally in front of the main stage, we picked a standing spot and stood there. The less we moved, the harder the mud beneath our feet.

When we arrived John Digweed, one of my brother’s favourite DJs was mixing it up on the stage and it was good. It was very good. But unfortunately he finished and was replaced with a guy by the name of Laidback Luke. Lazy Luke would be more appropriate – all he did was slop together a bunch of random songs with popular tunes/lyrics/choruses in order to make the audience say “YAY! I like this song!” and therefore make him look good. I felt like an old-woman-mother-figure standing with a frown on my face, not understanding the music of the youth of today. But finally he finished and Underworld came on stage.

Their set was short. And quiet. And there was no encore. And the crowd weren’t supportive and hardly cheered at all and were too busy smoking (there was a stall selling cigarettes); drinking; taking drugs; looking hideous with their ridiculously short shorts, bad hair cuts and general poor dress sense; and being obnoxious. Basically, it was no where near as good as when I saw them in Perth – now that is saying something. I would even rate seeing them at Bondi Beach on New Years Eve with evil drunk Australians as a more enjoyable experience than tonight. Such a shame because I had such high expectations. I don’t blame Underworld at all because they did their best and their music was awesome. But I just couldn’t hear it and was too busy trying to stop a stupid girl next to me from standing on my feet.

We did have delicious indian food for dinner though so I guess that’s a positive.

Woe # 2 – More Rain

We are supposed to be catching a flight to New York on Tuesday afternoon and there appears to be a bit of weather about on that side of the world (aka. a hurricane.) That’s a tad worrying as I don’t really want my flight to be cancelled or delayed as I had planned on being there for my birthday. At the same time, I also don’t want it to rain there because it has rained enough here in London. So hopefully that will all blow over (get it? Ha.)

Bed time.

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.

Time to Recap

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Once again I have to write a catch up report on what we have been up to. It has been a very busy week and a half involving visits to two cities, lots of train trips, visitors, funerals, family, food, fun and frantic searches for short sleeved tops. Paris is experiencing some sort of heat wave. By that, I mean it has been above 23 degrees most days and for some reason that feels more like 30 degrees. I have made a few exasperated visits into clothing stores in search of short sleeves and summer skirts but it has been quite disappointing. Plus, lots of the shops aren’t airconditioned and so I enter and leave in a “I’m hot and grumpy” mood. Those of you who know me well will know that I’m not the most approachable person when I am hot and bothered. Anyway, I have managed to find a few tops in Monoprix (a supermarket that also sells cheap basic clothes) so I felt somewhat cooler yesterday. Today my parents are arriving and bringing me shorts! IMAGINE THAT! Shorts… so cooling.

So! Travel adventures. After returning home from Lyon, we unpacked and repacked our bag and the next morning headed off to Koblenz on two separate trains. This was due to pricing and getting the best possible bargains. The train ride to Koblenz is particularly beautiful – first you catch a train to Saarbrucken which is just over the French/German border and then you change trains and follow the Moselle river all the way to Koblenz. The views are spectacular and what you could describe as “typical German countryside”. Green rolling hills, cute little villages with wooden houses and the picturesque tranquility of the winding river. No matter how hard I tried to read my book, I couldn’t helping looking out the window every second line.

Rhein

The Rhein in Koblenz

It was great seeing Tom’s Dad (he had flown over from Perth early in order to attend his father’s funeral) and Oma. Pity it was for such a sad occasion but it was nice to have family around. Tom’s Opa’s funeral was a nice simple service at a beautiful local church on an island floating in the middle of the Rhein. Tom’s Opa is now surrounded by asparagus mounds and other vegetable gardens that produce some of the best known vegetables in Koblenz. The service was entirely in German, for obvious reasons, which made it somewhat difficult to understand. However, as a lover of languages I found it particularly interesting to listen to hymns being sung in German and I could pick up the odd phrase such as, “In the name of the father, the son…” Now I have been to a German funeral and a Dutch church service. I appear to be converting in foreign countries.

Church

A lovely church

My friend Marina is in town with her parents and it has been great catching up with her. It is nice to have a friend around who I have known for a long time. Conversations are easy and we already know so much about each other. Mazz is in a wheelchair and so we have been discovering the pros and cons of Parisian disabled access (or lack of.) The footpaths aren’t bad but most restaurants put their toilets at the bottom of steep staircases and there are generally steps everywhere. She has been able to get into museums for free AND skip queues, which, in my opinion, is some sort of wonderful. I told her she can’t leave because she needs to be my “Get into Museums for Free” pass. I’m such a nice friend.

In other news, I apparently had my hair cut this weekend. By that I mean I went to a hairdresser, sat in the chair and there were scissors around. However, usually post-hair-chop my head feels as light as a feather and I worry that it is too short. This time I left feeling like my hair hadn’t changed at all. Basically the girl decided that I shouldn’t cut my hair too much and therefore just made a few adjustments. I managed to talk her into thinning it a little bit at the top as my hair gets very thick as it grows, but really I’m not sure what I spent 40 Euros on. At least she chopped my fringe, although she just cut it in a straight line and decided I should have a front fringe, rather than one to the side. Maybe this is a sign that I should grow my hair. I’ve never had long hair – maybe Paris is the place to give it a go.

Hair cut

Waiting for nothing.

As previously mentioned, my parentals are arriving today. They are on a ten week trip through Europe and will be in Paris for the next week. I am very excited. I am a very family-oriented person so I can’t wait to have them around and show them my new life. However, the restaurant I had booked for this evening has just cancelled on me so I have to find somewhere else for us to eat. So I shall be off.

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.

We’re Back!

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

You’ll be overwhelmed to hear that we are back in Paris after a few days away in the north west of France. I will write a more detailed account soon and am about to go and upload all of my 600+ photos onto my Flickr site. Tom spent three of our five days lying in bed dying from the flu (I must admit he was sick… he certainly kept (keeps) me awake at night with his coughing) which wasn’t so great but I managed to enjoy myself!

Anyway just wanted to write a quick ‘Hello!’ and to say that I had my first French lesson this morning. I have to say it was a bit disappointing and frustrating. The level of French in my class varies significantly and some people don’t seem to actually want to be there. Lots of people sat and chatted to one another (or across the classroom) and we spent five whole minutes talking about how if you change the first letter in the word ‘vite’ then the meaning changes from ‘quick’ to a very rude word for female genitalia. Sure, amusing at first, but can we move on and learn something now?

I’m hoping it gets better. I learnt a few small things but I’m not sure I am going to become fluent as a result of these classes. Pity. Maybe I’ll make some friends but everyone already seems to have their ‘group’. We shall see.

Ok, off to Flickr.