Rain, Rain, Go Away

I do not love Paris in the springtime right now. Cold, rainy, gray. I am curious when spring will actually start to show. It is quite tough to enjoy the ‘beauty’ of Paris in the spring when you don’t want to go outside due to crappy weather. Here’s to hoping April showers bring May flowers…

I have started to adopt the French way of thinking about weather so I don’t slip into a depression. “Oh it’s ok. A bad spring means a great summer.” I think this is the one area of their lives they are optimistic and I think that is partially due to the fact they don’t want to admit the weather here completely sucks. I feel bad London gets the bad rep. Paris is the same way.

23 years and I have always had sun on my birthday. Paris is really making me think that birthday number 24 won’t be so lucky. But of course, I just love Paris for always keeping me on my toes.

Speaking of birthdays, it is weird having my second one here. That means all of 23 was spent living in France. It is weird how plans can change so quickly. I was only supposed to be here a year and now I am pushing two. I think I will leave the end of this year but now I don’t know. It honestly changes daily. It is difficult because I am so happy here and I feel like I fit, but there are so many things I miss about being in the states… mostly, my family. If I could just ship them out here to live I think I would stay forever.  I am in this whole not thinking about it stage though. December is still 8 months away. I have time.

It is also strange to have my birthday here because I used to have large birthday dinners and huge nights of going out to celebrate. Just as last year, I work. And most my friends are on holiday. I am sure I will spend the night having a few drinks with Frenchies and I am perfectly ok with that. I am really liking the Frenchies lately. I think I even have to retract my previous statement that Coco and Frenchies don’t mix—I am currently being proved otherwise. To be honest though, my real gift is my mom coming. I haven’t seen her since Christmas and I can’t be more excited.

So maybe Paris is trying to drown my good mood in the rain but I am tenaciously fighting back. Life is good… despite the horrible weather.

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Fail: Journey to the Doctor’s

I needed to go to the doctor. Because the French has something terribly against working, the hours of operations of things are never convenient. I mean why would a doctor’s office be open on the weekend? No one would ever imagine to get sick on the weekend… Anyways, I decided to wake up early and try to squeeze a visit in before work. I knew this was overly optimistic but I thought since I had no other choice I would give it a try. I went exactly where I needed to go and stared at this large building with a sign in front for the Cabinet Medical. It was there. There was a sign. After careful examination of the outside of the building, I finally figured out how to get it. Once in the building, I was led into a huge open courtyard. No doors unlocked. No signs. Not a human being in sight. How very French. I finally found stairs and walked up to the 1er etage. Now I was in a place that resembled an apartment building. Reluctantly I gave up. There truly was no other ideas I could pull from my hat. After having searched for doctors online, I remembered seeing another place a few streets away. I proceeded to go to that one. I managed to get in, but same issue–all locked doors, no humans, no signs. So I went back to the front of the building (can i just add in that it is pouring rain at this point?) and called the number listed for the doctor. I called and did my utmost to speak in the best French I could master at that point. The dialogue went something like this:

 

Me: Bonjour, le cabinet est ouverte? Hello, is the office open?

Awful witch on the other line: Oui, vous avons un rendez-vous? Yes, do you have an appointment?

Me: No, je n’ai pas un rendez-vous, mais je suis ici maintenant. Je ne peux voir un docteur maintenant? No, I do not have an appointment but I am here now. Can I not see a doctor now?

AW: Vous devez un rendez-vous. You need an appointment.

Me: D’accord. Quelle heure? Ok. What time?

AW: (She then continues in rapid speed French to word vomit out a ton of times)

Me: (I managed to hear a few and chose the one closest to the time it was.) Excusez moi, je suis tres desolee parce que je parle un peu francais. 9h20? Excuse me, I am very sorry because I speak a little French. 9h20?

AW: (Screaming at the top of her lungs now in a voice similar to what I think Satan would sound like) MADAME. 9h20. VOUS DEVEZ UN RENDEZ-VOUS. 9H20. (then inaudible angry french.) MADAME. 9h20. YOU NEED AN APPOINTMENT. 9h20.

Me: Desolee. Je ne comprend pas. 9h20 est correcte? C’est bon pour moi. I’m sorry. I do not understand. Is 9h20 correct? It is good for me.

AW: (yelling. screaming. anger.)

Me: (hung up.)

 

At this point, there was truly nothing I could do. She was clearly upset and I could not understand why or what else I could do to express I wanted the appointment at 9h20. As I am pulling the tears back from the frustrating conversation that was unsuccessful, I get a call from an unknown number.

 

Me: Hello?

AW: pourquoi voulez-vous raccrocher? qui est si impoli. pourquoi voulez-vous raccrocher maintenant? (yelling.screaming.anger.hang up.) Why did you hang up? That is not polite. Why did you hang up??

 

The tears poured in. A Frenchwoman had the nerve to call me back just to yell at me. Really? Confused, upset, and defeated I got on the metro and went to work.

France 74682532546 Coco 0

When I got into work, I told my French colleague (and good friend) the story. Not only was she sympathetic, but she also managed to get me an appointment on Monday at an office close to our work within about 2 seconds. She printed a map for me, highlighting the directions and wrote down all the information needed. Why is there not more Estelles in this country??

 

Lesson of the story/ongoing theme of my life: I hate the french. I love the french.

French Summer= Rain for Days.

I am having quite a hard time believe that this is July. The July I am used to is full of BBQs and bikinis, not rain and jackets. Apparently, because we had such a good spring… we are paying for it now. That doesn’t make sense in my head but hey Ill let the French justify their crappy season.

On a high note (well I dont know if this counts as a high note but ill take it), today I noticed myself wearing the same outfit as about 70 percent of the women on the metro today. Beige raincoat, scarf, dark skinny jeans, heels. Have I been here too long? Am I slowly disappearing into the 20-something crowd of commuters on the metro?

I mean, I guess it is about time. I am living here. I have been for quite some time. I know what metro to take when the usual one is too crowded and what lines to avoid. I know where the best falafel in town is and where the best spot is to sit on a sunny afternoon. I now have no fear to ask the sales guy in the tech store if these speakers work with my Mac… in French.

Now, these all may seem like little thing… and they are. But they are little triumphs and that is what matters. In France, I have learned you have to take what you get and enjoy ever second of it. This year has been a test–and one I have struggled to get good grades with I might add–but slowly I am starting to get a few questions right.  And it feels good.

I was talking to an old friend of mine the other day and we were talking about growing up. I have known him since 5th grade… so it was easy to be nostalgic. We were wondering when this whole grown up thing happened. Here I am. Hardly a grown up, yet technically living that life. I have a real 9 to 6 (ish) job. I pay my own bills. I do my own thing. But I still feel like I waiting for it to get real. But it is real now. Am I making sense at all?

Sorry for rambling on but it is still crazy to think where I am and what I am doing. Honestly, I would be happy where ever life took me next. After this, I feel ready for anything. Preferably on a year-long travel adventure… but hey whatever works 🙂

My First Solo Adventure in the City of Lights

For those of you who knew me, you know that I do little to nothing by myself. I love people and I love to be around them 24/7. I mean, come on, living in a sorority house of 30 girls was my dream. Part of the reason I came to France was to become more self-reliant. I use this term instead of independent because I believe I have always been an independent person–I have always done what I wanted to do, had my own thoughts, and made things I believe in happen. However, I do feed off the love of the others around me. I have always lived closed to my parents. My sister has always been there for me. For the past 10 years of my life, I have been in a relationship for 8 of them. I joined a sorority and constantly had a sister around. And for my best friend, well she knows how much I need her. Of course none of this is a bad thing and I wouldn’t change any of it. But I do want to be ok just being me. When people would tell me that they went to the movies alone or out to eat I thought they were weirdos. Part of me was envious though. I never thought I could do that. So me, being all that I am, moved to a foreign country. Go big or go home, right?

Callie is gone for a week in Sweden so it was my first weekend alone. Although I was exhausted, I didn’t want to waste a Saturday. Before I had left for France, I had bought Frommer’s 24 Great Walks in Paris because I knew I was going to want to some guided exploring when I first got here. There is several good things about this book–it gives you a starting and ending metro stations; it gives clear directions; and it gives a history and facts about the things you are walking by. I knew that I wanted to stop by my favorite museum, Musee d’Orsay so I tried to find a route that included that. Here is my route below:

My Walking Route (to see larger, right click on the image and open in a new window)

Pont Alexandre III

Although I had seen the Pont Alexandre III with Annie, this is where my route started and it is so magnificent I had no problem exploring it a bit more. This bridge is named after Alexander III because he had laid the first stone for it as a symbol of the alliance between France and Russian during the Franco Prussian wars. The neat thing about this bridge is that it is one of the first prefabricated structures in the world and only took 200 days to assemble. That is truly incredible when you see this bridge. The views from it are just breathtaking. It is probably one of my favorite views of the Eiffel Tower. There is something about the Seine that I think is just marvelous. As it runs throughout the city and even beyond Paris’s boundaries, I always find such beauty in it. The bridges are such an important part of the history of the city and the river is such an important part of the culture. Parisians can always be seen holding hands walking along the bridges or picnicing with friends along the river banks.

Pont de la Concorde and Assemblee Nationale

Once I crossed the bridge, I made my way over to the Pont de la Concorde- a bridge that leads to the Assemeblee Nationale. The Pont de la Concorde, though not as ornate as the Pont Alexandre III is still beautiful and important in its own way. It was made out of blocks saved from the demolition of the Bastille. Once over the bridge, I took a look at the Assemblee Nationale which is the seat of the lower house of the French Parliament. It was really neat to see where laws are voted on. The building was guarded and looked like a forbidden place. I was so curious to see what was inside those doors…

Little place du Palais Bourbon

As I continued to make my way to Musee d’Orsay, I headed around the Assemblee Nationale and stopped at this little square filled with mansions from Louis XVI’s era. They were elegant and beautiful. I felt like I had stumbled upon a hidden gem because there really was no people around. There was one café with a few workers preparing for the day, but other than the noise of their work, the square was silent and peaceful. I couldn’t help but wonder how many memories had been made in those mansions over the centuries and what this square used to look like on an afternoon like this. After leaving the square, I walked through this small street filled with tourist shops and little cafes. I stopped to look for a bit because it had started raining and that was a perfect excuse to dry off. It is funny to me how there can be so many tourist shops in one area that all carry the same thing. I was thrilled however, to find one place selling postcards for an actual reasonable price.

Musee d'Orsay

As I made my way down the little street, I came upon the Musee de la Legion d’Honneur and the Musee d’Orsay. There are so many reason I love the Musee d’Orsay. For one, the building has a remarkable history and is incredibly gorgeous. Originally, the space was built for the 1900 World Trade Fair, however the project was given up and plans for a train station took its place. The station was built for steam engines and when electric trains had replaced them, the platforms were not long enough. The Orsay station then remained abandoned until 1977 when the idea to create a museum arose. The museum would be dedicated to the 19th century. When I walk into the museum, I just stand there in awe. The ceilings are beautifully decorated and there is a large clock above the door. You walk into a wonderful foyer filled with impeccable sculptures and doors that led into themed rooms of art. I could spend days in this museum–even just sitting in the main foyer examining all the sculptures and people watching. The great thing is because I am now a European resident, I get in free! Which means I will spend countless lazy afternoons there…

Stairs leading to the Jardin de Tuileries

Jardin de Tuileries

I headed to the Jardin des Tuileries after spending a few hours at the museum. To get there I crossed the foot bridge, Pont de Solferino. I walked down to the river level and walked up some stairs into a beautiful garden. By now, it had started raining but the gardens were still incredible the second I got up the stairs. Unfortunately, I did not get to explore very much because it started to down pour! I made my way to the metro and headed home.

I would have to say… my first solo adventure was a true success!!!

#26: Completed 1 of 5 in going somewhere by myself!!!

Check out my pictures from the trip!