Showing posts with label Paris. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paris. Show all posts

May 7, 2014

1e dimanche du mois

Paris. Despite having spent a semester abroad here, many weeks visiting with my parents, and weekend or day trips visiting with friends, there somehow remains museums and other activities left undone.

While I have enjoyed the freedom of not being obliged to visit 4 museums in one day, or even to “see the sights,” I still want to take advantage of living in the city of light.

That said, things have gotten a lot more expensive in my life recently for two main reasons. First of all, Paris is just darn expensive. Second of all, according to the European Union, I am an old fart.

Paris public museums and monuments are free to residents of the European Union younger than 26 years old, and seeing how I’m now 26, I have to pay my way. Most places don’t even have student-discounted rates. Apparently by 26 years old, you should be done with that whole higher education thing.

Luckily, the city of Paris thinks that everyone should be able to enjoy its many wonderful museums, and so they are made free to the public the first Sunday of every month.

I’ve taken this opportunity to visit some lesser-known museums, including le musée des arts et métiers.

Filled with old timey science apparatuses, cars, planes, construction materials, and communication technologies, this museum is cool.


Science.

It also reinforced the notion of how I am no longer “young,” as it had on display items that were younger than I am (like an iPod).

To top it off, I overheard a young child asking his grandpa, “qu’est-ce que c’est grand père? (what is that, grandpa?)” pointing at a certain item of older technology on display in a glass case.

ah, ça c’est un magnétoscope pour les VHS (ah, that's a VHS player).” But just stating what it was wasn’t enough. The grandpa had to continue to explain how at one point in time, that was how people watched movies at home.

Nevertheless, it was really cool to see old cars as well as old giant computers, and seeing how much technology has changed over the years made me excited for the future, even if I am "old" now.

February 23, 2014

Stage: le début.

For all my complaining about how unorganized my university is, how uncommunicative the professors and administration are, and how nobody ever seems to know what’s going on, I can at least now say that it has prepared me pretty well for the realities of being an intern in France.

After accepting the offer and settling on a starting date in December, come mid-January I still had no information about how my first day was going to be. This continued until the week before my start date, when I decided that I’d rather know than wait around. I called them to double check the starting date and find out what time I was expected. I then learned that I should be there at 9 in order to attend orientation.

While no further details were given, I was at least grateful to know this little tid bit. Knowing the first day was going to include an orientation calmed my nerves.

While I had them on the phone, I wanted to ask if it would be okay if I took an extra long lunch on Thursday in order to pick up the keys to our new apartment. However, they misunderstood me and thought I said lundi (not jeudi). That’s how I discovered that we were to be lunching with our bosses and other new interns on the first day.

I cleared up the confusion, but was glad that there was some otherwise I'm sure I would’ve been kept in the dark until jour j.

Just like orientation for the master, after my day of learning about the operations of the place, I still felt like I knew how nothing worked. We were not told if there was or wasn’t a strict time to come into the office. We had been told we’d learn how to use their time sheet software, but somehow or other it didn’t happen. I was told my desk would just be temporary, as they hadn’t found a place for me just yet. They then gave me a bunch of papers to read to play catch up on my project, and left me to figure it all out on my own.

Three weeks into it, I am getting the hang of things. I was able to figure out the time sheet situation mostly on my own, and as far as I can tell there are no future plans to change my desk.

I guess France is gonna be France. At least I get to look at this on the walk to the métro every day.


La Défense.

February 23, 2013

A Hidden Statue

Back in November, my darling little brother came to visit me. We meet up in Paris and spent the weekend.

While cutting through the jardin de Luxembourg, I suddenly remembered that the statue of liberty has a second residence there. Or at least, I thought I remembered there being a copy of her statue, and was pretty sure it was in the Luxembourg gardens.

So we checked out the directory. There was no mention of it. But I wasn’t going to let some silly, not very precise map be the end-all-be-all of statue of liberty locations.

Luckily just then, a rather cute twenty something Parisian gentlemen happened upon our path. I asked him about the statue.

He was in agreement with the directory.

I was in disagreement with both of them.

My brother was growing impatient, and seemed ready to give up on our quest, when I saw them; an elderly couple going for a leisurely stroll through the park. And I knew that they knew because, as I said to my brother, “old people know things.”

Excusez-moi? Bonjour” (Excuse me? Hello)

Bonjour…” (Hello…)

Desolée de vous derangez, mais je voulais savoir si vous savez pour la statue-“ (Sorry to bother you, but would you happen to know where the statue-)

She didn’t even let me finish my question.

Ah oui, tout le monde veux la voir. Elle est juste là, à gauche, derière les joeurs de pétanque.” (Oh yes, everybody wants to see her. She’s just over there, on the left, behind the bocce ball players).


Little brother and I with Lady Liberty herself!

Following her flawless directions, my brother and I saw the tiny version of the Statue of Liberty. Not a common tourist destination to be sure, but the important thing to remember is that I was right!

September 23, 2011

Disneyland Paris

If planning a visit to Disneyland Paris, one might expect it to be a similar experience to visiting the original Disneyland. And while there are lots of similarities between the parks, with a few changes in layout and ride styles, Disneyland Paris is a very different cultural experience from that which I am accustomed.


Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant in Disneyland Paris.


Growing up in Southern California, about a 40-minute drive from Disneyland, I have had an annual passport for more of my life than I haven’t had one, and I know the park comme ma poche (like the back of my hand). I have never needed a map.

The layout of the two parks is basically the same. You start off on Main Street, which leads you to Sleeping Beauty’s castle, beyond which lies Fantasyland. If you veer off to the right you find yourself in Discoveryland/Tomorrowland (Paris/Anaheim). On the left you can enter either Fronteirland or Adventureland.


Le plan (the map) of Disneyland Paris.


The first and most obvious difference between the parks is that there is no Toon Town in Disneyland Paris. The next one is that the Matterhorn is conspicuously absent. The last major landscape difference is that there is no Critter Country in Paris, either.

Then there are all the small differences that make each park unique, such as different tracks for Space Mountain, the placement of rides (for example, Star Tours is in the back of Discoveryland, but in the front of Tomorrowland), different restaurants, and of course different weather. Despite going in the middle of July, it rained during FBF and my visit. This explains why more of the lines are found under a roof in Paris.

The physical differences aren’t the only things distinguishing the two parks, however.

I was surprised by how much French was spoken. Instead of being in English and then Spanish, the announcements of how to behave properly before and after a ride start with French, are followed with English, and then continue in other languages I don’t speak.

Even the animatronics speak French! Imagine my surprise to find C3P0 speaking in French with R2D2 (who speaks in beeps, even in French).

video
C3PO talking in French to his buddy, R2D2 at Star Tours, Paris.


I realize it was silly to think that Disneyland Paris would be in English, but finding myself in a Disneyland remarkably similar to that which I came to know as a child, I kept forgetting I was in France.

But language wasn’t the only reminder that I was in France. Even if the buildings and attractions look similar, the people do not act the same.

When at Disneyland at home, I know which hours to avoid going to the restaurants if I don’t want to wait in lines, as most Americans eat meals around the same time. This is not possible at Disneyland Paris. People come from all over Europe and have such different cultural norms for when to eat that there are always people at the restaurants.

When meeting a character, instead of people forming a line based on who got there first, it's a mad dash to greet, take pictures with, and receive autographs from Disneyland Paris’s various inhabitants.

Although it happened less often in my experience, people even try to cut in the lines for attractions. An Italian family just up and walked past at least 7 people before deciding that was where they would be waiting for the ride.

Despite linguistic and cultural differences, I had a great time visiting Disneyland Paris. The most important thing stayed the same. It still felt like the Happiest Place on Earth.

May 9, 2011

Top Dix (partie deux)

Check out partie une to read all Top Ten Moments with the 'rents!

Top Ten:
My Parents in Europe


5. My dad really wanted to explore Paris while riding a boat along the Seine. We forked over the big bucks to take the Batobus (14euros/person), which allows you to hop-on and hop-off at several different stops along the Seine, taking about 15 minutes between stops.

Based on the rest of the things we wanted to do that day, my mom announced we should get off the boat at the first stop! We had paid 14 euros to ride a boat for 15 minutes. A boat ride that had gone a distance that we could have easily managed on foot.


View from the batobus.


We ended up deciding to ride the boat all the way around instead.


4. After spending the day seeing the sights in Brussels, my parents and I went back to La Grande Place to enjoy the traditional Brussel's apperitif: beer, cheese, and cornichons (sort of like pickles, but completely different taste-wise).

After discussing what we did during the day, my mother admitted to liking Bruges more than Brussels, but was glad we went and explored other areas of the city because, her thoughts upon seeing La Grande Place, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was, and I quote, “This is it?”





A couple of buildings from La Grande Place... clearly nothing to write home about.



3. I took my parents to Le Ch’ti Bello for lunch, and since they had heard me talk about it countless times, they wanted to commemorate the moment in photos. My dad stood up to get a picture of my mom and I. Afterwards, I told my dad to go back and I’d take a picture of him and my mom.

Somehow, he interpreted this to mean, “Please go to in the other room, stand in between tables full of people, and pose in front of the fireplace.”


2. One night while out to dinner in Paris, my father ordered a hamburger. As it was a restaurant, the burger was too big to stand up on its own, and came with a gigantic toothpick in the middle.

After everyone had finished eating, and we were working on finishing our bottle of wine, my father thought it would be a good idea to put his toothpick to use. He started banging it upon the various different types of glassware that were on our table.



Said toothpick and glassware.



1. Trying to do as the Parisians do, around 17h30 we went out for an apperitif. My mother and I shared a 50cl of the house white wine, and my dad got a beer. After we were finished, it was still to early to eat dinner, so we walked a while, found a second bar, and got drinks. My mother and I shared another 50cl, and my father got a second beer.

Then, without telling us, my dad ordered everyone a second round. After that, we went in search of dinner, where we decided to share a bottle of red wine. But that wasn’t enough alcohol, so we ordered a 50cl of the same red wine to finish off our meal.

I won’t be evil and make you do math. I drank 116.7cl of wine in one night with my parents. A bottle of wine is only 75cl.

Needless to say, I got very drunk with my parents and was pretty hung over the next day when we visited Notre Dame Cathedral.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Despite many embarrassing moments, laughing and traveling with my parents was a much needed dose of family and America in this land of frogs.

May 7, 2011

Top Dix (partie une)

Over my mother’s Spring Break (or should I say the Spring Break of everyone in the United States?) my parents came to visit me. Our favorite guidebooks are the Eye Witness Top Ten Travel Guides. This is probably because they are full of pretty pictures.

In honor of these great guides (we’ve used Top Ten Paris, Top Ten Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp, & Gent, Top Ten Los Angeles, and Top Ten Andalucía & Costa Del Sol), I present to you:

Top Ten:
My Parents In Europe


10. FBF’s family were kind enough to invite us over for dinner one of the nights we were in Lille. This was stressful for everyone, as it was the first time the families were meeting one another. After quick introductions, FBF’s sister asked my mom if she had ever been to Lille before. My mother responded with a lightening fast and self-assured, “No.”

The problem? This was actually her second trip to Lille! They had come to visit me over Christmas last year.


9. My parents were nice enough to take me shopping. We went to Etam, where I decided to try on a dress. I exited the changing room to get my parents opinion, and my dad started applauding.


8. On their first day in France, tired and jet lagged, I took them to the restaurant that sells the best moules frites (mussels and French fries, a specialty of le Nord) in all of Lille (or so they say). We were seated at a booth, and after finishing her lunch, my mom asked my dad if he could let her out.

By this time, my dad had started futzing with the Blackberry the office had given him, and wasn’t paying very much attention. He stood up, took a step backwards, and then immediately fell down four stairs to the level below.

He wasn’t hurt, but he did manage to topple over a table and several chairs making a horrifying racket.


7. After drinking an aperitif (or three or four) at a couple of bistros, we were sitting down to a pizza dinner at a café with sidewalk tables. Everything was going all right, until a none-the-wiser Parisian appeared, taking her adorable pug for a walk.

This resulted in my father yelling across the street, saying, in English, “we have a pug too!!!”


My dog Buester, aka the reason for my Dad's outburst.


6. Upon their arrival to Lille, I had told my parents to follow the signs for the Metro, and to meet me by the information booth across from the Metro and Platform B. I was standing directly in the pathway from their train and the metro, but after fifteen minutes of still no sign of them, I finally called them to see what the problem was.

I asked my mom where she and my father were. “We’re next to the _______ building. Do you know where that is?” she asked me.

“The what building? No I have no idea…… WAIT ARE YOU OUTSIDE?”

Although the metro signs never once indicated to leave the train station, my parents had somehow wound up outside and on a very busy street. Luckily, once I realized that they had exited the building, I found them in no time.


--please check out partie deux!--

April 16, 2011

Au Petit Matin

While my parents were visiting, they spent two days in Lille with me, I met up with them for a day in Brussels, and then we spent a three day weekend together enjoying Paris.

Although I was with my parents and we didn't hit up any night clubs, I got surprisingly little sleep in Paris.

This might be why:

video
(sorry my videography skills leave a lot to be desired.)


Despite getting to bed at a reasonable hour (around 11 o'clock), the people in the apartment next to ours were having a party. So were all the people in the bars on the street.

I finally got to sleep around 5am, only to be awoken at 8 by a horrible drumming sound.

It was the Paris Marathon.

But maybe I saw B's hubby in the mix?

April 6, 2011

Montmartre

On an overcast day in February
FBF and I headed south to Paris.

Lo and behold, I knew the city better than he.
So I showed him Montmatre
and told him about Paris's history.












NB: My Parents are visiting from California, so I'm going to be out of commission until next week. À bientôt mes amis!
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