Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Technical difficulties

WARNING: blog post to have many errors due to typing with French computer that has the keys in different places.My computer has not been working with the WiFi in the house we are staying.

Paris has been magnificent so far. The trip started off with a very French incident shortly after we landed. My mom and I boarded the Air France bus from the airport to the Montparnasse station where we would meet my friends. About 10 minutes after leaving the airport,the bus pulled into a gas station. I joked to my mom that the driver needed more cigarettes. Well it turned out there was a problem with the bus. One passenger translated it to the toilet waters needed to be emptied, but there was no toilet. so we waited next to the bus for about 20 minutes for a new bus to come. We stood next to horses in the grass with our luggqge. The French passengers were kind to us non-French. So many of the French passengers were taking pictures with their phones of the license plates and the foreginers were taking pictures with the bus (like me). One woman even suggested we strike! The scene was very French. We did make it to Paris successfully.

So far we have found the Parisians to be friendly, the streets clean and the drivers not rude - all opposite of the stereotype.

One thing that is true to stereotype is the desire of the French to strike. Today there was a transportaion strike and the metro and bus were mostly shut down. So we walked to the Eiffel Tower from the house we are staying at. The Eiffel Tower is a magnificent sight, but I prefer to look at if from a distance as it is viewed peeking above a building or its lights shining at night.

So far we have seen the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Place du Concord, the Champs-Elysees, and took a boat tour on the Seine. Tomorrow, we go to Notre Dame, Musee D Orsay and some gardens.

I hope to write another post on the food I have been enjoying. I never realized how my fingers are programmed to type on an English computer!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bon Voyage

I woke up early this morning not so much because I am excited for this trip, but because the long work week left me with many odds and ends I need to wrap up before leaving. The whole trip and its destination of Paris seem surreal to me. It's this iconic place that I have seen on so many cards, posters, T-shirts and have studied. I used to collect little Eiffel Towers and old Parisian postcards, too. In all honestly the city dropped down in my list of places to visit after I went to South Korea, but now that I am going to the City of Lights my love and excitement for it has been renewed.

I am happy that we are going to Paris in October. I think the lighting will be beautiful and will make for some very lovely photos of the old streetlamps, stone buildings, diffused light along the Seine ...

As I prepare the final details early this Saturday morning, I am thinking about some of the movie and TV characters I've watched travel to Paris. Carrie's trip to Paris in "Sex and the City" was a bit rough because her Russian artist boyfriend spent more time on his art show than with her, leaving Carrie homesick and wandering the streets of Paris alone. In the end, her Mr. Right, "Mr. Big" found her.

In "Sabrina," Sabrina talks to Linus about Paris.

Sabrina Fairchild: Maybe you should go to Paris, Linus. It helped me. Have you ever been there?
Linus Larrabee: [thinks] Oh yes. Once. For thirty-five minutes.
Sabrina Fairchild: Thirty-five *minutes*?
Linus Larrabee: Changing planes. I was on my way to Iraq on an oil deal.
Sabrina Fairchild: Oh, but Paris isn't for changing planes, it's for changing your outlook! For throwing open the windows and letting in... letting in la vie en rose.
Linus Larrabee: [sadly] Paris is for lovers. Maybe that's why I stayed only thirty-five minutes.

I'm not looking for traditional romance while in Paris. But I am looking for a more artistic, literay romance. A romance of delicious, hot coffee, decadent pastries, glorious and humble architecture and the sense of being somewhere full of history that has drawn the great minds of the world to create.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Terrorist threat in Europe

---Photo by The Associated Press

A few more days and my mom and I will be on a plane to Paris after years of studying the French language and culture. It's very appropriate that I should be taking this voyage with my mom because she is the one who first encouraged me to learn the language by teaching me numbers and basic phrases. Mom has done a lot of research for the trip and we've both become quite excited to explore this city that we've read so much about. I have my bags mostly packed and my friends notified about the travel details.

There is one issue that may become more problematic than the weak dollar and that's this terrorism threat in Europe that appears to be growing by the day. Being connected to the Associated Press wire feed all day, I have access to all of the updates on the European threat. So far I have mostly summed it up to potential hassles and delays at the airports and tourist sites. However, the scare/threat has spread from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame and seems to be having a great impact on security measures abroad. Hopefully there will be no actual violence and the tensions will lesson. The way I look at it is I lived in South Korea when North Korea tested its nuclear weapon in the China Sea and there was hardly a ripple effect. If anything, maybe it would be an opportunity to finally send newspaper dispatches from abroad.

In all honestly, I am hoping for a relaxing and enjoyable trip. I have enough stress and frustrations to deal with daily. I keep picturing myself relaxing at a cafe with a book, a coffee and a pastry watching the French world pass by.