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Parlez-vous Francais?

The Holy Food Trinity: Bread, Cheese, Chocolate

sunny 20 °F
View Around the World in 62 Days on rubywheels's travel map.

I'm a bit overdue for this blog update! So far Paris has been great... I've gotten over my snobbery of "Italy is better than anywhere in Europe" and managed to keep an open mind throughout my first week here in a very beautiful city. I have to admit, the primary thing that has pushed me to this acceptance is my love of what I refer to in my Subheading as 'The Holy Food Trinity': Bread, Cheese, Chocolate. I actually spoke to my loaf of bread from my favorite Boulangerie - conveniently located downstairs from my serviced apartment - on my way home from work today. That's right, I said to it "I love you bread, thank you for being so warm and crispy on the outside! I can't wait to eat you with cheese when I get home!". I found myself actually saying this out loud (rather than using my inside voice) which speaks to two things:

1. I really do love the bread here and
2. The multiple time zones, planes, etc., have finally pushed me over the "crazy" edge

Fortunately Paris is a big enough city that no one noticed me talking to myself... and really it was more of a whisper.

Now, I know that no one reading this blog is going to feel sorry for me for what I'm about to say but... well.... Paris is really cold. It's about 20-30 degrees F each day (including a very hefty wind chill) and I am walking to/from the train for work just like I did in the "old days" in Chicago. Apparently the little time that it has been since last fall has pampered me to a degree that I can barely handle the bitter cold. I'm blaming this on my lack of appropriate attire (someone send me my Uggs and some sweaters please!!) and the fact that my body doesn't even know what day it is anymore.

I have a couple of stories to share about my week:

1. My first true experience with the Heading of this blog was the sad reality that I DON'T speak French and apparently not all transitions are, well, anything other than literal translations. Example: I went into the Pharmacy the other day to pick up some contact solution because I ran out and forgot to bring this from home. Seemed simple enough. The store was the size of a large office and there were a couple of others there at the same time, including two pharmacists. I thought to myself (inside voice this time) "I can find this - I don't need help - I'm a World Traveler for crying out loud!" (or something to this effect...). So, I walked around, searching, until to my excitement I found a box marked 'Contact Solution'! How easy was that?! So, I reach forward, past the older women looking at the shelf to my right, and nearly pick up the solution.... until... I really looked at the shelf. The contact solution was located near the global Trojan brand, which to my embarrassment made me realize that this was not the kind of contact solution I was looking for. Unfortunately, my excitement at finding this had drawn some unwanted attention and I had to sheepishly work my way to a pharmacist that spoke English... no worries, I ended up with the global brand I was looking for, which was Bausch & Lomb.

2. I injured my knee (no one panic I'm fine) and need to go to a doctor just to make sure that I haven't seriously created some damage. So, I'm given the number to the American Hospital of Paris, call to set up an appointment only to find that the hours of operation are from 9-5. I've heard of the famous French work ethic, but even given the rumors this seems extreme... wonder what we do if there is actually an emergency after hours? Call back in the morning?

3. Again on the language front I've been approached by at least one person a day on the subway, in a store, etc., that tries to make "small talk" with me in French. While I take some pride in feeling like this means I look like I belong here some how, it is hard to miss the look of disappointment in their faces when I say 'je ne comprends pas' (I don't understand) in a significantly Midwest accent...

4. Last night at dinner a table came over to me to ask me if I am Canadian. Canadian?? Apparently they had been listening to me talk to my colleague and thought that I said 'sorry' in a Canadian way... first, how loud was I talking and second, I thought I'd lived out of WI long enough to drop my accent... how have I picked up an even more Northern accent now when I'm not even there? ha ha!

5. Last weekend I took a long walk along the Seine River and found myself a nice bench where I had a partial view of Notre Dame, the tip of the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. I sat there for awhile taking pictures, enjoying the sunshine and, well, just taking it all in. After awhile I started to think a little clearer and realized I couldn't be looking at the Louvre because it was on the same side of the river as me... I was literally sitting right in front of it. So, I took a bunch of pictures of a building that I have no idea what it is.

6. This isn't a story, I just want to rub in the fact that the chocolate eclairs here are amazing.

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There are other stories, of course, but these are some highlights. Work was busy this week and it's starting to get a bit stressful since I've been traveling so much and with timezones it makes things a lot more difficult. I'm tired of traveling and actually am opting for train travel while in Europe rather than flights... I'll have to report back in a couple weeks on how my trip on the Eurostar train under the English Channel goes. I also opted for a 4.5 hour train ride in lieu of a 1 hour plane ride to a remote part of France in a couple weeks... what can I say? I'm sick of planes (and managed to save my company quite a bit of money this way...). I cut my trip short and will be taking time off at home rather than in France after I finish work on April 1, so I'm looking forward to sleeping in my own bed in a few short weeks.

That's it! Check out my pics and look for another update sometime soon!!


Posted by rubywheels 19:00 Archived in France Tagged business_travel

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