Sunday, 30 January 2011

From Paris with love...

Hôtel de Ville, Paris

Cathedral Notre Dame, Paris

Me by the Arch de Triomphe, Paris
Didn't really think through the pink hat, yellow tights outfit!

Me outside the Sacre Coeur, Paris
There's that colourful ensemble again!

Some things I Iearnt about Paris this weekend:
  • It’s smaller than London but there are a lot more people!
  • Its metro system is much more confusing to navigate than London tubes but is much faster and much more reliable and isn’t that far underground so your mobile works in most stations!
  • The absolutely massive stores of Louis Vouton , Channel etc. on the Champs-Elysées are very alluring, much more so than the shops on the Kings Road.
  • Everything is very far away from each other but thankfully the taxis are a lot cheaper than in London.
  • It’s really quite a scary place, but man it’s beautiful and exciting!
Some things I learnt about myself this weekend
  • For everything I will miss about Russian as a subject (I have dropped it from my degree title) I will not miss the ‘office politics’ of the department.
  • Some of my classmates think my voice is annoying when I go on a rant about something in lectures (and who can blame them? I bet it is annoying!) But apparently I get away with it coz I seemingly know what I’m talking about (questionable.)
  • Apparently my attitude to university life (that I am reasonably hard working, and really quite capable but I am not willing to kill myself over my degree coz I quite like having a life too!) hasn’t gone unnoticed by my classmates.
  • My ex was fit (obviously I was already well aware of this fact but it was quite nice, in a flattering sort of way, to hear that other people thought this too.)
  • Some people at university discuss my figure/shape in the positive way on a regular basis (well that’s very nice, shame I haven’t been swimming training in a very long while so now I’m super unfit!)
So it was Friday early evening and I was very tired from a long day at school but I hopped on a TGV at Dijon Ville than would zoom me to Paris Gare de Lyon to be met by Sam, Lauryn and Vicky, all friends from university. We then took the metro to our hotel it the rougher end of Montmartre – the sort of hotel you could imagine seedy men hiring as the location of sex with a prostitute. But it following my Dad’s rule of thumb on judging hotels (is the shower hot and powerful and is the bed reasonably comfortable?) It passed! The general plan was to have a little pre-drink catch up then grab the metro to an Irish bar near Notre Dame for some drinks and food. What actually happened is that it got quite drunk in our hotel room (got the “please be quiet knock” from the man on reception) and tossed about banter about our Irish families (I was the only one who could not add to this banter). Then quite drunk we walked down the red light district to take a photo of the Moulin Rouge, obviously and then got a kebab and went to bed.
Then at the respectful hour of 11am me and Sam set off to see Paris’s sights (Vicky and Lauryn had gone to Disneyland for the day.) We started at the Sacre Coeur where we met a friend of mine – Ed. Then we went on to the Arch de Triomphe/Champs-Elysées, Hôtel de Ville and finally Notre Dame, with regular stops for food and coffee of course, we are in France after all!
Later me and Sam met Lauryn and Vicky in MacDo and like the QM massive we are went to meet our friend Kyle for his birthday celebrations. However the bar was busy and it was impossible to get served so we went to a quieter bar and had a proper catch up. Lauryn and Vicky then went back to the hotel coz Disney had tired them out but me, Kyle and Sam were in for the long haul! All of our party (including my friend Ed) went on to a club except for me, Kyle, Sam, a Fab and a Ally decided to be more hardcore and get the metro to Montparnasse to a club called Mix for their gay night, however, unfortunately, gay meant men only so we hailed some taxis to Folie’s Pigalle (not far from the Moulin Rouge). I should have guessed what might happen next as Sam has told us the night before that this was the very club she lost Kyle on another night out!
The night started well, Kyle generously paid for us to have our own table and a bottle of vodka and while I sat there being confused as to who was a girl, who was a boy and who was a tranny and whether this club’s main market was gay or straight (and admiring quite a lot of fake boobs) we enjoyed yet more banter and good chat.
But then, Ally, Kyle’s American friend, passed out in her seat coz she was stupidly drunk so quite obviously this was our que to go home! But as we got outside Kyle realised that Fab was still inside with his ticket for the coat check. So Kyle went back in while me and Sam propped Ally up on a street corner giving the police a “everything’s fine” smile every time they circled past and one time when they wound down the window we actually had to tell them in words “tout va bien”. Except tout didn’t va bien coz Kyle was nowhere to be seen and we were cold and fed up of waiting for him. The very nice doorman let me back in to look but I didn’t find him. Then he let me in again and I found him and explained that he really needed to hurry the fuck up coz Ally was in no fit state and we needed help getting her home. So I waited outside, and when he still didn’t come out, I was let in a third time, this time Kyle came as far as the coat check queue but then never actually came outside so I went back a fourth time to be told by the doorman that it wasn’t worth his job to let me back in a fourth time but that my friend had gone back in the club. Fantastic! Me and Sam now had to get a girl we didn’t even know to a bed.
Ally did not know which bus to get home or where her bus stop was so she decided to get a taxi. At first I rang after her screaming “no, you can’t go home by yourself, you’re in no fit state” but then I realised that no taxi was actually gunna take a girl that drunk and besides she couldn’t even remember where she lived! So for a few moments I mildly enjoyed watching her try and get a taxi. So while I was on the other side of the road propping her up and telling every pervy man that walked past and tried to offer us a lift home, each trying to convince me that they were very “respecteux”, yea right! At first I tried telling them “on est bien, elle est bien, tout va bien, on juste attend nos amis, on est bien, vraiment!” Except everything wasn’t fine, there I was in a dodgy part of Paris looking after a drunk girl I didn’t even know so the colder and more tired I got I reverted to telling these me to “fuck off”. Which usually led to them giving me a rant about the rude British, normally I would defend my country but as long as they fucked off I didn’t care what they said.
Meanwhile Sam is on the other side of the road and gets told by a woman to move coz she’s stealing her clients. Turns out this woman is a prostitute and I was very grateful to Sam who in the middle of having a slanging match in French with a whore shouted over to me “are you alright?” seeing the group of men that were surrounding us. Yes I was fine, either “tout va bien” or “fuck off” was getting rid of these men no problem, but was Sam ok, I would have been well scarred it a French whore was shouting at me!
So as it was evidentially clear that Kyle was never gunna materialise it was time to take Ally to a bed. So we zigzagged down (Ally was in no fit state to walk properly) Avenue Pigalle towards our hotel, all the while wondering how we were gunna sneak Ally in to our room without having to pay for an extra guest. When we arrived, at around 4am the man on reception we clearly too blind with tiredness to notice that we had an extra guest when he buzzed us in. So we stumbled up the 2 flights of stairs, Ally fell asleep immediately on the bed and Sam very kindly offered to sleep on the floor, so I made her a make-shift bed of my coat, towels and a spare blanket and then I too collapsed in to bed.
We were woken at 11am by Lauryn and Vicky coming to say their goodbyes. And then, as we had to check out by 12, we too gathered our things, checked out and walked to the metro, we said goodbye to Ally as she went to take line 2 home and we took line 4 to Gare de Nord and then the RER D to Gare de Lyon, grabbed some lunch, giggled about the nights events (which out of the cold are pretty funny) and then I look my train back to Dijon and Sam took a RER back to Corbeil and we parted with promises to see each other soon!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Dijon, c'est chouette!

This weekend my friend Sam from university who is doing her assistantship just outside Paris came to visit me and so of course we did the number one touristy thing to do in Dijon – le parcours de la chouette (a walking tour of Dijon where you following little owls that are on the floor.) And when Sam pointed out how many times I said the word chouette in our one day together it got me thinking how Dijonaise I’ve become (or at least how Dijonaise I like to think I’ve become.)
Chouette for those who don’t know means both owl and cool (as in wicked/sick/however kids speak these days) in French. The owl is one of the symbols of Dijon so there is many a blague to be had with “Dijon, c’est chouette”. Or when my flatmate saw my owl themed costume that I wore to my birthday party she commented “tu es chouette colco” (you are cool/an owl, flatmate).
The other reason I am becoming Dijionaise (apart from I crack the chouette blague regularly) is that I couldn’t possibly ever imagine buying wine that wasn’t a Burgundy red, ever again!
I also got thinking about language and despite the massive leaps and bounds I have made with my French I still find myself making embarrassing mistakes that even a year 7 would know (such as pas de, it’s not pas d’un/une/du/de la it’s just pas de with not article, the same goes for beaucoup de). I know this, year 7s know this, yet I still insist on making this mistake several times a day!
But anyway apart from making the chouette joke one too many times, one too many glasses of Burgundy wines and one too many elementary errors in my French I had a super chouette (sorry couldn’t resist) weekend!
I managed to have 2 fairly wild nights out by Dijon standards, yes, that’s right, two, in two days. When was the last time you did that Katie?
I have also spent a small fortune on break plans which involve London, Bristol and Merida (in Spain) and I’m hoping to add skiing to the list too!
Until the next time, friends.....

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Bonne Année!

Bonne Année!
Happy New Year!
It has come to my attention that I have not written a blog post for a while so I will attempt to update you all on everything that has been going on since my last post.
The Christmas lights and decorations went up around the city around the end of November (and still haven’t come down!) We kicked off the festive celebrations with the official turning on of the lights which involved a fireworks display to the tune of drumming which was a bit bizarre partly because the fireworks were so close to the Palais des Ducs which rose health and safety questions in my head but the French didn’t seem to mind. Also it was pretty hard to see the fireworks once they got more than about 10 foot in the air because the sky was so grey. However it was lots of fun and we mainly just drank vin chaud and looked round the small but still plenty of fun Christmas market that Dijon has got going on.
The weather has been added to the festive feeling as we had temperatures as low as -6 and a lot of snow. It was very exciting to have proper snow for such a long period of time (although the cold did get to me as I did not pack for such Arctic temperatures). But, now, come January the snow has turned to rain, which does at least mean its above zero!
In the weeks before the Christmas holidays I managed 2 trips. One to Lyon to see the Illumination Festival and one to Strasbourg for the Christmas markets. Lyon was wonderful, as ever (probably my favourite French city) and provided a great opportunity for me to hangout with my flatmate and her friend, and therefore speak lots of French! Strasbourg was awesome and it was really interesting to be in a French city with such a German influence.
Then after rolling out a fairly successful lesson on the topic of Christmas it was time to go home for my Christmas holidays. I spent the first 3 days on my university campus, staying in my brother’s halls which was lots of fun and I managed to catch up with some familiar faces and to meet some new ones and just generally have a great time partying in London. And then it was time to go home home, and after a slightly stressful trek across London and a delay at Victoria Coach station me and my brother made it back to Bristol. And a few days later (after delayed planes) my grandparents joined us from Cyprus and my Dad came back from Australia. Christmas was wonderful and it was lovely to be with my family and friends and to speak English again. It was also, of course, my 22nd birthday. But shortly after the New Years Eve celebrations it was time to come back.
It was weird at first as I kept thinking people in the street were speaking English, when obviously they were speaking French but as my French flatmate greeted me at the door and we exchanged notes from the holidays I was relieved to find that I can speak French!
My flatmates are both at home this weekend so I was concerned I would be bored/lonely but on Friday Julie (the other assistant at my school) came round for lunch and then we met up with some other assistants for free tea and coffee at Ikea, yesterday it was the birthday of one of the American assistants so we all went out to a bar and I think everyone got drunker than they intended! And then today despite my hangover I cooked a Sunday roast (with trifle for dessert) for a few friends and then we watched a film – a lovely lazy Sunday! And tomorrow both my flatmates come back, yay!