Monday, May 25, 2009

St. Germain en-Laye

Chateau at St. Germain

I went to St. Germain en-Laye with my friend the other day to visit her hospital bound husband. It was a holiday so I didn't expect anything to be open, but surprisingly the town was buzzing. It's a really cute place and has a very large expat community because of the American school. I can't say I would recommend making a special trip out there, but if you live in Paris or the suburbs, it's a nice little break from the 'city'.

I took this photo of the hospital in order to catch its dilapidated state but the photo is a little flattering. Trust me, it was horrifying! And the nurses, orderlies, etc. were not wearing gloves. I know I am a little obsessed with germs, but give me a break!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Gripes, Part Two

For the French, the month of May is packed full of holidays and since I work here, the same also applies to my work schedule even though I am not technically in the French system. Almost every week has at least one bank holiday and often when the holiday falls on a Thursday, the French will take Friday off as well. All these vacation days have allowed me to do lots of things and I do intend to post about the exhibits I've seen and all about my several lazy afternoons, but not in this post. Unfortunately, this post is going to be another rant, but after this one, I promise to post some pictures of Paris and talk about good things.

So I mentioned before that my building is going through its 10 year resurfacing process. Well, along the way, we are also experiencing plumbing and electrical updates. Not so much fun when the water is turned off for 9-10 hours each day. And yes, normally most people would be at work between 8 and 6 but since this is May, many of us aren't. I digress, but this information will be necessary later. One night, I came home rather late (11:30) and found I was locked out of my apartment. My landlord lives in the building so I called him and when he didn't answer, I knocked on his door, which he didn't answer. Luckily for me, I had a nice friend who was still awake who told me I could crash at her house. I ran to catch the last metro and then ran to catch my connecting metro (last one being around midnight). For my entertainment, there were a bunch of drunken guys on the metro who desperately wanted to tell me how much the U.S. sucks, how crappy Americans are, etc. This is a relatively common occurrence, so I am never offended, just annoyed by being yelled at. When I got off, they got off with me and continued to harass me and block my way. After being locked out, running to catch the metro and being harassed by a bunch of thugs, you can imagine I wasn't in the best of moods.

The next day I didn't get into my apartment until 4:30. Turns out, the plumber had locked my bottom lock after checking to see if my water was working properly. Locking the bottom lock is a big no-no because the mechanism in said lock is older than God and just refuses to function properly. It took two men to unlock the door (one lifting the door up to align the lock and the other using some kind of tool to get a better grip on the key).

Fast-forward to 1 a.m. I went to my friend's new apartment for a drink and some nibbles. THE drink turned into 3 bottles of wine between two and I had to stumble home. My friend's apartment is in an interesting area...interesting during the day, downright frightening at night. A guy grabbed me two feet away from my friend's doorway and wouldn't let go of me. He insisted on walking me home, holding my hand, kissing me, etc. Now, I know had I been sober I could have neutralized the situation sooner or at least handled it a bit better, but being rather drunk, I couldn't suss out how to extract myself from his grip. I finally got home and literally had to throw my entire body weight against my entryway door to keep the bastard from following me into my apartment building. Very, very scary stuff.

But, the bad stuff doesn't end there. The next day, I went with my friend to a neighboring city to visit her hospital-bound husband. On my return journey, I noticed a man staring at me. It made me very uncomfortable so I decided to switch cars at a stop. Of course he followed me and continued to stare at me and make me uncomfortable. When I got off at Chatelet (biggest stop in Paris), he followed me and actually approached me and asked for my phone number. When I wouldn't answer or acknowledge him (it really is best not to engage these types of people), he started touching my arm. I tried to get away from him; I even stopped, turned around, changed course, etc., but he just would not leave me alone. Not wanting a repeat of the night before, I decided to stay in the station until I could get rid of the guy. I found a transportation cop and in what I am sure was very bad French, told him I was scared, that the man had been following me, staring at me, touching me for a while and that I was worried he would follow me home. I repeated that I was scared about 10 times, in case my accent and bad conjugation was unintelligible. The cop's response? Perhaps he just likes you. And with that, the cop walked away, leaving me with my newly acquired stalker. Now, if I had be watching this on television, it would have been funny, but as it happened to me, let me assure you, it was not.

I finally found a female employee and after walking with her a bit, the man left me alone, but still, scary. Anyway, those were my three bad days. Hopefully that adage, "bad things happen in threes," will prove itself true and I will have nothing but sunshiny days for a bit.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Full of Gripes

All the buildings in Paris must be resurfaced, repainted, cleaned, etc. every ten years. Technically I know this, but until they started cleaning mine, I didn't actually KNOW this. For the past three weeks, about four men have been building the scaffolding (just building it, mind you) and I do believe I might go crazy.

They start everyday at 7:30, which is incredibly surprising because nothing 'starts' at 7:30 in France, and they bang metal until about 10, at which time, they take an hour break. Then they bang around for another hour or so and take a two-hour break. (Honestly, if it weren't for the ridiculously long breaks, I wouldn't know I was in France.) Then at 2 they come back and start again, but with much less vigor, and continue until 5.

It's just waking up to banging metal or the noise that is driving me insane, it's the fact that I now have no natural sunlight in my apartment. And I am sure it is going to be like that for the duration of the summer which really, really depresses me. I won't be able to open my curtains (leering workmen abound) or my windows so if it ever gets hot, I will have no air. Things like this make me think Paris isn't as charming as it seems.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Blog Award

I would like to thank Jules at Lovely Las Vegas for her kind shout out and this award. It is the first blog award I've received. I looked at the rules for this award:

*List 7 Things That Make You Awe-Summm!
*Pass It On To 7 Bloggers Who Are Awe-Summm!
*Be Sure To Tag Your Awe-Summm Bloggers To Let Them Know!
*Then Link Back To The Queen That Tagged You

I'm afraid it is quite difficult to list 7 awesome things about my blog. I can only come up with two things: the pictures and it has basically served as a complaint forum for me over the years (kept me sane).

I can however, list 7 awesome blogs. Here they are:

Jen at Expat Travels for her great photography and for being such a great gal!

Lotus at Lotus Reads for giving me great reading ideas and a whole new set of friends.

Pardon my French for being a fellow expat to commiserate with over the years and for her insight on having a child in France.

Random Attention Disorder for giving us all a look at life in a Corsican village.

Betty C. at La France Profonde whom I have just recently discovered but still really appreciate her photos and commentary.

Starbender at This S#%t drives me CRAZY!!! for always making me chuckle.

And most recently Buffalodick for the great recipes.

And again, a big thank you to Jules and her great blog!