I’m a big fan of Marian Keyes. She is, in my opinion, right up there in terms of funniest-authors-in-existence. I’ve just finished a book of collated short stories and articles, and in one article she confesses or proudly declares that all of her novels and articles are written from her bed!
So I’ve taken a leaf out of her book, and have decided to pen (type) this entry sprawled on my hotel bed in the hope some of Marion’s talent is mirrored in my horizontal writing. And regardless it’s a bloody nice place to write from and I’m sure if I didn’t have Marian’s justification I’d feel slovenly and lazy…. Although she is an award-winning novelist so she could probably write upside-down if she wanted too..
Yesterday is a bit of a blur. However it’s monumental and important so I thought I better record what transpired before it floats away to a dusty ill organised filing cabinet in the back of my mind probably dredged up in thirty years when I tell my grandchildren about Nana’s “big adventure to Paris”
It was a sad (understatement) moment saying goodbye to my dad at Christchurch airport however I did get the feeling that he and mum were coping far better with this one, than the previous farewells. In fact I barely finished my coffee before dad had to ‘dash’ to a meeting. I think they’re getting better at the whole ‘see you soon’ (in a year) thing. It also helps that they are setting off to America for a month in a few days so they’re fairly excited. I instructed them to try a corn dog (I’ve been fascinated since I watched The Princess Diaries). I want a corn dog review too; seriously are they just your standard hot-dog or what? I’m sure that sauce looked like a hybrid mustard mayo, or possibly cheese? I’m dying to know. I’ve also requested that they party large on September the 8th where fittingly they will be in Vegas to celebrate my quarter life milestone. I was going to suggest a Britney show as she is in residence but not sure dad appreciates the lyrical genius of songs such as ‘Slave 4 you’ quite like I do.
It was in 30 short hours (hahaha I can’t complete that sentence without breaking into a nervous sweat) that I was in PARIS, well at the airport at least. Those who know me well will nod their heads in agreement with the following statement; I find a lot of normal everyday tasks challenging. Tasks like working out how to lift out my entertainment screen on the plane. So it came as no surprise that I found myself standing at the wrong baggage carousel waiting patiently for my three bags to emerge. I was disoriented, dazed and confused when I turned to see my tall pal waving furiously from behind the glass arrivals divider! It was so good (mad understatement to try to make myself sound cool) to see him and after over a day of travel such a relief to hug him!! Having navigated 43kgs of luggage through Christchurch airport, Singapore airport and now Charles de Gaulle in Paris I nearly cried tears of joy as Hugh grabbed my trolley and bags, and we headed for THE CAR!
Again, THE CAR, I hope you’re clapping? We have a freaking car!! Unless you’ve lived in a city without a car and then experienced the joy of suddenly having one you won’t be able to understand the enormity of those four wheels of freedom. My forest green Toyota Corolla affectionately named snifter after the New Zealand part-lolly-part-chocolate gave me a whole new lease of life in Melbourne. It gives you means to explore, to venture out late, to go to destination eateries and shops and restaurants on a whim. I could have kissed the beautiful piece of machinery when I saw it! And for those car fanatics playing at home I have no details on what species the car is, but it’s black, it’s shiny and it has a Navman.
After a small hiccup where I tried to climb in the driver’s side we were on our way into the centre of Paris. I was extremely impressed with the way Hugh was taking to French road rules, I’d say ‘like a duck to water’ however I haven’t seen ducks cut in front of each other, gesticulate wildly, and veer side to side for no reason. I actually quite admire the French way of driving. It comes down to “whoever wants/needs to get to their destination the quickest, and is willing to risk their car/life in order to do so will reign supreme”. I don’t know the translation into French for ‘merge like a zip’, but even if I did it wouldn’t apply to the French way of driving. Everyone goes for it; it was quite a thrilling journey in the passenger seat.
Because we are now residents as opposed to tourists we had errands to run! My brain was quietly requesting a pan au chocolat, a lie down and a spot of shopping but before I had a chance to silence those thoughts Hugh asked me to quickly type in the address for a bank in the 6th arrondissement – looks like nap time would have to wait! We pulled up outside a Sephora (fate) so all was not lost as after a quick bank visit I stocked up on supplies and sedated my shopping compulsion. After a quick bite to eat, (a fromage baguette) we were off to complete errand deux (two), with a visit to a rugby shop. Hoorah.
The rugby shop, Mister Rugby, was also located in the 6th and after a rather long game of locate a car-park we were strolling the streets of the Latin Quarter! I love (am obsessed) with this area of Paris. Sally and I had spent a full day in the Saint Germain de-Pres area shopping and eating and generally loving life. The main street of Saint Germain de-Pres is lined with trees and has a beautiful elegant feel to it for such a busy street. The side streets are full of cafes, bars, fruit stands and shops. The one place Sally and I ran out of time for were the Jardin du Luxembourg, or the Luxemborg Gardens. Once the necessary rugby supplies were purchased and the owner had taken a photo of Hugh complete with thumbs up and admirable product placement we started our walk to the famed gardens!
It is now that I should let you know that I am the proud proud (yes doubly proud) owner of a proper grown up camera purchased in Christchurch before I left. Thanks to Bella and Greg Bramwell the quality of photo on this blog will soar from humble iPhone to Olympus quality photos. Note: I am now not only a novice blogger and novice French speaker, but also a novice photographer. So again, I am hoping with quantity, will eventually come quality! I’d also like to make you aware that for at least the next month the photos will involve buildings, landscapes, food or Hugh. Mostly Hugh.
Below are photos of the gardens and the Luxembourg Palace, which is now home to the French senate. It was originally commissioned by Marie de Medicis mother of Louis XIII of France and I can just imagine the sort of soirees the Palace has hosted. After wandering around in circles we retraced our walk back to the car, stopping along the way at a burger bar where Hugh ate one of the most delightful burgers in the history of burgers. He’s become very confident in ordering and speaking in snippets of French, “Parlez-vous anglais?” (do you speak English?) is still the top go-to phrase. I admire his efforts and am at the same time incredibly insecure about my own abilities. I MUST get onto some lessons ASAP.
We drove back to the hotel where Hugh has been staying for the past ten days. I fell asleep while Hugh went in search of dinner (sushi) and to pick up his washing from the Laundromat. Unfortunately the Laundromat was shutting before he had time to dry his clothes so our hotel room became a drying rack. I was surprised to see headgear and training tops occupying the towel rail when I woke from my nap and today undies draped over a lamp. Hugh had also bumped into two of his teammates at the sushi restaurant and told them that I had succumbed to jet-lag. I was sort of glad that I hadn’t been with him as my speech had deteriorated so much so that I couldn’t string a sentence together and didn’t want to make a bad first impression.
Today has been more of a relaxed day. Hugh and I had breakfast together at the hotel before he headed off to training. I retreated to bed and gave myself a limit of one hour to catch up on sleep. The hotel has a fitness centre on the top floor so I willed an hour away and returned to the room where the cleaner was finishing up in our room – I gave her the biggest “Merci” of them all.
Hugh arrived back for lunch and we ate at a nearby Japanese restaurant. The food was amazing, last night’s dinner and lunch today was some of the freshest sushi I have ever eaten! Quite comical as Sally and I hadn’t stumbled across any Japanese restaurants during our stay in Paris and I had commented to Hugh that we would be struggling to find sushi. It’s now a bit of a running joke how wrong I was! The food is amazing, and best of all there are delivery services.
I will finish up now as Hugh is due back soon and I was supposed to have decided on a restaurant for dinner tonight! The challenge in moving without having a job to jump into is filling my day with purpose. I’m going to make sure I’m exercising each day and practicing my French but I am definitely looking out for something extra to fill my time, and yes shopping counts. Tomorrow I have a date with someone other than Hugh! I am meeting with Myriam, a real estate agent who is taking me to look at apartments. I’m going to need to restrain myself from chatting nonstop as being in the company of someone new will be exciting.
Hugh is leaving tomorrow to play an away game in Oyonnax, eastern France. So I will face my first two nights alone in Paris. Luckily I have a family friend who lives in Paris and works in the 16th arrondissment (where Hugh trains and where we are staying) so I am going to meet with her tomorrow night and for lunch on Saturday.
I still can’t believe that I live in Paris; I feel very fortunate and at the same time very overwhelmed. I have felt my confidence take a serious knock and I am already feeling the absence of friends.
On the drive back to the hotel yesterday from our day of errands Hugh told me to look in the rear view mirror. And in the reflection, large and imposing, giving no doubt as to where we were in the world, was Eiffel Tower. It was as if Paris was sending a clear message, that any first world problems would pale in comparison to the sights and experiences that were waiting ahead