I thought I’d had my fair share of gross-things-that-fall-from-the-sky drama with the whole ‘banana incident’ from my last post. So it came as a rude shock that I found myself victim to another high-flying crime. A bird pooped in our hotel room. That’s right blog readers; I’m starting this post off with birdturd. I had our hotel room window open (around 20 centimeters) and somehow a flying opportunist managed to relieve itself of two large-sized droppings MILLIMETERS away from my shopping bag and suitcase. And I’m not talking your garden variety; make a mess on your car, but still relatively small, pigeon droppings. I am talking eagle, albatross, or Labrador in size. I can just imagine the winged assassin sporting a mustache and leather jacket, perched on a precarious angle, laughing away, and chirping “got em’” in a French accent to his friends. Absolutely hideous; I’ve also come down with a virus and I’ve started to convince myself it is bird flu.
Not to be dramatic but this could be my last post….
MERCI TO YOU!
You came back, hoorah! I hope the above story doesn’t scare you off! It’s just I have been in disbelief about it for a few days now, I’ve been thinking long and hard about it, I haven’t heard any birds, nor spotted any trees/places to perch. I’ve come to the point where I’m not even mad at the bird anymore I’m just impressed.
Anywho I’ll turn my attention back to where I left off. And this is where things get a little awkward. You know how sometimes you find ‘The one’ and you think OMG this is ‘The one’ and tell all your friends and family/the internet. Theeeenn a few days later you find out that maybe ‘The one’ isn’t ‘The one’ because there is another one, and this one is really ‘The one’? Yeah I know – happens all the time! Let’s just pretend my last claim about finding an apartment never happened. Because this time, I’m serious, we found ‘The one’. I need a better naming convention don’t I…
I had always deep down wanted to live in a classically French apartment in Paris, in a 19th century building with the shutters and the metal and glass lifts! But after physically examining a few, I was less ‘charmed’ and more ‘fed up’ with some of the quirks. So, I fell for a newly renovated, Melbourne-esque apartment, still in an old building but without any original features. It wasn’t until I went out for round two with Myriam the apartment hunter that those initial wants surfaced again, and I walked through the doors of my DPA (dream Paris apartment A.K.A THE ONE!)
The apartment has the original ‘maids entrance’ door which is now not in use but still visible in the kitchen. It is crazy to image who occupied the apartment building centuries before, (and those who worked there and had to deal with those who occupied it!) We are living in the old maids quarter on the fourth floor which suits Hugh and I just fine. The apartment is 68 square metres in size which is palatial in Paris and features a large kitchen with dining table and gas top cooker. The apartment is very close to the Eiffel tower which is going to help when we take our friends and family on tours of Paris. I can just shoo them out the door and around the corner to take in the view and a couple of instagram selfies before demanding they do whatever it is I want to do for the rest of the day. We move in on Wednesday exactly nine days before my first friend comes to visit! She was the first girl to take me under her wing in Melbourne so it seems fitting she should come to check out my new life and give her approval.
The past week has flown by and as I mentioned at the start of the post unfortunately I developed a head cold which was not good for two reasons, 1) The French find it impossible to understand my English with a nasally kiwi accent. 2) I had to visit the pharmacy and describe my symptoms in a theatrical charade-like fashion. I walked away with Jour & Nuit (day and night) tablets which was a victory, and the instructions all in French not so much. I also reached a low point one night where I couldn’t leave the hotel because I felt so unwell. Burgers in bed it was! For the record Hugh demanded this photo be included in this post and he claims it is his proudest photography moment. As I said, not my finest hour.
On Thursday Hugh had his day off so we ventured to the 10th to try Holybelly, an Australian owned cafe. After the most stressful peak hour drive across town it was so fabulous to find the cafe was, still closed, and not open till two days later. Hugh had the date wrong. But never fear ‘yelp’ was there! Yelp is Hugh’s go-to app for nearby food locations. We went off in search of coffee and stumbled across 10Belles, which I offer 10 thumbs up too. Hugh almost wept tears of joy after he tasted his coffee, and I did too when I saw he had ordered a cookie along with breakfast.
On our walk back to the car we popped into Liberté, my favourite patisserie in Paris and I stocked up on 15 euros of pastry, don’t judge me, I was still very ill. We walked past a few trendy ‘co-working’ spaces, offering unlimited coffee, good food and desk space. I’m very intrigued to come back and try it out. I would feel like a bit of a fraud not having proper work to do. But I know how to make myself look busy and important, shuffling papers, typing loudly with purpose, and sighing loudly so I’m really considering using the space, even just to give me the opportunity to sit next to someone else…….
Thursday afternoon, Hugh and I went to see the dream apartment because it was important I had his approval – who am I trying to kid I just thought it was the polite thing to do. That night we had dinner with one of Hugh’s teammate’s Krisnan and caught up with a familiar face from Melbourne, the lovely Marre, for drink. My VLS was presented as 200ml of straight vodka in a glass adorned with glow-stick, and marshmallow skewer. The bottle of soda water to the side looked optional.
Saturday was a day of firsts; Hugh’s first start and my first visit to Stade Jean-Bouin, Stade Francais’s home ground. Home truth, I get myself worked up into a state when I have to do things for the first time, especially if I am alone. I am all for safety in numbers so venturing to the game solo was definitely going against my natural instincts. It was also Katie’s birthday so I met her in the Passy during the day for a Sephora visit to stock up on makeup. It was Katie’s birthday but for some reason I thought I better also stock up too. I bought the most incredible nude palette and foundation so I thought this could give me some additional confidence for the night ahead.
Coming home from Passy I stopped to collect our dry-cleaning. It was my second attempt as the first time I had walked into a drycleaner and asked ‘parlez-vous anglais?” the two women had laughed, said “no” and continued talking to each other in French. I was very hurt and wish I knew how to say “WELL I’LL TAKE MY BUSINESS ELSEWHERE, GOOD DAY TO YOU!” in French, but as I didn’t I just turned and left with flushed cheeks and thought about catching a taxi to the airport. I recovered when I remembered Hugh wouldn’t be able to live without me (hahaha) and resigned myself to the fact that I’d be unable to ever dry clean again. Luckily the next day we had walked past a dry cleaner with ‘Yes we can’ painted in large letters across the front of the shop. I saw this positive declaration (in English) as a sign from above. So I returned Saturday to pick up the items and rushed back to the hotel with shopping bags and dry-cleaning in tow.
The weather in Paris continues to be beautiful which is great and all – except for the fact all my summer gear is vacuum packed in suitcases. (Hugh should moonlight as a vacuum packing salesman – he loves it). I am continuously over dressed and overheating, and with a head cold I turn into a hot sweaty mess. I left the hotel at 6pm to walk the short distance to the stadium. I’m trying to be really nonchalant here; in reality it took me three hours to get ready. Because I kept avoiding the fact I had to get dressed and go. I decided to file my nails, read through bird-flu symptoms, tidy my clothes (definitely an unnatural task) and untangle a necklace all of which took up time I’d set aside to wash/dry my hair and so I ended up leaving the hotel frazzled to say the least. Arriving at the stadium I felt a long way from the Friday nights at AAMI Park. I missed the Melbourne girls so much, especially as I’d seen an instagram post earlier of the girls enjoying a wine and cheese night together, my favourite kind of night!! I pulled myself together and decided to tackle (pun) the night confidently, and alone…
Outside the stadium a kind man saw the glazed look in my eyes as I looked from ticket, to French signage, and back to ticket again. He probably felt sorry for me in my boots and shirt and blazer so quickly glanced at my ticket to give me directions. I walked around to Gate A, and walked in via the pink carpet. “Toto we are a long way from home” I whispered to myself. The sun was out at full noise and my seat was in the direct sunlight. Not good for my long-sleeved silk shirt. Krisnan wasn’t playing and rescued me from the glaring sun he said he had been keeping an eye out as he knew I was riding solo – very kind of him. I then went and sat with him and Monty and met a lovely French gal called Armandine. At half time we entered a room with pink lighting, chandeliers, drinks and food galore. It was some sort of wonderland. I didn’t want to go back to the seats after half time ended but everyone else did, so I sort of had too. The crowd was fantastic, they cheered for scrums which was something I hadn’t witnessed before, they chanted “Allez la rose” (Go the pink) and politely clapped when the opposite team (Bayonne) scored. Krisnan pointed out the international players in both teams and referred to Joe Rokocoko playing for Bayonne as one of his idols. The game wrapped up with the right team coming away with a win, and Hugh sporting a smile.
Post match we were back in the wonderland room where my eyes were popping out of my head. A table was set up with AstroTurf surface to mimic a rugby field and on it were plates of French cheese. A chef was whipping up food and macaroons and lolly jars were plotted about the room. This is living friends. Far from a masculine, stuffy feel this was like an after function of a fashion show. All of a sudden music came on and a group of girls with long flicky hair appeared on a staircase and began sashaying down, dancing along the way! Thoroughly entertained I mentioned this later to some of the players who had missed the action while they were getting changed. They didn’t seem overly surprised, “yeah” one said to me “the club loves to entertain, a few seasons ago an eagle brought the ball to the players on the field” AN EAGLE!
The players have an area to the side where they sit and eat dinner with the opposite team. I glanced over to see Hugh had positioned himself beside two Bayonne players, he later mentioned later that he had sat next to Joe Rokocoko, and had casually called him ‘Joe” as in, “hey Joe can you pass the salt” like it ain’t no thang.
While the guys ate, the room was buzzing with member’s, staff, and family & friends mingling. I partook in a lot of meet and greets. When it’s the club’s President’s wife, and CEO’s wife it’s important to really nail your greeting. I was unsure of what to do. When I left Christchurch I had the understanding that if I knew someone really well I might hug them, but it was not customary to greet guys or girls with a kiss on the cheek. This could also have been due to the fact I was 21 when I left and I have an awkward nature where I keep my arms rigid at my sides and obsess about the fact I’m left handed and probably instinctively swinging in the wrong way. In Melbourne I learnt the art of the cheek kiss, but only after some time. I managed to go in for a half hug while one of Hugh’s teammates went in for a cheek kiss and then ended up sort of bowing at him. Like I said.. concerning. Now that I am in the land of the double-cheek-kiss, the tables (cheeks) have turned once again. I think I may have nearly broken Krisnan’s cheekbone the first time I met him, but apart from that I got through the night relatively unscathed and without causing any awkward moments. I’ve let the other person do the leading and I’ve made sure to make the air-kiss noise that is very important in terms of French custom. I have been told it’s easy to end up accidentally pashing someone if you go for two, while they stick with one. So I must remember to revert back to the single kiss in Australia! Interestingly, when I met the two kiwi players we enthusiastically said hello but didn’t double kiss, obviously an acknowledgment that we needed a bit of a breather. I awarded my biggest smile of the night to the two kiwi wives, both pregnant who immediately felt like long lost friends. The fact that they were pregnant was also a bonus as I love babies, and I am heartbroken that I am separated from Mason Fuglistaller one of the cutest humans alive, the Burgess Girls and new kid on the block Poppy Davidson.
The night continued on across the road at a rooftop bar. I had to try and act all cool about the fact I was sitting at a table with my back to the Eiffel tower lit up. You know, it’s no big deal, just that A-frame, I’m a local. Secretly I oohed and aahed over its glitteriness and I saw Hugh staring at it, a lot. On our way out, or should I say down from the rooftop Hugh’s coach motioned for us to come over, he wanted to introduce himself and speak to me about how I was settling in. he said that he too was a foreign player and he knows how tough it can be, but that ultimately my happiness is Hugh’s happiness. He said if there was anything he could do to make me happy I should call him. I was incredibly touched and handled this in the only way I knew how, by telling him that actually a new handbag would make me really happy so I’d call him to arrange one. He said no problems; he’d get the CEO’s credit card details to me straight away.
Sunday we woke, slightly worse for wear, and visited a farmers market in the 15th. This street market on Boulevard de Grenelle was full of fresh produce, rotisserie chicken, socks, herbs and fake bags. I know, I know, trust me, with a hangover this assortment of goods was even more confusing. Markets are a big thing in Paris with locals buying a lot of their produce for the rest of the week there. Hugh and I love Queen Vic, and South Melbourne Markets so I was very excited to read that the largest open air market in Paris is the Marché Ave du Président Wilson. The market is held on Wednesdays and Saturdays on Avenue President Wilson (our new street). I will report back with photos, and no doubt a chicken for Hugh. Later in the day we headed to Montmarte and the famous Sacré-Cœur Basilica. INCREDIBLE! I would recommend this ten times over. Loved the view, loved the crepe, loved the area.
And now, today! The Birthday! I am 25, vingt-cinq! A sort of respectable age, its mind boggling that I am celebrating in Paris! I feel very lucky. Waking up to messages from my Australian and New Zealand pals was the best. This afternoon Hugh is taking me for a picnic which will be lovely – and very interesting as I don’t think he has assembled a picnic before. On his way out the door to training this morning he mentioned that my present is in the safe in our room. So I have a few hours up my sleeve to guess the code, or if all else fails, throw it off the roof. If you’re reading this and thinking; “seriously???!! Why didn’t he give it to her this morning? It’s her birthday after all and she has no friends??” I TOTALLY get you! He is a clearly a sick and twisted control freak.
TTYS (talk to you soon)