Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Paris Plage

So I went to the beach last night. I biked there after work. Nope, I didn't do a long distance ride to an ocean or a lake -- the picture above is at the Seine! Paris does a great job all year round entertaining it's citizens culturally (whether it be through exhibits, free museum days, theater in the park, etc), but during the summer it goes the extra mile by creating a beach! There is a high way along the Seine which is closed ALL august long (BTW another Paris tip -- alll year long the same highway closes on Sunday btw for pedestrians and bikers). Paris then ships in tons and tons of sand and creates a beach along the river. It is equipped with bars, petanque courts, a pirate ship play ground, showers, music, etc. Super fun for those who are stuck in the city during August and a unique activity for the hoards of tourists as well. Other great activities - Outdoor movies throughout the city and the Olympics streaming 12 hours a day at hotel de ville!

 I've always heard that Paris in August is 'dead' due to vacation time. This may be true (it's only August 1st after all so I can't judge), but I must say July is also 'vacation time'. (and remember when I said May was dead? This country is crazy about their vacation). During the month of July I was literally one of 3 people in my section at the office (normally 20 or so). It was insane and really awful to be honest because it just reinforces the fact that you AREN"T on vacation.

Anyways, my time has come! Less than 9 hours left of work, 24 hours til I'm on my way to the airport, and then I'm off on the great North American Tour 2012! Which means I probably won't be blogging that much  (although Playing Parisian in August normally does include a trip to NY...I swear there are a ton of French people in NY in August). Anyways, bon vacances everyone!
Andrew being romantique along the Seine.

Monday, July 30, 2012

You know you're Playing Parisian when....

On Friday, I went to a lovely dinner with some friends. We drank a (few) bottles of wine and I was keeper of said wine. At one point, a friend of mine leaned over and said "Please sir may I have some more?" Someone asked "what movie is that from" and I immediately blurted out "Olivier...." clearly meaning "Oliver."

WOW. Really?

It took almost a year, but I think I'm playing parisian very well :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Le tour de France!

and they're off!
Yesterday was the first beautiful day we've had in a while and I would call it the offical start of summer in Paris (only a month late! The parisian mother nature has a sick sense of humor). It also marked the final day of the Le Tour De France. I've never been a huge tour fan (except during the 'roids debacles...who could honestly ignore that train wreck?), but man oh man for the 5 seconds those cyclers go by I was hooked! In all honesty it was quite exhilerating at the time and with all the people around it's worth it -- but really, Le Tour is probably the worst Live spectator sport event in history and I wouldn't make a special trip to see it unless there was a wicked party attached. (Okay, hear me out, it's like watching a marathon, but worse...I mean they zoom by and then that's it. Luckily for us, they did 8 laps, but I can't imagine being in a small town in France and you see them for 2.4 seconds and then go on your merry way. Talk about anti-climatic! I think watching on TV would probably have more sports appeal...or if you're on a nice balcony somewhere with a Mimosa.)

Anywho, I especially like my pic of the winner (or as I like to call him "not Lance Armstrong"). Well done Wiggins! (I really do think that's his name)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

That day in which I spend an hour within 10 feet at Gare Du Nord...

So, this weekend I lost the 4 most important cards in a person's wallet: ID, Subway Card, Credit Card and Debit Card. (UGH...no idea, long story, surprisingly, this happened sober AND in broad daylight. And I'm pretty sure it's my fault). Anywho, as you can imagine this has been and continues to be a french bureaucratic nightmare to get them all replaced. And in some cases I'm ignoring them completely, like the subway card (known hereafter as a navigo card), in the hopes that it just shows up (I can't help it, I'm an eternal optimist. Just like my mother ...right Andrew?).

Anywho, I'm on my way from Gare Du Nord to work this morning and I had two choices -- argue with a cab driver to use my AmEx or take the subway by procuring a ticket through the ridiculous amount of change I have in my wallet (no bank card = no cash. For at least 8 days. YAY FRANCE!). I opted for situation two, as I saw it had the advantage of not having to blabber in incomprehensible french and it would rid me of some weight in my wallet..WIN WIN! Clearly, I wouldn't be writing about this if it was a WIN WIN! type of situation.

I go to the machine to buy my ticket (of course there is a line, OF COURSE!) and I wait patiently. Luckily for me I'm reading Tina Fey's newish book Bossypants and the time flies by and has the added bonus of looking like a psycho laughing out loud whilst reading a kindle. It's Gare Du Nord, gotta fit in with all the crazies. Anywho, I start unloading the change to buy the ticket (RAMAN if you're reading this, I DID IT AGAIN!) and it all of sudden breaks down and says that I've put in too many coins in the machine and it sends them all flying back to me. UGH. Apparently you can't put in more than 20 coins into the slot (I thought I had counted it perfectly, but sadly that McGill math degree doesn't include a class on counting coins. It was a pre-req course I missed from 2nd grade. I blame it on moving to california). ANYWHO, I finally figure out the change, grab the ticket, run to put it through the  machine and BAM ticket not accepted. And I have no idea why. So I go to the ticket window to try to ask (another line OF COURSE) and BAM ticket window closed (it's 11h30. totally normal!). And I'm out of money and none of my cards work at the machine (damn America and no pin cards!). At this point, I am not a happy camper, and I see no other options than to go replace my Navigo card.

Prepared to be asked to give blood, promise my first-born child, or both, I reluctantly head to the Navigo desk. I immediately think they are closed as there is no line. A nice lady (with a smile!) says, no, in fact, they are open, and have a seat. She may have even said the words "how may I help you?", but I also remember her with a halo aound her head so this may just be a fantasy. I say in perfect French (hey! this is my fantasy!) that I lost my card and I would like to replace it. She asks for my passport and I swear no more than 5 seconds later I have the card in hand. I'm also pretty sure choir bells started ringing and a handsome man escorted me out of the office.

Skipping along and pretty pleased with myself I head back to enter the subway and the card doesn't work. UGH. Holding back tears and about to give up and just set up camp in Gare Du Nord (there is a lovely cafe on the 2nd floor, or so I hear), the man behind me says all the machines aren't working and I can walk right through. OIDFJPOIADJVKOV;ZLJKPOIA Turns out the ticket was fine from the start and the last hour of pain (sans the choir bells in the Navigo office) were for naught. Oh France, you win again! 

(But in truth, I wouldn't have it any other way - - If life was in France was easy, what would I have to write about? :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I knew I liked a good curry...

Why, thank you!
Andrew has lately become an amazing Asian chef. I have bemoaned on the blog before about the lack of good Asian food in Paris (see here or here), and unfortunately, the situation has not gotten a whole lot better. Thus, we've had to take matters into our own hands. (The exception being Vietnamese food, not surprisingly, since they are a former colony of France. In fact, we've found so good of a place we saw a celebrity there -- William DeFoe!).

UPDATE: When I look at this post on November 21st I had 4 things that I was missing from NYC.

  • Mexican Food: CHECK, Yay chipotle. Also, I found a great taco stand called candelaria.
  • Sushi: still an issue.
  • Indian Food: thanks to andrew!
  • Thai Food: I'm going to give this a half cross out because we can make curries, but are still struggling with pad thai.
  • Hamburger: we have recently found at least 2 places where we like the burger. And there are more to come!

Anywho, Andrew can now successfully cook an amazing Indian Tikka Masala and Thai Yellow Curry. And not just, good, but REALLY GOOD. Like I have no desire to ever eat those two dishes out again good. I call this 'ruining' dishes for me and it happens a lot (this is not a real complaint). In addition to the two curries, I no longer like to eat ribs, salmon, or scallops out because his are DELICIOUS and far better than any I've had in a restaurant.

I digress -- the real point of this post was that I took a BBC quiz to answer 'where are you on the global fat scale' and the answer was as above - you are most like someone from thailand. I thought the answer was funny and considering I eat a lot of Asian food, very appropriate. The other thing that is funny is that it gives you local results depending on which country you are from. When I did it as I was from the US, I was 30 percentage points above than when I was from France (meaning Americans are fatter at my age than Frenchies). This is not at all surprising, but funny none-the-less. Way to be stereotypical USA!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ou est l'été?

I don't know if you've heard....but in Paris, summer hasn't arrived yet. Which is SO no fair as we also barely had spring...We had a week of spring in March, 1 week in May, and the rest has been moderately clarm ( a mix of cold and warm depending on the clouds) and gray.

I have mixed feelings about this lack of summer. If I were in NY right now, it would be over 100 degrees. NO THANKS (especially as we don't have AC in Paris). I know that I'm definitely more of a cold person than a hot one (hellooo I voluntarily went to the coldest place on earth for university. I don't have the canadian passport as an excuse ha). However, the really strange externality associated with this weird weather is I have absolutely no clue as to what month it is. I really, honestly, think it's May about half of the time. And the other half of the time where I think it's July I'm freezing because I forget to wear a jacket (who wears jackets in july?). So ultimately I am in complete denial that I go on vacation in 3 weeks and am getting married in 5. WAHOOOO! I feel so ready, but so unprepared at the same time.

(Similar to not knowing what month it is, I rarely know what time it is because the sun comes at a different angle [particulary in fringe seasons]. For instance, since when is it completely bright outside at 10:30 pm or dark in the winter at 9 am? WEIRD...probably the 2nd hardest thing to get used to after this bad weather oh and not being able to speak the language. NBD)

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

This one's for kimmie....

So one of my favorite blogger friends (err I guess we're real friends, right kimmie? pretty please?) has a thing for ginger boys. (For a good read, find out why here or to learn about her amazing ginger see here) Why am I telling you this? Stick with me...

I was riding my bike home (yep! I did!) and I almost crashed trying to stop and take a picture of this bill board (all in the name of cultural research...for kimmie of course):
After being honked at twice, I had the bright idea to continue riding and just look for it on the internets later. So it turns out 'carrotte' is the French translation of ginger and this billboard, which is purposefully vague, is an ad for a dating website called AdopteUnMec.com (or Adoptadude.com). Oh those Frenchies and their senses of humors. Here is what happens when you google the campaign:

"The red is a rare species endangered, too often stigmatized, the site helps them AdopteUnMec and offers girls to put their prejudices sides and do a good deed by adopting a "strawberry blonde"....

Turns out making fun of gingers transcends cultural boundaries and is even a thing in France! :)