Monday, December 24, 2007

paris to amsterdam (first part of trip home)

I set two alarms to make sure I wouldn’t oversleep; trekked to Gare du Nord with my big incredibly beat-up suitcase; bought a ticket to Charles de Gaulle airport and got on the RER. I was fortunate that the RER was direct to Aulnay-Sous-Bois, so we skipped several stations. The trip was, for the most part, uneventful with a couple of exceptions: 1) the escalator and elevator going down to the quais weren’t working 2) the train sat at the quai for several minutes (I don’t know what the delay was, as there was no announcement). A man, who had been sitting in the train waiting with us, got up and stood on the quai. After a couple of minutes, the conductor announced that the train was direct to A-S-B and we were ready to leave. The man continued to dawdle on the quai and when the buzzer rings, he sprinted to the doors blocking them from closing so he could squeeze his robust frame onto the train. Why he got off the train in the first place is still a mystery.

Fast forward to CDG: The escalators here aren’t working either. Perhaps the escalator maintenance men are on strike? I had already lugged my luggage down two flights of stairs (one in the apartment building and the other in Gare du Nord) so the though of then hauling it up a flight appealed even less than normal. I walked down the quai until I found the elevator and said a little prayer to the elevator and claustrophobia deities that the elevator was working and would keep working until I exited on the proper floor. It was and it did. So far things are ok. I proceeded to the departure monitors and my flight wasn’t listed. Hmm, not good. Even though I stood there several minutes, scanning the flight list and double checked my flight number, it still wasn’t there. Being a paranoid (and according to the boyfriend, somewhat OCD) individual, I had already verified the night before that KLM flights to the Dam leave from 2F. I looked for another KLM Amsterdam flight on the monitor just to verify the gate (2F) because it’s France – they might have changed something during the night.

Fast forward to check-in: There are weather problems in Amsterdam and flights are delayed. The friendly check-in agent (he must not be from Paris, since as we know Parisians are anything but friendly) put me on the 9:00 flight which was also delayed and confirmed my frequent flyer number since it wasn’t in the system for the transatlantic part of my journey.

Fast forward to the gate: Load up on the free magazines and an English language newspaper and settle in for the wait. Lucky me, I end up in the vicinity of two couples and their collective 4 children. The women were Dutch and I have no idea where the men are from (they spoke English with strong accents, not from North America, the UK or Australia. Maybe South Africa?) The mother of the two boys looked very tired and permanently annoyed, After two minutes around the kids, I could understand why. They kids were beautiful, the kind you’d see in Baby Gap ads. They were also rambunctious and seemed to feed off of each others’ energy. The parents called them back so many times when they ran off that I now know their names – Chase, Kane, Angie and Serena. Every time I’m around not-so-well behaved children like these four, I ask myself if I’m sure I want kids. Really sure? I mean, they aren’t like defective electronics that you can return (although some crazy diplomat has tried) and they aren’t cats so you can’t leave them home alone with a bowl of food. But I digress… As I wrote this I was on the plan waiting for take off. The pilot announces that the weather problems mean flights taking off from Schipol are delayed, which makes sense, but perhaps I should say a quick prayer to the flight connection deities, just in case…

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I'm off across the Atlantic to visit the boyfriend and surprise the parents for Xmas (they don't know I'm coming). So I may not post anything for a while. Talk to ya next year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


I just finished Merde Happens, the sequel to A Year in the Merde and Merde Actually by Stephen Clarke. Like the first two merde books, Merde Happens is hilarious. The stereotypes of the French and English are joined by comical views of Americans. If you want an easy read that will make you laugh out loud, get a copy.

Friday, December 14, 2007


I was in Gare du Nord one morning, on my way to the Eurostar terminal when I passed some young guys horsing around with each other. One of them saw me and called out “t’es si belle, je te prend toute de suite!” wtf?! Does this ever work with girls? Who would actually go out with a guy who used a pick-up line like that??

Sunday, December 9, 2007


Parisian weekend delight – fresh croissants still warm from the bakery around the corner.

Parisian weekend annoyance – someone coming into the bakery and aggressively begging for money or restaurant tickets while you wait for your croissants.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

ce n’est pas possible…

I arrive home this evening and the roommate informs me that: 1) RATP is going on strike again next week; 2) EDF was on strike today and 3) a bomb exploded and killed one person in the same building as Sarkozy’s former law office. With everything going on this city recently combined with the happenings at work, I feel like I live in the twilight zone and Rod Sterling is just around the corner. I’m counting the days until I return home to some normalcy, although I suppose hurricane strength winds, flooding and a state of emergency aren’t exactly “normal”.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


If you want to avoid icier than usual treatment from the normally friendly kebab guys – don’t go in with your 2m (6’6”) boyfriend.