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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Paris, take deux

Well... I had a nice blog all written up from Paris.  I was just getting ready to post but wanted to add a few pictures.  Apparently that was a bad idea. Everything I had written went <poof!>  Argh!  I may have woken my hotel neighbors with my cursing. So, here's another try without pics.  Those will have to come later.

We arrived in Paris around 8:00 in the morning.  Charles de Gaulle airport was an absolute breeze.  We went from plane to customs to baggage claim to taxi in less than 30 minutes.

After dropping our bags off at the Mercure hotel in the "La Defense" neighborhood near the office, we hopped in the free shuttle bus to the subway.  It was a little confusing trying to figure out which tickets to buy, but once we got on the subway, it was remarkably simple to figure out how to get from point A to point B. 

First stop was the Eiffel tower.  It was immediately viewable after stepping out of the subway passage.  I excitedly grabbed my big 'ol 35mm Nikon D60, turned it on, and nothing happened.  Doh!!!  Why do I do this???  I even had a spare battery... back at the hotel.  Ah well, at least I had my subpar phone on my camera. 

Since it had started to sprinkle, we declined paying to get to the top of the tower and opted for a stroll along the Seine.  During our stroll, we came across the relatively new, Le carrousel de la Tour Eiffel, which is at least partially powered by pedaling the horses.  Pretty odd.  There was a little covered area near the carousel with two stationary bikes manned by two rather dour looking people.  I couldn't figure out if they were grouchy because they had unruly kids on the ride or if it was their job to sit there & pedal.

Next stop Notre Dame Cathedral.  We got there just in time to hear the end of mass.  The air was filled with incense, French priestly voices, and finally delightfully creepy organ music that reminded me of The Phantom of the Opera, but somehow reminded my boss of "(Domo Arigato) Mr Roboto" by Styx.

We hopped back on the subway (they seem to be located in the ideal location to the interest points to allow the shortest amount of walking), crossed our fingers that our tickets would still work, and headed for the Musee d'Orsay.  I've heard and read that it's a very cool museum set in a former train station.  Unfortunately, the line was incredibly long, particularly since it had started turning from a sprinkle to a more substantial rain.  Of course I had an umbrella... back at the hotel.  I blame jet lag.

We decided to head back to the hotel & grab some lunch.  Apparently though, no restaurants are open for lunch at 2:00 in the aftenoon on Sunday.  Will have to find out if that is only a Sunday thing or proves true for all days.  For our first meal in Paris, our options were... get this, Mc Donald's or Subway.  We reluctantly chose Subway.

Our hotel was very nice.  Larger than most European hotels I've been in.  The breakfast was much better than a standard hotel breakfast.  Cappucino, pastries, eggs, bacon, sausage, an assortment of meats and cheeses and fruits and cereals, and did I mention pastries?  They had a "grape pastry" that was the perfect mix of flaky, moist, and delicious.

By the way, my experience with the French people is that they've got a bad rap.  The majority of people were quite helpful, some quite friendly and definitely not rude.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Good omens

While at the kc airport this morning,  I heard "Mazzy Star - Fade Into You". I've always loved this song. Might be my favorite by this honey voiced specialist in the bitter sweet.

Our flight to Minneapolis was remarkably ahead of schedule. I was happily seated by a very attractive fellow holding an iPad. It gave me the perfect excuse to strike up a conversation. I am borrowing a good friend's iPad2 so I asked him how to turn it to airplane mode. I inwardly cringed as I fumbled with the iPad to follow his instructions.  Did I mention he was attractive? I mean he was no Dave Navarro (saw him last night playing for Janes Addiction - see pic from last night- OMG! I'm pretty sure that man has more charisma, sensuality, biceps, and pec definition than is legal!) ....

Where was I again? I seem to have gotten all distracted. Oh yeah, attractive plane man. After fumbling with the iPad, and noticing his abnormally large feet in surprisingly stylish shoes, I asked him if he was going to buy the new iPad.

"This is the new iPad." Well, so much for my being smooth. Oh well, we still had a nice conversation. He said the new iPad is definitely worth it. We talked about accents, languages and travelling. He has been to Paris a couple times & had some nice suggestions on where to go which mirrored many of the things I has planned on seeing. The Louvre, Notre Dame, Musee d'Orsay...

I noticed he was reading The Hunger Games on his iPad. I wanted to say something about what a great series that is,  but felt it would be an intrusion. If he was reading a "real" book instead of an iBook, I wouldn't have felt the same. I love my tech conveniences, but there is definitely something to the theory that they are making people more anti social. How many times have each of US been out with friends and instead of enjoying each others company, we are compulsively checking our phones or texting or worse, playing "words with friends"?

I sat there wishing I could start more conversation with him & find out if he was single. He wasn't  wearing a wedding ring, but I did notice that he kept saying "we". I didn't want to be one of those annoyingly chatty plane people so I took out "my" iPad & read through the rest of the flight.

My coworkers and I had a really nice lunch at the Rock Bottom Brewery. We had one beer with lunch. Now we're sitting at the gate with another 2 hours to wait, right next to an Irish bar. It's St Patricks day!  I am really tempted to get another, but don't want my boss & director to think the wrong thing...

Next post will be from Paris! :)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sometimes my job doesn't suck....

Two weeks ago, my director told me that they needed me on a week trip to Paris and Munich.
I'll spend St. Patrick's Day in the air and spend Sunday through Tuesday in Paris, then fly to Munich, work through Friday evening, see my coworkers off and spend the weekend in Munich. 

I tried to find friends/coworkers interested in joining me to see the sights for the weekend, but found no takers.  I've never traveled solo for fun before.  Munich is a cosmopolitain city with most of it's population speaking fluent English, so I figured I'd be ok with only my Blazing Saddles style German vocabulary. ("Bitte baby! 14 schnitzengrubens is my limit!")  I have always said that travel without companions seems unreal as if it didn't really happen if you didn't have someone to share it with.  I spent a few days getting my head around that and had convinced myself that this would be a good, liberating experience to exercise my independent spirit and attempt to shed this unapproachable vibe I have going on.

Then, I get an email from someone I have never even met from the German office.  She graciously sent suggestions on mueums and attractions and hotels.  After conversing for a few days, she tells me, "If you have no objections, I will be your travel guide for the weekend." Brilliant!!