Monday, October 25, 2010

Flowers, School, and a Bit of Trivia...

First of all, I have to give a little shout-out to my landlord.  He arrived at my door on Wednesday to let me know that the scaffolding (see one of my previous posts) would be removed from my balcony on Thursday morning.  YES!  The only problem was that I could not be home to let the workers into my apartment.  Once I explained the situation, he told me that he could let the workers in (and supervise them) if I would kindly let him borrow my key. 

I was a little hesitant to hand over my key, but what other choice did I have?  I told him I would drop my key in his mailbox in the morning.  We made a little small talk and then he went on his way.  About 10 minutes later, I heard a knock and my landlord was back at my door...with a beautiful flower arrangement for me!  He said it was to thank me for being so understanding and accommodating.  The sweet-smelling flowers made my day!

The next morning, I dropped a note and my keys off in his mailbox.  In the note, I thanked him for the flowers and asked if by chance he could have the workers also remove a dying tree that a previous renter had left on our balcony.  I didn't know if it was something they could help me with (it was entirely too heavy for us to move ourselves), but I thought it was worth a try.  When I returned home later that evening, not only was the scaffolding gone, but so was the ugly tree!  THANK YOU, LANDLORD!!!!!

While the scaffolding and tree were being removed, I was at my first day of substitute teaching at an international school.  The kids do part of their day in English and part of their day in French.  Obviously, I was teaching the portion of the day that was in English.  I had 3 different groups of kids throughout the day - 5 year-olds, 6 year-olds, and 10 year-olds.  They were very well behaved and wore cute little uniforms to school. 

The highlight of my time there was lunch with the English teachers.  It was interesting because the French teachers and the English teachers eat in separate rooms - never together.  I was a new audience for the English teachers (who are mostly British), so I got to hear all the complaints they have against the French teachers.  I was cracking up hearing everything they had to say.  I think my favorite piece of information is that the French teachers drink wine at lunch!  I absolutely could not believe that!

Finally, on a totally unrelated note, I would like to share a bit of trivia I learned this weekend.  Many buildings in Paris used to look like this:

They had timber faces, which turned out to be very prone to catching fire.  Sometime in the 17th century, people were told they had to cover this timber with plaster.  The plaster acted as a fire deterrent.  Imagine the loads of plaster needed to cover all the faces of the buildings (the building in this picture has been restored to show what they used to look like).  This is where we get the term, plaster of Paris.  Interesting, huh?!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Trip to the Market!

Saturday morning was absolutely beautiful.  The sun was out and there was a slight chill to the air.  The cool, crisp morning had us commenting that it would be the perfect day for tailgating at a college football game.  Our conversation quickly turned to imagining the things we would eat at this tailgate - grilled hot dogs, chili, etc.  Sadly, there was no tailgate in our future that day, but we did have a great morning exploring an open air market that is not very far from our apartment. 

The market is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  I have read that it is one of the best open air markets in Paris - so understandably, it was super busy.  In my head I had decided that this was the day I was going to try to actually purchase something at the market.  I have walked through the market before, but it can be quite intimidating....especially when your French is not good. 

I'll admit that once again, I was too intimidated to try to purchase something.  Bummer.  But I did get several pictures to show you  what the market is like.  One day my post will be all about the great things I bought at the market....but don't hold your breath for that one.  It could be awhile...

Please notice the heads/necks hanging over the edge of the display case. 

Table of ducks. 

Do you want to take some of these home?

Although we didn't buy anything at the market, we managed to find a patisserie where we purchased a yummy pastry to share.  It's funny how I can't find the courage to buy vegetables, but when it comes to pastries I have no problem...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Out and About

I have had the chance to explore a lot of great places over the last few weeks...

La Cure Gourmande - a fabulous little candy/biscuit shop

Galeries Lafayette - a Department Store

The glass ceiling at Galeries Lafayette!

A cute covered shopping area that we stumbled across.

A parade that was part of a harvest festival in Montmartre.

Dustin ordering a sausage sandwich at the festival (it was quite tasty).

Sacre Coeur - location of the harvest festival

Supposedly the World's best ice cream.

During a walk on Ile Saint Louis

St. Etienne - We found this amazing Gothic church on accident!

Dustin in front of the Pantheon

View from the top of the Pantheon

Inside the Pantheon

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Are You Freaking Kidding Me?!

Two situations have had me uttering that phrase this week.  The first one happened yesterday.  I decided to take the metro to the outskirts of the city so that I could go to a larger supermarket.  There were a couple of things I was looking for that I could not find in the smaller shops by my apartment.  The supermarket I went to, Auchan, is very similar to a Walmart.  The particular one that I went to has 3 floors.  The bottom floor is literally all wine – you would not even believe the selection.  The second floor is food.  The third floor is full of electronics, clothing, and other household items. 

Fortunately, I found what I was looking for: dishwashing gloves, regular gloves (somehow I did not move any winter accessories to Paris), floss, and mouthwash. After collecting these items, I headed to the cash register area. For my regular blog readers, let me also say that this is the same supermarket I got yelled at (the chocolate and water story) on my first trip to Paris. So anyway, I put everything on the conveyor belt and waited my turn. As soon as I got up to the front of the line, an alarm started going off. At first I looked around, thinking, “Who set off that alarm? I wonder if I’m going to see those huge security guards take someone down?!”

And then I realized the huge security guards were coming straight for me. Are you freaking kidding me? Immediately, they started frisking me, searching my purse, my pockets, everything. I wanted to shout, “I DIDN’T STEAL ANYTHING!! LOOK AT ME!! DO I LOOK LIKE SOMEONE WHO WOULD TAKE SOMETHING WITHOUT PAYING?!?!”

Even though I knew they wouldn’t find anything, my heart was beating a thousand times a minute. When they finally came to the conclusion I didn’t have anything, they pointed to a tag inside of my jacket. I think they figured that the tag set off the alarm.

At this point, there was quite the line of foot-stomping, sighing, eye-rolling shoppers behind me. I finished bagging my items as quickly as possible, and literally ran out of the store. At least they didn’t arrest me!

The second situation that had me uttering that phrase is happening as I type. This morning, I was awake, but still lying in bed (around 8:30), when I heard someone knocking. Hmm…surely this was some kind of mistake. I wasn’t expecting any deliveries or any visitors, so I ignored it. Plus, I didn’t feel like getting robbed or murdered today.

A few minutes later, the knock came again. This time, it was a bit louder and lasted a bit longer. Again, I ignored it, but decided it would be best to get up and get dressed. I also realized that someone was lowering a ladder onto our balcony from the apartment above. At this point, I was pretty much freaking out. I was in the middle of frantically pulling on a pair of jeans when the knock came again. I could hear a man and woman talking outside the door. Finally, someone started yelling, “HELLO, MADAME SMITH!!! THIS IS THE OWNER, FRANCOIS!!! OPEN UP!!!!!”

Since it was the owner of our apartment, I cracked the door ever so slightly. He was beaming on the other side. He explained to me (with a huge smile on his face) that he was doing work on his apartment (right above ours) and in order to complete the work, he needed “a few” things to come through my balcony and up a ladder to his apartment. I didn’t really understand, but before I could say anything, there were approximately 6 French people in my apartment, putting plastic down on the floor and carrying things through.

About an hour after they arrived, I received the following email from the apartment managing company. I had to translate it online:

We inform you that your owner is currently building and he has an imperative need to go through your apartment to install a scaffold to carry out work of sealing decks.

So we apologize in advance for the inconvenience and would be grateful if they have access even today.

OK, I had heard nothing about this so-called “scaffold”. But shortly after I read this, I realized that was, in fact, what was happening. Now, 3 ½ hours (WHAT HAPPENED TO JUST A FEW MINUTES?!?!)after they arrived, the men are still building this scaffolding on my balcony. No one has told me how long it is going to be there, or when they are coming back to remove it. Are you freaking kidding me?