Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Department of Transportation

Yesterday began with a good workout and several options for spending the day. I returned from my workout, fixed a bit of brunch and then set out on foot. I walked around the neighborhood again, finding a wonderful shop, guarded lovingly by a Great Pyrenese, where I could spend a veritable fortune. The danger is that I'll go back just to visit the dog! I also met another dog, Bailey, who belongs to the wine shop owner.

I then decided to take a test run on the bus to learn the ropes on getting to work. My work provides a bus pass as a part of our package.

It's very strange - I'm always excited to take public transportation in cities where it is the major mode of getting your ass around. Here, however, it's not main stream at all. So I had a bit of a mental hurdle to get over. I got to the bus stop after the bus had left, so I walked around the area for another half an hour. I then caught the bus to my work, exited there and trundled around through that area for another half hour or so. I caught the bus for home and completed the circuit. I was surprised at how few people the buses around here actually hold.

After that, I came back home, picked up the no-worky antenna and walked over the store to exchange it. I did that and picked up some groceries (bag of apples and a couple of pork chops) oh, and I bought a new water bottle. Darnit. I DID spend money yesterday on something besides food needs for the day. Forgot about that - but I'm forever searching for the water bottle that will help me drink more water. Because I've been hitting the caffeine hard and it's been hitting back.

For the last three nights I haven't slept well and it finally dawned on me last night that it's because of my nemesis, Diet Coke. Since Diet Coke is not longer a required mixer, I had been buying whatever soft drink was on sale. Yea, I know. Too much diet soda. So I'd been drinking diet orange soda in the evenings. Then Diet Coke went on sale, so I bought it. Dummy - it's the caffeine that's been keeping me awake. So I've got to get some no-caf stuff AND work on drinking more water instead.

Food and exercise were spot on until The Closet intervened. Stupid hospitality committee! I was all done with my very healthful dinner and was futzing around with iTunes/iPod/iSuck when there was a knock at the door. It was the Welcome to the Neighborhood folks from The Closet's management bringing me a basket of treats! Which I promptly devoured. Somehow this is not fair - bringing stuff to me. Disaster by room service. It wasn't a disaster, it was just junk that I should have left alone, but chose not to. Oh, well.

Had a good workout this morning and got to see the beginning of You've Got Mail, which I adore. So that certainly made the time go back in a pleasurable fashion. Today's lunch class is yoga. Then it's an afternoon dentist appointment. And no, I haven't been flossing three times a day as instructed. Crap.

But tomorrow, it's bus-time for me. My goal is to not sit my happy ass in MalibuKen until the weekend. We'll see how I do. So I'm trying to get any running around done this afternoon after my appointment.

My sister is coming over to see if she can figure out the whole tv/antenna thing. This is turning into a cluster. Anyways, I will fix dinner for my sis and I and that will be good. I wonder how she feels about grilled endive?

It's amazing how memory fades. In my mind, until I'd re-read this, I thought I'd done a good job of navigating my way through public transportation in Paris. Ha! Not so much, evidently.

Below is a recount of my Novemeber 2004 arrival in Paris - this is what happens when hillbillies travel :

My flights to Paris were lovely, but long. Very uncrowded, I had a row a three seats to myself on the trans-Atlantic flight. I arrived at CDG a few minutes ahead of schedule at about 7:30 am local time. I cleared customs and then went to get some Euros. I had tried to find some before leaving, but the banks didn't have any without a three day wait and I wasn't leaving from the international terminal at DFW, so I couldn't get any there. So, I just waited until I got to Paris. And just like I'd read in my travel guide, the ATMs at CDG were out of order. So, I waited in line forever to see the one person who could change my $50 USD into 35 Euros. My next stop was to find my bus (Roissybus) to the Paris city center. There was great signage, so I found my bus stop with no problem. The sign told me to go inside and buy my ticket from the automatic ticket machine. So I tried that. The machine would not read/accept ANY of my credit/debit cards. I was in a full-blown panic. What if none of my cards worked? Anyway, the sign said there was another ticket station in another terminal, but there was no way that I was going to try and find it. I decided to just try to buy my ticket from the driver, which I did with no problem. So that part of it went off okay. But it was two full hours after I landed before I finally left the airport grounds, so I was running late to meet Pebbles.

The bus (which costs about 8.50 euro, as compared to a 60 Euro cab ride) dropped me off in front of the Opera house. My guide book gave me specific instructions to take a left when I got off the bus, walk past the American Express office, go to the front of the Opera House and look for the Metro. I guess I expected signage, but I had a tough time finding the entry to the Metro, but I did find it. I managed to schlep my 48 pound bag down the stairs to the Madeline stop on line 8. My plan was to find and buy a carnet (group of 10) tickets, but again, I wasn't smart enough to figure out the ticket dispenser, so I just bought a single ticket from an actual person and headed out to the subway. And then I met the turnstyle that kidnapped my luggage. I walked through, but somehow the arm of the turnstyle went between the slats of my handle of the suitcase. It was totally stuck. I couldn't get back to buy another ticket to make the turnstyle turn. It was very frustrating and embarrassing, but I finally managed to jimmy and shimmy the suitcase free. Finally. So, I make my way to the train and board. I'm only a few stops away from my destination and the train is pretty desserted. I'm approaching my stop, so I stand up and get my backpack adjusted and a firm grip on my drag-behind suitcase. I'm standing in front of the door, the train has stopped, and nothing is happening where I am. I see that the doors at the center of the car are open, so I haul ass and baggage and barely escape the car. I later learned from Pebbles that there is a button to push or a handle to turn to open the doors. I had no idea; no other subway I'd ever been on had required manual intervention to get out.

I exited the subway station and there, just as I'd hoped was my hotel. I couldn't wait to get there and see Pebbles, as she was due to arrive in Paris one half-hour after I was, and wouldn't have any of the customs/baggage/bus delays that had plagued me. I went it, checked in, rode the world's smallest lift (room for just me and my suitcase standing side-by-side) and opened the door to my orange room. No Pebbles. I decided to go and wait for her by the subway exit. I'd seen a lovely park bench by the exit earlier. This Paris neighborhood (the 7th) was just everything that I'd expected Paris to be. Just lovely - so some time spent people-watching would be a good thing. I sat and waited for her for maybe a half an hour, but got cold, so I walked back to the hotel (not even 1/2 block) and added some layers and back out I went. I waited and waited and worried and worried. By this time, Pebbles is very, very late. I'd decided that she missed her train. I didn't have a clue how to make an international call from Paris, but I was so panicked, that I decided to brave an in-depth conversation with the scary desk clerk to find out how. I go back inside, and he tells me that my daughter is in the room. What? How did this happen? I'd been waiting for her? I went upstairs and had a wonderful reunion with Pebbles. She'd been there for 45 minutes - her train was late. And she had taken a different exit from the subway station, so she came at the hotel from a different direction. Crisis averted, but I had some real anxious moments there for a while. I did let go of any crazy notion I'd ever had about competing in The Amazing Race, I could barely navigate Paris, much less someplace less English-friendly.

So, we set off for the Eiffel Tower. Our hotel was about 1/2 block from the military school and the Champs du Mars. We told ourselves not to look for the tower until we got to the park and we took our first look. Wow. It was totally impressive to me. Much bigger than I had expected. So we walked through the park - it was a beautiful, clear, crisp fall day. It was truly autumn. We don't really have much of an autumn in Texas, so it was wonderful treat to walk through the fallen leaves up to the monument. The lines were long to go up, so we decided to save that for another time. We walked to the Seine, and then followed it all the way to the Musee d'orsay. Damn, what a place. The space itself was just fabulous, not to mention the lovely works there. We spent several hours there and found our way home via the Metro. It was about 5 in the evening by this time, so we just collapsed for a couple of hours. We got up and got dressed for dinner. I'd done some research at www.chowhound.com to find some good, but reasonably priced places to eat traditional French cooking. We walked to a lovely bistro in our neighborhood and enjoyed a nice meal at a window table. I believe we both had duck dishes. Very nice and reasonably priced and not overly touristy, or at least not that I could tell. We walked around the neighborhood some more, enjoying the views, the parks, around the Invalides and went back to our hotel and crashed yet again.

We stayed here. It was adequate for us. It was an eye opening experience for me, getting used to accomodations outside of the US. I was initially afraid that Pebbles would hate it, but she actually liked it. Said it was much better than many places she had stayed on her travels. The location, for us, was perfect. It was quiet, but that may have been more a factor of traveling off season than anything else. But damn, was it orange.

Thus concludes day one.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Some things worth having are worth waiting for.


ETA: I do not have an iPhone but an iPod that I cannot figure out how to download anything but music - I want a podcast and a tv show or two! Intuitive, my fat ass.


  1. I can easily be a caffeine junky so I have to work at that one. I refuse to give up the bit of diet soda I drink so a few years back I switched to caffeine free Diet Pepsi (I'm a Pepsi snob). Now I just can't sleep because of midlife hormones -ha!

  2. Loved your re-cap of your day. I used to own two Great Pyrenees and the male was the biggest, softest, kindest dog you would ever meet. I have pictures of him smiling, and I mean really smiling, whenever it snowed outside because it kept him cool. I used to brush him and get entire black garbage bags full of hair out of him... You could not wear black at my house.

    And me and caffeine- no way can I sleep if I have too much during the day. Fortunately I don't drink coffee often (maybe once a week on the weekend) and hardly any pop - again once on the weekend - my free day.

  3. Reading about your Paris trip, I just kept thinking how brave you were to do that on your own. I would have been a puddle of tears shortly after landing, I'm sure! And while I love watching the Amazing Race, there is no way I could do it - I'd be the contestant having the meltdown at LAX, lol!!!

    Love that you have such a wonderful neighborhood (and a welcoming committee - tres cool, even if they did bring you goodies).

  4. I have a shuffle and have downloaded many books and podcasts off audible. (i'm sure that's helpful info. hahha).

    Loved the hillbilly travel section.

  5. Any caffeine past like 2 p.m. keeps me wide awake.

    What a lovely travel log. I hope to get to Paris some day.


We'll try this for a while.