Sunday, 17 February 2008


I can't believe they have a whole word for that. It means 'sensitive to the cold'. I must be in the right country.

I'm really getting into a bit of a routine now. Get up (early, to avoid the little boy walking in on me starkers), eat (chocolate 'wellness flakes' or fruit), walk to the bus, go to school, have lunch, go to school again, or fluff around on the internet. Come home, play with the little boy (drawing, or whatever other game I'm told), eat dinner, shower, do homework, go to bed. Repeat. So now I just have to give you the variations on the theme.

On Wednesday, I had my first bout of job hunting. I decided to go and apply at the place where Rosie, Kathy and Alice work, so I looked it up and made the trek. It turned out to be an admin office only, and seriously in the sticks. Luckily it was on my bus line, but it was after the last stop, and I had to walk for another 15 minutes. I got a bit worried when the footpath ran out, but eventually I found it. Unfortunately no job, but at least it was a first step.

Thursday: school, Friday: stuff around on internet. Actually most of my Friday internet stuffing around, was trying to figure out how I've managed to use 35 euros of phone credit in one week! The lady in the Orange shop told me I had to check my bill on the internet, although of course easier said than done, and I couldn't find it, nor could I find out how to cancel the email option which I suspect is causing the problem (even though it should be capped at 3 euro a month). I suspect I'm going to have to call the helpline, which I'm putting off with all my might.

Friday was also the middle day of the Braderie, a big sale that Bordeaux has once a year for 3 days. All the shops set up stalls in the streets and sell all their back room rubbish for knock down prices. I didn't spend much time there, and the only thing that temped me was a pair of Converse Chuck Taylors, which are normally 70 euro here (as opposed to 70 DOLLARS in Australia), which were down to 35 making them almost reasonable. I resisted however. It's werid that they're so expensive, but then the Asics Tigers which are WAY expensive at home are about the same price as the Converses so I don't know what's going on.

On Saturday I went on a big bus trip that was organised by the school. I thought it was a wine tour, but actually it turned out to be a much broader tour of the Medoc region. We went to one winery (first thing), got a brief tour and a glass of wine each (at 10am!). It was a 15 euro bottle of wine, and I have to say, although it was nice, it didn't taste particularly different from the Cab Savs from home, for all the crazy regulations they have here. We spent a lot of the day on the bus looking out the window at pretty chateaux, and stopped for a lovely picnic lunch. We saw the biggest lake in France (can't remember the name...fake beach and I had a Magnum and they're better in Australia) and another lake, and finally ended up at the sea where there were CRAZY europeans surfing despite the fact that pretty cold day for it (0 degrees). It was a nice day, but I wasn't really in the mood to be honest, and I think it would be a better region to explore by car, and to have the ability to stop and look at things that interested you. Still, it has piqued my interest in trying more French wine.

At the end of the day I went back to the supermarket, and finally found the tissue ('kleenex') section. It seems the French don't like the normal boxes of tissues and most are sold in those individual plastic packs, which explains how I missed them the first time around. For dinner with the family, we had 'Quick' which is the French version of Maccas. It's much better I have to say, and the burgers are kind of a cross between a normal burger and a steak sandwich. Fast food here seems to come with fat chips (almost like wedges) instead of French Fries, which are reserved for kids meals. Weird. After dinner we watched a movie called 'Les Aristos'. I didn't undestand a word of it, but it was basically about a crazy aristocratic family who've managed to run up huge debts. The movie centers around them finding zany ways to pay off the debt. Two stars.

Today I got up super early and went for my Couch-to-5k run in the beautiful park. I've been a bit stuck in part two of week 6, but today I decided it was time to break the cycle. Part three of week 6 is a 25 minute run (which explains the holding pattern), but I decided to go for it. In the end I ran for a whole 30 minutes, which I think technically means I've reached my goal of being able to run 5k/30minutes. I'm going to go back and finish the rest of the 8 week program, but I'm feeling very pleased that I'm now a proper runner! It helped that I discovered that my ipod has a stopwatch that you can use while listening to music. Excellent!

After that I went into the city and had a quick look around the Marche de St-Michel, which is a big Sunday flea market in the city. It was quite cool though, because, being Europe, among all the rubbish there were some amazing antiques. I even saw a square piano (those desk looking ones like in Jane Austen movies)! I had a good sandwich for lunch (the sandwiches are better here, I think because the standard of cheese is universally better. It annoys me though that the proper French plural of 'sandwich' is 'sandwichs') and another pain-au-chocolat which I'm growing quite the fondness for. Everything else in the city is closed on Sundays though, which is a bit of a shame.

Now I'm back at the internet again, and off home tonight to do my homework, and maybe try and figure out a job hunting game plan. I've found an English bookshop so I might ask there, and also I think I'll try and sign up at an employment agency and see if they can find me something. After that, I guess it'll be back to the English teaching rounds, and maybe au-pair-ing as a a last restort. I've decided to take classes for another month, and stay with the host family for March as well, which means that the pressure's off a bit. It also means that I'm in limbo for longer, but I really think trying to find a job/apartment/life in effectively two weeks was a bit insane!

Now that I've been here a little while, I'm starting to get more of an insight into things. Bus seats are the same horrible (blue with coloured flecks) pattern the world over, no matter how nice the public transport system. Although the women are not incredibly fashion conscious here, the overall standard of dress is much better. Almost no-one looks like they got dressed (or went shopping!) in the dark. Knee-high boots over pants are still big here, so you can all look forward to that again next winter in Oz. The men are not all good-looking (sorry Karin), but they do also dress a lot better (scarves are totally accepted and not at all gay) which helps their cause significantly. The French are not great apologisers - I seem to be saying 'pardon' all the time, but rarely do I hear it. There are a lot more dogs here - little and big, and they're often to be seen off the leash. They go everywhere with their owners, and it's not unusual to see them occupying seats on public transport, and even sitting next to the table in restaurants. The (few) homeless people often seem to own big dogs too, which freaks me out. Although I haven't had any amazing food yet, everything is decent and I think the average standard is much better than at home. Obviously fast food is accepted here, but apart from that and all the cheese and bread, the food is on the whole a lot healthier I think. Lunch is often a sandwich (by which they mean a baguette) with ham, cheese and salad, or a meat dish with a buffet salad, or a vegetable entree. As far as French delicacies go, we're getting totally ripped off in Australia. You can get a *big* wedge of Brie de Meaux (the real stuff) here in the supermarket for about 2.5 euros. They also sell Moet in the supermarket and it's 30 euros. That translates as a bit under $60, which is significantly cheaper than in Australia, but when you consider that their earning capacity is higher anyway, it really is annoying. On the upside, maybe I can try it now!

I think that's all for the moment. Stay tuned for the next exciting installment! I miss you all - please keep emailing and keep me in touch with what's happening at home.

1 comment:

alt.ayu said...

Moet and cheese~~ Sigh the stuff here in singapore isn't exactly cheap either. I mean well there are cheaper wines and all but, they are just lousy. If I were to compare the currencies and living standards equally, a 30 dollar bottle of wine is much better in Fr than one here!

BTW, your blog is one of my nominees for the Make My Day award. Go ahead and pass it on! :) see here: :)