Saturday, 23 February 2008


Yesterday turned out to be quite a fun filled day after all. After my morning class I went and found lunch, which ended up being a croque monsieur, which is a ham and cheese toasty, only with the cheese on top. Apparently a croque madame has egg. I went and got my CV printed (four copies, four espressos, and THEN i found a typo...yikes!), and went hunting for the four English schools from the yellow pages which seemed the most likely prospects. I only found one (and and no job there) - the others must've been well hidden. I've been thinking maybe I should try and find a job doing something completely different but not requiring contact with the public or intensive training. Like being a macaron maker!

I then went down the Rue St Catherine again in a re-hunt for the Camper shop, which turns out to not exist, but I did find the shop which stocks the campers, and a lot of other lovely shoes as well....sigh. I also found a shop which sells those beautiful glass lalique rings, and I thought I was onto a bargain until I realised the number I was looking at was the colour code, and not the price. About 100 espressos. Ouch.

I stopped and had a house iced tea at my new favourite cafe (free wifi), which was nice but ridiculously sweet, and I don't think there was any tea in it. More like a fancy too strong cordial. I also had a salted caramel icecream at an 'artisan glacier' which was very nice, but not as good as the one in San Francisco. I do definitely think that Australia should get on board with the salted caramel flavoured things though, because you're all missing out, I can tell you.

I went into La Poste and luckily stumbled across a shop assistant eager to practice her English on me. It wasn't good news though, because postage to Australia is stupidly expensive - 24 euro per kilo. I also found a local cinema which shows a lot of films in their original version, so I'm going to go and see Sweeney Todd tomorrow (in English) I think. Movies are good value here at about 3.5 espressos.

En route (and yes, that does work in French as well) to the wine tasting, a lady stopped me to ask for directions. The conversation went like this (in French):

Lady: 'Excuse me Miss, I'm SO sorry to bother you, but I'm not from Bordeaux and I really have no idea where I am and would you please be able to help and give me directions because I'm just...'
Emily: (In French): 'Um....uh....excus....LADY. STOP. I.... am.... a... forennn.... forain.... foreigner! Sorry!'

But still. At least I look the part! Apparently.

The wine tasting was incredibly interesting, and actually understood nearly all of it (admittedly I knew the topic in advance, and the lady spoke very clearly and slowly)! It went for about 2 hours, and I really learned a lot about wine that I never knew before. We got to taste the pure flavours of sour, bitter, and tannic (without knowing in advance what they were, otherwise I would'n't've had such a big gulp of the bitter one. YUCK!) which was interesting, and the lady also had this awesome 'book' with little bottles containing the pure scent of all the flavours found in wine (strawberry, holly, honey, grapefruit etc etc etc). Unfortunately I only liked one of the four wines (a sweet sauternes) that we tasted and I thought the others were pretty meh, which I doubt was the intended response. Also, the lady kept saying things like 'oh, yes we have very high standards of wine in France because we have such strict rules about opposed to, say, Australia [looking at me pointedly]' so it was kind of uncomfortable, especially since I was in the front row. I also learned that 'sirrah' is the French word for 'shiraz' so that stuff I had in the Napa Valley was nothing new after all.

Today I got up and played some kiddy playstation with the little garcon which was actually quite useful for me, because I learned the colours, how to count and the alphabet, all of which I was slightly fuzzy on as well as the names of lots of animals. Pooh bear has the weirdest voice in French though.

I came into the city and had lunch at a little cafe I've had my eye on. I rocked up at about 11;45 and asked for the house soup, only to be told that they wouldn't serve me food until 12, so I had a cafe and waited. The house soup turned out to be a broth with noodles and carrots (quite like chicken noodle soup without the chicken) and at 2.5 espressos is about as cheap as anything gets here, but is still pretty pricey for what it was (although it was nice). The (male) waiter turned up a little late at 12:15 and greeted the (male) owner with a kiss on both cheeks. That still cracks me up. Fortunately as a foreigner I seem to be excused from all the kissing. Although the kids 'make a kiss' for me each night which sometimes borders on a lick. Ew. Anyway. The waiter had an ashtray on a table just outside the door, and on his way from the cafe to the outdoors tables would have a puff on the cigarette he had going. Funnily enough, that stuff doesn't bother me so much anymore. The French have a much more lax approach to food hygiene, and there's not much you can do but go with it.

I went to the supermarket to buy some afternoon tea since lunch was rather insubstantial. I also bought the ingredients for my dinner (ricki lake spaghetti and a fennel salad), some conditioner, and some nasty cheap vinegar and salt since apparently that's what I need to stabilise the ink in my jeans. I also had to buy a plastic bag because they don't give them out free here (good) which cost 1/10 of an espresso. I managed to spend about 18 espressos. Eek. Which they convert into Francs on the docket for you, and I'm not sure how that works, because it doesn't exist as a currency anymore. After the supermarket I went to find the shopping mall toilets, which I discovered cost 1/5 of an espresso to use. What the? They have lady sitting there to take your money and everything! I also found a cheap black t-shirt (I'm running low) from H&M for 3.5 espressos. Nice.

I wandered down to the Public Gardens which are just beautiful. I was going to hunt out the Japanese garden, but couldn't be bothered with my big bag of shopping The Public Gardens are huge and lovely. There's lots of big grassy areas and it's all surrounded by lots of beautiful old buildings. There's a carousel (so pretty! reminds me of the one in Mary Poppins) and lots of trees and statues and an icecream stand. There are heaps and heaps of people here, sitting having picnics, playing soccer, juggling, reading, playing guitar and just generally enjoying the nice day. There's also lots of couples pashing. Well, I guess France is just not the country to be sqeamish about public-displays of affection. Unfortunately for me. I've just eaten my second lunch (wholegrain baguette, brie de meaux, strawberries, juice, lindt 70%) and now I'm continuing to read my Tintin and the 7 Crystal Balls, (which after the bookshop incident, I discovered you can buy in the supermarket) which is teaching me all manner of useful things, including how to swear like an old-school sailor: 'mille millions de mille milliards de mille sabords de tonnerre de Brest!'.

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