Thursday, May 15, 2008

Excusez- moi, je suis perdu!!!!

Excusez- moi, je suis perdu!!!!

Okay so I am an expert at getting lost and I have to admit I have been lost on the metro in Paris quite a few times since arriving. I love the energy of the metro, the way that the french people go about their daily lives. Its amazing as to how good the metro really is in Paris, as you can really get anywhere you want to go to, quite easily. I try not to be in the metro at peak hour as the trains get really packed and I guess its annoying for the french people to see travellers taking up room with their backpacks during the mad rush to get to and from work. I love reading all the posters at the metro stations and half the time I walk around in a daze. I was on the metro yesterday and there was a young guy doing some rapp dancing with music blaring. It was great to watch although I'm not sure that the french people would agree. I spend far too much time people watching instead of working out how I can connect metro trains to get to where I want to go and as a result I get so so lost. It's part of my french experience and I am loving it. The other night I had to leave a friends apartment to get the metro back to where I was staying and I got drenched in a sudden downpour. As I ran to the station I realized that I hadn't been looking where I was running and I ended up lost in the streets of Paris. Finally I made it to a metro station, and with the help of some locals I made my way back to the metro La Motte-Picquet Grenelle station close to where I am staying. I have been practising saying "Ou est station de metro la plus proche?", in the worst french accent you can imagine. The speed with which people move within the metro is sometimes hectic and this sometimes leaves me a little bewilded and feeling a bit lost.

I love the french people and they have been so great towards me in all ways. They are helpful and charming people. I think maybe it has helped to wear my Australian badge as for some crazy reason they seem to really like Australian people lots. I'm not sure why this is,but when trying to converse with the french I always throw in a "je suis australie" The french peoples faces usually light up and they are so nice towards me. A friend of mine, Christelle thinks its because the french see Australia as an exotic country with beautiful wildlife and beaches but maybe they think to themselves, 'This aussie guy is a complete loser and looks like he has got no idea of where he is going and is completely lost.' I guess its the same in Australia as australians love meeting up with french speaking people when they are travelling around Australia. The people in Paris are such proud people. I have loved listening to the french language and although I can't really speak the language I can usually understand part of what they are talking about. I have been really fortunate because I have met many locals and they have helped me out, taking me to see different places and to see famous french sights.

My friend William has let me stay in his apartment which has the most amazing views of the Eiffel Tower. It is just stunning and as I lay in bed of a night I can see the Eiffel Tower all lit up, sometmes sparkling but always there reminding me that I am really here in France and having the best time. William is working in Spain so I have had the apartment to myself. His mother Mirabel and his father Bernard have made me so welcome and they have had me in for dinner a couple of times. Last night I watched a french movie in their apartment that Bernard had appeared in. Their dog Tatoon is so amazing. He is just gorgeous ans so intelligent and he has taken a liking to me so I am feeling less home-sick when I am around him.

I have loved going into the supermarkets and practising my french and I have started to learn the french verbs that William kindly copied out for me. The people serving in the supermarkets are really friendly and always greet me with a "Bonjour" and when leaving I reply "merci beaucoup." I have also loved walking the streets, visiting little markets and parks and walking up little lane ways. Exploring Paris has definately been a highlight and I have taken many many photographs.
Besides William's family who, are the most warm and delightful people you could ever wish to meet, I have made a few friends in Paris. Jeremy and his brother Kevin have taken good care of me since being here. Jeremy was my first host upon arriving in Paris and we have kept in contact. I often go over to his apartment to have baguettes with him and Kevin and they make the best cafe. Also I have met some really nice couchsurfers in Paris, some of whom are staying at Jeremy's. Carlos, Iggy and Anna to name a few. Carlos is such a nice guy, he is from the Dominican Rebuplic and if I dont catch up with him in Spain then I will for sure in Australia Jeremy's juggling skills are incredible and he is quite the entertainer. He can do so many magical tricks and I think the children back at the school where I teach would be impressed. I've been to a big couchsurfing picnic with them. Norbert has become a good friend and we have been out for biers a couple of times with him during my stay in Paris. I will host his brother Romain and his girlfriend Christelle when they come to Melbourne in January. I also met up with Rodrigo and Claudia from Chile who are both lovely and such vibrant people. I want to catch up with them again for sure. We talked about travel for hours.

I also was fortunate to have dinner with Christophe and Valerie who are couchsurfers and so lovely. They made me a french dinner of duck and potatoes which was so delicious and it was nice to meet two of their children Pierre and Leana who are fantastic teenagers. It was so much fun telling them about Australia and the australian way of life and they said that I was the first australian they had ever met. I hope they don't think all aussies are like me. I also learned alot from them about France and the french people. Christophe walked me to the station after we had consumed a few red wines, so I wouldnt get lost!!!

I guess one of the things that is different in France is that the french kiss all the time. The women greet everybody with two kisses on the cheeks. At first I wasnt sure what to do (well which side to start on) and I'm really still not sure if there is a correct side to start on, but i think it is a really nice custom and very different to how we greet each other in Australia.

On Sunday I leave for Bordeaux and my train ticket is all booked. I know I will be back in Paris so its not so sad to leave. Also I want to catch up with Vincent, Caroline and Clement as I have had a bit of a head cold and I didn't want to spread my germs to the baby. I'm looking frward to exploring the Bordeaux area of France very much. Hopefully soon I will be able to download some amazing photos for you to view. A bientot!


Anonymous said...

Hey Paul!!!
How are you!?
How is your french now prbally better than my English ;-)

Nice to have some news! I m back in La Gruyère so if you have time my door is open!
Have fun!!!


Kevin said...

Hey paul!
i'm glad you had a nice time with jeremy, me, carlos and all the couchsurfers! have a safe trip back to australia, and come back anytime you want! i'm now in marseille, so if you ever pass by, i'll be glad to host you or have a drink or something!