Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A rather enjoyable day

Today, I passed a rather enjoyable day. It was hot in Paris, and thankfully, everywhere I needed to be today was indoors. I started the day off by visiting the local police prefecture (remember that appointment I missed, well, today was my reschedule). I explained to the man that I would like back all of the official papers I submitted to get my visa. He did not understand and continued to ask me why I was here. Now, this was not a language problem. He was unaware that he had the authority to give me back my application papers, and I (and as well as an advisor from my school in Paris) was told that that would not a problem. "Monsieur," I said, "I am here to get back the official papers from my application." "That is all, I do not to need to file anything, submit anything, complain or pay," I said. "I would simply like my papers back." This was beyond his comprehension. He was nice (see travel tip posted in comments section), but it took a while for him to understand I had no greater purpose in being there. Upon leaving the prefecture, I decided to walk a few blocks further and catch a bus to the Champs Elysées and my pharmacy. I have only just started to use the buses in Paris-- previously limiting myself to the RER's and the Metro. I love the bus. It's never as hot, rarely as packed, and there is a view. The bus is the cheapest way to see the city in all of its glory and so cheap (free with my metro pass)! There are several lines, none of which are straight shots anywhere, but I have yet to get lost.
Side story from Serena's past:
My freshman year of high school-- still too young to drive--I had a doctor's appt. across town and neither one of my parents were able to take me as it was during the middle of the day. I had no choice but to catch the bus. The bus system in my hometown is small and I had no problem getting to my appt. However, on the way back to school, the bus driver, while turning a corner, ran straight into a car parallel parked on the street-- going much faster than he should have. Now, this is the middle of the day, in the middle of the week in a town on the west coast where no one uses public transportation unless they absolutely have to. There were 11 people on the bus; I was the only one over 5 and under 70 that spoke english and thus, after waiting one and one half hours for the police and the owner of the car to make it to the scene, I was the only one capable of answering any questions. I spent another two hours filling out forms and fighting the urge to kick the small children playing under my seat-- they wouldn't let anyone off the bus until the scene had been cleared and each of us had been checked by a paramedic-- who took longer to arrive, and forced me to wait another hour before I could even step out into the fresh air. That's right, four hours on the bus. I missed all of my classes that day, and never took the bus, ever again.
It was, needless to say, a traumatizing experience and had biased me to the Paris Bus system, but now that I am finally on it, I love it.
So after visiting the pharmacy, I walked down the Champs to the Grand Palais. It was, along with its neighbor, the Petite Palais built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition (World's Fair). They are both very beautiful buildings--or so I think, they are both covered in scaffolding thanks to restoration efforts. The Petit Palais is closed, but I did drop by the discovery museum inside the Grand Palais. It has everything from moon rocks, chemistry, geology, astronomy, anatomy, a room dedicated to the number pi, and a temporary exhibit on Brasil-- again, I have no idea why Paris is celebrating Brasil. It was interesting, and to my surprise, there were more adults than children (despite the exhibits being directed to the younger, more curious sect). I missed the planetarium show which I hear is pretty cool, but had a good time.
I found myself back on the bus to get home. As I was the only one on the bus for several stops, the driver took that opportunity to tell me jokes over the intercom. I understood only 30% of what he was saying, but giggled after he finished delivering what I assumed was each punch-line and made a new friend.
A tour around the city, people watching, a giant human cell made out of flourescent glass, some dirty french jokes... a rather enjoyable day.

Also, does this scare anyone else?


Blogger Serena said...

*travel tip: My experience with customer service in France has led me to believe that one is always better off seeking aid from a man than from a woman. I find most of these french women (whether behind a register, at the information counter, or driving a taxi) to be incredibly unfriendly, and not at all helpful. However, the men are always patient, happy to walk down the aisle to show me where I need to be, and have no problem repeating themselves if I don't understand them the first time.

9:19 PM  
Blogger Adrian said...


I think I can answer that one quite easily for you.

To the men: you're an opportunity
To the women: you're a threat


9:23 PM  
Blogger Serena said...

In reference to my post yesterday:
Adsense decides what ads work best at each blog by taking a sample of the text and matching key words with related ads. Example, my post on Versailles has three ads for Versailles, French hotels, and travel. But my post, "Things I ain't..." has an ad for lesbian dating, one on how to deal with jealousy and another for some kind of self help program. Should I be depressed or just chuckle?

9:23 PM  
Blogger Adrian said...

I say laugh.

Laughing is always good.

And as for that baby? YES- definitely freaky.

9:34 PM  

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