Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

We'll always have Paris

So, just as I did when Cisco sent me to Sydney, Australia, I thought I'd share with you the whirlwind work trip that was Paris. Feel free to skim or skip, but if you're wondering about the reason I've been tired and late with episode rambles lately (and why this bloody fic {and I kinda mean that literally} is taking longer than planned to get finished and posted) well, here 'tis.

If you're Facebook friends with me, you've seen these pictures already -- and probably saw some of the story via statuses. This is just the...director's cut. *grins*

The project I'm working on is a "global" partner program that is a change in the way partners do business with Cisco, so it involves a lot of training for all internal constituents as well as partners. I work as the program training "lead" for Change Management (which is the biggest oxymoron in the history of ever...'managing' change is a virtual impossibility) and so that means I create a ton of powerpoint decks and job aids and eLearning so that everyone knows what they need to know as well as how they need to say what they know (it's all about spin and positioning, isn't it?).

I'm a 'background' person -- putting together the materials for others to use/present -- but due to that, they need me to be present during these training 'bootcamps' so that if there are questions or updates, they have me primed and ready to make them. Which is why I've gone to a few international locations recently. Thankfully (due only to the timing of these trips as they rub sideways against my regular life constraints) I won't have another international trip for awhile. And I think the next one will be closer to my time zone....

So! Paris! City of love, romance, and 40 bagillion motorcycles!

I left Kansas City on Monday afternoon and arrived in Paris on Tuesday morning. The plane from Boston to Paris was an Air France carrier and everyone spoke French first, English second. I felt a little like I was back in my Freshmen French class with Madam Scott who spoke French all the time because we "needed to be immersed in the language." Also? The plane didn't have the air vents above the seats. That nearly did me in on take-off and landing. I don't do motion well.

Luckily I arrived only slightly shaken, not stirred, and made it through customs as easily as I had in Sydney. People in front of me and behind me were waved to have their suitcases searched, but not yours truly. Maybe I just look innocent...? As I exited into the main terminal, searching for the Taxi sign, about 10 different guys -- youngish guys in motorcycle jackets (that I just love) -- stopped me and asked if I needed a taxi. I'd say yes, but then they'd say, "Motorcycle?" and I'd go, um, no. I had this big suitcase with me...how the heck...?

When the 10th guy stopped me I finally give up and in my very American, partly Hoosier (I twang when I'm tired) accent I say, "How the heck are ya'll going to handle this here suitcase?" The guy, Josef, smiles all friendly and says, "American, yes?" I nod. He says, "No problem! We strap to back!" I was momentarily flummoxed. My back? His back?

But! I was also intrigued enough to follow him. I'd never ridden a motorcycle before and my knowledge of them has been gleaned through four seasons of Sons of Anarchy, so...why not, right?

Hoping I wasn't taken to some back alley and rolled, I went through the doors to the outside and there stood a cadre of mototaxis. He put my computer bag in a hard-side case, then bungied my suitcase to the back of the bike (aha!), then handed me this wicked-big overcoat to put on. Once robed, I swung my leg over the back of the bike, he put a helmet on me (which squished my face) and gave me gloves, then he got on. I didn't know where to hold on to, so I just held onto his waist as I'd seen in movies.

The speed limit signs on the inter...um, well they're not "interstates" in France, now, are they? Okay, so Highway, for lack of a better term, went from 50 to 90 to 110. My Mario Andretti-like father would have LOVED to drive there. I had to put the visor down because it was still a bit chilly at 9am and the wind literally slapped tears from my eyes going that fast.

You guys. THIS is the way to travel. When all the (teeny, tiny) cars (by American standards, at least) got stopped in traffic through the tunnels and whatnot, we just zipped between them -- on the dotted white line -- and made quick work of traffic jams.

There were a few times I am pretty sure I squeaked thinking he'd smack the side-view mirrors of the passing cars, but nope! Got through totally unscathed! We arrived and I was grinning, though my face had red marks on it from the helmet. I was too early to check in -- and THANKFULLY the front desk staff spoke English, though I didn't get much of that elsewhere -- so I went to the public bathroom in the hotel, changed clothes (which, as a girl who used to run the horse show circuit between jobs, I was adept at changing clothes in tight spaces and in limited time...and that's I'll say about that), left my suitcase with the bellman and headed out.

It was 10am and I had to meet my team for dinner and "strategizing" at 5pm, so I had about 7 hours to see Paris. The city felt historic with the buildings no more than five stories tall, all with iron balconies out front, old, narrow streets...it was fantastic. I loved the tiny restaurants and the bakeries and the cafe and croissants. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. First stop? Arc de Triomphe (mainly because our hotel was located just down the street).

Now, around the Arc de Triomphe is a ginormous round-about with five entry/exit points. There are no lanes painted on the brick/cobblestone road, no lights to allow access/exit -- drivers just hold their breath and jump in or out. Going around it on a motorcycle had me breathless. Walking past it was insane. To get to the monument, you can't cross that insanity -- you go under it. I did my best to follow the pictured signs but managed to walk in a giant circle twice coming up the same place I went down. I'm usually directionally challenged, but that was ridiculous.

I started eavesdropping on people until I heard an American accent and followed a group of women (at a distance so that I didn't look like a crazy stalker -- more like...a spy *wink*) and FINALLY made my way to the center. It's quite amazing up close and the thought of the Roman architecture that inspired it gave it this incredible sense of history. I got back on the main road, then followed four wrong paths until I found the Champs Elysses, then followed that to the Eiffel Tower.

Now, I have pictures of this in my house. My husband, a former architect, loves one in particular that shows it from 1888-1889 in stages of construction. And I've seen the tiny replica of it in Las Vegas. Nothing could prepare me for the enormity of this construction. I was walking along, feeling rather lost, and then suddenly...there it was.

The Tower and the surrounding area is beautiful -- and made for tourists. I almost got a gelato at one of the stands but was hording my limited Euros for the taxi rides. I also didn't go up to the top of it for that reason...that, and there's this heights thing I couldn't get past. Were I with the hubs or a friend, I might've been talked into it, but I decided to spend my time seeing more sights rather than more of this one.

I crossed the River Seine to get the picture you see above so that I could get the whole Tower in frame (I had only my camera phone, so I was a tad limited) and as I looked down at the Seine I thought of two things: Les Miserables and Highlander the Series (Duncan McCleod's barge was on the Seine).

I hadn't worn the right shoes for this mad trek across Paris; they were cute shoes -- boots, really -- but totally inappropriate for so much walking. So I had to stop at a Pharmacy to get bandaides for my blisters...and that was interesting as they were located behind the counter so I had to ask for them rather than just get them and quietly pay. I tried to ask in English, but the clerk just gave me a blank look, so I ended up using my handy phone app which the gal at the pharmacy thought was funny. I also stopped at a McDonald's (ah! home!) to use the restroom and found out that you had to PAY to use the toilet! Not like buy food to use them, but actually put 50 cents into the door to open it. I have never seen that before.

Anyway, onward! Next, I headed to Notre Dame; this was the one place I was looking forward to seeing the most and the one place I went inside. The outside is simply marvelous but inside is the kind of gorgeous that makes you want to whisper (regardless of the multitude of signs about indicating "silence"). There were tours one could take up to the bells, but I didn't have enough Euros, so I just went inside...and sat down. I'm not Catholic, but I am a believer and the peace that I felt in that place brought tears to my eyes. I wanted to light a candle for my husband just because there was a crazy thought in my head that a prayer here might have more power.

I think the lack of sleep might have been getting to me. *laugh*

There were signs everywhere that said no picture taking inside, but people were doing it all over the place. I was a good girl, though. With my luck, I'd be the one caught and asked to leave. However, if you all could see the big center window from the inside out, it would take your breath away. Just awesome. This was also the only place I have a pic of me; some nice ladies from Texas saw me trying to do a self-portrait (badly...that's hard with a camera phone!) and offered to take a pic. It's not the best shot because I was kinda...slouched on the wall so she could fit me and the building in, but at least it's proof I was there! *grins*

After I had my "moment" inside Notre Dame, I almost got a cab to the Louvre because, boyoboy I was tired. But I trudged on, got to the Louvre and saw a sign that the museum was closed on Tuesdays. Doesn't it just figure?! I took a couple of pics of the outside (thinking of Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" the whole time).

I did get a cab from the Louvre and had a business card for the hotel, so I could tell them where I needed to go. I got back with about 45 mins to spare to freshen up and meet my team for dinner. Now, I didn't sleep on the plane ride over (nodded off once, but couldn't get back to it once turbulence woke me) so by this time I'd been up for over 24 hours and was getting hap-slappy. We took a subway to a little neighborhood that one of the guys who had been there before knew about, then went to a little bar because Europeans eat dinner way later than Americans.

We had to wait until about 7pm to eat and I played it easy on the wine consumption because I was also on cold medicine. Not a great combo, that. It was a good meal and luckily everyone was tired and we took a cab back to the hotel. I didn't really sleep well -- my body was all wacked out by the time change -- but I was ready to tackle the day. However, I didn't leave the hotel from Tuesday night until I left for the airport on Friday.

It was, in a word, busy. And there were a lot of...personalities...to deal with. I spent two days with the distinct impression that our European constituents didn't really think much of their American counterparts and felt a bit worn out by end of the day Thursday (however, when I hung out with the event planning team during the cocktail hour on Wednesday night, I had a good time and was told I was "regular people" which I took to be a compliment). Between that, not sleeping, and the lingering cold, I wasn't up for the "dinner out in Paris" that was planned for the whole 100+ group on Thursday night, so I bowed out, got room service, finished some work that was waiting for me, and hung out in my room with my Kindle Fire.

I am a party animal.

Friday I couldn't WAIT to leave for the airport and took a regular cab there (which took a LOT longer than the motorcycle). The flight from Boston to Paris was 7 hours; the return flight went to Atlanta and took 10 hours. But this time, I was on a Delta plane with air vents AND movies (the Air France didn't have any movies, either). I was so cooked that I decided to watch the Footloose remake (which I'd sworn never to do) and get this...I liked it. I KNOW! I should feel shame, but...I just can't bring myself to. I was entertained.

I was also a little punch-drunk, but that's totally beside the point. >_>

Traveled back through time once more -- left Paris at 1:30pm, flew 10 hours to Atlanta and arrived at 7:00pm, got through customs and totally RAN to the next gate (where I then found my flight delayed and caught up on Twitter), then flew the 1.5 hours to Kansas City and got home at 9:30pm. Once more, the hubs brought Mo Chuisle with him to pick me up and as I exited the gate with 100 other weary travelers, a blur of pink launched herself at me and this time there were tears and kisses and clinging and "I missed you so much!"

I'd been gone from her a lot over the last 6 weeks -- a week in Sydney, a week in California, and then this week in Paris. She wasn't used to that and spent as much time last week as close to me as she could get.

So that's it! Paris in 7 hours, on no money, and with a 2.5 day meeting thrown in. *smiles*

PS - I have read through the comments posted to the Ramble for episode 7.17 and will be working through replies today and tomorrow. Love your beautiful minds!


( 48 Tall Tales — Tell Me A Story )
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
Mar. 26th, 2012 09:56 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you had a great time! Really cool place to visit. And, love the pics, thanks for sharing :),

I'm sure someone else will have something more brilliant to say, but I'm fried, so that's the extent of my vocabulary, lol!

Edited at 2012-03-26 09:58 pm (UTC)
Mar. 27th, 2012 01:15 am (UTC)
It was definitely a cool place to visit -- although if there is a next time, I'd love to make it a longer visit. :)

No worries on the shortness of your post -- this was one of those things on my life of 'to do' (both work and "life" stuff) that was making me feel as if I were moving backwards. At least I got it done! :)
(no subject) - novembersguest - Mar. 27th, 2012 01:49 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 26th, 2012 10:14 pm (UTC)
Yay! You got your picture of the Eiffel Tower. Too cool. How funny that you mention Duncan McLeod's barge with your picture of the Seine. I saw your picture first and that is what came to my mind first before I even read your comments. Too funny! :)

Glad to hear you had a good time and that you were well received. Europe is a nice place to visit, but there is no place like home and Europe can't even compare to that.
Mar. 27th, 2012 01:16 am (UTC)
How funny that you mention Duncan McLeod's barge with your picture of the Seine. I saw your picture first and that is what came to my mind first before I even read your comments.

LOL! Love it! Kindred spirits, we two!

There definitely is no place like home. I was happy to visit and happy to be back. Very happy to be back. :)
Mar. 26th, 2012 11:19 pm (UTC)
I cannot believe you took the bike to the hotel! That was crazy and brave! I loved your description of Paris. I never really thought too much about going there, but now I want to go. Thanks for sharing it. And I am really glad you are home safe.
Mar. 27th, 2012 01:16 am (UTC)
I know, right?! I can't believe I did it, either -- but am so glad I did just so that I can have that story! LOL!

You're welcome -- thanks for reading!
Mar. 27th, 2012 12:20 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for this wonderful, funny description of your trip. You are a raconteur, indeed! I'd like to "friend" you, if I may?
Mar. 27th, 2012 01:09 am (UTC)
I'd like to "friend" you, if I may?

Please do. I'd love it! The more the merrier! Although, I warn you, in my f-locked posts, there's a lot of familial angst. If you can handle that, join the fray! :)

Mar. 27th, 2012 01:44 am (UTC)
You are an awesome traveller, not afraid to explore. I hope I can be like that when I go to Germany (presuming I stop holding the grandbaby long enough to go outside.)
Mar. 27th, 2012 04:05 pm (UTC)
Bring her with you! Three girls out and about in Germany! :) I am SO excited for that trip -- you are going to have so much fun, regardless of if you see any of Germany. :)
Mar. 27th, 2012 03:07 am (UTC)
I have never in my life had to pay to actually access a toilet ... I guess that's one way to ensure people dont take advantage of your toilets LOL Wow.

I love places with history. It's partly why I would love to travel to a place like that or the Highlands of Scotland (for more than just my love for Duncan Macleod LOL) it just has that "feel" you know. There are places like that here that I just love because of that feel.

I am glad your travelling is over for now. You need to rest and you need your family.

But wow what an experience you've had lately, huh?

Mar. 27th, 2012 04:07 pm (UTC)
When I lived in Ireland for that time, I couldn't get over the age of it all. You're from a younger country, just like me, where we see 1700's and we think "wow, that's a long time ago." But when I was in Ireland? I saw a tombstone inside a monastery with the date of 355 AD. Now that's old.

Paris didn't feel as ancient as Ireland, but it definitely held a weight of history that I don't often feel here in the States.

Yes, I do need to rest a bit with my family...although, April is going to be busy. But that's for another post. ;)

Mar. 27th, 2012 04:49 am (UTC)
Sounds like you had a great time even if it was a work trip. And as always, the best thing about a trip like that is coming home to loved ones who are so happy to see you and you them. Hopefully you're done traveling for awhile.
*welcome home*
Mar. 27th, 2012 04:07 pm (UTC)
And as always, the best thing about a trip like that is coming home to loved ones who are so happy to see you and you them.

YES! This is so, so true. Thanks for the welcome home and for reading! :)
Mar. 27th, 2012 06:15 am (UTC)
Ahhh, read this from start to finish - and MY crammed in a LOT on your first day! More than most do in a week!! I personally would have lit a candle at ND...those places generally DO have more power - if you can feel it, it works!

Oi. Yeah...they aren't keen on us in some places. The prejudice it is everywhere - but it is only fair. We aren't exactly known for our lack of prejudice, lol!! And regular people, huh? AWESOME!

What a fantastic trip - even if tiring and disheartening at times. So glad you got home safe though!!

Mar. 27th, 2012 04:10 pm (UTC)
I know, right? I was on a mission, man!

I was too timid to light a candle -- and honestly I didn't know the...the process to follow. And I was too shy to ask. So, I just said a prayer while looking at the candles. LOL!

You're right -- prejudice is definitely everywhere. But I was friendly. :)

Thanks for reading and the happy hugs!! *sends them back to you*

Dr. Who question -- I was watching Harry Potter 4 (Goblet of Fire) over the weekend...is the actor who plays Barty Crouch Jr. one of the Doctors? He looked familiar to me (and I don't watch Dr. Who, but for some reason, I associated him with that role).

Edited at 2012-03-27 04:12 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - a_phoenixdragon - Mar. 27th, 2012 10:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gaelicspirit - Mar. 27th, 2012 11:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - a_phoenixdragon - Mar. 27th, 2012 11:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 27th, 2012 06:15 am (UTC)
wow pictures are great. I liked Paris when I was there, just wasn't impressed with the people.
Mar. 27th, 2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Y'know, the random people I met on the street weren't too bad -- but the people from the European theater whom I work with were a bit snarky. :{ Ah, well. What can you do, right?

Thanks for reading!
Mar. 27th, 2012 08:26 am (UTC)
"I wanted to light a candle for my husband just because there was a crazy thought in my head that a prayer here might have more power."
Well those medieval architects and churchmen would be well satisfied with your reaction as that is exactly how those amazing buildings are meant to make you feel, n'est pas? And you never know, maybe there is something in it.
Mar. 27th, 2012 04:13 pm (UTC)
Well, the medieval architects knew what they were doing. :) I ended up saying a prayer while looking at the candles. We have some events coming up (that's for a different post) that will need some prayers.

Thanks for reading! :)
(no subject) - amberdreams - Mar. 27th, 2012 05:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 27th, 2012 09:09 am (UTC)
What a lovely recap of your worldly adventures! LOVE the motorbike story, I've had a few chances to ride but never took them (too scared) but wish I had - life is too short! You can now count yourself as a true SAMCROW chick ;)

Little question - you say Europeans eat dinner way later than Americans, does 7 pm count as late? *ponders*

& after all the beautiful sights, must be the best feeling in the world coming home to your family's arms. Glad you get some time to relax.


Mar. 27th, 2012 04:15 pm (UTC)
Hee -- Jax would be proud. Or laugh, not sure which. ;)

We normally have dinner between 5 and 6pm here -- it could be a MidWest thing, too, because when I've been on the East Coast they've eaten a bit later. But when we were there, we were told that dinner didn't usually get served until 8 or 9pm and they made an exception to serve us at 7pm. Dinner at 9pm would be WAY late for me. I would have started to eat the tablecloth by then! LOL!

must be the best feeling in the world coming home to your family's arms

YES. So much yes. :)

Thanks for reading!
Mar. 27th, 2012 10:59 am (UTC)
I saw all of your Facebook updates, but I like this version better, because I can see the whole story at once. What a crazy and fun time! I am so glad that you got to go see Paris in that seven hours at least! We're still not sure if Jay will be the one to go to France, or when it will happen, or if I will be able to go with him. I'm hoping we'll get the chance. So, I'm taking notes. Motorcycle taxi, bandaids behind the counter, translator phone apps (I don't have a smart phone! Maybe I should get a smart phone!), what else do I need to know? Jay will be in Le Havre, not Paris. We're hoping to hit Paris a day or two before flying home.

I'm thinking, after all of this travel, that you need to stay home for a little while...I'm tired for you!
Mar. 27th, 2012 04:24 pm (UTC)
If you get a Smart phone, make sure of two things: you have an international package on your plan while you're there (I was able to have it just for the months I traveled) and you check your data roaming. Cha-CHING!

If you get to go to Paris, definitely do not miss Notre Dame -- and take the tour to see the bells so you can tell me about it. ;) I wanted to go inside the Louvre just to BE inside, but I've heard that to tour it takes an entire day. And also, that that Mona Lisa is a lot smaller than you think. LOL!

Thanks for reading (even though you'd kept up with FB statuses) and keep me posted about YOUR trip! :)
Mar. 27th, 2012 03:11 pm (UTC)
Paris does have a lot of charm. I must admit I'm not a huge fan of the French in general. But that may just be me. :D

I have seen the Eiffel Tower up close too. I was in Paris for work for about 10 days and walked underneath the tower every day going to and from the hotel. :)

The paying for the bathroom ... that's pretty common in Europe. :)

Sounds like you had fun. I don't know if I would have had the stamina to go sightseeing after flying that long. I can't sleep sitting up, so my first and only goal after arriving somewhere after a long flight ... is sleep. :)

But I'm happy you had a good trip and managed to see some of Paris. :)
Mar. 28th, 2012 01:10 am (UTC)
I was in Paris for work for about 10 days and walked underneath the tower every day going to and from the hotel. :)

How cool! I couldn't get over how BIG it was.

And the paying for the bathroom -- that was definitely a new one on me! :)

I learned when in Sydney that it was better for me to stay up all day and go to bed at night than sleep when I get there. Otherwise I'm more out of whack than usual. :)

But I paid for it when I got back -- had to take the Monday after I got home off of work because I felt ill. Sick-tired, y'know? Like the "don't sign any legal documents or operate heavy machinery" kind of tired. ;) Hee!
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 28th, 2012 01:12 am (UTC)
... I'm exhausted for you just hearing about all the travel you've been doing!!!!

Heh -- yeah, it took me a bit to get back in the swing.

Thank you for reading and commenting. :) *grins*
Mar. 27th, 2012 03:42 pm (UTC)
What an awesome report - you packed in one hell of a lot there and you were tremendously lucky with the weather for the gorgeous photos - March can be pretty ugly and cold yet we've been basking in the sun as has most of Northern Europe. One brave lady taking a bike taxi from the airport - I don't think I would have done that! :))

I also stopped at a McDonald's (ah! home!) to use the restroom and found out that you had to PAY to use the toilet! Not like buy food to use them, but actually put 50 cents into the door to open it. I have never seen that before.

Ever wondered where the English phrase "Spend a Penny" for going to the toilet comes from? *points at you* Now you know....Hee!

So pleased you managed to get a few hours sightseeing, and delighted to hear you're home safe.
Mar. 28th, 2012 01:14 am (UTC)
I WAS so lucky with the weather! I have no idea what the weather was like on Wednesday or Thursday since I didn't leave the hotel, but Tuesday was PERFECT for what I wanted to do.

Ever wondered where the English phrase "Spend a Penny" for going to the toilet comes from?

Well, I'd never heard that phrase before, either! LOL! Look at all I'm learning. *loves it*

Thank you for reading and commenting! :)
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
( 48 Tall Tales — Tell Me A Story )

Time is Relative, Stories are Forever

May 2017
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow