Sunday, August 31, 2008

Avenue Montaigne

I just came home from going right up to the Eiffel Tower. Yeah for going but boo for not climbing up because the lines were too long. I don't mind though. Because the Eiffel Tower is ubiquitous in the Parisian skyline, going right up and under the monument turned out not to be such a big deal for me anymore. I had already seen the spectacular view from the Sacré Coeur so I did not think the Eiffel Tower would be much different.

After the Eiffel Tower, I went and walked along the Avenue Montaigne, one of the most fashionable streets in Paris (see pic on the top left). However, unlike at the Eiffel Tower with the throng of tourists, I could immediately feel that I was in Paris while walking along the Avenue. Today the shops on the Avenue were closed and the street was empty with the exception of a handful of people going about their business, the doormen at the luxurious hotels, the people in a few cafés and the occasional tourist. I know that the lack of people on the avenue was because today is Sunday but it still felt much more like Paris, the high end Paris.

The street looked even better than I imagined (or remembered from the movie of the same name). High end designer stores and a few high class hotels lined both sides. From Gucci on one end to Valentino on the other end at the other side of the street, the Avenue Montaigne seemed to have them all. In typical Paris style, these designer labels were housed in classy at-least-19th-century buildings. Most of them had a little black and gold ornate gate surroundiing the exterior of the store. And the displays! Oh so stylish! You know that scene at the beginning of the movie Breakfast At Tiffany's where Audrey Hepburn is standing outside the Tiffany store looking at the display. That was me for most all the stores I saw today, except I was looking more longingly and I wasn't eating ice cream and I was most certainly not dressed as nicely. Hmm, I guess there really is no comparison between Audrey and me. lol. But I digress...

The displays left me longing for nice fashionable items in my wardrobe. I am not someone who is particularly into fashion but I must confess that I was SALIVATING over the clothes, shoes, bags, purses and everything I saw today. I began to imagine me wearing some of the stunning outfits on display, or slipping on a pair of just one of their shoes. Even the stores like Armani with their men's display had me wishing I had the money to buy a suit and then, of course, a guy to dress up. Then I made up my mind to start to work seriously so that one day I will be able to buy just one outfit. This is although I'm not sure that if I had the money I would buy a 5965Euro dress or a 3560Euro handbag. Hell, who am I kidding? I would hope that I would be able to resist the temptation to buy ONLY high end fashion if I had the money but I know myself and yes I would buy some items. Herein liest the reason I never watched much of shows like Sex & the City. I don't like nice things being flaunted and advertised to me all throughout a show, knowing that I will never be able to afford them. That show always leaves me wishing for more and feeling less. Since I woud rather feel normal and happy about my very nice state in life I tried not to watch it.

Ok but back to the Avenue Montaigne, because the street just looked so nice and it was fairly empty and I know that rich celebrities like to do their shopping on days when the stores are closed to everyone else, I kept thinking that I would see a limo or tinted jeep pull up with an A-lister ready to go on a shopping spree. I walked up and down the street 4 times. Seriously though, I walked up and down a few times because I wanted to take in each store and the street in its entirety. Plus, I wanted to take in the stores then take pics and not do both at the same time.

On my last walk along the street, I was standing looking at the Fendi display when a very well-dressed lady approached. I was so intent on looking at the display and daydreaming that I didn't notice her until she was just a few steps from me and the sound of her heels brought me back to reality. She looked to be in her late twenties or very early thirties but what I was thinking was that she could be in an ad campaign for any of the stores on the street. Anyways, she crossed just behind me and I got a whiff of a very nice smelling perfume. Then she went right up to the door to the Fendi store and let herself in by entering a code and using her key. I was too jealous at that point. I am sure that employees of those stores get nice discounts. They must get paid well too as I am almost certain that the lady was wearing only designer stuff.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's A Beautiful Day

The weather in Paris is great again and so my mood is happy happy happy. It is so nice and sunny. I think today it is 27 degrees and this weekend it should go up to 31 degrees on Saturday. I'll believe 31 degrees when I feel it but nonetheless the rest of the week looks to be nice and sunny.

I so want to go find a park and lay down. Maybe I will do that tomorrow. I wish there was somewhere near work for me to sun. There is a park about a block away but I wouldn't want to lay down on the benches there. They are not very clean and there are birds everywhere messing up the seats.

Last summer, in Quebec, I worked just outside the city limits on a big government complex and since it was the Ministry of Sustainable Development, the company was very green. The company was shaped like three quads joined together with the center of each quad being outdoors. All around and in the center of the building there were these huge grassy areas with nice long CLEAN concrete or wooden benches and also picnic tables scattered about. Every day at lunch when it was sunny, after eating with my co-workers, I would use the second half of my lunch period to find a nice bench on the grass, in the sunniest spot. Then I would put a piece of newspaper on the bench on which to rest my head, then I would lay down with my mp3 player and soak up the sun. Sometimes, it was so hot, even for me, that I had to cover my face with another newspaper. Twas lovely it was!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Paris, Je t'aime...

I just watched the movie Paris, je t'aime and I loved it. I liked that I recognized most of the places and landmarks even if I didn't know or remember the names of all of them...but the movie also made me very sad because I will be leaving the city soon. Worse is that I feel that I only have a couple more days in the city because after next weekend, I will be visiting other countries all except one weekend from Thu - Sun until the end of September and then will be gone up until the day before it's time ot take my plane back to Canada. I work Mon - Wed and usually get home really late so most of those days I stay home. That means that I only have two more weekends in Paris. Six more days to go out in the day and enjoy the city. Less than a week. And so I am sad.

I have been wanting to add to my Oh To Be In Paris list for a while...well, every day I think of something but as of these past two weeks, I get sad to even think about the list because I know that I won't be in the city/country much longer. I will try to put up one last list before I leave.

I know my blue mood today was heightened by the weather - so sad and dreary. Friday it was overcast and rained the ENTIRE day. That was bad enough but it didn't finish there. Today was basically almost the same thing. And today was to be my finally-maybe-actually-going-right-up-and-under-the-Eiffel-Tower day. Yes, I still haven't done it because I have either been going out or putting it off because of bad weather, mainly going out these past two months. So much so that now it is almost at the now or never stage. Then the movie made me think I should go to the Père Lachaise cemetery although I hate cemeteries. But Oscar Wilde is buried there! And I have to go back to the Louvre one more time!

The weather wasn't the only thing putting me in a somber mood. The closing ceremony of the Olympic Games also made me sad. Every four years when they out the flame and sing or play the depressing song or score that they inevitably always choose to mark the moment, I cannot help the tears that usually start falling if watching the ceremony by myself or with my family. Today it started from when they were showing the medallists from each day on those LCD screens above the stands of the ''Bird's Nest''...Ooo la.

Anyways, four years always seem like such a long time to wait. Four more years to make up for a missed medal opportunity. Four more years to imagine where each person will be during the next games. Four more years to discover the next crop of world class athletes. Four more years before such a large portion of delegates from basically every single country in the world mingle again. Four more years...anything can happen before then...So although I prefer it like this, it is still sad. I think too of the athletes for whom this is their last Olympics or for whom this will be their only Olympics...that's what always gets me...frack I think too much.

When I was younger, like many kids, I used to dream of being in the Games. My cousins, my sisters and I used to ''compete'' among ourselves for all types of sports but one of the later ones I remember us doing was the long jump. Part of the main floor in our house was built on an open floor concept. This meant that there were no walls separating the kitchen from the everyday dining room from the everyday living room. However the living room had a parquet floor while the dining room, adjacent to it, had a tile floor. We used the point where the two types of floors met as our ''jump off'' point. We would run the length of the dining room (sometimes starting as far away as the kitchen just beside) towards the living room and then take off, i.e. jump, just before we reach the parquet. Then we would measure how far each person jumped. Furthest jump = winner - just like normal competition. Of course, you would be disqualified if even a piece of your big toe went over the ''jump off'' point before you jumped. The hours we would spend doing that...until my parents couldn't take the noise any which point they would tell us to stop causing a racket. Then we'd go play basketball, badminton or football. Now you are probably thinking we were between seven and eleven, maybe twelve, years old when these household long jump competitions would happen. Oh no. I remember doing this up until I left for college...when my younger cousin, who is only 2 years younger than I, would visit. LOL.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Trip planning is tiresome

Yesterday I spent most of the day and a great part of the night as well as my first hours up this morning planning trips and calculating how I could pack visiting as many cities on the weekends for as cheaply as possible in my 9 weeks left in Europe. Man, was it time-consuming!

From my endless hours and calculations yesterday and this morning, it looks like my heavy trip period will be in September, where each week I will only be returning to Paris to work Monday through Wednesday. I will not be visiting Nice *tear* but will be going to Dublin, London, Rome, Venice (those are the ones now booked) as well as Barcelona, Cagliari and Milan (to be booked). Then I am torn between doing Amsterdam in one or 2 days or Stockholm for a couple days. I would love to visit the cool places in Amsterdam but I don't think it warrants more than one day yet the train price is kinda high for a one-day trip. At the same time, it would be cool to go to Sweden as it is a Nordic country and as such I imagine it to be different from the other European countries. Amsterdam or Stockholm is an ''either or'' decision because the cost of cheap hotels and even hostels are kinda expensive for both.

Anyways, since I've already done Porto, Madrid and Brussels, it looks like, if all goes well, I will have visited one city in Portugal, one in Belgium, a couple in Spain, a few in Italy, one in England, one in Ireland and then one more in either Sweden or the Netherlands. Not bad, considering I am doing this on a part-time salary, while living in expensive Paris and being limited to traveling Thu - Sun only AND I only decided to start traveling when it got warm aka June.

I really wanted to visit Nice, mainly because of the beach and the reputation of the Côte d'Azur but Barcelona and Cagliari will do...At one point, in the early hours of my planning process yesterday, when I still thought I would visit Nice, I started looking at beach photos....I've mentioned my short attention span before and it wasted no time in kicking in. Thus, I spent a few HOURS looking up beach vacations in Florida, Cuba and Mexico! One ad on the page mentioned Vegas and know it...that was me looking up Vegas trips too. But ye, the price it would cost to visit and stay a couple days in Nice in August (no space in my calendar for September), I think I could do a week's vacation in Mexico, Cuba or Florida for the same price.

Maybe you can tell from my ramblings above but I cannot believe how much time it took to plan and decide on the few trips I have booked so far. I mean I fell asleep last night with my laptop on my bed while still calculating costs and such and first thing I did when I awoke this morning was to continue the search. I just decided to stop and it is already clear past 3pm in the afternoon. Another day wasted!

Oh well, at least I should be going out this evening.