Web Log

Our Camper Van




Amy's Cakes

Outboard Hydroplane Racing

Radio Controlled Toys

Seine River Looking Towards Notre Dame

03/17/06 (E):

Well, these entries are getting more and more sparse as time goes on... We have an excuse though...

Currently we are living in Paris, France while I spend a couple months helping a customer of my company. The offer of a paid 2.5 month stay in Paris was an adventure we just could not pass-up, so here we are. Currently we are staying in a hotel while Amy looks about for a short-term furnished apartment to rent.
Eifel Tower

The last month saw my trip to San Jose, followed by preparations to head to France. Since we would only have a few more weeks we retrieved the porta-potty from the repair shop while they waited for the parts to fix it. Taking a few measurements we decided to chance buying a manual flush baffle, and it actually fit perfectly and we had a fully functional toilet again (one that does NOT take batteries, or have moving parts and seals to fail, YAY). The repair parts were finally available the day before we flew to Paris, but they wanted the old toilet top in return. Since it had taken almost 2 months from the failure to get the repair parts, and the van was already back in Oregon, we didn't feel too guilty in telling them that it had just taken too long for our schedule. 2 months without a toilet seemed a bit unacceptable for a warranty repair to me.

We spent a couple more weeks at the slopes above Seattle, getting more snow-boarding in, before taking the van to my parents' to drop it off, pack for Paris, and dig our car out from the snow. After an adventurous day of shoveling, snow-blowing, and excessive momentum, the car was freed and we drove back to Seattle to fly out to Paris. We also picked up a new mini-digital camera, as our old one just gave up one day (explaining the recent lack of photos here).

On the flight over I was thrilled to be able to get a window seat, however a few minutes into the flight I was instructed by the flight-attendant to close the window shades. Perhaps I am the only person who still enjoys the view when flying? And why do they have windows if you can't use them? Anyway, I periodically cracked the window to peer outside and we got to see the shore of Baffin Island casting moon-lit shadows onto the ice of the Atlantic/Arctic Ocean, giant cracks through the ice on the ocean, and mountains and some lights on the shore of Greenland, and some other once-in-a-lifetime sights. In all my other flights between the states and Europe it has never been so crystal clear all the way, and a nearly full moon helped light it all up.

Upon arriving in Paris on Tuesday we rented a cell-phone and got a taxi to our hotel. The next day I reported in for work and Amy did a bit of grocery shopping and began calling around to setup appointments to look at apartments.

Thursday Amy went into down-town to see some apartments, and got to see the beginnings of some student-protests and a whole pile of riot-police. The event later made the front-page of Google News.
Paris Riot Police Showing Up

A few observations on France so far: They have some weird cars (look like the front of a mini-van but ends just behind the 2 seats, no back seats, only about 6' long, very tippy looking); Motorcycles and scooters everywhere even with cold weather, and they lane-split so much as to make Californian riders look cautious and conservative; Grocery store has an entire isle devoted to yogurt, both sides; everyone at work shakes hands with everyone else each morning...

Just before leaving for France we received an invite for the annual Sportsmobile 4x4 rally. To be honest, we were half-expecting to not receive an invite at all. Anyway, after a bit of discussion and schedule planning we decided to go for it. We have to be in BC, Canada up till a week and a half before, and back in BC a week and a half after, so it will be a fair bit of driving, but not so fast as to be terribly unpleasant, and we will work on figuring out some interesting routes.

3-21-2005: (A)
Bienvenue a Paris!  Well it has been a week since Erik and I landed in Charles DeGaulle Airport – our first time in Paris!  We were fortunate enough to have Work send Erik to Paris for 2.5 months.  We have been staying in a hotel close to his French Workplace but will be moving this Friday to an apartment (complete with kitchen!!) in Paris central. 

Of Paris life so far, I have found several things.  I haven’t spent all that much time in Paris central, mostly Velizy really, which is a Paris suburb, near Versailles.

Paris shopping: department store style.  The quickest shopping access that I had during our first few days was at a near by department store in Velizy.  First, their departments stores are much the same as the ones back home, but more expensive.  The size offering in the adult section seems to be, for the most part, along the same lines – that is TOO BIG POUR MOI.  In the states, they super size even the size 0’s, 3’s & 4’s to the point where a modern size 8 can represent anything from a size 8 to size 14+!  At least here, I think the measurements are still according to actual lengths, in centimeters.  I’m hopeful that the designer boutiques actually cater to people with smaller figures, because I still find myself shopping in the kids section.  We’ll see. 

Paris shopping:  the Uber-Supermarket.  (I just love that German word – Uber, don’t you?  Uber.  Uber.  Uber.)  Since our location is in the business/industrial section of town, real estate is relatively cheap, buildings are big, malls are big – and the local grocery store gi-normous. 

What really made the supermarket exotic, aside from all the signs and labels being in French, was how much shelf space was devoted to some items that are usually marginalized in the states.  Dairy for instance – there are two full aisles devoted to yogurt, and another three to cheese (not including the cheese counter).  Their seafood selection is much more varied – looking and smelling much like what you’d expect in a Chinese market.  They have a full two aisles devoted to meats, including strong-smelling dry/smoked (Virginia style?) legs of ham hanging un-refrigerated for all to smell.  Of course they have their chocolate aisle, with plenty of fine treats.  Nothing exotic in the produce section, I’m hoping to find more interesting stuff when I get a chance to visit the open air markets – hopefully next weekend.  All in all, there was a lot more to smell in this supermarket (like an Asian produce market on steroids) than in the typical Safeway – including not-so-fresh fish, and dairy items strongly past their prime.

Lucky me!  I got a chance to meet up with a dancer friend of mine, Erica!  (I’ve known her from the dance scene in Seattle, but she’s originally an Alabaman).  It was great meeting up with her, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get in touch with her, what with her super busy schedule, and all.  It turns out that she will be playing a role in a Euro-Disney production of Tarzan.  She’s gonna be a monkey!  On top of that she’s Jane’s understudy.  I can’t say how proud and in awe I am in of her – I got to see her rope burns, a testament to all the rope and acrobatic work she’s been going through in rehearsal.  She’s gonna look like a recovering war-hero for some time!  I hope we’ll get to hang out a bunch while I’m here, and even catch the show.
Amy and Erica in Paris

Some more random thoughts:

I guess I’m more Asian-leaning than I thought, I’ve had a pretty bad time of jet lag and all that I want to eat is rice congee and sautéed Gai-Lan.  The past two months spent at my parents’ dinner table has really spoiled me.  I must admit my ‘rents always layout a fair number of dishes at the table, always with the tastiest greens and just a bit of meat – c’est parfait.  And what can I say?  I’m a rice and stir-fry fiend.  Hats off to mom and dad. 

More on Jet Lag…  It’s the worst kind of torture.  ‘Nuff said.

Chez Badgers a Paris.  We are looking forward to settling into our new short-term apartment in downtown.  It is a short distance from both the Eiffel Tower and the L’Arc De Triomphe, meaning that it is central to all the touristy things, including museums.  But it should also be accessibly close to some of the open air markets. 

While apartment hunting, I got to see the Eiffel Tower for the first time.  You should have heard me, I was giggling like a foolish schoolgirl!  But I was a bit surprised at its lack of height.  I guess in this day and age, skyscrapers do make the Tower look a trifle diminutive.  I hope that the restaurants there will be a bit more promising than those of Velizy.  I’m told there is a street with restaurants catering to every possible cuisine that one can think of.  I’m hoping to check that out. 

Oh, and one more thing, I have a favorite French cartoon!  Les Zinzins de L’Espace!  It’s about these four aliens that are stranded on Earth and the troubles that they get into.  I love the animation style.  It reminds me of Power Puff Girls.  It’s on French 5, at 4:45pm, local time.  Check it out if you can.

3-25-2006 (E):

Things you won't find in the states:

  • Book vending machines
    Book Vending Machine
  • Amy Sized Cars
    Amy sized car
  • Buildings over 1000 years old (at least parts of them)
    Louvre Palace
  • Really fast scooters
    Rossi's scooter...

3-25-2006 (A)

La Vie en Rive Gauche.  Life on the left bank!  (Of the Seine that is…)  Erik and I just had the most magical day in downtown Paris.  Ah to be young, and in Love in Paris!  It IS as magical as they say.  We woke up this morning in our new Paris apartment, after the best night’s sleep that we’ve both had in weeks, had breakfast, and stepped out to meet the city.  It was our first full day in Paris as residents. 

We just wandered, letting our whims be our guide.  It was great.    The Eiffel Tower was off in the distance, hailing us.  The sky was slightly overcast, but bright as we made our way along the upper banks of the Seine, crossing back and forth over its many bridges as we went.  Perhaps it was because one had a view of both banks/sides of the river at once, or maybe it was the feeling of being suspended right over the river itself, I don’t know why, but I really loved crossing and pausing in the middle of those bridges.  The pedestrian-only bridges are especially magical because they were like mini-parks, peaceful, restful with welcoming benches, and yet restless with the trickle of passing pietons (pedestrians).  After one particular bridge, we ran into a painter peddling his colorful paintings of the banks of the Seine.  I was sorely temped to buy, and made a note to myself to return at a later date.
Bridge over Seine

We walked the courtyard of the Louvre and Erik insisted on peering down into one of the smaller glass pyramids.  They had an information desk – Erik wanted to report.  It was really crowded so we just passed through, hoping to come back with prepaid passes next time.  After a space, we walked across the Island in the middle of the Seine, glimpsing Notre Dame from a distance.  Erik and I had a bit of a disagreement over whether or not it was her.  It was settled after we found some postcards.  Also hope to catch the Notre Dam close up, after all, it’s like my mom has informed me – “You are kind of Catholic, you know!”
Louvre Glass Pyramids

We had lunch in a charming little hidey-hole of a boulangerie.  It was a tiny little establishment, barely more than a hallway with chairs and tables on one side and a small counter on the other side of the display.  We ordered a baguette sandwich and 2 chocolate croissants.  (I had to indulge.)  I ate the chocolaty part of my pastry and gave the rest to Erik – heheh.  The place looked very old, and had a serene sanctuary kind of feeling to it.  Charming.

After returning to our apartment, I decided that we needed to find out where the local grocery store was.  And we needed to do it today, because it was most likely to be closed on Sunday.  I had picked a map of Paris Starbucks during one of my visits to the mall in Velizy, and the both of us decide to go looking for one of those.  It had been our experience in the past that Starbucks were generally located near the grocer districts, and we were not disappointed. 

We had a lovely visit at the Oden Starbucks (very popular with college students), where in I ran into a couple of Venezuelan ladies.  One of them mentioned that she was going to Sorbonne (France’s University) to learn the French language.  Afterwards she would be going to some famous Fashion Design School in New York.  Her English was excellent.  She sounded every bit the American college age teenager, down to her speech idiosyncrasies.  Apparently she had visited the states frequently.  She was very excited to discover that I was from Seattle, apparently her sister who was currently residing in California was moving to Seattle with her husband. 

And after deciphering directions given to me in French by one of the Baristas, we took off to find the local Champion Grocer.  Success!  I was beginning to think that Paris Urban Grocery stores were a myth!

3-26-2006 (A)

Took out my “10 Memorable Walks in Paris” book and we went exploring. 

We passed St. Germain des Pres, an abbey existing since 452, in some form or another.  In the 8th century, the abbey became part of the scholarly Benedictine order.  In the 18th century, French Revolutionary took over the building and used it to house titled prisoners.  Things got rather bloody for about 200 people there.  The skull of the 17th century mathematician/philosopher Rene Descartes is buried here.

We didn’t go in, but did linger in it’s courtyard to view a bronze bust of a woman sculpted by Pablo Picasso and dedicated to his great friend Guillaume Apollinaire 41 years after Apollinaire’s death.

We stepped into the St. Sulpice, another nearby cathedral from antiquity, and wondered at the beautiful paintings in the entry way, the amazing architecture of flying buttresses and vaulted ceilings, and beautiful stained glass.  It felt like a very special and spiritual place and I really wanted to light a candle in prayer.  Unfortunately, that was where my religious education fell little short.  I’d never done it before and there weren’t others around to lead in example.  I will just have to wait until I go to Notre Dame or another church.  Us Catholics are very stuck on rituals (or so I’m told), so I didn’t want to mess up the whole candle thing.

Found our first open air market today, on Boulevard Raspail.  Got there a little too late to shop, but we’ll be back next Sunday.

Web Log Sections (Newest at Bottom):