Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bah. And also? Humbug.

Well, it's four days until Christmas and I couldn't care less.  Normally, I love Christmas (food! drink! presents! sparkly dresses! pretty lights! parties! friends! family! whee!!!!) and am more festive than a giddy little elf all hopped up on the 'nog, but this year?  Nope, I just can't bring it.  I think it's partly because this has been a crappy year for me, and I can't wait for it to be over and partly because I can't afford to get back to Canada for Christmas, which is the first time I haven't been able to go home in about eight years.  So I'm stuck in Paris (and yes, I know no one will sympathize because it's Paris and I am therefore obligated to enjoy it even if I'd rather be somewhere else, I know) with no money and most of my friends out of town, so I was planning to huddle around a candle for warmth and eat a festive bowl of gruel this year, but  I ran into an friend at a party last week and we had the following conversation:

Him: What are you doing for Christmas?
Me: Nothing.  You?
Him: Working in the morning, working in the evening.  Want to go to a pub and get revoltingly drunk in the afternoon?
Me:  Yes!!!

So I might have a plan after all, and it sounds like a damn fine one...

Friday, December 9, 2011

One year ago

I meant to post this yesterday but as I've been a little short on time recently, it completely slipped my mind - nevertheless, I wanted to re-post these photos from the big Paris snowstorm from one year ago yesterday, because right now Paris is grey and grim and rainy.  And even though the snow was a giant pain, it sure was pretty...
Jour Blanche

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Shut up, Woody Allen

Today I finally saw Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen's most recent film.  It was charming and romantic, beautifully shot, with an excellent cast (particularly Corey Stoll as Hemingway) and a fun storyline, and I hated it more than words can possibly convey.  But why???  Well, because it's a movie I would have absolutely loved before I moved here, and will doubtless absolutely love it when I watch it again in the future when I no longer live here.   At that point, I'm sure it will tug at my heartstrings and make me wallow in misty nostalgia about "ahhhh, Paris; living there was so great, I miss it so much" - but right now, it makes me want to force-feed  escargots to Woody until he passes out from snail poisoning.

I mean, having your main character give up a lucrative career to live the life of a starving writer in Paris?  You really want to get me started on that one, having done it myself?  Sure, have him give up wine tastings on the rooftop of the Meurice and private showings of the Monets at the Orangerie - why not?  It's soooooo much more fun to live on packets of ramen noodles (plus you get to go all the way to Chinatown in order to buy the cheapest ones, thereby seeing even more of Paris - good times!).  It's soooooo much more fulfilling to have to eat at home every night so that you can afford to go out and have a drink with your friends afterwards (because you can't afford to both eat and drink at the café).  Oh yes, indeedy, that whole living-in-poverty-for-your-art thing is just awesome - it's a testament to Owen Wilson's affable persona that I didn't want to slap his face off every time he bitched about his highly-paid Hollywood job as a "hack" writer.  Dude, I would be happy to be a hack.  I would be thrilled to sell my soul into well-paid corporate servitude as a writer, because selling my soul would be infinitely preferable to selling one of my kidneys, which may very well be how I pay next month's rent.

Don't get me wrong, Paris is indeed awesome and living here is a great experience in many ways, but it's not all wine and waterlilies.  I mean, I know the movie is a fantasy, but I assure you that, in Paris, time-travel back to the 1920s is far more likely than:  a) finding a friendly shopkeeper, b) walking on streets which are miraculously free of dog crap, or c) strolling the streets of Montmartre without approximately 87,346 tourists strolling along with you at any hour of the day or night.  

Woody, your vision of Paris is very sweet and beautiful and charming, but until you've applied for a Carte Vitale, or had to file a French tax return, or been snubbed by yet another Parisien for not speaking absolutely perfect French, you have no idea about actually living in this town - next time, you might want to stick to New York...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Things you might see on the Metro

Man, you just have to love dogs - they really just make the best of any situation, don't they?  This little dude had to squish himself into the most uncomfortable-looking position of all time in order to lie down out of the way (I got this shot at a stop when hordes of people got off the train, just before the next hordes piled into the train), but there he is, perfectly happy.  I'm sure there's an inspirational thought in that somewhere, so if anyone turns this photo into one of those affirmation-of-the-day posters, don't forget to send Miss K a royalty cheque, okay?   

Monday, November 21, 2011

The lost weekend (and about a week on either side of it)

I have a vague memory that I used to write a blog - this is it, right?  It's been a while, it all seems very unfamiliar...  Wow, where have the last two weeks gone?  Well, I'll tell you what happened - I had a party.  A housewarming party, in fact.  Now, those of you who are regular readers are probably saying something along the lines of "Really, Miss K, a housewarming party?  Really?  Didn't you move quite a while ago?  In...ummm...July?!?"  Well, yes, I did, and I wrote about it at the time (APARTMENT, bitches) but I never quite got around to warming my damn house, so it was high time I entertained chez moi.  

The problem, however, is that I have some kind of freaky German hausfrau gene buried deep in my DNA and it only emerges when I am having people over and it makes me buy and cook insane amounts of food, because GOD FORBID anyone ever be hungry under my roof.  So I spent a whole week running around getting ready for this party, then had the party (which was excellent, by the way), then had to clean up after the party and somehow managed to mess up my back, which meant that I spent pretty much all of last week lying around zoned out of my mind on painkillers.  You might be thinking that all that lying around might have been a good time for me to catch up on - oh, I don't know - blogging, perhaps?  But when I say I was zoned out, I mean zoooooooooned out.  I couldn't possibly subject my gentle readers to such random, incoherent babbling from me; obviously I had to get off the painkillers and clear my head so that I can subject you to my normal random, incoherent babbling...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Return of the Redneck - Part 2

Day 2 with Mrs Redneck back in Paris for a visit (Day 1 didn't count because we were very busy drinking.  What??  She lived here for three years, she didn't want to visit the Eiffel Tower again, she wanted to drink French wine.  I mean, come on...) consisted of  walking around the Grand Palais and going into the Petit Palais to look at the permanent collection there (note to visitors:  I recommend this - not only is it a nice, but small-enough-to-see-in-a-couple-of-hours collection, it is also free, and the café is lovely.  A little tip from Miss K to you...).

After that, it happened to be Fashion Night Out in Paris, where we drank champagne at Gucci, schmoozed at Nina Ricci, ate canapés and chilled out, I'm not telling you the best place to go (sorry, gentle readers, but Miss K intends to go there again next year and it's a bit of a secret!).  Tomorrow - dead kings and queens and puppies and kitties.  I know, never a dull moment...

Really, cow skulls as a decorative motif??

You'd think we were at Versailles

View from the café

View from the café

Just a few people out for Fashion Night Out

This dog was the star of the show at Nina Ricci

Heading home...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Return of the Redneck

Long-time readers of this blog will remember my awesome friend Mrs Redneck, star of such posts as  Charming Chartres, Vincennes with the Rednecks and the ever-popular Reims with the Rednecks.  Well, she had the nerve to abandon me and move back to the States in January but at least she came back for a visit in September.  And since I arranged my schedule so that I didn't have to work while she was here, and since Mrs Redneck is a big fan of the "well, you'll sleep enough when you're dead" philosophy of travel, we were slightly busy while she was here.  To wit, this is what we did in one week:

Two chateaux
Two parks
Three cemeteries
Three cathedrals
Four events
Five museums
Seven restaurants
Eighteen cafés

Not to mention about 8000 miles of walking (slight exaggeration) and taking 1,113 photos (no exaggeration at all, I just counted).  Which is the reason why I haven't managed to get around to writing about it - I'm still sifting through all those photos.  But it's all coming soon...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Electric ninja

It's always good to talk to my little nephew on Skype.  Before chatting with him this evening, I swear I had never, not once in my life, ever uttered the phrase "electric ninja" until he explained the concept to me.  However, now that I know it, I am going to make it a thing to describe general awesomeness: "Dude, that is so electric ninja..."  You heard it here first!  (God, I'm a dork.  Hee!)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Love and handcuffs

I was enjoying the latest post from Garance Doré's great blog (Paris, je t'aime) and it reminded me about a photo I took a few weeks ago.  These locks are put on the Pont des Arts by lovers, to symbolize their eternal amour, and there are tons of them.  But handcuffs?  Really??  Yeah, there's romance for you...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Zombie mouth

What's zombie mouth, you ask?  Well, I went back to London three weeks ago, and I ordered bangers and mash for my dinner.  It's my favourite pub food and I hadn't had it in nearly a year, so when it arrived at my table, Ol' Greedyguts here was so excited that I immediately crammed some into my face.  Which would have been absolutely fine if the sausage hadn't been approximately the same temperature as the surface of the sun - it was so hot that it quite literally fused to the roof of my mouth.  All of the skin there immediately blistered and ripped open, so I had shreds of my own flesh hanging down into my mouth like little stalactites of skin.   It was excruciatingly painful and absolutely revolting - now I know why zombies are always so dang hostile...

Now, you might think that I would be eating nothing but ice chips for a few days after that, but don't be ridiculous, Miss K is made of sterner stuff than that.  I was in London and I was damn well going to make the most of it.  I was staying with friends and not eating in public, so was able to eat and drink in my normal excessive fashion, but in a manner that I like to call the "baby bird" technique - small bites, chew everything really well and then fling my head back and gulp it down with my mouth slightly open.  Yes, I'm just that classy.  Hey, when you spend a whole week with no skin on your hard palate and every swallow is so painful that it feels like your mouth is filled with battery acid, then you can judge me.

So let's add up the tally for my excessively accident-prone year - first there was the bald eye, then the cartoon-sized foot, and then zombie mouth.  Miss K really is quite a catch, gentle readers, can you even believe I'm still single???

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Photos from the Camargue (Part 2)

I did tell you bulls were a big thing around here...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Photos from the Camargue (Part 1)

First of many bulls

Beware of the bull. Hee!

Our rather splendid beach bbq site

Not quite sure how I got a shot of this insect, but there it is

Monday, October 3, 2011

Busy, busy, busy

Has it really been a week?  Gentle readers, I do apologize for my neglect, I truly had every intention of keeping up with this blog during my travels, but I just never seemed to have time (last week) or internet (this weekend).  It's all been somewhat crazed - I was in London on Tuesday through Thursday for work, but still managed to see a few friends for lunches, dinners and (of course) cocktails.  Got back with just enough time to unpack my suitcase and re-pack it for the mystery trip with my Paris office, which involved me having to be at the Gare de Lyon at 7:45 on Friday  morning (a hideous hour for a non-morning-person like me, I do assure you).  We ended up in the Camargue, which is a rather lovely area famed for horses, salt, and bulls.  I know - random.  But it was good fun: beach bbq, horseback riding, scavenger hunt, flamenco dancing, tons of great food (who knew bull stew was so delicious?) and a great deal of lovely wine (which I very much needed, because being with 27 over-excited French people all talking at once isn't exactly my idea of a relaxing weekend).  But sadly, I didn't escape unscathed - I managed to sprain my ankle on Saturday afternoon and spent the rest of the trip hobbling around with it swollen to hilariously cartoonish proportions.  Oh well, at least it wasn't another black eye...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Miss K - Travel Weasel

I know I will get absolutely no sympathy about this, but Paris is feeling a little stale to me right now.  But before you start lighting the torches and sharpening the pitchforks, let me explain why - it's because I haven't left the city in nearly a year.  I got back to Paris just before New Year's Eve, and other than a day trip to Vaux-le-Vicomte (the post on that is yet to come, with fabulous photos), I haven't been outside the city in all these months - for a travel weasel like me, that's a looooooooooooong time to be in one place.  Last year I managed to get to London, Toronto, Monaco and Marrakech.  The year before that: Prague, Bucharest and Istanbul.  I once went around the world in 31 days.  I once went to Egypt in the spring and Jordan in the autumn of the same year. I once spent Christmas in a Scottish castle and then went to Barcelona for New Year's.  And those are just a few examples...  The point is, I used to travel.  

I think part of the reason I have had such a crappy year is that I've got a bad case of cabin fever, and there wasn't anything I could do about it.  Between the nightmare of trying to find places to live and not having any money, I just couldn't go anywhere.  BUT the travel gods have smiled upon me - I am leaving for London tomorrow for a work trip, and will have to go back again for work, probably next week or possibly the week after.  And in between, my whole office in Paris is going off for a corporate retreat in the south of France.  Okay, so all these trips are work-related and they're not very exciting, but I don't care.  I am going somewhere, and when that brief flurry of travel dies down, then I'll be able to appreciate Paris again.  In the meantime, if you could try not to stab me with those pitchforks, I'd really appreciate it...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's a brocante thing (Part 2)

So, gentle readers, yesterday we learned about things you might see at a brocante.  Today is a continuation, along with some handy tips:

1) take cash, it's easier to haggle.

2) try to keep in mind what you need, as opposed to what you want (which will be many things - not good when one is on a budget).  I finally found the perfect wineglasses at this brocante (yes, after three months of making do with the martini glasses I told you about in Apartment, bitches) and restricted myself to those, but if I actually had money to spend?  Dang!

3) if you are a reasonably youthful, moderately attractive female by yourself at a brocante, it may be that the female vendors will be snippy with you, and it may be that the male vendors will try to work some flirting into the haggling.  At a previous brocante, I cheerfully bartered a kiss on the cheek for a few extra peacock feathers (hey, they're expensive!), but I drew the line this time when the guy got a little handsier than necessary when "helping" me try on a necklace.  Just saying...

4) keep your eyes peeled - not only for the cool things around you, but also for people with strollers and tiny dogs - possibly not a tripping hazard for the likes of you, but for anyone as clumsy as Miss K, it's a damn minefield.  

Just a few little tips from me to you, now on with the photos:
The sign is cool enough, but WITH the wooden gorilla looking at it?  Way cooler.
Zillions of teeny-tiny adorable doorknobs. 

Not just books, but books with a big horned animal skull underneath.  Awesome.

Arfully patinated chairs, cool vases, groovy old paintings, pop-art Marilyn AND a little wooden tiger.  Couldn't love it more if I tried.

Love the jaunty sailor painting but REALLY love the totally over-it dog.

Funky tiled table, 4' tall inflatable phone, and freaky puppet head.  No comment.

Very much liked this chest-of-drawers, but REALLY wanted the big metal cheetah.  Ahhh, someday.

Do you see it, at the back, beside the teacups?  A KNIGHT'S HELMET!!!  By the teacups! So. Damn. Cool.

I like these guys, just chillin'.

Putting the giant lion's head on top of the Union Jack stool? Genius. And please note the adorable little dog top of the photo just for added cuteness.
FINALLY!  I can drink wine like a civilized person again - from my €2 glasses, which are crystal, no less!  Worth the wait...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It's a brocante thing (Part 1)

One of my very first posts was about markets in Paris (Saturday mornings), and I've written about them since (To market), but I don't believe I've ever written about brocante before. A brocante is a very specific kind of market - not a flea market where you have random guys selling socks and dodgy cosmetics, but a flea market that is full of interesting things - not specifically antiques, just things (which tend to be pretty awesome).  I personally love a good brocante, not so much to shop at them, but to take photos - you have to give the French credit, because at these markets, things are not just piled up on a table, they're all carefully arranged to look damn cool.  So if you ever visit Paris and happen to see a sign for a brocante, try to swing by and see it - you may find a groovy little something to take home with you...

Cricket balls, pipes, police sign, boxes of Christmas ornaments, a wood and iron gate AND a Lenin banner - what could be better?

Not so sure about the crazy dog in uniform (seriously, wtf?), but loving the rest of the stuff at this stall

Oh, if I had an extra €900 lying around, this bad boy would have SO been coming home with me

Clocks! Lamps! Clocks! Lamps! (and a couple of cool chairs, too)

Chart of the human musculo-skeletal system, anyone? In French, no less.

Furry critters

Freaky hand lamp thingie

Damn cool

So nicely arranged

Yes, that's a chamber pot.  And it still smelled like a chamber pot.

The dancing lady? The Buddha? The metal giraffes?  I wanted them all!