July 25, 2010

view from the top

The new apartment is pretty great! It's small by American standards (but I have a real bedroom now), it's quirky, charming and entertaining because I live on a busy intersection (and have a great view of Parisian driving, which is scary to watch at times). I moved from the red dot below to the red star. It's a little further away from school, but I'm loving the new location and the proximity to other things (like great shopping).

Here's my prime real estate:

With a real
bedroom! (complete with chandelier...this was there before)

The front door...that opens up into my bedroom. Kind of strange but it's growing on me. There's a door to the main room and also another room with the toilet and also washing machine (a lot of French apartments have separate toilets from the bathroom...another thing that just grows on you after awhile)

The main room - great windows and a great view!

The "kitchen"...basically part of the main room. Not much working space but it's not so bad! Surprisingly, I have everything I need. Even an oven!

Bathroom, part II. Shower, sink, other bathroomy things.

An incredible view of the place I got robbed - Sacré-Cœur Basilica

And free entertainment...right outside my window! This is why you should never drive in Paris - what a cluster:

So there you have it...the grand tour - visitors welcome!

tour de lance...i mean france

Well, another Tour de France has come and gone and I was lucky enough to be in Paris for the final stage of the rigorous bike competition. It was fun to join the huge crowd waiting to see the cyclists make their final few laps around the Champs-Élysées (a fancy shmancy shopping street...think Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, etc.). And when I say huge crowds...I mean huge:

There was a sea of people that surrounded the streets, literally it went on for miles. My friends and I were pretty close to the action though with only one row of people between us and the street so we were able to see a lot. We got there pretty early because we weren't sure how busy it would be or how soon the cyclists would be in the heart of Paris - and we ended up waiting for a good four hours. We could see on a huge screen that they were on their way, but it just seemed like it was taking forever. But, who am I to complain after these guys have spent the last three weeks biking up, down and all around the country?! By the time they reached Paris, they had been on their bikes for three weeks (with only two days of rest) covering 2,200 miles - I could definitely hang around for four hours to see them finish. Here is this year's path:

This was Lance Armstrong's final Tour de France and he let some Spanish guy named Alberto Contador take the win this year. It would have been fun to see him win one last time...maybe he'll come out of retirement (again) and give it another whirl. I will definitely go try and see it again next year! Here is a picture - basically a blur of jerseys and bikes...

And here's a little video:

July 14, 2010

Some Like it Hot

Summer is in full swing here...and I seem to have missed the memo that you buy fans before it gets hot out. I got back from Germany on Sunday and moved into my apartment as soon as I got back to Paris. Buildings in Europe are so old and electricity is expensive that, consequently, air conditioning basically doesn't exist. There are some restaurants with AC - if they have it, they advertise it in writing on the windows - and there are some stores with AC...other than that, you're out of luck. The next best thing to AC, then, is a fan to avoid that point of heat stoke when it hits 93 degrees at 4pm with 99% humidity and no breeze. Ahhh, summer. Before I left for Germany it was getting pretty hot, but since I knew I would be moving apartments solo upon my return, I decided to wait on buying a fan until I arrived at my new place. Bad idea. In two days, I've gone into no less than twenty different stores of various kinds all over the city looking for a fan only to come back home empty handed! I've been asking if I could buy the floor models but quit after a string of dirty looks from the salespeople like I had just asked some horribly offensive question. Jaime tried looking online to see if I could order a fan on Amazon and have it shipped but what normally would take a week could now take up to 5 weeks - I'm sensing some kind of European fan shortage/crisis and I'm in the thick of it. The students I teach English to find my inability to cope without AC very entertaining. I asked one student if anybody here has window AC's like I had in my Minneapolis apartment and he told me "we would never do that, not unless you're using it to put in the window of a Chinese restaurant". Ok then, I'll wait it out. I'm lucky at the moment to have a little relief from the heat in the wake of some torrential downpours that lasted most of today, but I'll still be on the prowl tomorrow in search of the rare and elusive fan. Luckily, I'm pretty preoccupied with the new apartment. Pictures coming soon!