photo blog_head_zpsonl8fonu.jpg
Meesa gonna kill you!

Get email updates of new posts:        (Delivered by FeedBurner)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

France 2010 - Day 1, Part 1 - Flight, Paris: The Banks of the Seine

"The secret of life is to appreciate the pleasure of being terribly, terribly deceived." - Oscar Wilde

***

For my France and China travelogues, I will be following a posting order similar to my Baltics and Japan travelogues in 2008 - mixing posts from each. These travelogues will probably take even longer to post than the latter 2, due to this little thing called a job, but as they say, good things come to those who wait (and that better late than never).

France 2010
Day 1 - 3rd October - Flight, Paris: The Banks of the Seine
(Part 1)

I got to fly on the A380 to Paris. This was my first time on this plane. It was somewhat more spacious than other planes.

Travelling on SIA was great, as in one day I found two people whose French was worse than mine. The first had been the American lady in "Paris, je t'aime", and the second was the girl doing the SIA announcements in French.

The localisation for the SIA safety video was weird - they labelled items onscreen only in French (e.g. classe affaires, étage supérieur) and not in English.

I was seated opposite one of the areas for the crew to sit during takeoff and landing. One stewardess sat herself there. She was quite friendly, so this was the first time I'd talked to an active SIA stewardess about outside of her job scope. She was quite nice, but predictably not brilliant.

I was sleeping and reading my guidebook on the flight there, so I only sampled the inflight entertainment system 2 hours before landing. They had the cheek to feature, as a Lifestyle program, "Singapore Airline's new full flat bed in business" (sic). I was also annoyed by SSO CDs in the audio section. However, I was very impressed that the monitors had a widescreen aspect ratio, and that the movies were correspondingly in the correct format, rather than being truncated (I confirmed this by verifying that Family Guy episodes had black bars at the side).

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
I only figured out why there were 2 taps in the airport toilets on my last day - one is for soap.

The last time I had been in the City of Lights I wasn't able to speak French and I had lost all my photos. This time, I could've acted like it was my first visit, but I decided to do other things - perhaps I will revisit the classic must-see sights when more than 4 years have passed since my first visit; as an American I met in Tokyo and was staying there for a month commented, you don't need to *do* anything - "what if you just like being in a place?". There was one thing I *really* wanted to redo though: to visit Sainte Chapelle and revel in the splendour of High French Gothic.

I was intending to take the RER into town, but there was a disruption on RER B (which links the airport to Paris). I thought there was a strike, but I was told that there were works on the line. Rather annoyingly, the same helpdesk which told me this passed me a map which I only found out later was in German.

Since the RER was down, I took a coach into town (which irritatingly cost €15, versus €8,7 for the RER), and the TV was playing a bad ad against Child Sex featuring East Asian girls. They were comely enough, but were clearly in their 20s, which made them bad choices for this particular ad; maybe white people can't tell what age East Asians are, or it was a way to put them off East Asian women in general.

I had known that I would arrive a day too late for La Nuit Blanche (White Night), an all-night city-wide cultural event. However, I also missed Aida (with 500 performers) on the same night. Ah well.

The bus dropped me off at the Arc de Triomphe. Due to the light and my baggage, I decided not to take a picture and to come back another time. Since I did not, here is a picture I dug up online:



Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
"le Jeudi 14 octobre 2010. Fêtez votre ENTREPRISE. 'J'aime ma boite'. Dites-le !"
("Thursday 14th October 2010. Celebrate your COMPANY. 'I love my company'. Say it!")
It sure beats striking!

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
"ENGLISH SCHOOL
Vous parlerez anglais facilement sans effort comme si c'était votre langue maternelle!"
("You will speak English easily without effort as if it were your mother tongue!")

My room wasn't ready, so I went out on a walk that ended up lasting a lot longer than I'd intended. I started off by strolling along the banks of the Seine, whose gift Paris is. I didn't have a particular destination, but it'd been more than 2 years since I'd experienced civilised weather, so even a simple walk would be pleasant. The annoying thing about arrival day is you don't really feel like walking around, but unlike Jakarta Paris is actually interesting.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Eiffel Tower from near my hotel.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
One of the Statues of Liberty in Paris, and the Radio France building.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Quai de Grenelle.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
2 PRCs were fixing an awning for the Japanese restaurant behind this van. The van itself had no French words on it. I was amused that they were servicing a Japanese restaurant; this is an embodiment of the philosophy of "Me against my brother; me and my brother against our father; my family against my cousins and the clan; the clan against the tribe; the tribe against the world, and all of us against the infidel". Then again, it was almost certainly run by PRCs.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
One guiding principle for identifying a bad hotel to stay is one that has a lot of flags. This principle holds even more true for restaurants. The fact that this one was near the Eiffel Tower was an even bigger warning sign (notice the African selling Eiffel Tower crap?)

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
"Maison de la culture du Japon à Paris" (Japanese cultural centre in Paris)
The anti-English alliance.


Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Eiffel Tower

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Apartments on banks of the Seine

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Pont d'Iéna

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Horribly big ravens, and the probable reason for their size, number and profusion (read: tourists eating substandard and overpriced food). I was considering scaring the ravens off, to see if they were still able to fly, but I didn't want them to descend on me and peck my eyes out, so.

Next I ran into a memorial to the Algerian War.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
"La Nation associe les personnes disparues et les populations civiles victimes de massacres ou d'exactions commis durant la guerre d'Algérie et après le 19 mars 1962 en violation des accords d'Evian, ainsi que les victimes civiles des combats du Maroc et de Tunisie à l'hommage rendu aux combattants morts pour la France en Afrique du Nord"
("The nation couples the people who disappeared, as well as the civilian victims of massacres and abuses commissioned during the war in Algeria... as well as civilian victims of the fighting in Morocco and Tunisia, in honouring those who died fighting for France in North Africa")
This seems quite insulting to Algeria, as it seems some of the civilians are being honoured together with soldiers who killed them.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
"Esplanade David Ben Gourion. 1886-1973. Fondateur de l'État d'Israël‎ (1948). Premier Ministre"
One of the nice things about Paris is that street signs are a history lesson. Paris also seems to be the city most dedicated to honouring people from other countries, let alone other cities, that I've seen. On a more depressing note, we now know why jihadists were targetting Paris.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Homeless people? Artists? Illegal immigrants? I saw no signs of human activity.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
"S.V.P. Une petite piece S.V.P. du un ticket restau merci"
("Please. A small piece [of money] for a meal voucher" [?])
This was cute so I put €1 on the plate, despite it only having small denominations. Once I was at a suitable distance, a man standing nearby (presumably the one who'd set the thing up) came and took the coin, so maybe other people had been as (or more) generous than me.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Quai d'Orsay

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Invalides

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Pont des Invalides

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Rue Robert-Esnault-Pelterie

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
"Ici le 25 Aout 1944: au cours d'une lutte heroique pour la liberation du ministere des affaires etrangeres tenu par l'ennemi le char 'Quimper' a ete frappe et plusieurs soldats francais ont trouve une mort glorieuse"
("Here on 25th August 1944, in the course of the heroique battle to liberate the Ministry of Foreign Affairs taken by the enemy, the tank 'Quimper' was hit and many French soldiers found a glorious death")
You'd think that France was liberated without foreign help!


Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
National Assembly


Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Place de la Concorde

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Musée d'Orsay

I saw a group of people on "City Segway Tours". They looked very happy. Probably because they didn't expect to fall off a cliff.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Start of the long line of Louvre buildings

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Louvre

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Door

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Entrance to Pyramid courtyard

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Louvre Pyramid courtyard


Louvre Panorama

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Merde ! (Shit!)

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Another Louvre building

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
More Louvre

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
France is filled with entrepreneurs like this, selling roasted chestnuts (or corn) from supermarket trolleys. This is a testament to the vitality that immigration brings to the economy.


Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Île-de-France
This is my first successful HDR image!

I saw a guy chewing on an endive, and it looked raw. Ugh.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Bridge leading to Institut de France (Pont des Arts), a grouping of académies. This is the home of L'Académie française.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
"On te kiffe trop grave, Paris... bisou bisou" ("We love you too much, Paris... Kisses")
Locks on bridge. I'm assuming they all have something to do with love, following in the fine tradition of locks on bridges everywhere

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Boat and Île-de-France

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Institut de France

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Institut de France door

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Institut de France plaques: Mazarin Library, founded in 1643 by Cardinal Mazarin, the oldest Public Library in France
Académie française, Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres (Academy of Humanities), Académie des sciences, Académie des beaux-arts (Academy of Fine Arts), Académie des sciences morales et politiques

I then had a look at what the famous vendors along the banks of the Seine were hawking. However, the books were all wrapped up which was very annoying - how is one to buy a book without knowing its contents (the one book I bought was unwrapped - which was why I bought it)?! They need Borders to wake up their idea.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
"19th Market of Poetry"
"Je suis le chat de cimetière de terrain vague et de gouttière" ("I am the cat of the cemetery, urban wasteland and the gutter")

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
More cat poetry. You can see my lousy camera stabiliser here - the exposure was 1/60 and it's still like this; bad photos look better when you zoom out.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Various philosophical books. They also had Margaret Mead, hurr hurr.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Browsing the wares

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Gaudy building

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Vintage nudes on postcards

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
These are supposedly 17th century musical scores. I had my doubts.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Place Saint-Michel, with Fontaine Saint-Michel.

Here is a better frontal photo of the fountain:



Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Notre Dame

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Poster for Castrati aria concert by Nguyen Duy-Thông. I went for this later in the day. Incidentally it seems some Vietnamese names are unisex, as I found this person on Twitter with the same name:


Nguyễn Duy Thông

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Small streets around Boulevard & Place St Michel. In retrospect they aren't that nice.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
"Le photographe a demandé une fortune.
Le mannequin est sous anti-dépresseurs.
Le styliste fait semblant d'être gay.
Tout ça pour des boots à 49,90 €."
("The photographer asked for a fortune
The model is on anti-depressants
The stylists pretended to be gay
All for some boots costing €49.90")

"eram: il faudrait être fou pour dépenser" ("eram: you would be mad to spend more")

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
"L'assistant a couché avec le photographe, le mannequin avec le directeur de casting, le creatif avec la cliente.
Tout ça pour des escarpins à 39,90 €."
("The male assistant slept with the photographer, the model with the casting director and the creative guy with the female client.
All for some pumps costing €39.90")

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
As you can see, there is a vibrant concert industry in Paris. You must, however, stay away from any concert with the word "Classik".

In what seemed like a scam, a seemingly deaf woman came up to me with a pledge sheet, and asked me to donate. She kissed my hand and rubbed it on my sleeve. She looked very dodgy (I'm assuming bona fide charities have certification - even in China they do!) so I ran away.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
This ad is asking for female retail assistants. After taking this picture I quickly scooted before someone came out and I was forced to engage in a discussion on sexism, sexual discrimination in hiring and structural violence.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Rue de la Harpe


Practising a language is one thing, but for important things like immigration and hotel reservations, English is best.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Latest posts (which you might not see on this page)

powered by Blogger | WordPress by Newwpthemes