I am here! Je suis arrivée! Please excuse the silence, I hope you haven't been worried. (I even forgot the obligatory I'm here and I'm still alive parental phone call, until my mother sent me an e-mail the other day to check in, mentioning at the end, please let me know you've arrived, just an e-mail will do, thanks). And it's not that I haven't been online, because I have, and it's not that I haven't had time, because I've had plenty of that too. I suppose it's that my priorities at the moment are more geared towards finding a place to shelter myself come October 1st, which is proving much more difficult and expensive and complicated than even I, the queen of pessimism and worrier supreme, had anticipated. Plus I haven't really had anything all that exciting to write about, but I've sort of been storing up tidbits in my head to share with you, which I might as well tell you about before they get replaced by more useful information, such as the conversion of dollars to Euros, my new phone number, and the fact that though it may be labeled as such, a beignet will never be a donut and a crêpe will (happily) never be a pancake.
Corporate Entities I am Loving at the Moment:
Air India. Thank you for providing me with a direct flight, extra legroom, lamb curry, and free wine, all for the lowest fare on the internet. (Free alcohol on flights- who does that anymore? For that, Air India, I would like to kiss you [politely, on each cheek]). Also, I would like to commend the extremely laid-back flight attendant and the generally laissez-faire attitude of the entire flight staff for the most relaxed and enjoyable flight I have ever experienced. Though I wasn't instructed to remove my headphones and turn off my electronic device during takeoff, I did so anyway, out of habit. As we waited in line for our turn to taxi down the runway, and then waited some more, with nothing to listen to, my boredom and impatience grew. Though I thought I already knew what the answer would be, I decided to risk asking anyway. "Excuse me," I gestured to the flight attendant. "Is it ok if I listen to this?"
"What is it?" she asked.
And though she was wearing a sari and was not, in fact, even the slightest bit French, from what I could tell, she still managed the most impressive gallic shrug I have ever seen. "As long as it's not a mobile," she said.
"Really?" I said. "Awesome!"
And, being that I was in the emergency exit row, I stowed my bag in the overhead compartment out of habit, knowing from experience that nothing is allowed on the floor during takeoff, since there are no seats ahead to stow it under. However, during landing I didn't move it, and you know what? No one said a thing.
So for that, Air India, and for arriving on schedule, and for not losing or even temporarily misplacing my bags, thank you. In a world where prices are increasing and customer service is decreasing, thank you for not compromising your integrity. Don't ever change.
Couchsurfing.com. Through what seems like a miracle, but what is in fact a fairly common practice among travelers and backpackers, I had, and still have, actually, a free place to stay upon my arrival, keeping me from being effectively homeless in France. Not only has my hostess, the lovely Marie-Eve, let me stay rent-free on her futon as I try and fail to find my own housing, but she cooks dinner for me, buys me pain au chocolat for breakfast, serves me tea, and won't let me lift a finger to help. She essentially forbade me from doing dishes, an order that normally I would ignore, but she all but implied that she would in fact freak out, like really freak out, for real, if I were to do this. Apparently she has "horreur" of other people doing her dishes. I didn't mention that I have a similar "horreur" of being in close proximity to a sink full of dirty dishes. The dishes and I had a good stare down the other day while she was at work, but so far I've been too afraid of what might happen to try anything. In short, Marie-Eve has been the ideal hostess, tour guide, advice-giver, and friend, and asks nothing in return. I keep thinking that it's all too good to be true, that no one can be that nice, and I keep waiting for the catch, but there is none. Couchsurfing is, simply enough, a good website for good people, and if you're on a budget or just want to meet new people while you're traveling, I highly recommend you check it out. You don't even necessarily have to stay with someone; you can also just meet up for a drink or coffee when you're traveling through a town where you might not know anyone. Or, if you're feeling up for it, sign up and volunteer your own couch! It's really not as scary as it sounds, and you can meet some really great and interesting people. This was my first experience couchsurfing, and it turned out so well I will definitely continue to use it in my future travels. (Check out my profile! And then make one of your own!)
I have lots more to tell, including how I spent my first Friday night in France at the very un-French Disney Village, but that will have to be a story for another day, as I need to get my travel-weary body back on some sort of schedule. Bonne nuit, everyone. May your wine glass never be empty, and may all your kisses be French.