Look Up, Look Down – Paris

Every Thursday, Travel With Intent posts a photo to go with the theme Look Up, Look Down and invites readers to do the same.
For this week’s entry, I’ve chosen another old photo. Jan and I went to Paris in April 2009 to meet up with my family. My mam and my aunt had said they would take my Grandma to Paris for her 80th birthday. What she didn’t realise was that it wasn’t only the three of them going… most of her children (including my aunt who lives in New Zealand) and a few of the grandchildren had gathered there to surprise her.

My first photo was taken from the top of the Arc de Triomphe.

Paris from above
Paris from above

As you can see, the weather wasn’t exactly brilliant! But Jan wanted to go ahead and climb the thing anyway, so we did.

Here’s another photo from the same occasion:

Spiral staircase at the Arc de Triomphe
Spiral staircase at the Arc de Triomphe

The spiral staircase is the route back down to street level. I had to wait quite a while before the crowds of people going down died down enough for me to get a photo!

To see how other people have interpreted the theme and post your own entry, check out Travel With Intent’s blog post.

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Travel theme: Hidden

When I saw that Ailsa’s travel theme for this week was “hidden” I knew immediately that I wanted to join in. The only question was did I have any suitable photos? After going through all the albums on my computer, I discovered I did. And here they are for your viewing pleasure.

I have posted this first photo before, but it was just perfect for the theme. Hidden among these leaves there is a bird, almost perfectly camouflaged.

Bird among the leaves
Bird among the leaves

The next two photos were taken in Paris. Hidden beneath the streets of the city are the Catacombes de Paris, an underground ossuary (cemetery). The first picture shows a sculpture of France’s Port-Mahon fortress, created by a former inspector when these tunnels were still part of a stone quarry.

Paris catacomb sculpture

The second photo is more what you would expect from an underground graveyard… bones! Apologies for the quality of the photograph – flash photography was not permitted and it’s pretty dark down there!

Paris catacombs

Cynics might say that this next sight is a familiar one in Scotland! The sky and the tops of the mountains in Glenfinnan are almost completely hidden behind the clouds.

Glenfinnan

And finally, just to prove that the weather isn’t always bad in Scotland, here’s a photo taken in Glen Nevis later that same day. This time it’s the sun that’s hidden, behind some trees.

Glen Nevis

Visit Where’s My Backpack for more interpretations of the theme and to join in yourself. The weekly challenge is open for entries until Thursday.

Paris – Third time UNlucky

My plan for today was to write a post extolling the virtues of Paris. I wanted to tell you how I finally tracked down the Statue of Liberty in Luxembourg Gardens (the first time I was in Paris, I had read about it but couldn’t find it, leading Jan to think I was imagining things. The second time I discovered the place it was meant to be, complete with a sign telling me it was currently on display somewhere else. This time it was there, but without its torch). Instead, I am going to tell you about how my purse disappeared somewhere between paying to get into the Catacombs and going out for a meal to discover my brother’s 21st birthday.

I have no idea how it happened. I spent most of my time holding the zip of my handbag firly closed with one hand while being alert for suspicious looking people at the same time. The only time I wasn’t holding my handbag closed was when I needed both hands to take a photograph, and then I checked that there was nobody near me first. ANd ye somehow, somewhere, my purse disappeared. To make things even more mysterious, my purse was tucked down at the side of my bag. So a pickpocket would have had to pull up the velcro flap, unzip the handbag, entirely ignore the bag containing Jan’s medication and my camera, which were lying on top (at least if it was taken while the camera was in the bag. If I was taking a photo the camera was obviously in my hand) and then rummage around until they got their hands on my purse. I have no idea how anyone could have done that without me feeling it. The alternative is that I dropped the purse at the catacombs, thought I had put it in my bag and walked away down the stairs leaving it behind. But if that was the case, both my sister and her boyfriend (who were behind me) must have missed it and the purse must have been taken from the floor before any member of staff noticed it and picked it up – Jan called the catacombs the next morning (he speaks French) and they didn’t have it. Neither did the bar where we went for a drink pre-meal or the restauarnt where we ate said meal. It is gone. Disappeared off the face of the Earth. So today I worked from home so I would have the chance to go to my bank ebfore it closed (at 4pm, would you believe!) and order a new card. You have to go in personto show them your ID and sign a form. They also let me take money out using my passport. Actually, it was kind of cool. The woman asked me how much I wanted, programmed the amount onto a card then I had to go to a cash machine. The card was eaten and the amount I wanted came out. Much better than standing in a queue for one of the two counters that was open! My new card could take up to 10 days to arrive, but I can get more money out using my passport any time, as long as the bank is open.

Slightly more annoying is the loss of my card for the train. I was hoping to get a temporary paper one while I waited for the replacement to arrive. Unfortunately, there is no such thing. Instead, every time I get on the train, I have to go to the ticket inspector, tell him my BahnCard is lost and get a receipt. I then have 14 days to take the receipts, along with my replacement card, to a counter at the train station where I will have to pay €7 per journey. The replacement card could take anywhere between 5 and 10 days to arrive. And I also pay a €30 fee for the replacement itself. I don’t even want to try to add that up right now – it’s too depressing. But even without doing the actual maths I know it’s going to be a lot.

But even that is not the worst part. No, the most devasting part is that my purse contained a photo of my step mam – one of three I actually own, and the only one I had in Germany with me. It wasn’t a particularly special photo – just one of those taken in a photo booth, showing her and a friend. But it was hers. She had 2 copies and her friend had the other 2. About 2 years after she had died, we found her 2 copies in her old vanity case, and my dad let my sister and I keep them. And now, my copy is gone. My sister thinks she has lost hers too, but she’s going to have a look for it and see if she an scan it in for me. But even if she does find it, the scanned copy won’t be the same. It won’t be the actual photo that belonged to Shirley. And so I shall mourn its loss, just for a little while.

This week I have mostly been spending

I should really be trying to save as much of my wages as possible, so that one day I can afford to buy a washing machine (the hand wshing thing is starting to get really irritating now!) but me being me this is practically an impossibility. If I actually have money I feel compelled to spend it (you can’ take it with you, right)… and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing this week
Here’s what I’ve been purchasing:

– Photos. I found out that the website that I get my digital photos printed from has a special offer on where you can get 100 photos for just €8.99. Including delivery! Clearly this had to be taken advantage of. So I sent in most of my photos from Paris, a few from our New Year’s trip to Belgium plus some other randoms. They arrived today. Most exciting! Now I just need a new photo album to put them in…

– This set of plates etc.
plates They’re just so pretty. And at only 50 cents per item (or 95 for a cup and saucer set) resistance would have been plain  silly! Unfortunately – and unsurprisingly – everyone else thought the same, so I’ve now ended up with 4 large plates, 3 small ones, 4 “bowls” (really just slightly deeper plates) and 6 cups and saucers. Apparantly nobody wanted the cups and saucers! My guess is the plates were all bought by students who only drink beer anyway so didn’t need anything to drink hot things out of.

– A piece of art. Namely a picture by Rosina Wachtmeister. It’s called Red Cheek. You can see it here. Pretty, no? Hopefully I will actually get round to getting it framed one day. That and the other 2 pictures that I still have sitting around waiting for the day they can take their places on the wall. I know exactly where they’re going to live… I just need to get some frames around them first!

– Cinderella in Spanish from Amazon. I ordered it on Monday. It is not here yet. Hurry up Amazon seller person… I want my book!

I think that is everything (apart from the boring stuff like food and a mop).
Tell me about something you’ve purchased this week. I need to know I’m not the only one defiantly spending money in the face of the financial crisis…

I love being young and a student

Eiffel Tower

Paris was brilliant. I had a wonderful, wonderful time.
It was great to see my Grandma, to see how happy she was that we had all turned up in Paris just for her. Unfortunately I missed the initial reunion and didn’t get to see her face when my Aunt who lives in New Zealand walked into the room, but I’ve been told it was brilliant. It was also nice to see said Aunt who lives in New Zealand. I think the last time I saw her I was about 16. That’s a long, long time ago. It was also nice to see my 10 year old cousin who I hadn’t seen since she was about 4 and my 4 year old cousin who was one the last time I saw her. (From reading this you’d think i’d been estranged from my entire family for years! believe it or not, there are people that i see fairly regularly. Just not the ones who live in New Zealand. Or anywhere south of the Tyne for that matter…)

The title of the blog post is something my cousin said at the Louvre.
You see, since 4th April this year there has been a new scheme. At certain places those who are aged between 18 and 25 and members of the European Union can get into places for free. Until August I fit into this category. So I got into the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe and the Pantheon without spending a single cent. And for all those place that are not part of the scheme I had my student card with me for cheap entry. Yes, I love being young and a student. But why oh why did they have to introduce the 18-25 thing now when I only have another 3 and a half months left before I turn 26. (Arrghh, OMG, 3 and a half months?!? How did my birthday get so close so fast??).

So yes, a lovely, lovely time was had by all. The only down side was the weather. On the Saturday it rained and rained and rained. Jan and I actually made it up the Arc de Triomphe this time (last time we were in paris it was New Year and everything was closed by about 3pm). The view from the top would have been so good it hadn’t been so dull and grey, and if the Eiffel Tower hadn’t been half hidden by clouds. The sun finally managed to sneak out on Sunday afternoon, by which time most of the party only had time to see one more thing before heading back to the hotel and then to the UK. But never mind, it was fun anyway. And my Grandma walked up all the steps to Sacre Coeur. I was elsewhere at the time (we went to the Pantheon and caught up with the rest later), but I am told she absolutely refused to use the lift. Not bad for an 80 year old!

Right… I have to go now and try to figure out what on Earth “narrative structure” and “the discourse historical approach” are. I have to write an essay on them by 7th May and stupidly I’ve managed to get through an entire year of Text Linguistics without doing any of the reading or understanding a single word of the lectures. Oh yes, I totally rock. Hmmm.

Not much to say…

I have just 5 words for you all:

I’m going to Paris tomorrow!

I just hope I’m awake enough to enjoy it. I’ve been working on an assigment all week (just handed it in), on top of spending my days doing ridiculous amounts of translation at work, and I’m now so tired my hands are actually shaking. Only going to get about 4 or 5 hours sleep tonight as well. Guess what I’ll be doing on the train?

Anyway, I must go. Hopefully Jan will finish what he’s doing in a minute so we can actually go home 🙂

When will I return to the blogosphere?

I’m at the French centre again. Can you believe it’s been almost a month since I’ve had internet access at home? I’m going mad here people. Mad I tell you!

The flat is starting to look good though. I bought a table and chairs yesterday. Now I can actually have people round and not have to force them to sit on the floor! Admittedly I still have a stack of boxes in one corner of the living room, but at least they’re stacked neatly so I don’t have to be ashamed of the mess. Also bought a cheap shelving unit thing from IKEA for the kitchen, so my food no longer has to live in the bedroom and my cups and glasses have their very own place to live. No more storing them in a cardboard box. Woo hoo! Once I actually have my own internet again I’ll see about putting a few pictures on here.

And in other news, in 2 weeks time I’m going to Paris! My Grandma turned 80 last month so my mum and aunt are bringing her to Paris as part of her birthday treat. What my Grandma doesn’t know is that a whole bunch of other family members are meeting them there, including another of my aunts who is flying all the way from New Zealand! When my mum mentioned it to me I decided I would like to come too, seeing as there’s now a train that gets you from Karlsruhe to Paris in 3 hours. So Jan booked train tickets last week and today we’re going to look at hotels. I can’t wait! Paris is excellent and it will be nice to see my Grandma again. I missed her surprise birthday party so I at least have to be there to surprise her in Paris.

I’m sure there is much more that I need to say, having been away for so long. But I didn’t come on here to try and beat the record for world’s longest blog post so I’ll leave it here. Hopefully I’ll be back with you properly soon. Not this month though – I can’t afford furniture, Paris and the internet on my wages. I paid my rent the other day and almost cried when I saw what my bank balance was reduced to…