Category Archives: France

Cheese, Wine and Cigarettes, or, 4 Days in Paris

Wrote this a few days ago, but only just got my computer hooked up to the internet to be able to post it. Zen Buddhist retreat and Dublin (Part III) to follow – 
Paris.
Paris, Paris, Paris, Paris, Paris.
Oh, Paris.
Paris and I have been on bad terms since 2002 (and I do mean the city, not the Hilton heiress. Though, come to think of it, I’ve probably been on bad terms with Paris Hilton since 2002 as well. Not that I’d say she noticed). From the moment I saw the Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe from a zooming, dark grey tour bus window, I’ve hated the place. Was it the fact that it had been built up by so many travellers (and French people) as the most beautiful, the most romantic, the most cultural city in the world, that left me inevitably disappointed? Was it the fact that I was yelled at by three separate French people in one single afternoon (the only afternoon I was in Paris)? Was it the ‘deaf and dumb’ Gypsy girl at the station attempting to get me to sign her paper, or the African men at Montmarte attempting to get my wrist, or the Arabic men under the Eiffel tower trying to sell me cheap, tourist crap? Was it that our hotel sent us up 4 flights of stairs with out luggage because the lift was broken, and then gave us the tiniest, limpest croissant and hardest cube of butter for ‘breakfast’ leaving us starving not 30 minutes later? Was it that all the people on my tour bus decided to spend their only free afternoon in Paris at the Australian pub? Was it that our second day in France was spent, not at Versailles, but at Euro Disney?
It was probably a combination of all these things. But, for whatever reason, I felt very much like Paris was not welcoming me in with open arms, baguettes, berets and roses, as had been promised, but giving me the finger and screaming ‘F*** You’ in my face (word for word what one of the Parisians yelled at me during my single afternoon in Paris), a reaction which I could not believe I deserved. The only logical retaliation was to return the favour, ‘fart in its general direction’, and relegate it to the bottom of my ‘Desired and Appealing Tourist Destinations’ list, somewhere below Tehran and Damascus, but still ahead of, say… Baghdad. But only just.
For years, I maintained that Paris wasn’t worth a damn, that the Parisians were the most unpleasant people on the planet, and only snooty, arrogant people wanted to learn French, or be French. On my next trip to Europe, I refused to set foot inside the country again, taking pleasure in flying over it to get to Austria. I was so determined to hate Paris that I maliciously forgot most of the few memories I had of the place, including, until recently, the fact that I had gone up the Eiffel Tower. But, just a few months ago, I got a vague image of an album with some photos in it of me at the top of the Eiffel Tower, the fence that stops people falling/jumping (don’t blame them) off the tower behind me, and beyond that, the incredible expanse of France’s capital city (just like everybody else who has ever visited Paris – go on, admit it, if you’ve been to Paris, you have these photos). I was so underwhelmed by that city and that view I couldn’t even remember seeing it myself. All I can remember is the photos.
I wouldn’t have returned to Paris, really I wouldn’t have, but two very good Australian friends of mine happened to be visiting France for 4 – 5 weeks over the summer this year, and it seemed insane of me to refuse to visit them simply because of the grudge I held against Paris.
Flying in on Wednesday morning, I was reminded of the huge sprawl of the city, and more than that, the horror stories people had told me about the maze that is Charles de Gaulle airport. I had never seen it before, and looking down on it from above was certainly intimidating. My friends had told me they would pick me up, but I had no idea, looking at the immensity of the airport, how they would find me. I had a feeling I was going to spend my 4 days in Paris circling the airport, attempting to find my way out again.
The plane landed, and the first signs that nothing had changed in Paris in 9 years were that a passport control man assumed that I was American (and treated me accordingly), and that a lady pushed right in front of me in the toilet line (the French do not love and respect queues in the same way the English and myself do). I was desperate to correct the passport man and punch the woman. However, the lady who eventually stamped my passport gave me a big smile, a friendly, ‘Bonjour’ and a heartfelt ‘Merci’ as she handed it back. There’s nothing like being in a country where they speak a foreign language (and you understand it, however little) that cheers me up. So, walking out to get my bag, I was optimistic about the trip. But, then I saw the inside of the airport.
For those of you who haven’t been to Charles de Gaulle airport, I’ll try to give you an idea of what it was like. I was in Terminal 1, which was a great big skyscraper, with a road seeming to spiral around it, with exits every few metres. I was near exit 26, and there were at least 2 more terminals next door, that I presumed were just as big. I had a number for my friends, but they had no credit, and I didn’t know that I had enough credit to call them. I had to find a payphone. Remember them? Back when no-one had mobiles or iPhones or iPads or Skype? I wasn’t even sure if they existed anymore. But, I managed to find a payphone AND free internet right next to each other. After a couple of mistaken attempts at calling my friend (and some completely incomprehensible French down the end of the line), I got through to her. “Where are you?” she asked, sounding a little worried. “Terminal 1,” I answered. “Gate 26”. “Ok, I’m at Gate 28,” she said as the line went dead. Gate 28? It seemed too good to be true. I followed a group of Eastern European orchestra members out of the terminal, and there was my friend, turning in circles, trying to locate me. It was a miracle! A modern-day, French miracle! I already liked Paris a great deal.
After a hair-raising drive on the ‘Prepherique’ (the Ring Road that goes right around the main part of Paris, inside of which live approximately 2.5 million Parisians, outside of which live the other 9-odd million, according to one of our travel guides), during which I decided that whilst I was considering changing my opinion on Paris the city, I still wasn’t crash-hot on Parisian drivers, we arrived in Montmarte, where my friends had been staying in an apartment for the past few weeks. We dumped my bags and headed up the hill to see the church and the view of the city. Sitting on the grass, talking to my friends about all the great times they had had in France, I decided I was ready to throw away my old pride and prejudice and embrace Paris again. Even if the single ‘deaf and dumb’ Gypsy girl was now multiplied 50 times over, with even greater force and audacity and even if the cheap tat was still for sale in front of every tourist attraction.
By the way, for those of you who haven’t been to Paris, I’ve been putting ‘deaf and dumb’ in inverted commas, not because I’m a heartless and inconsiderate so-and-so, but because these girls (and boys now) will come up to you with a sheet of paper with a little symbol of an ear on it with a cross over the top. They will point to it, then point to their mouths and shake their heads. They will then ask you to write your name on what looks like a petition. If you do so, they will then ask you for money. I hadn’t realised this is what they did, I had been approached by one on my last visit, and ignored her completely due to my ‘new-city’ paranoia. My friends explained the procedure to me as we watched all the gypsy girls and boys sit around and have a chat, making it kind of obvious that they were neither ‘deaf’ nor ‘dumb’.
We went out for lunch, had a rest, and then went out for dinner. For dinner we went to a chic little tapas restaurant, which had the most adorable waitress. I fell deeply in love with her. She had caramel brown 1950’s nerdy glasses, light blonde hair, a navy cardigan, long rows of small beads hanging around her neck, a small tattoo on the inside of her wrist, on top of which her slightly gaunt look and softly spoken voice made everything about her seem tiny and delicate. In fact, I fell in love with every Parisian I saw, as each seemed more stylish and confident and beautiful than the other. I saw very few overweight people (and most of them overweight people I saw were tourists), which certainly intimidated me, but it made for wonderful people-watching.
And, it was people-watching that we mainly did. We hopped to various bars around the place, ate great food and drank wonderful wine. The wonderful wine was made all the more wonderful because you could either order a glass, or, pay slightly more and get a little carafe of wine instead. You could get various sizes of carafes, going all the way up to the full bottle, and then you would pour it into your glass. There was something very stylish and classy about this – you didn’t have to see the advertising on the wine bottle. You could pretend the wine came from the vineyard out the back, which the beautiful, willowy French waitress had just wafted off to, filled up the carafe from a giant oak vat and brought it back to you at your table.

FRIENDS!
The other thing we did was smoke cigarettes. Yes, I smoked cigarettes. 4, to be precise. Which may seem like only a few, but was far too many for a non-smoker in a short period of time. By the end of the last day I couldn’t even stomach the smell of other people’s cigarettes, which was a shame considering it was absolutely impossible to get away from the smell of cigarettes in Paris. This was actually the reason I smoked the cigarettes in the first place. It didn’t seem possible to be in Paris, sitting at a café, having a glass of red and not smoking a cigarette. Certainly nobody else I saw was doing that. Talk about unconscious peer pressure.
(As a side note, apparently ‘French women don’t get fat’ – search it on Amazon.com if you don’t believe me – and I want to say, that if I was a French woman, or just a woman living in France, I would become an alcoholic, chain-smoking, cheese-munching 500lb heifer, if this last 4 day experience is anything to go by. Probably a good incentive not to move there).
We did also take a day trip to Rheims (pronounced kind of like ‘hands’ if you were attempting to say ‘hands’ as an 80 year-old emphezyma-riddled German woman who is having a whooping cough induced fit, and also in the first stages of lung cancer. If you get my drift), which is where they make a lot of champagne. A lot of VERY GOOD champagne. We wanted to do some champagne tours, but many of the places were too good to be bothered with tourists, and many others were too good to be booked on the same afternoon as when we wanted to visit, so we only got to see one. But, it was Mumm, so it wasn’t too bad. We got a glass of champagne, were taken 25km under the earth to see Mumm’s actual cellars (the temptation to take a bottle of partially finished Mumm champagne and slip it into my handbag was great, let me assure you), and heard all about the changing process of making the champagne over the years. We saw some bottles of champagne from 1893 onwards, which are kept so that the Master of the Mumm Cellars can come down and taste them now and again, to make sure that the Mumm taste stays consistent over the years. There were many interesting facts about champagne, which I had never considered before (how do they get the same, or a similar, taste year after year when the grapes and the conditions are always changing???), had been misinformed about (a ‘vintage’ year is not necessarily better than the ordinary champagne. If the vintage for a particular year has been bad, the Master of the Cellars is still limited to only using grapes from that vintage in the vintage champagne. The ordinary champagne can be made from grapes from across many years, to get the best taste, but not the vintage champagnes. For Mumm champagne, 2002 and 2004 were good vintages – little tip from me to you), or had simply never entered my consciousness (you can get a job at Mumm turning bottles of champagne in their cellar. It’s a highly skilful job, will take you 2 years to learn and you will spend your days turning the bottles between 15 – 25 degrees to the left, to the right, or up. You will then do it again and again and again until the champagne is ready. But be warned, if you get it wrong, you will ruin all the highly expensive and fancy-pants champagne and possibly end up angering many rich, fancy-pants people. Anyone up for that?)
But, Rheims itself was also very pretty, and very sunny, which made a nice change. The one thing that I still hold against Paris is that the weather wasn’t that much better than the weather in Ireland. It was cold, rainy or overcast most days, and again, very changeable. I went out to the shops one day, thinking, ‘Oh, lovely and warm’, walked inside, came out half and hour later and it was pouring down and freezing. But, nobody talks about how the weather in Paris is dreadful. The Irish are always talking about bad weather their weather is, whereas the French keep mum. Actually, on second thoughts, that’s probably a better idea. Its probably an actual policy of the French Tourism Board. That way, instead of people thinking, ‘Oh, I won’t go to Paris, its got weather just like Ireland,’ they’ll come to Paris and just think they were unlucky to get bad weather. Maybe Ireland should start up a similar strategy. They could do a ‘global warming’ advertising campaign in Australia, with pictures of sunny hillsides, saying: ‘Too hot in Australia? Come to Ireland! We’ve got the weather you used to have,’ and then, when the Aussies arrived and it was raining, they’d just think, ‘Oh, tough luck, we got the bad weeks’ (Global Warming Humour: Politically Incorrect? This whole random segue about Irish and Parisian weather: Too long in an already far too long post?)
The only other thing to say, if I still have your attention (and I hope I do), and if you’re still reading this far (and I hope you are), through all my parentheses (and other nonsense), is that whilst it has been wonderful seeing all these friends and family over the past two weeks, its also been incredibly hard. Every time I’ve met up with someone, I’ve had to say goodbye again a few hours or a few days later. I’ve been feeling more homesick and sad over the last 2 weeks than I have for a while (probably since Dad and Elizabeth visited). Having said that, I’m not at all sad I met up with everyone, just that I am homesick, and whilst I have loved many things about my time so far in Ireland, there are other things that have been very, very difficult. And, whilst I still maintain that there is a reason I’m over here, and planning on staying over here for the next few years at least, and that I may even be getting closer to understanding that reason, I still do miss Australia and my friends and family. I still think I’ll come back some day. But, we’ll see. No need to attempt to predict the future (says the girl who is always worrying about it. I’m at a Zen Buddhist retreat at the moment – more on that in the next post – so I’m trying to be very ‘in the present’. Its working tolerably well).
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Welcome to the Friendliest Place on Earth: Inishbofin Island

My holidays started last Friday, and it just couldn’t have happened at a better time. My last day at work, I ended up falling asleep on the couch when the littlest was watching TV. Not the most responsible of child-minding behaviours, but I couldn’t help it. I kept trying to wake myself up, but I’d just fall back asleep again (also, not the most restful of sleeps, when you keep forcing yourself awake every 15 minutes to make sure the child hasn’t fallen off the table or set herself on fire or something similar). Anyway, I headed off on holidays the next morning. THANK GOD.
I took a bus to Galway, where I was meeting up with a family friend. I’ve known her since she was a bubba, and we used to put on horrendous plays and recitals for our parents, go for bushwalks around her Blue Mountains home, get lollies from the Leura lolly shop, go to the beach – you know, all the stereotypical, fabulous, childhood stuff. However, the last time I had seen her was very briefly whilst on a date at the Speigeltent in 2010, and the last time I had spoken to her properly was in 2006 when my family was passing through the mountains. So, what I am saying is that I was a little hesitant about whether or not we were going to get along, or if we would have things in common, or if we’d fine things to talk about, or if we’d have a conversation like Darcy & Elizabeth in ‘P&P’ when they meet at Pemberley and he asks her how her parents are twice because he has no idea what to talk to her about and he’s so awkward and then he runs off.
Anyway, of course it was fine. It was better than fine, it was fantastic. There was a slight mix-up with which bus station we were meeting at (there are 2 in Galway, which I didn’t know, and, of course, we were both at different ones), but after that, we went and had a leisurely lunch and caught up on the last decade of our lives (it was so leisurely the Polish waitress assumed that I didn’t like my vegetable soup and kept asking if I wanted to change it, and when I said I was enjoying it, she wouldn’t believe me and kept saying it was no problem, no problem….) We then jumped on a bus to the amusingly named Cleggan (try saying it out loud – its fun!), though the other amusingly named Clifden, on the way to the hilariously named ‘Letterfrack’. From Cleggan, we got a boat to the best named place of all, ‘Inishbofin Island’.
I had mentioned to my friend when she got into Galway, that we didn’t have to go all the way out there, that the weather forecast was bad, that we could just stay in Galway and have fun in the town. But, she was still enthusiastic, and I wanted to see the island too, so we thought we’d risk it. But, the closer we got to Cleggan, the darker the skies became, the more sideways the wind blew the grass, the more rain splattered across the bus’ windscreen. It was more than a little depressing and worrisome. It got terrifying, however, as we waited on the pier for the ferry and waves began to break over the top of the pier wall, splashing us poor frozen and wet passengers huddling below. Then the ferry broke its mooring. Only one rope, of course, but that’s not really comforting when you’re about to jump on board a tiny ferry to cross mighty and terrifying seas for half an hour to get to some windy and rainy rock, which is beginning to seem less and less appealing, especially now that you can’t even remember the reason you insisted on wanting to come to the blasted place in the first place, and then you realise, and curse the island’s website that presented the black, moss-covered rock as if it were a freakin’ Mediterrean paradise with white sandy beaches and calm, turquoise seas (here, see for yourself www.inishbofin.com ).
The ferry crossing was awful. I became very religious and philosophical, crying out for help from a God I didn’t believe in, and becoming very empathetic towards my brave ancestors who had travelled on a creaky wooden boat all the way to bloody Australia. I thought the worst waves were the ones that broke white foam over the ship’s decks, but it turned out the worst ones were the ones you didn’t even realise you were on, and then, suddenly, to the side of you, a valley of water would open up, and you would realise the boat was about the tip into it, and the come up the other side. It was like being in ‘Castaway’ or some other terrible Hollywood film about oceans. ‘Titanic’, perhaps.
When we got out of the boat, our lovely hostel manager was there to meet us and take our bags up to the hostel. However, when he saw us in the wind and the rain, and me in my pathetic jacket, he told us to get into the van and he would drive us up the hill too. We arrived at the ever-so-lovely, Inishbofin Island Hostel, all white and blue and big, airy ceilings. We dumped our bags, and headed next door to the Dolphin restaurant for a hearty dinner (I had a large vegetable lasagne, which was divine, and about halfway through it, the waitress came out and asked if I wanted salad & chips. I awkwardly asked if it was… *whispered* included. She said it was, so I said, go for it. She brought out a plate of salad as big as my lasagne and a plate of chips about half as big again as than the lasagne. I scoffed at the amount of food, thinking it was impossible I would get it through it all. Of course, I ended up getting a Bailey’s cheesecake as well…. *sigh*).
We headed back to the hostel after a long dinner, to find a big group of people sitting around and singing along to a guitar. And before you sigh and think, ‘goddam 20-something hippies with their dreadlocks, fisherman’s pants and Ben Harper covers’, it was two families from Northern Ireland with middle-age parents, a Swiss exchange student, and a couple of retirees, all with a lot of red wine and too many blocks of Swiss chocolate in them. I had some work to do, but after a little while, I shyly came over and asked if I could join in. They were so welcoming. After a couple of songs, I sang some harmony with them on ‘My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.’ They encouraged me to sing a song, so I sang (again – I have to get some new songs!), ‘The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’. They loved it, and teased me about my hesitant request to join in before hand. The night finished with renditions of some silly songs, like ‘7 Drunken Nights’, and one of the fathers singing, with his gorgeous, bright red-haired ‘Colleen’ of a daughter curled up on his lap. Another Australian song (cheery this time) was requested, but I could only think of mournful ones, so we had a couple more Irish songs and headed to bed. It was so lovely and open and friendly and communal.
The next morning dawned grey and blustery. I still had no suitable clothing, I hadn’t even thought to bring a warm jumper, packing only little cardigans (‘it’s my summer holidays! why would I bring a jumper???’), so I was forced to borrow an emerald green, ankle-length, drover-style rain jacket, which made me look about twice my size and as if I belonged in a BBC TV drama about Northern English middle-aged farmers’ wives.
Still, it kept me warm and dry on our first jaunt around the Eastern side of the island, suggested by the hostel worker, as the walk kept our backs to the wind.
The landscape of the island was beautiful, if a little bleak and desolate. There’s a permanent population of 150 people, and both me and my friend were fascinated to know what sort of person decided they wanted to live out in the middle of the ocean on such a remote little island. Some houses, you would have woken up in the morning to see ocean on one side, ocean on the other, mountain on another, and open fields filled with sheep on the final one. It would take a certain type of personality.
We took a break at a pub over lunch for a warm tea, then went for another wander, headed back to the hostel for another break, and then decided to head to the ‘wild west side’ of the island (full faceful of wind). Here we met up with the Northern Ireland families again (I’ve decided the Northern Ireland accent is definately my favourite Irish accent, its so musical and so funny), who told us about a blowhole they were about to visit on their bikes. We followed for a little while, but it started to rain, so they encouraged us to turn around and take shelter in the nearest pub (the safest place around, as anyone who is a fan of ‘Sean of the Dead’ will know). Its remarkable how many pubs (around 4 or 5) there were for a population of just 150. We came inside to catch the end of a Gaelic football match, a cosy little fire and an eclectic mix of folk sitting around the bar. One of the best things about Irish pubs is how mixed the drinking groups are. There will be children with their parents, teenagers with their grandparents, 20-somethings on dates, tourists, and middle-aged folk of all varieties all sitting around, chatting and sharing a pint. It makes for a much friendlier and less intimidating vibe than, say, the White Horse or the Slip Inn on a Saturday night.
About an hour after we arrived, a trad. session started up. This was the best music I have heard so far on my trip: very traditional, with a few American folk songs thrown in for good measure. The musicians sat in a circle facing each other, very much playing as myself and the Northern Irish families had been singing the night before. It didn’t seem pretentious or snobby, though, it just made them seem like all they really cared about was the music. They were playing because they loved it, not because they wanted to make a spectacle of themselves. There was a young bloke there, with dreads and tattoos, and he sang the most beautiful Irish song, totally unaccompanied, called ‘Tipping it up to Nancy.’ I, of course, fell in love on the spot, and tracked him down the next day, to demand he tell me the name of the song (and in hope he might ask me for my name and email address…. I’ll let you guess whether or not that actually happened).
The vibe was so lovely and the music so great, we ended up sitting in the pub for a good 5 hours without getting bored. The lovely Northern Irish families came and shared our tables with us, told us about their town, Portaferry, and about their own experiences in Australia, many years ago. I would have happily stayed longer, but it was getting dark outside, there are no street lamps on the island, and we didn’t have torches. So, we walked back to the hostel in the dying daylight at about 10:30pm. Others stayed on later, we ran into a 60-something woman the next day who told us she had walked back to her hotel alone around 3am. This made me feel more than a little soft.
The next day was, agian, pretty miserable, but we got up and had a bit of a wander around the middle of the island before heading to our ferry at 1pm. As we were waiting for the ship, an elderly man who I had seen in the pub the night before came up to us. ‘You’re not leaving, are you?’ he demanded. We said we were. He said, ‘But I never even got a chance to chat to you!’ As he left, my friend turned to me and asked if I knew who he was. I said I’d seen him across the pub floor, but that was it. We admired the fact that, again, the people on this island seemed to be the friendliest we had ever met. The man seemed to think that simply by us being on his island, he should have spoken to us, and furthermore, that we would possibly have been upset and/or insulted by the fact that he hadn’t done so! That he felt the need to apologise for this lax attention on his behalf. It was more than a little amusing.
We very sadly took the ferry back to Cleggan (a much smoother journey – we spent most of the trip out on deck, watching the island get further and further away from us). We arrived back in Galway around 5pm, and after dumping our bags in our hostel, we headed out for some dinner and drinks. We headed out to some traditional pubs for more music, which my friend admitted she normally hated, but there was something about seeing it in context that made sense to her. Which was lucky, really, because I was determined to listen to it all night long. We made more friends in the pub, one man who caught me yawning and tried to insist I go home before I fell asleep, another who heard me cry out, ‘Jay-sus,’ and asked if I was from Galway (turned out he was from Cork – he thought I sounded Irish!) some very drunk 60-something men from Tennessee (with their oh-so-proper, and utterly gorgeous, 60-something wives, who were all sisters), and a hideous, elderly Irish man, who held my hand rather close to his bottom, and told me that every day was a sunny day with me around, he could tell by the ‘fun in my eyes’. Would have been charming if he wasn’t so leery.
The next morning, we did a bit of shopping, found the most adorable toy store ever (owned by a German, of course), filled with beautiful wooden models and soft hand puppets. A spiral staircase took us up to two upper levels with more delightful dolls, puzzles and rocking horses hidden away in varioius nooks and crannies. We ironically bought a pile of presents for ourselves and for our parents at this store.
I bid farewell to my friend after lunch, and she told me that Ireland was probably the friendliest place she had ever visited, which made me feel very happy, considering the appalling weather we had experienced. I took myself for a wander up to Salthill, which is a lovely seaside walk on the outskirts of Galway. I then got a message from a lovely Irish friend of mine who is also in the Creative Connections course (she and I made the fabulous chest of drawers together). She, her husband and kids were in the Galway area for a holiday, and she wanted to know if I was around for a coffee. We met up for a cuppa in the beautiful Ard Bia at Nimmos, the most fantastic, cosy, eclectic cafe, located in a little stone building on the River Corrib. Her husband looked like a red-haired Brendan Gleeson, which was pretty darn cool, as far as I was concerned, and we had a fantastic chat, whereby she gave me much encouragement for my latest plan of moving to Germany (she’d done it herself, knowing no German), and suggestions of where I could find work (did I tell you about this plan? I met a fabulous Texan at my friend’s wedding in Florence who was living in Berlin, and I was complaining that I would love to do that. Her response was one that was familiar to me, because it was the same sort of no-nonsense response that got me to book my ticket to Ireland: ‘Well, if you want to do it so bad, just do it. Have some courage and just do it.’ Me: “Oh, yeah, right, just do it. Of course.’) We headed to the art gallery across the road, and then I, unfortunately, had to catch the bus to Dublin. Galway really is a gorgeous town, though, and I can’t wait to head back there before my meditation course next week on the Aran Islands.
As many of you know, I don’t really like Dublin, but I was lucky enough to meet up with some relatives for dinner that night. They took me out to Thai, which was amazing, because I hadn’t had it since I’d left Australia, and apart from spilling an entire glass of perfectly good red wine on the floor (and a couple of drops onto a poor, unkown fellow’s sock), I had a fabulous night. Its so lovely, and not a little strange, meeting up with friends and family over here. I do get more than a little emotional when we have to say good-bye. I do miss Australians and their enthusiasm and openness. Well, no, that’s a lie. I freakin’ hate meeting random Australians in hostels (and they are in every bloody hostel I go into), because it makes me feel like I’m just doing what every other 20-something Australian does. But, I can’t deny that I do love Australians, and I miss my Australian family and friends. More so than anything about the county. Well, no, I do love the country, but there is a sense that it will always be there, waiting for me when I’m ready to go back. Except that, it might not,w hat with climate change and all. ANYWAY, for whatever reason, I feel sad about the not being with the people, my friends and family, because I am missing all sorts of moments and experiences with them. Anyway, that was a very convoluted and silly paragraph. Probably all the French red wine I’m drinking.
That’s right, FRENCH red wine, because, guess where I am now???
An apartment in Montmarte, Paris! And I’ve met up with some of my favourite Aussies, from the Actors Centre, and we are making the most of the cheese, the wine and the bread. Its divine, and my new plan, just formulating in my head over the last day or two, is to move to Paris after Berlin. I’ve completely forgotten Scotland. I’m so changeable and enthusiastic and fickle at the moment. But, I do have a real feeling of freedom and movement as well. That the next few years are mine to do whatever the hell I want with, and if that means flitting from European country to European country, then that is what I will do.
Speaking of which, I intend to head back to Inishbofin Island next year, because I think you can work at the hostel for free accommodation. I think I would like to stay there for a month, just sit in the pub, listen to dreadlocked men singing Irish songs and write or read or learn to play the guitar or something else entirely. I don’t know, but there was something about that expeirence on the island that clicked with me. There was something about that real community feeling, that was sort of what I was hoping to find when I moved to Ireland.
Agh, waxing lyrical about community. Time to stop drinking red wine. Or, at least, time to stop blogging whilst drinking red wine. Now its time to dance to Sarah Vaughan in my lovely embroidered dress, fishnet stockings whilst drinking red wine in my Parisian apartment. Woo hoo.
More on Paris tomorrow.
Oh, and here is a beautiful version of the beautiful song. No dreadlocks though:

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