Monday, March 16, 2009

Looking for Foreign Jobs

It's 7:34 am, Continent time, and I'm on the high speed train from Amsterdam to Paris, passing through Brussels and a few other places on the way. I have been to the Picasso Museum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Rodin Museum, Luxemborg Gardens, Tuileries Gardens, the Centre Pompidou, the Anne Frank House, and the U.S. Consulate, and I have been to the Louvre twice. And I have met some of Paris' finest, the gendarmes.

And it has all been fabulous (except for the Consulate and the police station) and I don't want to leave. I don't want to leave Paris EVER, really.

I have learned many important things:

1. Parisians really are very pretty and very well dressed, all of them. I arrived on a Wednesday and I kept thinking it was a Sunday morning, because in my mind, being on a train or bus surrounded by people who are all dressed up means it's church time. There ARE jeans, but there are no athletic shoes. Ever.

2. And yes, everyone is quite slender.

3. On the plus side, the girls in Paris have just as bad skin as we do in the U.S., so that's comforting.

4. On the other hand, Amsterdam residents--while still being skinnier than us Americans on average--are quite a bit heavier than Parisians, especially the ladies. And their skin is certainly not perfect, either.

5. Whereas the Amsterdam boys all look like they could model for Abercrombie tomorrow. It was completely nuts. I've never seen so many good looking straight men at once in my life.

6. The red-light district in Amsterdam is, still, the red-light district. And yes, there was hash.

7. No, I didn't try any.

8. Europe faces the same problems with socioeconomic class and underprivileged youth that we do. There is graffiti everywhere, and there is definitely some riff-raff. Sacre Coeur, a beautiful church on a hill, was almost ruined for me because of the persistent nature of the con artists. Seeing an American couple about to fall for the "friendship bracelet" scam, I approached them and told them about it, at which point fifteen members of the group standing around--and there are DOZENS of them all around Sacre Coeur--confronted me. One of them grabbed my arm. "What you saying?" he demanded roughly. "What you telling them?" I shook him off and kept walking. (About now is when my mother is having a heart attack.) It was certainly an adrenaline-producing experience, but I was happy I had tried to save the young American couple. Even if they brushed me off as a bitter American, I did what I could.

9. I probably did sound a little bitter, since earlier in the day, I had personally met a member of the pickpocket elite, who managed to relieve me of my passport.

10. Hence my experience with the French police and the U.S. Consulate. And among the OTHER important things I have learned, I have learned that the U.S. Consulate is in Tuileries Gardens, and it is only open until noon, Monday through Friday, and you have to email ahead for an appointment.

11. Since I showed up there on Friday at 12:22 pm, you can bet I didn't allow them to enforce any of these rules on me.

12. That's another post.

13. Aside from this episode, Paris is really gorgeous, I had a fabulous time, I could hear the bells of Notre Dame from my hotel room, and I got my art geek on at the Louvre and even met some Parisians, who were extremely hospitable.

More on the way!

1 comment:

Sarah said...

where were you and where was your passport when the charming hooligans borrowed it from you?

i'm counting down the days... we're staying about a mile away from the eiffel tower...

what do you suggest wearing in paris? not that i have anything that probably even comes close to their standards...