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Soldes

Jan 10, 2005  -  Comments

Today, Lauren and I went shopping. In France, they only have sales twice a year. Once in January and once in June. By sale, I mean EVERYONE has a sale. Evidently it's a pretty big deal. Every clothing store or shoe store that we walked by had big signs hanging everywhere saying "-30% -40% -50%." I got another pair of pants for 15€. The stores were so packed. You could barely move. One of Lauren's French friends informed us that the sales last for a month! So, we'll probably go back later and get some more cheap stuff.

Alcohol and (Dog) Shit

Jan 06, 2005  -  Comments

Lauren and I went to Monoprix today. It's kinda like the French version of Kroger. Anyway, it really surprises me how cheap some things are here and how expensive other things are. Usually, a can of Coke (and they ARE smaller here, Robb, you bastard) costs around 2€ in machines and around 3.50€ in restaurants. Wine and liquor are completely opposite. There are often just as cheap as a Coke.

Anyway, I bought a six pack of France's version of Budweiser today called Stella Artois for 2.50€. John, Robb, and Charlie will appreciate this: a six pack of Heineken here is only 4€. How crazy is that. Liquor is the same way. It is way cheaper here. Josh and John, that same set of Johnnie Walker Black Label whiskey and two glass set that you bought me as a going away present is sold here for 19.90€. Crazy.

Well, that's really all I wanted to say in this email. It's cold as balls here. I doubt it gets over 40 degrees ever. It has snowed a bit, but not enough to amount to anything. All the mountains around the town are covered in snow. I think tomorrow I'm going to take a bus up to the top of one of the mountains so I can get some good pictures. I'll try to work on posting some soon.

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There is dog shit everywhere here! The Frenchies aren't required to pick up after the dogs like in the US. On top of that, the dogs shit right on the sidewalk, in the middle of the path! They don't even wait for the dignity of a patch of grass. Unbeleivable. It's like walking through a mine field, watching every step because it might be your last.

A Week of Travel

Jan 04, 2005  -  Comments

I returned to Grenoble yesterday to find that my bag had FINALLY arrived! It was so nice to wear my own clothes again. Well, I'm going to try and catch everyone up on what we did for the last week.

Lauren's parents rented a car last Monday morning and we started on our driving tour. Our intention was to drive through the Loire valley (wine region) and tour some famous Chateaus (castles). Our first stop was the chateau at Chambord. It was described as "massively huge." That description was absolutely correct. The place was gigantic. So, we toured through there and then went to the hotel where we were staying. It was a smaller chateau built in the 1500's. It was really nice. The lady who owned the place was super friendly. She made a "simple" dinner for us that night which consisted of four courses. The cheese course was particularly interesting. We had heard that the worst they smelled, the better they tasted. That couldn't have been farther from the truth. I was naive enough to try the worst smelling one. I was able to swallow it, but I was afraid I might start dry heaving at any second.

The next day we went to three more chateaus that were close by. We toured the chateau at Amboise, Ussé, and Azay-le-Rideau. All of them were very nice. We stayed at the same place that night.

On Wednesday, we went near Orleans and toured a couple of more chateaus. I can't remember all of the names right now. I'll try to post some pictures in the next few days. I'll let everyone know.

Thursday we drove into Paris and dropped the rental car off. We spent four night in Paris and did all the normal tourist stuff. We went to Notre Dame, Saint Chapelle, the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Orsay Museum, the Louvre, and other stuff I can't remember. I did have to buy some more clothes in Paris because, even though I had washed my one outfit twice, it was beginning to get a bit stale. So, I bought some more underwear, some socks, another long sleeve shirt, and a pair of pants. I got them all for pretty cheap. The shirt was only 10 and the pants 15.

So, Lauren's family left yesterday to go home and we rode the train back to Grenoble. Lauren didn't feel very well, and it turns out today that she has a pretty bad cough and a 101 temperature. So, she's hanging out in bed. I just got back from the grocery store, which I went to with one of Lauren's gay roommates. He's really nice though. Lauren says the other one is really negative though. Alright, that's all for now. I'll work on posting some pictures on my website and I'll email everyone once they're up. Hopefully by Thursday or Friday. I hope everyone is doing well. I don't get any news here, so if anything major happens over there, email and tell me.

The Longest Day

Dec 26, 2004  -  Comments

Hello everyone. It is Saturday and I am in Grenoble at Lauren's apt. However, my trip here was riddled with traverses. It all started on a misty Tuesday afternoon when I arrived at the Atlanta airport. I got there at 1:00 and was more that two hours early for my plane which left at 3:45. I proceeded to check-in with the airline and they took the bag that I needed to check. I went through security and then to my gate to wait it out. Well, I was getting a little hungry after a while so I decided to go check out the food court. As I was walking by the monitor with all of the flight information on it, I happened to look up and see that my connecting flight to Chicago had been canceled. "Holy shit," I thought. I went back through security to the American Airlines counter to inquire as to what the problem was. Keep in mind, I had been waiting for a while, so my canceled plane was scheduled to leave in less than an hour. The airline employee offered to book me on a Delta flight to Chicago that left even earlier than mine so that I would get there on time. Well, I had to go check in with Delta which was on the complete other side of the airport. By the time I trekked all the way over to their side and waited in the eternal line, it was only 15 minutes until their plane took off. The woman at the check-in counter informed me that there was no way I was going to make the plane and wouldn't even check me in. She then directed me BACK to the American Airlines counter for them to solve the problem.

So, I walk all the way back to the AA section of the airport and ask them what I should do. I kid you not, I stood in front of that woman for over an hour as she explored every possible route to get me to Paris. After several phone calls to other airlines and many failed attempts, she finally got me booked on the 9:40pm Air France flight direct from Atlanta to Paris. Remember now that I got to the airport at 1:00, and my plane didn't leave until 9:40! So, I had to sit in that place for over 8 hours before I even boarded my plane.

The only shining ray of hope in the whole process was that I was upgraded to business class because of the trouble. So, I sipped champagne before take-off, ate roasted duck hors d'oeuvres, and dined on the sweetest steak ever made by a man. Then I washed all of it down with some fine French wine.

The happiness was not meant to last though. Upon landing in France, I passed through customs and went to our baggage claim location. Well, as soon as the bags for our flight started coming onto the conveyor, an airport security officer informed us that there was a "security risk" and we needed to move down a very cautious 100 feet. Evidently, someone had left a suspicious bag near one of the gates. I'm sure that if it were a bomb, that extra 100 feet of buffer they gave us would have completely saved us from a fiery death. Well, we had to wait patiently for about 45 minutes. Then, all of a sudden, the silence of everyone's boredom was shattered by the loudest bang I've ever heard indoors. I still don't know what it was that boomed. It may have been the police blowing the bag up, or it may have been a bomb, who knows? Either way, they let us return to the baggage claim after another 15 minutes. So, I wasted an hour waiting to get back to claiming my bag. Once I returned to the baggage claim station, I waited patiently while half of the passengers got their luggage. I then watched more and more people claim their bags and leave. The group I was in dwindled down to 10, then five, then two, then just me. So, no bag. All that time for nothing. I then go to the office where these types of problems are handled. I file a claim and the lady tells me that, due to all of the shuffling of flights I went through, my bag was sitting in Chicago still. They promised me that I would have it back in 24 to 48 hours. Long story short, I have been in France now for a full five days and still no sign of my stuff. I've had to wear the same pants, shirt, and socks for four straight days. I bought some French underwear (not very comfortable), so that was OK. I finally got to wash my one outfit today, so it's good for a couple more days. We leave tomorrow morning to travel through the Loire Valley (wine country), so I will be stuck with no clothes for a little longer. Other than all that, I'm having a great time! I'll email in a few days with some specific travel info. I hope you guys are all doing good. Merry Christmas.