When I was thinking of doing a “blog”, my concern was whether or not I’d feel restricted and would have to censor myself. Because it’s one thing to post things on Facebook… Facebook – to me – I’ve made a decision to make it more about “happy” and generally positive things. But for other things – I’ve got a journal and friends!
But if I were to share my journey here…. I figured I should share the good, the bad, and the ugly. And if you don’t care about the bad and the ugly, you could just always go to my Facebook or Instagram.
Grade for first week in Paris ….. It’s a B
Believe me I wanted it to be an A, but I could only come up with a B (it’s actually trending B-) due to a combination of things this past week.
- French Open tickets – I was stopped twice while trying to get into Roland Garros (I went four days in a row). For those of you who do not follow tennis, the French Tennis Federation is very strict on the sales of the French Open tickets. They ban selling tickets from “unauthorized” sellers. They are so strict, that each ticket has your official name, and you must bring an official ID with a picture to make sure it matches the ticket.
When I was here three years ago, my friend Patty and I were stopped (we bought our tickets online) – then we were interrogated (we literally were brought into a room and questioned by these officials – we weren’t the only ones in the room), they wanted to know where we got our tickets, how much we paid for them, etc. We were able to get in after a delay. Then the next day, we got in with no problem.
This time, I got my tickets from the same agent I’ve used for years for my US Open and Wimbledon tickets. Totes legit! I’ve used their services since 2007 (but did not when I came to the French Open three years ago). But even though this time I went through my agency, I was blocked twice. I didn’t get pulled into a room this time, there’s a Customer Service window where I had to be interviewed, I had to fill out papers, etc. It was a pain in the ass!
I wonder though if it’s because they have my name in their systems from three years ago…. Kinda like the US Agriculture and my chicken oatmeal case…. (yes, chicken oatmeal and US custom… story for another time).
- A snooty French waiter – my first day after being in the tennis court all day, I went back to the hotel and was going to have dinner some where close to the hotel. I was tired, sunburned, hungry, and jet lagged. I realized, that I looked a fright! I went into this restaurant / bar across from my hotel. It looked empty, so I asked for a table. The bartender was very cool, she was going to show me to the table when this snooty French waiter suddenly said something to her in French, then the bartender apologetically looked at me and said “I am sorry… we don’t have a place for you tonight.” The place was empty. She looked at me again and said “I am sorry!”
I was too tired to be snooty back, so I just left. But of course right away in my head I started plotting my own “Pretty Woman” Rodeo Drive scene… you know, the one when Vivian comes back to the store with the snooty sales woman and says “Big mistake! Big!”
- “Misplaced” item in my hotel room – one morning I was getting ready to go to yet another day of tennis… I was getting ready when I noticed that something was missing from my make-up bag. It was a lipstick. I noticed it right away because it was this new lipstick I just got (after looking for it for a couple of weeks) literally the day before I left for Paris. And the day before, I had just taken it out of its little box and used it lightly. I was going to wear it again – and it wasn’t in my make-up bag. I looked everywhere, and I couldn’t find it.
I called housekeeping first to see if they found anything when they were cleaning my room the day before. They said no. I looked again, didn’t find it. So I went to the hotel manager because I was convinced it meant someone took it from my room. Now – I know, that some people might think “It’s just a fucking lipstick! Get over it!” But it wasn’t about what was taken, you see – it was the fact that my personal item was taken from within a space in which I had reasonable expectation to feel safe (I mean, I was staying at the W Opera hotel – it wasn’t like I was staying at a hostel or anything). They told me they’d investigate. That evening I came back to the room late, I got a letter that said they couldn’t find it, but that they’re reporting it to security, yada, yada, yada!
The creepy thing about this … when I woke up the next morning and got ready, I opened my make-up bag (since I didn’t wear make-up to bed, I didn’t check the bag the night before) – what do you know…. my missing lipstick was back in my make-up bag, conveniently placed on the top so it was the first thing I saw when I opened the bag. Now, I knew – this wasn’t there the day before because I emptied that bag multiple times when I was looking for it. I then pulled the cover off the lipstick, and I could tell it’s been worn/used. Like I said – it was practically new!
I talked to the management again and told them under no circumstances that I’d stay in that same room. I right away asked them to move me to another room that morning.
- My iPhone 6 screen broken – this one’s kinda dumb and it was totally my fault. I broke it with my ring! I had my iPhone in my hand all the time while I watched tennis coz I took lots of pictures with it. So when I clapped my hands, it’ll be clapping on the phone. Anyway – the other day, I was clapping – broke the glass. Guess it is true, diamond could cut glass 😦
Anyhow, I’ve got an AppleCare+ so I’m going to go to an Apple Store and see if my AppleCare+ is good in Paris as it is in the US!
- ATM card was deactivated – yeah, my third day, I got an email from BofA telling me that in their regular security audit, they found that my card might have been comprised, so they deactivated my ATM card and sending me a new one.
It’s not the first this time has happened. And I really appreciate the bank looking out for me. But this is the first time this happened when I am planning to be out of the country for a couple of months!
Anyhow…. as I’d mentioned before…. none of these are major / show-stopping issues – more like annoyances. The one I was not happy about was the misplaced lipstick (which to me is more a security issue than a “lipstick”) and the ATM card thing. But none of these things are show-stoppers – some got resolved right away (like the French Open tickets), some of them I was able to execute my ‘contingency’ plans (for the ATM, I withdrew enough cash before I left which I think should last me until my friend Donna will be here and be bringing my new ATM in a month), and some – I just deal with them as they come.
Anyway…. let’s now move on to the good things!!
- French Open – well, for one (once I was able to get into Roland Garros, that is) – the tennis portion of last week was amazing. If you’ve friends with me long enough, you know what a big tennis fan I am. I’m not kidding when I say that watching tennis is one of the things that make me happy! Though this is my second time at the French Open, being at any of the Grand Slam tournaments still feels surreal to me. And because with tennis you don’t always know whom you’re going to see until the night before – I am very happy that I got to see everyone I wanted to see – my boy Roger (duh!), Rafa, Djokovic, Murray, Sharapova, Serena, Nishikori.
Since I was a kid, one of my dreams have been to go to all four majors. I’ve gone to three of them, multiple times. I know how fortunate I am to have had these opportunities. I don’t take any of these for granted.
I’ve posted some pictures on my iCloud – you could check them out here : Roland Garros – 2015
- W Hotel – I told them I wasn’t comfortable staying at the room I had been staying. They moved me and upgraded me to another room. They were quite accommodating.
- New friends – what I love about traveling on my own even in a “tour” or group situation is I am forced to enjoy my own company, and to also try to socialize with strangers. And sometimes, you do end up becoming friends with some of these strangers and thanks to social media – they stay in your life (like these two women I met at one of the wine bar in Napa). This trip – I ended up meeting some really cool people – a young couple from Denver (we’re Facebook friends now 🙂 ), a very colorful older character who apparently owns bunch of casinos in Jersey and Philly – Joe (he’s… a character. Nice dude!), and a few other folks whom I’ll plan to be in touch with. This is probably the best group I’ve had so far. Usually when I am doing these tennis tours, you’ll meet some good people, some just OK. Some would be tight the whole tournament, some just doing their own thing. It’s a good group of people this time.
- My Julien – remember the snooty French waiter from my first night?! Well, after I left, I was in a horrid mood! As I said – I was tired, sunburned, jet lagged, and starving! So I went back to the W hotel and just went to the bar in the hotel. That’s when I met Julien – or in my head, I’ve been calling him “my Julien” 🙂
Julien was the bartender that evening. He was so cute and so sweet! He really took care of me that night. We started talking – in English. And as much as I wanted to learn French, considering the mood I was in that night, I was grateful that someone was talking to me in English. I wanted comfort. Anyway – we started chatting, and I found out that he was only going to work at that bar for three more nights because he’s moving to Vancouver! How fantastic… our love affair had to end before it even started!! 🙂
I, of course, started going there every night for the next three nights… it was a friendly place and face to me, and that was what I needed the first week.
I have to confess that the second night I saw him, I had to ask him to write down his name on a paper. Because when he introduced himself, he said “Julien”… in French. I had no idea what he said. I didn’t get “Julien” – like at all!! I thought it sounded like “gruyere” (actually, a lot of words sound like gruyere to me here in Paris 🙂 ). Once he wrote down his name though, I got it!
I was at Coquette on his last night. I sadly had to say goodbye to him. He became the first French who gave me my bisses (well, this trip at least). He also gave me a big hug, which surprised me coz I have been told French people don’t usually hug. But whatever, I love hugs.
Well…. in my head, I’ll always have this first week with “my Julien”. That’s all I could have coz he’s gone… also, coz I am quite certain he doesn’t play for my team 🙂
Now… on to …
I am in Paris! That is all 🙂
So…. a B for this first week. Guess it’s good that it didn’t start w/ an A since I’m still going to be here for a couple of months, an A would be a tough act to follow.
Today, I started school and also checked-in to my apartment in The Marais. I will write more tomorrow about it. Being in a language school again is interesting.
I’m also still working on creating albums for some of the pictures I’d taken. I’ll link them here when I am done. In the mean time, you could follow me on Instagram as I’d been posting more pictures there.
Anyhow…. till next time!