Hands hands, more hands......and the beginning of my solo journey.
28.10.2009 14 °C
Again headed down for breakfast and check out.
We had to check out today as we were heading back into Paris tonight. This is where my separation anxiety started, but i didn’t yet realise it.
We had another full on day with activities and workshops all morning. They have a thing called Market Place, where all the countries show their wares to other countries. Again, the same colleague that didn’t attend organised what we were wearing,....boiler suit/overalls. Fantastic.
They had the name of our company on the back and in large letters Australia. There was no hiding where we were from. We were the ones that wore the funny hats with corks and now the boiler suits in khaki. As if the boiler suits wasn’t enough, we also had hard hats to wear. I’m sure you are loving this picture right now. The theme of our market place, was that we had just completed construction. Joy.
Everyone kept telling us we looked so cute in our overalls. A few people asked if they could have them. God knows why anyone would willingly want them, but ask they did. We got a chance to view other people’s stalls and get goodies from them. I got some great goodies and have sent them back to Australia in a box along with some clothes that I decided I wasn’t going to need. I also sent back my runners as I had now purchased the Paul Smith shoes.
Part of the theme of the conference was about Heroes. Whenever there was a break, there was a song about heroes. Previous to the concert they had asked some of the very senior managers within the company what special powers they would like to have. They then edited these comments and put it to music with hero images in the background. During the market place, they had a green screen set up and were asking for people to come and be interviewed. I avoided it at all costs, but the person who decided that I was going to be in Paris at all, said that I would volunteer. Is that volunteering? Hmmmm. So I had to stand in front of a green screen and asked the question, what do I consider a hero. I remember saying something stupidly philosophical and when it was done asking could I say something different. The camera man smiled and said nope. I was then asked if I was a super hero, what power would I like. I stood there stupidly trying to work out what it was I would like. Now, in hindsight, travel through time would have been a great option, power to fly another terrific option, hearing people speak through walls may have also been an option, but what did I come up with? Hands, more hands, I’d like more than one set of hands. Oh god, earth please open up and swallow me now. The camera man again nodded enthusiastically. I slinked off knowing I would rue those words at some stage.
I didn’t realise that I would rue those words so soon. For the last session, they showed a video montage of the previous 3 days conference with people milling around, people greeting each other, people having dinner, having coffee etc etc. They then played the hero music again and introduced the session saying, over the past couple of days heroes have been made. They then advised that they interviewed 27 new heroes and here is their story. I cringed, as I knew what was coming. A couple of my colleagues were also cringing because they too had been cornered. Thankfully the philosophical guff that I sprouted wasn’t played, I felt some relief, but then there I was staring back at me, and talking about hands, HANDS! I cringed even more and put a book up to cover my face. Everyone, EVERYONE laughed and clapped at my waffle about hands. The embarrassment that caused made the wearing stupid hat and boiler suit seem totally trivial. I will now be remembered for my hands. RAH!
We then finished up the last session of the conference and we all said goodbye. I had originally planned on staying at the universite an extra night and heading to the Palace of Versailles on the Saturday, but no one else was sticking around and dinner would have been an issue., plus it was raining and planned to rain quite heavily on the Saturday. I decided to head back into the original hotel we stayed at with 2 other colleagues. 4 other colleagues were heading to London for the weekend as they had meetings on Monday, 1 other headed to Glasgow for the weekend and was then going to catch up with the others in London and Monday and two of the other guys were staying in Paris for the next couple of nights. The 3 of us caught a taxi back in Nieuly with a colleague from South Aftica.
After arriving at the hotel, one of my colleagues asked me if I would like to go shopping with her. The other colleague had organised for her hair to be done at a Salon in the hotel (or so she thought). The two of us asked the concierge for the directions to a factory outlet type place that my colleague had been told about. Now in Australia we have DFO (Designer Factory outlets) that things are usually a fair bit cheaper than the current stock in the stores. The concierge didn’t know where we were talking about to start with. My colleague then wrote the address down for him and he said, oh catch a cab. Now on the map it looked a long way from the hotel. We asked if we could catch the Metro and he said yes.
As I know knew where the station was I led to way to station. The woman at the station knew of this place La Valle. She gave us tickets and it cost 13.80 euro. Now I knew it must have been a fair distance as the normal train ticket was 1.80 euro. It was now about 4pm and on the train we got. We got to one station where the lady had told us to get off that train and get on another train. So we got on a different train and realised we were going nowhere in the direction we should have been so we got at the next stop and read the map properly. The lady kind of forgot to tell us that we would have to go down and down and down in the underground to get to a whole new train network. I hadn’t been on this network, the RER and i can say it was very very dirty and I was very glad that I hadn’t seen it till now as it may have tarnished my train experiences.
We finally got on the wrong train and headed off on our journey. We both began to wonder if we had made an error but onwards we went. We passed through cities, we then came to open fields lots and lots of open fields, we were in the country LOL. The map kept advising us that we were headed in the right direction so we put all our faith in the map. We were headed to Euro Disney! Finally,, out of nowhere a huge shopping complex appeared. We got off at this stop as we saw people with shopping bags so figured it couldn’t be far. We were able to establish which direction La Valle was, but we couldn’t establish what stop to get off at. When we got off the train, we were in a very large shopping mall type thing. We saw a lady and thought we had better ask if we were close to this La Valle. She was very enthusiastic and i think very pleased to practice her English on us. She told us to keep going through the shopping mall to the end, turn right and we would be there. We did as told.
Well La Valle is not like the DFOs that I know. The shops were laid out in a village atmosphere. They were outside but in a complex, if that makes sense. We looked in a few shops but didn’t see anything that was much different to the main shops that I had previously seen. We kept on persisting because my colleague’s friends that had raved about this ensured her it was good. Perhaps we just didn’t see the bargains. I doubt there were any.
It was at La Valle that I had one of the most enjoyable experiences. We saw an icre cream store and we both decided we would have ice cream. I was planning on having a waffle cone with ice cream and the guy convinced me to try something different. I agreed. I figured it was ice cream, you can’t really stuff it up. He offered me a brioche and told me that I would love it. I looked at him oddly when he said he would fill the brioche with ice cream and then toast it. But trust in him I did and am I glad I did. He cut the brioche in half and put the two flavours of ice cream that I chose, pistachio and chocolate inside. He then put it in a sandwich press, that must have been very very hot, because it was only in it 10 seconds tops, he took it out sprinkled icing sugar on it and handed it to me telling me to try. It was sensational! It was hot and crispy on the outside but the ice cream was still frozen and the whole thing was just beautiful. I didn’t want it to end. My colleague had a waffle cone, and i kept telling her that she had made the wrong choice!
We decided that we had had enough of La Valle. We stopped in the shopping mall so my colleague could purchase some things for her children back home. She couldn’t go home empty handed. We then came to a store that sold household decorative items. My colleague purchased the most beautiful Christmas decorations. I would have purchased some also, but they were glass and I still had 4 weeks of travelling, she was heading home the next day.
We rang our other colleague, the one having her hair done, and asked what she wanted to do for dinner. It was now about 7.30. She said she would wait until we got back. We were going to go out for dinner, but after all the walking and the unplanned long distance travel, we decided to eat in the hotel. I hate to think how much the cab would have cost had we listened to the concierge.
When we arrived back at the hotel, I notice that it didn’t look like our other colleague had had anything done to her hair, but I didn’t want to comment in case she has and it was just a dodgy job. She thankfully brought the subject up. She said that it was a debacle. There was a sign in the elevator that said Salon, so she assumed that it meant hair salon. Wrong! So while we were away on the conference she rang the hotel and booked an appointment with the hairdresser. The booking was made. When we got back to the hotel from the universite, she was told by one of the staff that the hairdresser would come to her room. She thought this odd, but thought they know better than her what they are talking about. So she waited in her room. About 45 minutes later her phone rang and it was the hairdresser asking her where she was. She said she was waiting in her room, where was he? He said his shop is about 5 minute cab ride from the hotel. Needless to say, she gave up and decided that she could go without having her hair done afterall. I’ve still no idea what the Salon was but I think it is just a room. She needed to look for Coiffure, that’s what French hairdressers are called.
We had dinner and were still sitting there at 10pm when we all decided to call it a night. We said goodbye to each other as they were both heading off home the next day, while I was starting my holiday.
I went up to my room, got a shower, put my pyjamas on and prepared to get in bed. Now as we pretty much through our luggage in the door earlier so we could get to La Valle I didn’t unpack anything. It was then I realised Blue Teddy was missing.
I turfed everything out of my suitcase, thinking he may have been under something, somewhere, knowing full well he wasn’t. I sat on the bed with a very sad face and knew exactly where he was. That morning when I had got up because we were checking out, I hadn’t made my bed. The universite accommodation was self service, so there was no room service, so I made my own bed every day. But not this morning, because we were checking out. I figured there was no point in making the bed, only for them to unmake it again and strip it, ready for the next lot of accommodation. Teddy would have been under the covers as I through them back. Because I never made the bed, I wouldn’t have noticed him. I sat on the edge of my bed wondering what on earth I should do. Who should i call? Was there anyone that wouldn’t laugh at me? I couldn’t ring the universite as it was late and I didn’t even know if there would be anyone there. I didn’t cry, which I was very proud of myself. I got in bed knowing that I was going to have a restless night.
So to all you people who raised an eyebrow or scoffed at me for taking Teddy, rest easy, just don’t give me lectures about see you can do it!
I thought about ringing the person who gave me teddy and crying to him, but decided he probably wouldn’t appreciate the call.
It just felt wrong.
I slept and at one stage woke in fright knowing that I didn’t have Teddy. This was now going to be a long vacation without him.
Skipping forward to Monday, (I will get back to the weekend in the next blog entries). I rang the universite and they informed me that teddy is merrily on his way back to Australia. They didn’t realise that I was staying on longer in Paris. So, Teddy will arrive home before me. He will miss the experiences of sharing beds with me in Vienna, Zurich, Milan, London, Dublin and Hong Kong.
Sorry Teddy for being a irresponsible owner. I hope you enjoyed your flight home.
I am not going to rename this blog, as even though Teddy isn't here, he is here in spirit.