Paris Arrival

Another Facebook note I wrote dated December 12, 2007:

November 21 I was on a plane to Paris. onePoint paid for the flight and had a driver waiting for me at the terminal. I also had a hotel room paid for 15 days. In fact I’m still in the hotel at the moment. I have many other benefits which are nice. So first day, I arrived at 6:30AM or so local time, pretty tired since I left at 6:00PM Montreal time and I didn’t really sleep on the plane. It took almost 2 hours to get to the hotel. Paris traffic is horrible and there was a transit strike at the time which made things ever worse. Unfortunately for me the hotel room wasn’t available until 3:00PM that day so I couldn’t even change or anything, but the driver took me to the onePoint office after I dropped off my bags. So I got a nice driving tour in all this. The office is simple, 4th floor in a small building. I met a bunch of people. There’s one girl from Ottawa who’s English speaking. Everyone else is French. There is one other guy from Quebec over there though. So they went over a bunch of stuff which I only sort of absorbed since (A) it was all in French, (B) I hadn’t slept for a while. They gave me a cell phone and said, ok, go rest at the hotel. You want a taxi or you want to try the transit. I figured I’ll try the transit (despite the strike that was going on). I wanted to walk around a bit and it would have been too early with the taxi.

So I started walking around Boulogne (the area where the office is). It was a nice walk, sunny and 10 that day. I took the tram which was fun. The metro was limited that day with the strike and all, but my hotel is on the tram line which was running. So once I got back to the hotel area it was only 2:00PM but lucky for me the room was ready. But first I saw a bakery across the street (bakeries are everywhere!). They like their croissants here, and eclaires and other goodies.

So I got up to my room and kind of fell asleep, I hadn’t planned on it, was going to stay up as late as possible, but I had a good 3 hour power nap. Don’t recall if I did much that night, just went to get some food from some Lebanese place near the hotel. I had a good sleep after that anyway.

Next day was Friday and I had an appointment with a real estate agent (also provided by the company). So I met her at 10, I had to get to the first place on my own. So I figured out where the nearest metro was and got over there, once in the metro system it’s pretty easy to get anywhere. However when exiting the metro system I’m always confused, there’s always five or six different ways to go, and I thought Montreal was complicated, we learned from the experts of complicated roads. So I was walking to the street looking for “Saintonge”, I eventually found it but not before walking into a hotel and asking a woman who I thought was a man. I later noticed a rainbow, I think maybe it was a gay neighborhood. But I walked in and saw her/him in the distance and said “bonjour monsieur”, but then as she came closer it was clearly a woman with a mens haircut. She didn’t seem offended though and gave me directions, turns out I was headed the right way, so I would have found it myself, but better to be sure.

So I made it to the first place with 5 minutes to spare… good timing. The agent was there, nice lady. We went into this first one and I immediately noticed a crappy odor. In my mind this was already not the place. It was 3rd floor no elevator. The apartment was a decent size, full size bathroom, but the furniture was really not so nice.

Next we got in her car a drove to the next place. Took her 10 minutes to find a parking spot. We were early so we ended up going to a bistro. I hadn’t eaten anything yet, so I got a little french breakfast, which was a half baguette with jam. Not exactly what I was hoping for but it will do. So the next place we get to, the woman finally shows up and lets us in, we get into elevator and she says “it’s on -1”. So right away I was thinking to myself, no way… I’ve done basements before, this is not happening. I looked at the place. Again decent size but not the nicest, and the whole underground thing didn’t really fly with me.

So far not looking so good. Next place was a gem. This is what I was looking for. Really nice looking building, antique looking almost, but modern on the inside. The lobby had some really nice looking carpeting. It had one of those old school elevators with the gate. Up top on the 6th floor, modern interior, nice furniture, nice kitchen, full size fridge, full size bathroom. Comes with a flat screen TV. I was sold. But we still had two more on the list to see so I figured why not, let’s go check the out. The next one I saw was alright, but the area seemed not so lively and the furniture was mediocre. The fifth one cancelled on us. So I said, number 3, I want it let’s make this happen. So she said for sure, no problem, but I had to go to the bank first and get a RIB number and insurance, standard thing in France. So she called the woman from the 3rd place and said I want it, she said it’s all good. So I thought it was settled. In the end I didn’t get that place. To be continued…

I got dropped off back at the hotel and reception said I had a message from Ari Rossner. He’s my father’s cousin’s son, so I don’t even know what the relation is but I had met him in Montreal a few months ago and had been meaning to contact him, but looks like he found me first. So I ended up having dinner at his place that night. He lives with his girlfriend and collectively they have 3 kids. They were both previously married and divorced, but they seem pretty happy together and they were quite hospitable. So turns out his girlfriend still has an apartment that she doesn’t really use anymore, and it’s a lot cheaper than the one from earlier, I said I’d take a look at it but I kind of really liked the one I saw.

So after dinner I went back to the hotel, dinner is late in France, we only ate at 9:45 or so, and that’s normal. So I got back to the hotel after midnight and I was a bit tired. I had an amazing sleep that night. Woke up at some ridiculous time the next day, like 2:45PM. My father’s cousin called me actually, he had asked the previous night if I’d be interested in seeing a museum. I said sure, why not… So I went to go meet him and the kids, as well as his brother. We went to the Luxemburg museum, and I also took a quick walk through the Luxemburg garden. Really nice to see but I forgot my camera that day. The museum had an art exhibition of an artist named Arciboldo, who I believe was Italian. I’m not really into art, but I was actually impressed by this guy’s work. Some very cool paintings. If anyone read my travel blog, you may recall my rant about the Sydney Opera House… well this was the exact opposite, I was pleasantly surprised.

Afterwards I went off exploring a bit on my own. The museum is near the Latin quarter which has all kinds of bars and restaurants. I walked around a while, had some food, stopped by a bar. So this area I noticed a lot of English being spoken so it’s definitely a bit touristy. I was talking to the bar tender who I was sure was from North America, he was… sort of, born in France, but lived in Montreal and Miami, English was perfect… no accent, most people here it’s painful to hear them speak English, but I shouldn’t talk, my French is far from perfect. I was talking to another bar tender a bit later, she was from Turkey, studying in Paris. So there are all kinds of foreigners in this area. Interesting to know. I didn’t stay out too late as I was still tired (even after my ridiculously long sleep). I figured I’ve got plenty of time to explore the scene, maybe after I’ve made some friends. I had another really long sleep. Didn’t do much the Sunday, I think that’s when the cold struck me. Here’s where things go downhill for me.

I had an appointment Monday morning at the bank, so I got up and managed to find the place on time. It was for 11:00AM so I didn’t have to get up super early. But I didn’t exactly know my way around or anything. I have a full on cold at this point, I’m on dayquill and probably advil, don’t remember now. Here’s the problem when working for a company in France and doing all these things in France. Everything is in French, turns out I suck at French. I thought I was good at it, sure I can speak, I’ve even fooled some people into thinking I’m a francophone, but when it comes to paperwork, forget it. Trying to understand legal documents and banking documents here is just killing me. Anyway, in the end I got out with my bank account and a 3000e credit line (this was all set up by the company). I also sent the necessary information to the real estate agent so she could get cracking on the paperwork for that.

At this point I went to get some food. I found my self in the area called “Neuilly Sur Seine”… Have fun pronouncing that one ☺ … it’s a nice area though. I found a general restaurant there and had some lunch. Afterwards I figured I’ll head back to the hotel, but looking at the map I saw the Eiffel Tower was on the way so I couldn’t help myself. I didn’t actually go up it but it was still pretty cool to see up close. I’ll go back there soon enough and actually go up. So at this point the pills were totally wearing off and my head was going to explode. Back to the hotel…
I didn’t do much else that day, felt pretty sick. Next day I was up at a reasonable time, something like 9 or 10. I figured I’ll call this real estate agent and see what’s happening with the apartment. I wanted to get out of this hotel and move into my own place. I call her, she says she’s waiting to hear back from the property agent. So there’s my agent, the property agent, and the property manager. We’ll come back to this in a bit.

So here’s where I get a bit annoyed. I’m violently ill at this point, I get a call on this phone that was provided to me. I answer it, it’s xxx from one point, I said hi and started talking to this person. It was someone I met on Thursday who seemed to be surprised I wasn’t sure exactly who he was, I only met like 15 people and hadn’t slept for 40 hours or so. But anyway this guy asks me why I wasn’t there the day before. Something about I said I’d be ready to start on Monday… He kind of caught me off guard here, I’m thinking to myself “who the hell is this guy… I never said anything about being ready to start on Monday”. I was mainly dealing with a woman and I had spoken to her on the Friday and said I found a place, I’m going to the bank Monday to deal with that stuff, there was no mention of me coming in on Monday. So anyway… I explain to this jackass on the phone that I’m trying to secure a place to live here, otherwise onePoint will have to keep paying for a hotel room. He insists I come into onePoint. I felt like shit that day, but I figure why not, I’ll go over there and see what they want. When I accepted the job I was told I have the first week to take care of things so I probably should have been more firm about this. I get there around lunch time, had a hell of time finding the place. I walked a distance that looked short on the map but was actually quite long. I finally arrive. Everyone was in the middle of having lunch so I joined them. Afterwords they say they have a high priority project they need my help on. I’m thinking to myself, ok as long as I’m getting paid for this. Which I am, so that’s not a problem, but I pretty much started working at this point. So they got me a workstation and all that. Got all kinds of things set up for me… they do a much better job at this than my former employer (PSL). So eventually I’m done and go home. I still have this really bad cold so I didn’t want to do anything, back to the hotel. I had asked my co-workers what time they normally start work, one of them says 7AM, I said I quit, but he was joking… so was I ☺ … in reality more like 9 – 10. Seems reasonable. So next morning, I really didn’t feel well since I woke up early and had the cold. It was one of those colds where your head is congested as well as your nose, your ears are blocked, sore throat… a really bad one. But how can I tell my employer I’m sick on the first week. So I forced myself to get up and go. Now I’m no expert on the transportation system here, but I thought I found a faster way to get there. Took a bit longer. The other thing is when you get out of a metro station for the first time, you have like 6 possible directions to go, it’s a bit confusing. I got a bit sidetracked, I won’t say lost since I found my way, but it was not the quickest route. So yeah I was a bit late, around 10:20 or so. Guess who’s the first person I see, that jackass I spoke to on the phone the day before. Guy starts telling me, oh you’re late, it’s max 9:30 here, giving shit and all… I felt like smacking this guy, lucky for him we work together otherwise I would have knocked him out, seriously. I’ve been in this city for what, 5 days, it’s my second time coming to this place. Not to mention I have soooo much work to do, I ended up surfing the Internet all day because the guy who was supposed to give me stuff to do was too busy with his own work. So yeah, I don’t like this guy… he’s sort of my manager, but not really, I don’t really have a manager since I’m a consultant, I’m supposed to be working for a client… it’s a long story but one point themselves are working directly on this project, which normally doesn’t happen. I’ve heard the expression first impressions make a difference, damn straight, I now have no respect for this guy at all. He’s actually been fine since then, truth is he’s probably an alright guy, but he just pissed me off and for the rest of time I have no desire to work with him. I’m pretty friendly with everyone at work except for him. I’m only talking to him for strictly business related things, otherwise, he can go jump off a cliff for all I care.

It’s now been about a week since I wrote up to this point, this always happens, I start off with great detail but then get lazy because it’s just too much to write, I also doubt anyone’s actually made it this far. So I’m going to fast forward a bit. That first week was shitty. I didn’t want to be working, I wanted to be sleeping because I was really sick.

So all week I’m calling this real estate agent for an update and all I get is, oh yeah I’m waiting for the other agent, which then became waiting on the building management, which eventually became, sorry you can’t have the place. I basically wasted a whole week where I could have been looking for other places. Actually I was anyway, but on my own since she kept saying no let’s wait on this one. Later Friday she calls and asks me if I want to see something Monday morning, I said not really since I’m already looking at other things. She says it’s great, 25 square meters, well what the fuck is that? Even smaller? She says it’s really nice and modern. I figured why not, I’ll go check it out, gives me an excuse to come late to work. So anyway, over the weekend I didn’t do much as I was sick. But I ended up talking to my father’s cousin and turns out that apartment was still available. I went to go look at it and it was a done deal. I left a message for the agent saying screw the Monday appointment and basically “I don’t need your service anymore”. Monday morning I get an angry call from the agent, this was almost laughable to me. She’s complaining “why did I cancel the appointment”, then started rambling on about what she’s supposed to tell the person over there, why I didn’t show up, then some other stuff, honestly I don’t know, I just kind of put the phone down for a minute and let her get it out. Truth is I really didn’t care as I was not so impressed with her services anyway. I kind of wanted to give her shit about why she wasted a week on that other one and didn’t even think maybe we should look for a contingency, but to come up with an effective sentence in French, well my French skills aren’t quite there yet. So anyway, she’s out of the picture. But I moved into the new place that night. So here I am.

I’ll have to continue this later, but basically first week I’ve just been getting things set up here. Not too much effort since it’s already furnished. Had my parents come visit already, I wasn’t expecting that but was nice to see them, even though I was only gone for 2 weeks. I put up some pictures. I promise future stories will be more interesting and less “rant” like. Although I kind of like the rants.

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