Running Back to Saskatoon

The day that I thought would never come has already been and gone. I was finally going back to Canada after ten long months. My last week included all of the regular things I’d have to do in order to leave France. I returned my cell phone, packed my suitcases (and hoped that they weren’t overweight), and went to the bank to close my account. Boy, was that an adventure in itself. She cut up my bankcard right in front of me and then decided to tell me the bad news after the fact. Turns out the cheque that I cashed in the week earlier had still not gone through and wouldn’t go through until July 7th. I was scheduled to leave July 2nd. I therefore needed a BIC-Swift number as well as an IBAN number (two things that I had absolutely no idea what they were) so that they could wire the money into my Canadian account. I explained that I didn’t have these numbers with me (not only that but I had no way to contact my parents to ask since they were at a Skypeless cabin and I was without a cellphone) and I was later given a fax number to fax the account numbers to the bank once I returned to Canada. That left me with a grand total of 8 Euro and 2 cents to last me for my last three days in France. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to pay for any drinks (except the drinks from Benjy) at the Celtique or else I would have really been screwed.

Wednesday was my goodbye day. Once Adriana and I got the chance, we went to the Celtique with our huge basket filled with American food, all of which we bought at the American grocery store in Paris. It included things such as a box of Whisky Sour, Reese’s peanut butter cups, peanut butter M&Ms, goldfish crackers, as well as some other little things. The Celtique guys all were very thankful and we were quite surprised when Stéphane (or Funny Guy) presented us with gifts as well. We each got a mug with our first initial on it, as well as a picture frame with a picture of my four girlfriends and Stéphane sitting at one of the tables. It was so hard, knowing that I’d be leaving the Celtique, never to see the waiters or to return again (at least not in the next two years…). It was harder saying bye to Adriana, the girl who was with me from the very beginning and with whom I’d spent almost everyday with in the last ten months, Christmas and New Year’s included.

That night, I tucked the kids into bed. Saying bye to Alice was quite easy and she didn’t seem to be too upset by it but saying goodbye to Antoine was a lot harder than I’d thought it would be. Every time I said goodnight and got up to go, he’d ask me another, “But why do you have to go?” and I’d have to try to explain to him yet again that I had family and friends at home that I needed to see. “But they can just come here and see you,” he’d say, trying to convince me to stay. I eventually said my last goodbye and went up to my room, only to hear the kids run out of bed to their parents and ask them endless questions of why I was leaving. Well, c’est la vie…

I got up at five in the morning to get the last of my stuff ready and went downstairs at around 5:45 to find Anne waiting for me in the kitchen. She dropped me off at the Rambouillet train station (really, a nice offer considering it was a 10-minute walk and also would have most likely been the easiest part of my journey…) and left before the train had even come. The train came at 6:11 and I hauled my two 50-pound suitcases, my 20-pound purse, and my 30-pound backpack onto the train without any help from anyone. I got a nice spot on the stairs since all of the seats were taken and tried not to think about the stress I would be going through once the next 30 minutes went by. The train arrived in Paris a half an hour later and I quickly bolted off the train and walked as fast as a person hauling 150-pounds of extra weight could walk. I finally made it to the bus, which would take me from where I was to the airport. I gave one of the guys my suitcases and then went up to the driver with my Visa ready. “Oh, I don’t have a machine for that…” the driver said, “Do you have any cash?” I pretended to look through my wallet even though I already knew the answer, “Um, only 8 Euros… Are there any cash dispensers around?” The driver was quite polite and did a quick look through the street, “Not that I know of…I’ll tell you what. When we stop at the Gare de Lyon, you can get cash out there. There are lots of banks nearby.” This must be my lucky day (or so I thought), “Thank you so much!” I said, as I took a seat near the front. When we finally arrived to the Gare de Lyon 15 minutes later, I ran up to the driver and asked where the cash machine was. She seemed startled and had totally forgotten about me and I realized maybe I should have just kept my mouth shut. She pointed me into the direction and told me to hurry so I quickly ran across the street, taking my debit from home and praying that it would work. “We’re sorry, your bank has ordered us to return your card.” No. I ran to the closest Tabac, “Do you do cashbacks?” I yelled in most likely horrible grammar but I didn’t care. “No, I don’t have a machine for that.” I then ran across the street to the café, desperate for the money. I asked the man who looked like the manager who told me it was illegal to do so, and I was nearly in tears. I walked back to the bus feeling defeated and told the driver that it didn’t work, and I was kicked off the bus. So there I was with all of my bags, at a bus stop in the middle of Paris, with the packing man as my only company. I was surprised at how nice he was and he seemed determined to get me to the airport. He helped me take my bags down the sidewalk, and down the stairs into the metro station where I bought an RER ticket with my Visa and thanked the man before saying goodbye. I caught the next RER and had to get off at the next stop in order to switch again. Once I finally got on the next RER (which would take me straight to the CDG airport), it finally hit me that I was leaving. I thought of the Celtique, my friends, the waiters, and I broke down crying with a good thirty people watching me, not knowing what to think. I got to the airport at 8:15, got a trolley and walked as fast as possible to the check-in counters, which took about 10 minutes. They were supposed to take the last customer at 8:30 so I got there just in time… to find a humungous line of people still waiting. I got talking to a girl a few years older than me so we kept each other company for the next half hour. I finally got to the check-in counter only to find out that A) my bags were underweight, yay! And B) the flight was two hours delayed. Lovely. I got in the line for security, which must have taken at least 45 minutes. Once I got through, I found the girl I had met earlier (lucky for her, she was an EU citizen and got to go through the special security line) so we kept each other even more company for the next two hours. Within 15 minutes, the gate was changed so we quickly moved and found a spot. After an hour, they started serving sandwiches for all of the passengers so we got in the huge line. We waited for about 15 minutes and when we were literally the second people in line, the sandwiches mysteriously disappeared and the lady announced that the gate was changed and we could get the sandwiches there. By that time, everyone was getting superannoyed as we all walked upstairs and downstairs to get to the next gate and get our sandwiches. They finally did the boarding call and we went through and found out that we had to take a bus in order to get to the plane, which only made the process longer. People were squished on the bus from back to front and only when there was no more room left for someone to move a finger, the bus would leave and a new one would come. Once all 300 customers got on the plane, we were ready for takeoff. I cried on that plane too, read a bit, and mostly just listened to my iPod. The flight seemed to take forever but I finally got to Toronto with only an hour and a half until my next flight. While waiting for the baggage claim to start, I decided to take the time to call my parents since they asked me to call them once I got into Toronto. I first tried to collect call, only to find out that my house didn’t accept collect calls, so then I decided I could use my three toonies (which brought a warmness to me just by looking at them). That didn’t really work to my advantage considering the payphone only accepted loonies and lower. Well, my parents would have to go without a phonecall. Luckily, my bags were two of the first twenty that came out so I took them and ran to get to the customs lineup. I got through, checked my bags back in, and then went to the long security line. The first thing I saw once I through security was a heavenly Tim Horton’s sign, almost calling to me and telling me to get that iced cappuccino that I haven’t had for the past year. But I had no time. I made my way to my gate just in time for them to start the boarding call and I got on the plane knowing that my ten months of built-up stress could finally be let go. The plane ride back to Saskatoon seemed to take longer than the last one that I was on but I finally saw the familiar bridges, as well as the river, and couldn’t stop smiling to myself. My family was there to greet me and I managed to stay up until ten that night before passing out in my bed.

My two weeks back have went by so fast and it almost seems like I haven’t even left (when it comes to seeing everyone again). I still notice little differences and miss a lot of France. I realized during my first supper that my entire family was eating normally in the Canadian way whereas I had the French habits stuck in my head and couldn’t help but laugh to myself once I noticed. It’s hard to have the people I come back to not quite understand that I’m glad to be home but that I still miss where I was before. It’s hard to try to share, “Well in France, we do this…” only to be answered with, “Well you’re not in France anymore.” I felt like with many people, I was given a half an hour to talk about my experience but once that half an hour was up, we had to go back to normal and the subject could never be brought up again without people getting annoyed. And with many other people, the subject wasn’t even brought up at all. So now, I’m left to only think about my experiences to myself and write to the people who shared those experiences with me whether it be my friends I met there or the waiters at the Celtique. I understand where people are coming from and I know that I can’t always live in the past so I’m going along with it as best as I can. But the hardest thing of all is coming back and feeling like I had just woken up from a dream and having no one to confirm all of the memories I have. No one to whom I can say, “Hey, remember that time when…”; it’s just me and my memories.
Running Back to Saskatoon – Guess Who

An End Has A Start

A cloudy and rainy day has forced me to stay inside and write another blog. Then again, I guess it’s been almost two weeks since my last one. In two more days, I’ll have a short three weeks left in France. The time is going at a pace that I enjoy: not too fast, but not too slow either. I feel like I still have enough time to enjoy everything that I can and still, in a matter of time I will be back at home, sleeping in my bed for 48 hours straight.

My weekdays have been spent at the Celtique or sitting in the castle grounds, enjoying the sunshine. I’ve tried to spend as little time possible locked in my bedroom, for it causes thinking which usually leads to sad thoughts, whether it be about missing home or leaving France. We therefore have made the Celtique into our second home and we got our REAL regular status only last week. Saturday May 30th, a day like no other because it was Helena’s fake birthday. Adriana, Aimee, Helena and I went to the Celtique that afternoon at around five. We told Benjy it was Helena’s birthday and the waiters brought out a chocolate fondue and even sung a little. The waiters were all extra-nice that day, stopping to talk to us every time they passed our table, and we had a great time. We even got a few free drinks in(!). We finally left at around 8:30, when they were closing up and we started our own Rambouillet pub-crawl, going to three more of the bars and pubs in Rambouillet. A great night and great fun!

The following week had a lot of cafés, picnics, and creepy, weird guys involved. Thursday night, we decided to go to one of the school’s parties, which had marshmallow-roasting included. On Saturday night, my family had a party with all of Anne’s high school friends. That made me in charge of looking after all ten children…, which actually wasn’t so bad. Then on Sunday, Helena, Adriana, and I went to Chartres, a town about a half-hour away, very well known for it’s cathedral. We looked around the cathedral, as well as took a tour around the city on a train. We were also lucky enough to be in town during the Perfume Festival! Once we returned to Rambouillet, we went back to the Celtique (and got another round of drinks on the house, yay!) and then went out for a pizza dinner.

This week is supposed to be rainy the entire time but I’m hoping that the weatherman will be wrong, as he usually is. It’s difficult to find things to do that don’t involve spending money when we only have inside options. I hope that everyone is having a great time and I’ll see you all in 24 days! Love always
An End Has A Start – Editors

Dead End

May is coming to a close, meaning I only have June left to get through! Actually, today is my 5-weeks-left point, which is absolutely insane! That’s the exact same amount of time that I was in Quebec (and Quebec went superfast!). On Thursday, I spent the afternoon at Adriana’s along with Helena. Last week, I told Adriana that I was craving Kraft Dinner so a few days later, she surprised me with a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese from the American grocery store in Paris (and you’ll never guess how much it cost… 6.50 Euro, equaling to about 11 dollars Canadian!). We chose to make it at her house that afternoon, and being able to eat it definitely reminded me of home. The next day was class so we learnt some French before having a picnic in the castle grounds. Helena and I then met Adriana at the Celtique. Our “regular” status is getting higher and higher every time we come. The head guy now kisses us on the cheek every time we go, and each waiter makes sure that they stop to say hello. They’re going to be so sad when we leave… I then went to Adriana’s for dinner and a movie before returning back home.

Saturday wasn’t the prettiest day ever. Adriana and I went to Versailles to have lunch at our usual restaurant (which has the best chocolate mousse in the world!). We then met up with Helena in Saint Quentin to watch Confessions of a Shopaholic, since the weather wasn’t all that great to do anything else. On Sunday, I believe it was a high of 30. The girls and I spent two hours walking around Paris looking for a market, store, anything, that was open (while dying of heat all at the same time). When we finally found one and bought a lunch and snacks, we made our way to the Bois de Boulogne, a gorgeous park just outside of Paris. We scarfed down the food before passing out on the grass to enjoy a nice and long rest. Monday’s weather was the exact same, except with a high of 33. I spent most of my day in the castle grounds, just lying down in the park. Now, the weather is back to being cloudy and rainy but it should bounce back soon (just hopefully not as hot).

I’m getting really excited to come back home but it’s still not feeling real yet. I realize that I will be back in Saskatoon in five weeks but it’s so hard to think that in order to do that, I’m going to have to leave here at the same time. It’ll be hard not having my usual café to go to, that’s for sure! Anyway I hope everyone enjoys the rest of May and starts off June well! Love always
Dead End – The Format

Farewell to the Fairground

Wow, it’s been awhile.. I guess I haven’t had much to say or ponder during the past two weeks. One thing I’m quite proud about that has happened recently is that I am now sporting a watch tan. That’s right, my arm is tan(ish) except for one white band around my wrist. I’m quite proud of this watch tan; I’ve never had a watch tan before. Why? Well because I’ve never worn a watch before coming here. Funny thing is ever since I’ve come here, my watch has been set to Saskatoon time. Yes, the past 8.5 months, I’ve been wearing a watch that right now reads 2:49PM. Pointless you may think, but I only read the minute hand anyway.

The next time I saw my friends again was the following Saturday when I went to their apartment in Paris. We went straight to the Montmartre area, walked around and then went for dinner at a piano bar. Steph and I then went to Rambouillet while Katie and Donna did some more exploring Paris. Steph and I met up with Adriana and we walked through the Rambouillet fair (which was put up just for the weekend)! We then went to the Celtique for some cokes (and kisses from one of the waiters) and then made our way back to Paris. The next morning, Katie, Steph, Donna, and I went to church and then went out for lunch. They had an afternoon of museums so I went to the Bois de Boulogne with Adriana, a gorgeous forest-y area with a big pond. We’re definitely planning to go back once the weather finally cooperates. I met up with the friends again to have dinner under the Eiffel Tower and then I made my way back home.

Steph and Katie came back to Rambouillet on Wednesday to spend two more hours with me before they had to go back home. We got my favourite drink at my café and then we got Chinese food and had a picnic in the park. It wasn’t TOO horrible saying bye to them because I knew that it would only be 50 more days until I saw them again, but I definitely loved their company! This week, the weather hasn’t really cooperated at all. Helena, an au pair who was here during my very early months in France, has returned and is here to stay for the next month so Adriana and I have been enjoying her company. We’ve been spending most of our time in either a café or a movie theatre, thanks to the rain. Saturday night, Adriana and I went to Easy Virtue, a movie that now seems quite bad compared to the other ones we saw. On Sunday, we went to Good Morning England (that’s the translation. The real title is The Boat that Rocked) which was definitely the best out of the three. And today at ten in the morning, we went to Star Trek, which was actually not as bad as I thought it would be. Adriana and I were the only girls in the theatre, surrounded by many old guys who were there by themselves, and then one group of teenage guys.

The weather is slowly getting warmer as the days go by so I’m excited to be able to spend more time outside. In two more days, I only have 6 weeks left which is absolutely insane! That means I have six more days to go to Paris so the girls and I are planning our time as well as we can. I hope everyone isn’t letting the horrible weather there affect your moods and I’m looking forward to seeing you all soon!!! (44 days!!!) Love always
Farewell to the Fairground – White Lies

You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

It’s May! And tomorrow, it’s officially 8 weeks until I’m back in Saskatoon. How crazy eh? And to think I started with 42.. Life is going well. I don’t really know what to think anymore, whether it be excited to come home, sad to leave, or scared I’m not going to fit everything else into the short amount of time I have left.

The friends (Katie, Steph, and Donna) arrived Friday at noon and I spent the entire weekend with them! It was great to see them all again and to be able to know that they were only a 20 minute walk away from my house. On Friday, we went to my café and ended up staying there for three hours, not cause we wanted to but because the waiter kept forgetting to give us our bill. We then went back to my house to talk over some peach juice (thanks Steph!) and then we ordered a pizza to eat before they went back to their hotel. Saturday was our shopping day. We went to the Rambouillet market and explored all the stores downtown, then went to my café for the usual morning chocolat viennois. We got some Chinese food to go and went to Saint-Quentin to continue our shopping. That evening, we ordered another pizza and I spent the night with them in their hotel. On Sunday, we got up nice and early to get to church. We then went for falafels and afterwards, tried to find their apartment that they’d be moving into later in the week. I was the tour guide as usual so I was leading the way in my nice, purple dress that I bought the day before. Now picture this: Four girls walking down a busy street in the middle of Paris, not on a sidewalk but in the middle boulevard island thing – a nice, open space. I led the girls over a sidewalk grate when all of a sudden, a metro HAPPENS to go by underneath me, making a huge gust of wind flow up to expose my entire backside to the street! Well at least now, no one needs to pay for a Moulin Rouge show…I ended up getting the most catcalls I’ve ever gotten in a given ten seconds. Oh well, life goes on. I’m over it and I think it’ll leave a fond memory for everyone involved. We spent the rest of the day on the island of Paris, one of my favourite spots. On Monday, we all met up at the café again and then walked through the castle grounds. I haven’t seen my friends since because I’ve been working and I won’t see them again until Friday but I’m pretty sure we have a fun weekend ahead of us. I hope everyone’s having a great time and I’ll see you all in 57 days!! Love always
You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet – BTO

Time Won’t Let Me Go

Another week has gone by and we’re already at the end of April. I’m so excited that my countdown is at the two-months-left point; I’m really excited to get back home at this point. I feel like I’ve seen and learned what I need to, and I’m getting superpumped to see everyone back at home. Not only that but I have so many summer plans that I’m looking forward to!

My week last week was quite long, probably because it was still the holidays so I didn’t have a set-schedule. I was finally free Saturday afternoon so I made my way to Paris to go to Lost in Paris! I got there at around 5:30 and found myself with two choices. I could 1) Get a good seat (it was rush seating) on a balcony to watch a show that I can watch a million times over whenever I want to OR 2) Get a good spot on the red carpet and MEET I don’t know who. I went for choice number two. After two hours of waiting, I finally realized I had the advantage in this situation. Everyone around me spoke French; some were practicing what they knew in English, which consisted of “Hello” “Goodbye” “How do you like Paris?” Well of course, the people who were coming would obviously only speak English right? So finally after those two hours, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse stepped out of their Jeep Limo thing. I freaked out because they’re the producers of LOST; they started my huge obsession, and I used to listen to them every week on their Lost podcast. Damon was trying out his French, saying “Bonjour” and “Merci.” Really, that seemed like all he knew. So when he needed a pen, I seemed to be the only one to understand him, letting him use my pen and also letting him sign my notebook. Carlton was awkwardly standing behind him, not really knowing what to do so I reached out my book to him and he came up to sign it. He started to say, “How are you?” which slowly descended into nothing because I think he realized he was in France but when I replied with “Good, thanks,” I think he was kind of surprised. He gave me back my pen, I said thanks and then he just paused and said, “You don’t really sound very French…” So I said I was Canadian and he moved on to the next person. However, while he was signing the next person’s ticket, he continued, “So what are you doing in Paris?” And I got to have a conversation with Carlton Cuse! He was supernice and I think he was just happy to find someone who spoke English haha. After they left, I waited for another half hour and a cameraman came out and said everyone who was coming was already in the building so we all left to find our seats (I’m pretty positive he was lying and now I can only think, what if I stayed and met the two actors?). As I sat down way in the back, packed in the middle of 2999 other people, I still had an excitement in me; I was finally here! It started off with a couple songs played by an unknown band, then went on to interviews. The two actors who came were Evangeline Lily (Kate) and Michael Emerson (Ben) and trust me, Michael Emerson still sounds as creepy as on the show, even when answering normal questions. We then proceeded to watch the first episode of season 5, which was so good! I was in shock when it was finished, thinking to myself, “That’s it?!” So now I’m only looking forward to coming back home to watch the rest of the season in one day.

On Sunday, I got up and went to church before coming back and going to the café with Adriana. I was in the middle of opening a present when Benjy (my favourite waiter) comes up to give us our cokes. As he takes his time opening each bottle, and then awkwardly stands there afterwards, I feel like I have to say something to him. Well the reaction I got when I told him it was my birthday the next day was definitely not the reaction I was expecting, at least not with so much enthusiasm. “Oh really?! Well, happy birthday!” he said with a big smile on his face, kind of bopping around. Anyway, long story short, he left a receipt on the table with a note that said, “The cokes are a present, happy birthday!” Definitely made my day. Adriana and I went out for supper afterwards and then I went back home.

Monday was my actual birthday. We skipped school and instead went to our other café. Our favourite guy wasn’t there so we didn’t try the whole birthday thing again. Afterwards, I started my big day of work. The family made me a cake, which was nice, and I opened all of my birthday cards and read my birthday greetings (Thanks everyone!). All in all, it was a good day. I’m looking forward for this week to finally finish because in only two days, Steph, Katie and Donna are coming to visit for two weeks! I’m so excited; it’ll be nice to have some more people come visit. I hope everyone starts off their May well; I’ll see you all in 64 days! Love always
Time Won’t Let Me Go – The Bravery

Sound of Freedom

Well it’s definitely been awhile but now I actually have activities to write about! Since I last wrote, Lauren has already come and gone. Our short week together was so much fun! I got up bright and early last Sunday morning to make the two-hour trip to the airport to pick up my sister. After she finally came out, we went to church (which I’m surprised she stayed awake through) and then made our way back home. I managed to make her stay up until 10:30 that evening so that we could start off our week Monday morning. On Monday, we went to my café “Le Celtique” and I gave the waiters Tim Horton’s cappuccino mix, as well as many Coffee Crisp chocolate bars; they seemed to be pretty excited and Lauren and I got free drinks! After that, we went into Paris and did many of the touristy things. We started off exploring the islands of Paris, going to the Notre-Dame, and then we went to Montmartre and traveled up to the Sacre Coeur. It was such a nice night and it was a lot of fun! We had supper in Montmartre, in a restaurant that didn’t look too appealing at first. We walked in and there was a piano and two tables but we found out that after turning many corners and climbing more stairs, there was a whole other section to sit in. We ate our meal, and listened to the live piano while enjoying the French atmosphere.

On Tuesday, we were planning to go to the Catacombes but the line up literally went around the block; the end of the line was almost at the entrance. We instead decided to go to the Gardens of Luxembourg, my personal favourite gardens of Paris. We then had our snack at Crêpes À Gogo (nutella crêpes, of course) and then we made a quick stop at the Louvre grounds. Wednesday was a great day! We went to the Parc Asterix, the amusement park in Paris not visited by many tourists. It had a Greek section, a Rome section, and many fun rides as well as a dolphin show! Lauren and I had a lot of fun, but were definitely wornout by the end of the day. On Thursday, we started at the Louvre and walked towards the Eiffel Tower, which was a superlong walk. Once we got to the Tower, we were already too tired to climb it so we saved it for later.

On Friday, we finally got to go to the Catacombes! They were actually really neat and not as creepy as I thought they would be. A cave built with walls of bones – definitely not something you see everyday, especially when the bones belong to six million people. After that experience, we made our way to the Cité des Sciences, the science centre of Paris. I realized how much I have forgotten since high school, but there were some really cool things there. We then went to the Opera building before heading back home. Saturday was our shopping day. We went to the market of Rambouillet before going to Saint-Quentin and Paris so that Lauren could shop for souvenirs. We packed up all of Lauren’s (and my) stuff that night. On Sunday, we took all the suitcases with us to church and afterwards, dropped it off at our hotel. We had a nice Canadian brunch at the Moosehead (always a must when coming to Paris) and then we finally went to the Eiffel Tower. After the 500th step, I was about ready to pass out, but we finally made it to the second level at the 658th step! Now I can officially say that I’ve climbed the Eiffel Tower! Afterwards, we walked to the Arc de Triomphe before shopping for more souvenirs. That night, we went out for dinner on the island and then we headed back to our hotel. Monday morning, we woke up nice and early to get to the airport. Lauren left and I headed back to Rambouillet to a full day of work. The family left again Tuesday morning and come back this afternoon. So what does a girl do when she has a free night? She goes to Paris and goes to a class at her church, of course! It was really interesting and I met a lot more people at the church. This afternoon, I’m planning to just hang out, maybe go to the café and hopefully the rest of the week will go by quickly. Lost in Paris is only in 3 more days, yay!!! I hope everyone has had a great holiday! Love always
Sound of Freedom – Bob Sinclair (PS If you go out walking, this is a great song to do it to, especially when you’re running late for the train)