Monday, January 6, 2014

Air France Flight 666

I thought it was shady when I noticed that our flight number was AF066, which is a little too close to 666, but I've finally gotten over my fear of flying and resigned myself to telling people if I die falling from a great height (I used to have nightmares about falling. I would bounce back up and then fall some more) they will need to throw a party and laugh and laugh because isn't it ironic?

David always puts my screen to show the camera on the outside of the plane and it freaks me out

So we're on the runway about to take off. I've been bumped from my exit row seat and the American guy behind me has not stopped kicking my seat, jostling it by poking at the video screen and using it to get up and down the short amount of time we've been on the plane. But hey, c'est la vie. I'm heading to Vegas and then HOME to Northern California. Land of fat burritos and English speaking people.

But then..... we stop. There is a problem. We taxi back to the airport. I'm not sure how long it takes before they announce that all 516 passengers are going to have to disembark because of a "serious problem" with engine 2 and eventually we end up going back through customs and taking a cab home because our flight is rescheduled for the next day at 9 a.m. That means leaving around 5:30 a.m. only 12 hours later. We would have taken a hotel voucher but they were keeping all the luggage and I had brought absolutely nothing with me but my tablet, some powder and a lipstick and I was already coated in airport grime and looking frumpy. Plus I need to cancel our trip to the Grand Canyon (no refunds! awesome!) and call the hotel so we didn't lose our room.

After an eleven hour flight, still seated in front of the same charming passenger, we arrive in Los Angeles only an hour late. (They had to get a new plane and waited until we were on the plane to transfer the luggage). Of course the boarding ramps aren't working (it's a double decker plane landing unexpectedly so we were off at some random place on the runway) and when we finally get off all 500 of us have to take buses to the terminal. We grab our luggage, go through customs, drop our luggage off again and get on a 45 minute flight to Las Vegas. And when we arrive, our luggage isn't there. This is no big deal really, but David's colleague has some stuff in his bag for the demo set up. No stuff, no demo. Did I mention we were on the same flight as three people from David's work, all named Bruno?

Going to dinner that night with them at 4 a.m. Paris time and trying to speak French, in glitzy Vegas, wearing the same old wrinkled clothes with the same makeup I put on 24 hours earlier was the cherry on top of the worst flight of my life.

And Sunday, at three a.m. our bags arrived. I hadn't seen mine since Friday except for a brief moment at customs and I missed the little fellow.

In other news, I finally got to see what goes into setting up a demo. Lots of wires and screens and laptops, most of which the 3 Brunos had been hauling around with them for this whole debacle.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Our first day at the beach in L'Île-Rousse our white limbs were greeted with laughter by a leathery brown old chap who observed "Vous avez été ici longtemps" (You guys have been here a long time). 

Right before we left a woman got stung by a jelly fish and she rubbed sand in the sting. At the time I wondered if it was an urban myth or if that really helped. The next day I read this entry from French Word of the Day about her run in with the méduse.  So of course, a few hours after getting in the water, just when I had relaxed enough to shed my top, I felt like my leg had bumped into some fire, which is pretty shocking when you are under water. A few days later at the same beach we saw one (before it stung us). David held onto my leg so I could float and watch it through my goggles without getting too close. It was bright blue and yellow, a little larger than a baseball and very pretty.

The food is a perfect mix of Italian pasta's and pizzas, French cheeses and desserts, fresh seafood and generous portions of fruits and veggees not drowned in butter or boiled to death like they normally are in Paris. 

The birthplace of Naploleon Bonaparte

We also had a BBQ at our place, so we could cook at home if we wanted. Despite being surrounded by other apart'hotels, it was very very quiet. We are used to the sound of traffic and the silence was almost creepy.

Maza did not appreciate being called a bizarre cat and sulked in the bushes

There are also sweet little rivers which remind me of the ones in Grass Valley. If I had known there was a little piece of California only an hour and a half flight from Paris I would have gone sooner.

There was also a scrappy little cat at the apart'hotel who cried to be let in, ate the best bits of whatever we offered, turned up his nose at the rest and left to go beg food from someone else, wailing and carrying on like he hadn't eaten for weeks. David called him Chat Corsé and he came to visit us everyday for two weeks. The neighbors on one side thought he was ours and knocked on our door once to let us know he was waiting outside, so luckily I got to clear that up and they won't go home with stories about the crazy American cat lady who brought her cat to an island.

Corsicans have a reputation for being a little gruff. Corsica is the murder capital of Europe And outsiders who try to build beach front property have a little problem with their houses blowing up. So it's not over run with tourists. But everyone was very nice to us. But we also are used to Parisians.

From Wikipedia: The gang Brise de Mer is one of the Most Powerful Corsican criminal organisms . Based in Northern Corsica , the gang controls various activities (racketeering, traffic slots machines laundering, night clubs, gambling clubs, casinos, etc..) in Corsica, goal aussi in the South of France, in Paris , in Western African countries ( Gabon , Mali , Cameroon , etc..), and in Latin American countries.

We ran into some very stinky hunters while taking this picture.

The waiters/waitresses are all about 17 and drop dead gorgeous.

This is not some fancy pants French place. It's super laid back and casual.

This poor old man couldn't stand all the excitement.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mini-Trip to Portugal

Maza thought she was going somewhere.

Was it San Francisco?

Disney Land?

No, it was Lisbon.

I squeezed my fatty sausage body using my fatty sausage fingers into a swimsuit for the first time in over a year and vowed to go on a diet.... just as soon as we got back from the land of yummy Portuguese food.

This was a five day training course to get our pasty white skin used to sun because in a few weeks we are going to Corsica. Normally David uses his vacation days to go to California during Thanksgiving, but every three years my Mom goes somewhere with her husbands side of the family, so for the first time since we moved here, we are doing the full blown two week French style summer holiday. Except it won't be in August because I like Paris in August, and in September all the kids will be back in school so we won't be swimming in a urine filled pool.

Both the pool

And the sea

WERE FREEZING COLD. Beautiful but too cold for my old ass to enjoy.

The streets were like a shiny slippery snake skin

I spent Friday while David was hopefully selling the shit out of his demo so he (we) will have to come back, walking around with André from What About Lisbon. My Paris Bitch Face melted off in a record four hours and the sun and breeze and friendly people made up for the hills. But those hills. Mon Dieu. My legs are still sore.

He got me into Reaction Lx - A student organization that brings together european design students. They cleaned up an old convent/women's prison that had been abandoned for decades and for two weeks it was a super cool commune.

That same night we signed up for a food tour with We Hate Tourism. It was only a little more expensive than what we were paying for a normal meal, and I thought it was worth it every penny. We learned the names of local food and got to taste every specialty of Portugal. (or at least most). It was also a super laid back local diner kind of restaurant, so I didn't feel self-conscious in my sweaty unshowered back pack wearing obvious tourist gear.

Our guide drove his van like a maniac to the outskirts of town for dinner and then back in for a tour of the night clubs, and kept us all laughing the whole night. 

 And last but not least we went to Palácio Nacional da Pena (Pena National Palace)

After a fews days in a busy city it was nice to be in a huge forest. 

We wandered and got lost and eventually came upon this:

It was hard to leave, but my blue-tinged skin was slightly tan, and hopefully that means I won't immediately turn lobster red the second my foot hits the ground in Corsica.