Back from Paris!

Paris Thumb Back to sunny Cali after a couple of weeks in sunny Paris ( & Normandy). The flight over was uneventful but as you would expect long and draining.  We both (Carman and I) were looking forward to getting out of the airport and to our hotel where we could relax and have a much needed shower.  Due to what I could only best describe as a French version of Chinese whispers we managed to get taken to 3 out of the 4 Pullman hotels in central Paris before finding the actual Pullman hotel we had reservations at – lesson learned? Double check with the driver that he indeed knows where you want to go and not thinks he knows.  Being able to produce the written address helped and probably should have been where I started the communication from. Spent Sunday walking as far into central Paris as our little jet lagged legs could carry us.  We covered a fair distance and manged to investigate much of the side streets and mom and pop shops that most train, bus and subway bound tourists would miss.  I love seeing the 'real' side of any city and like to avoid the overly touristy parts as long as possible.  What I found quite amusing is it seems to be a local custom to always carry a couple of 2 foot long baguettes with you as you go about you're business.  I'm pretty sure that's how you can spot a tourist in Paris, no baguette not from here. Sunday is pretty dead in Paris there's a bunch of laws and regulations that end up meaning that most places are closed.  While it's good to be able to walk about and get your bearings without wading through throngs of people it's probably not the best time to try and sample the fine Parisian culture (aka food and shopping). Monday and Tuesday were spent at GDC and saying hello to past and present colleagues. Had to get a weekly transit pass which required a headshot, from the multitude (and famous) photobooths littered around the stations, and some kind of ID card.  It's worth getting but you might want to allocate the time to get it, don't try and sort it out in a rush. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, when not working and being sick, we spent subway-ing around to all the Tourist hot spots and Lonely planet guide 'must sees' we could get to.  The days this time of year are really long so we're able to get a lot done (can eat a lot too!!). Highlight: seeing the dude from Amelie. Saturday and Sunday we checked out the Blizzard WWI and got to see the launch of Diablo III (!!).  Played some star craft 2 and watched some matches here and there (go Kim!). Sunday evening we planned to catch a train to Argentan (Ar-jaun-ton) which is the closest station to my Dad's place up in Normandy.  Due to my inability to speak French we found that while some people might act like they understand what you're asking aren't exactly 100% sure and will quite happily assist you in solving the problem they think they heard.  In any case if you want to catch a train to somewhere outside Paris (not on the met) you need to find the regional SNCF counters at the local train station (i.e. Montparanasse). After a really nice and smooth 2 hour train ride we jumped off in a small station that suitably reflected my view of 'country France'.  Met my dad, Magda and their bounding 5 month old German Shepard Djason (ja-zon).  A rather fast paced ride through the hedge lined roads of Normandy we got to their lovely B&B. This place is pretty special – on top of a hill overlooking the small town of Le Bosquet an old 1910 'villa' with collection of associated buildings. We spent the last three days there just relaxing, talking and eating which was nice way to round of the trip.  Without a car we weren't able to venture too far out but I was pretty happy to relax and soak up the sun and calories. All in all it was a fun trip and it was nice to visit my dad. Check out the website (http://www.explorenormandy.co.uk/) and if you're ever in Normandy looking for a nice place to stay I recommend it! P.S. Paris isn't bad either! Rod.

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