January 2014

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Paris First World Problems: Round 1

Inspired by the wonders of social media, where #Paris seems to have taken over my life, I’ve started to notice some things that many people tend to exaggerate. It’s fun to embellish and practice hyperbole, it’s a great tool, but when it’s not paired with proper perspective, it can become borderline offensive. Here's round 1 from some of my latest observations...

My sushi delivery is taking forever
That moment when you realize that you ordered sushi online to be delivered to your 5th story walk-up, and you know you don’t even have to leave the delivery boy a tip. He better not have forgotten the miso.

Even the gelato is frozen...ugh...
I hear they serve frozen meals here...

I had to eat a meal made of partially frozen food
Maybe you’d like a really fresh meal, but plenty of people, about 840 million of them, wouldn’t complain if their broccoli came from a freezer instead of right from the ground. But they probably wouldn’t appreciate the fresh stuff anyway.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Getting Inked in Paris

I'm a pro now? (shakes head)
Then there’s that time when you realize that you still don’t know everything about Paris. I needed to get my fingerprints taken for my dossier, so I convinced myself that I could get them taken at any of the many public law enforcement offices. No problem. No fuss. No cost.

First the commissariat, then the prefecture, then the special judicial office, one after another, all looked at me like I was from another planet – which I basically am as someone looking for fingerprints in 2014.

The US needs fingerprints for background checks, which is apparently not the case in France, where a simple online form takes care of it. Yes, while getting most any other paperwork requires hurdles, a background criminal check is a few clicks away…

The French office workers and police were happy enough to listen to me, and even entertain my request with a few phone calls. But they were mystified by the request. “America is really strict,” one worker said. “I’ve worked here for years and I’ve never heard that request before,” another responded. “I cannot help you at all. I honestly have no idea,” said another. Bewilderment all around.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Keeping the "Travel" in Traveling...

Traveling through train stations, Paris...

Holiday travel, well travel at all, is stressful business. But for me, getting there is half, if not most of the fun. I put that theory to the test this year as I returned to France from Philadelphia. It still stands. Budget travel may be uncomfortable but it pays you back in other ways.

The return included flights and trains, car rides and sprints. A ride to the Philadelphia airport, complete with traffic backups on I-95, was just the beginning. The first leg of my journey included a flight to Chicago. Not quite in the direction of France, but the crying baby next to me and the entertainment-less fight (oh United...) kept me distracted. This was also a low point.