Thursday, September 5, 2013
If I wait for the sunshine to wake me, my day doesn’t really begin until 10 am or later. The sunrise isn’t until 7:30 and by the time I see an orb it’s already past 8. Today’s morning routine included yoga, breakfast, shower, and dress…pretty typical stuff. Along that line, my miscellaneous observations for the day are:
The organic farmer’s market on Quai des Chartrons (every Thursday morning) is not large but they do have some good finds and prices. I enjoyed speaking frenglish with a woman who creates and plants organic pots that are something like stiffly formed burlap only longer lasting and water retentive. She plants whatever you wish in the realm of herbs, natural perennials, and bee/butterfly attracters. The one I loved had lavender, mint, sage, a lemony tea leaf, and some plants with tiny blue and white flowers. It was pretty and aromatic and harvestable! I got her flyer!
Heading to the bank, I walked the quai and enjoyed the city skyline at the bend in the river. I love HSBC France. My checks and debit card with pin were there waiting for me and the “welcomer” showed me how to validate the card in the ATM machine. Which is a DAB machine here. A lot of service businesses/stores have “welcomers”…a sort of triage where they direct you to the proper desk. It seems to work well, especially since I’ve generalized that French people don’t know how to queue!
Walking slowly in the sun and heat, I pass and peer at every brasserie which is full of patrons at outdoor tables drinking aperitifs and tasting the plat du jour. It’s lunchtime (approximately 1-3 pm) and many businesses and stores close. Whatever pace has accelerated through the morning, it is now relaxed and convivial and no one is in a hurry or has an agenda. It’s going to take me awhile to get used to that!
Today is my niece’s eighth birthday and I decided to traditionalize these occasions by treating myself to some special patisserie in their honor. Today’s sweet came from Madison’s patisserie…a vanilla cupcake with apples and caramel. It was so pretty and came home in a specialty box, somewhat like a Christmas ornament, with a pink bow and a plastic “window” to see the “present”. Only 15 days until another sweet!
Yesterday’s pizza oven temps caused a craving for pizza so I stopped at La Boite a Pizza. I love crusts that are crackery, crispy thin and still have taste. This was that, topped with cream, mozzarella, onions, potato slices, and bacon…mmmmmm. And anything “bacon” makes me think about the Saloon on Calhoun (bacon strips are the free happy hour appetizer) and Jim Gaffigan’s antics. Which makes me think of D. I guess I just had a sentimental journee.
Yo soy estupido…oops, wrong language. These hot days are perfect for drying laundry so let the washer take off! During the spin cycle, it sounds like a jet engine revving up and I wonder when the fuse is gonna blow! It’s a tiny front loader that takes an hour to wash, rinse, and spin and yet it says it’s economical? I set up my “clothes dryer” in the dining room…too many pigeons outside!
The rest of the day will be filled with computer and translation activities. The sun sets at about 8:30 and there’s still a glow until almost 10 pm. So far, I’ve been too tired to explore the city at night…but there’s time.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Since the beginning, I’ve read and been told that establishing a bank account in most foreign countries is difficult if not impossible. Foreign banks do not want to deal with the extra scrutiny by and reporting to the US and therefore, they just don’t allow Americans to open an account. Advice included establishing an account in the US with a bank that has a foreign presence, having a large enough deposit to put you into some sort of premiere client category, buying a home and getting into the financial system through the back door, applying at lots of banks, and resorting to cash transactions if all else fails. I thought I was in for a siege.
Imagine my joy when Monsieur R at HSBC spoke with moi in English, opened both a checking and savings account for moi, set moi up as a premier client which saves me wire transfer fees in the future, and provided moi with banking pamphlets in English…all in about an hour. He’s my hero.
Which left me lots of time to ride Tram Line B. I am not impressed with the outskirts which head into a large university area. The buildings are old institutional style and dilapidated, the landscaping is scrawny with uncut weeds, and the demeanor is rundown and would seem ghost townish without the students hurrying here and there. Even though I’ve never been to Bordeaux, it seems obvious that the worldwide and especially European economic downturns have affected the city’s vibrancy…there are many boarded up shops and public areas with curtailed maintenance. However, this district makes me think of Detroit (before its current attempt at resurgence) and I would not want to go to university here. I don’t even want to come here again on the tram!
Going the opposite way on Tram Line B leads to the outlet mall on the quai…definitely a turn in the right direction!