When I got to work on Monday, I had an email telling me that I had a presentation to do in Paris on Wednesday. Cool, I thought! Paris! I haven't been to Paris in years!
I tried to connect with my colleague who owns the account all day Monday, but to no avail. No problem, I thought.
Tuesday I saw her in the hall in the AM, and we promised to speak. I started making my slides, putting together the presentation, and by 8 PM we were set.
I was crazy hungry, and so when I got home I immediately started work on my chicken and bok choy soup. I had gone to Ikea on Monday and bought a better knife. Wasn't used to using it. You can guess the rest....cleavering the bok choy I cleavered my left thumb something horrible. I had a gusher coming out...it was horrible. Positively grisly with the red coating of blood all over my hand. Ran upstairs and got things under control. I'd sliced through my nail and part of my thumb, but there was no way to stitch this thing...it was mostly nailbed trouble. I applied pressure and put on a bandaid (plaster, actually.) My hand was THROBBING. Went downstairs and finished making dinner, and kept my hand elevated.
I went to bed thinking I needed a good night's sleep, but that was impossible with the excrutiating pain of my partially severed thumb. Had to get up at 5 AM to get ready, as my ride was getting here at six. Pleh. I am not a morning person, which many of you will view as a significant understatement.
So with virtually no sleep I headed to Paris. We trained to London, cabbed to Waterloo station, and took the Eurostar. It was pretty cool, actually, though it really just feels like a big tunnel and then suddenly the architecture of the country churches changes. We got into Paris around 1 PM local time.
I thought the client's office was in the city, but actually they're way out in the suburbs...past Versailles even. And I'd forgotten how unfriendly Paris is to people who don't speak French. We tried to take the Metro and it took us half an hour to figure out what we had to do. Got to Montparnasse and caught our train to the countryside just in time.
We got off at the station they'd told us to, but it was like a ghost-town. No shops open, no taxis, no one around. We looked at the station map and decided to walk into town in hopes of finding life. We went about five blocks and found a bar with people and taxis parked outside. If you live in St. Paul, imagine coming across The Spot, except full of smokey french guys. And with tackier sexist art...lots of pretty girls on postcards exposing their breasts and buttocks. Did I mention it was smokey? Because it was really smokey.
Luckily one of the guys spoke some English. We got cokes and asked directions. He was also, conveniently, a taxi driver and agreed to take us to the clients. We were hungry so they offered us some sandwiches from the kitchen. We were at the French equivalent of oh, say, Swede's Office, so you can imagine that I was less than enthused about the food they'd produce. But this is France after all...we got the most exquisite baguette rolls with camembert that was sweet and delicious. Go figure.
Cabbie took us to the clients, and we were early so we had time to settle down from our epic travel. (It was now 3 PM London time and we'd just arrived at the destination.) Our presentation went well. Clients were very nice. We answered questions and got an idea of the next steps, then got in a cab to head back to the station. (No more local train crap.)
But there were strikes and demonstrations in Paris. Which means we were parked along the Seine waiting for traffic. We had a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tour, and got to see the Louvre and the Musee D'Orsay and Notre Dame on our way to the station. But it should have been an hour or so drive, and instead it was two and a half. Sitting in traffic. With a maniac driver who swore constantly (in French, but I assumed it was profane from the tone.)
It was sunny and lovely, though, and Paris was beautiful. Crowded and gridlocked, but beautiful. I've decided that I'm going back the second someone who speaks French arrives for a visit. (Hint, Tom.)
Our original train was practically in London, so we had to find seats on the next one which was also the last of the day. Coach was sold out and so we had to either a) upgrade to first, b) take a train in the AM, or c) stand for three hours to take this one.
We upgraded. Got a free copy of the Economist out of it, as well as a totally tasteless dinner of parts. My tummy has been funky all day, and I think it was definitely the Salmon Mousse.
Got home after midnight, crawled up the steps and tumbled into bed. (FYI, I reoriented my bed at 1 AM on Monday and am sure that I'm sleeping better now. And when I wake up the window is at the foot of my bed and I can look out to see the sun.)
I'm so glad that day is over.