What a wonderful day

Monday, April 28, 2008

To be starting my life with the love of my life is a spectacular thing! We never intended to be married so soon, but it could not have been at a more perfect time or place. We exchanged our ouis (I exchanged a oui and a yes) among our French family and friends (as well as my amazing American mom) on an absolutely gorgeous sunny April day just south of Paris. It seemed like a dream. The surreality of the day totally outweighed the reality of walking on my 4-inch heels from the mairie to the park to the reception. It was the most lovely day I've ever witnessed in Paris - perfect weather, perfect champagne, perfect company. Even the translator that we were dreading to employ was the perfect answer to my imperfect French, and certainly made our ceremony that much more special. I also indulged in the best meal I've had in France that evening with Guillaume, his father and a few other relatives. I wish I could share the experience with you all in a blog post, but it's impossible. Suffice it to say that our French wedding was beyond any expectation I could have ever had, and it was the perfect start to the marriage commitment Guillaume and I look forward to fulfilling.

I'm like OMG!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My mama is coming to Paris and I'm SO stoked! I can't believe in just 12 short hours I'll be waiting for her at the Charles de Gaulle baggage claim, ready to drag her around this crazy city with me. It will be surreal. It's her first trip across the pond - across any pond, really, and I feel blessed that I get to take her places she's only read about in books. I love my mom beyond words, and this will no doubt be an experience of a lifetime for me - for us both!

Can you believe this is the ONLY picture I have on my computer of me with my mom?!! We will just have to do something about that, now won't we?! Geesh!


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I left London with a few coins (which, in the UK could mean anything from 2 pennies to 20 pounds) in my pocket, but not because I wanted to. Typically, I try to spend all my pounds before leaving England so I don't wind up with a jar full of change that I'll eventually forget about. I think I had about 3 pounds (read: over 6 bucks) of loose change that I had every intention of offering to the first peddler/beggar/homeless dude or dudess that I crossed on my way to Heathrow. But, for some reason, I never crossed one. How, in a city of over 7 million peeps can it be that in the last 24 hours not one person stopped to ask me for change - not in front of a grocery store, not on the street, not even on any of the tube stops!?

So, here I am, back in Paris with a pocket full of useless change (that I'll probably forget to bring back with me when I visit next), when who should I cross on the train to Paris at my first stop? Yep, a peddler - a violinist, actually, and get this, his SON (or some adorable little kid pretending to be his son) walks through the train, begs everyone for some coins, and what can I give him when he puts that paper cup in my face? Nada. Rien. Niente. I guess I could have opened up my pocket, pulled out a fist-full of pounds and pence and filled his cup with coins he's probably never seen before, but how rude would that be? I mean, I'd totally be pissed if I went to buy some groceries, paid with a $20 bill and was given change back in Euros. What in the hell am I supposed to do with that? So, I guess what this boils down to is if, upon leaving England, I have extra change to give away, I should convert it from Pounds to Euros before leaving the UK because, let's be honest, all the poor people live in Paris. That sucks.

Lucky Streak

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Guillaume and I headed for London via Charles de Gaulle airport on Friday evening with little expectation for the necessary trip outside of the Schengen area. We had to book our flights separately on Expedia because we were leaving on different dates (Gui on Sunday, me on Tuesday), so naturally, we didn't have the opportunity to choose seats together on the plane. We asked the lovely lady at the ticket counter if we could somehow sit with each other on the plane, and after a phone call, she was able to upgrade us to a "Tempo" seat on the plane. I've never flown on Air France, but it was my assumption that we'd just be sitting a little closer to the front of the plane, and maybe be offered a glass of wine or something; after all, the flight is a measley 45 minutes long from Paris to London. Anyway, so we get on the plane - it ends up being delayed by nearly an hour - and shortly after take off we are served practically an entire meal - ratatouille tarte (a bit strange, but good), salad, a triangle camembert, a baguette, chocolate fondant cake and a small chocolate. We both chuckled at our good luck and just blamed it on the gods of love wanting to make this hectic side-trip a little easier on us.

We stayed the first night with Gui's sister, but only for the night (we arrived around 11pm, so it was barely even a night). On Saturday, we headed out to west London where we had booked a hotel for the night. The hotel itself seemed a bit dated, but it was decent. Except, that when we arrived, we were given a room with 2 twin beds instead of one double bed. It wouldn't have been a big deal to put the beds together, but Gui just called down to see if we could possibly change rooms. They agreed without hesitation and we somehow ended up in the hotel suite at the top floor with a double bed AND a twin bed, a sitting area, closet and even a bidet in the bathroom! It wasn't the fanciest of places, but we still felt pretty lucky to have scored the unsolicited upgrade!

Today, we met up for brunch with an old friend of mine that I know from Texas, Rob. The restaurant we brunched at was really great, and only 2 tube stops away from our hotel! It was really great catching up with Rob, reminiscing about old times, and talking about future plans for each other's visits to Paris and London. I can't believe how long it's been (nearly 8 years) since we've known each other, and although we've both changed quite a bit, we still have so much to chat about. Rob showed us around his 'hood and took us in for a coffee at his flat, which was really adorable! The sun came out just in time for us to have a cup on the balcony and continue our catching up. Hopefully, he'll come visit when we have our place in Paris all sorted out.

Before we had brunch, Gui and I had to purchase another tube ticket for the day. For some reason, we decided to get into 2 different lines and purchase them separately. Well, after Gui got his ticket and while he was waiting for me, a very sweet Danish (I think) man offered his travelcard to him because he wasn't going to need it any longer!! Luckily, I hadn't bought my ticket yet! What's so perfect about the ticket (besides it saving us £10.70) is that it's good until the 22nd, which is when I leave! It really couldn't have been more perfect.

Guillaume left today and I'm going to be in London for a couple more nights, so I'm just hoping this lucky streak continues. I told Guillaume that I really hope we're not having all this good luck because something awful is ahead...but I know that's just my ugly, pessimistic side trying to convince me of my inability to attract goodness. I guess I should know by now that I really am a lucky person - I have the friends, family and fiance to prove that!

(Where) to live or not to live

Thursday, April 17, 2008

That's our question these days. Today, we went to look at a couple of apartments in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, which is where Gui is working and just southwest of the peripherique. The apartments were both very charming, definitely large enough for us (well, by Parisian standards - I can't believe I once lived in a 1200 sq foot apartment in Austin for half the price it would be in Paris!), and the location of both were very ideal and near lots of transport (including a nearby metro stop). Guillaume didn't see the first apartment, but it had great windows, large rooms, lots of closet space and a mere 3 min walk to the nearest metro. The kitchen and bathroom, however, were a little sub-par and the community space (mainly just the stairwell) was in a complete state of disrepair. And, at a price nearly 100 Euros more expensive than we're comfortable paying, it wasn't looking to be a strong contender.

Guillaume joined us at the second place, which took him only 15 minutes to find from work (a big plus). Aside from the overwhelming scent of turpentine permeating throughout the building (they were repainting the apartment), the place was fairly similar to the last, but quite a bit nicer. It was the same style, nearly the same size, though the rooms seemed very slightly smaller, the kitchen was about a meter longer, and the bathroom was in a much better condition, as well. But, besides one hall/coat closet, there was no closet space whatsoever, the kitchen was still pretty tiny and separate from the living room, and although there was much light coming in, the windows seemed a bit small for the place. Apart from all this, I could actually see myself living there with Gui.

The cool, but weird thing about both of the apartments is that the living room is a closed-off area with its own door and windows, so it provides much privacy if we should have visitors staying with us. The downfall to this, is that it provides for a very closed-off kitchen as well, and that's something I'm a little hesitant about. I love having a place to cook where I can also be involved in what's going on in the living room, especially when we have guests. I've realized after searching around the internet, that I'm going to have to decide if I prefer providing privacy for our visitors or inclusion for the cook. Another thing to consider is that many of these apartments are going to provide either large kitchens and smaller rooms or larger rooms and minuscule kitchens. I'm kind of leaning toward the larger kitchen idea, though. I mean, without a Taco Bell, Wendy's, Chick-fil-a, Whataburger, Maudie's, or Sonic around each corner, I'm pretty much forced to eat McDonald's everyday or cook; and let's be honest, you can only have so many Royales with cheese before dying from overconsumption of flavorless meat.

So, tomorrow's another day. After we pick up 3 cases (yes, that's 18 bottles) of champagne from Auchan, we're going to try to check out a couple more apartments. As I search through location listings, I find myself grinning with disbelief when I type in that my preferred apartment size is between 35 and 45 m² (that's about 375-450 square feet, people!!)!! Such is my life for now, but I'm not complaining. I saw about 5 kids walking home from school today with a tasty baguette tucked under their arms; I could do nothing but smile and thank my lucky stars I get to live here. :)

And these little faces...

...I'm missing most of all.

Happy birthday, Willers!!

Teeth, Eyes, Nose, Arms... from clothesminded on Vimeo.

La Bague

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Guillaume made his proposal official after dinner the first night I returned to Paris. On bended-knee and all, he presented a lovely ring made from family heirloom gemstones that I'm now proudly wearing around my left ring-finger! Here it is.

Needless to say, I was very surprised and nearly speechless. I'm so happy.

Pour vivre, pour rire, pour aimer

(thanks for the title, Lindsey)

My bachelorette party was one for the history books. And, if Regina, Melynda, Lindsay and Gladys take my sister's advice, they'll write a book about throwing the perfect bachelorette party. Because, let's face it, my party was the sh*t! I definitely went out with a bang (and I have the drunk bumps to prove that), but it wasn't easy. Tears (and clothes) were shed, champagne was flowing, glasses toasting (and breaking), caviar was eaten, henna was staining and girls were a'(lap)dancin'! Most of the photos can't be shared on a public forum, but here a few of my favorites. Thank you, my lovelies!! I will never forget this most amazing night!!

Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder

Haha. I love this sign and I love Austin. Man, I'm going to miss it.

But, for my last 2 weeks in the city, I was able to take it all in with friends an fun..including this:

Saying "y'all come back, now" to Marie & Pascal

Happy Birthday, Irisa-face

Being a biker (I want one)

Blue Dahlia

Friday, April 11, 2008

Today, Amanda and I met Irisa for lunch at this new little gem called Blue Dahlia in east Austin. The menu online sounded so delish, but I wasn't sure if this was going to be another brief Austin trend or a genuine Austin treasure. Well, added to the fact that it's located a mere two blocks from my wonderful hometown church in a neighborhood that's busting at the seams with new, lively development, I found the exquisite food and community-friendliness of the place to be a perfect pot of gold. The tartines that are served here are remarkably inventive, and just plain tasty. I loved my chevre and granola tartine, and was equally blown away with Irisa's chicken salad tartine, (and I'm pretty picky about my chicken salad). I didn't try Amanda's turkey tartine, but that's mostly because she ate nearly every bite, including her and my helping of sliced cantaloupe that's included with the bed of greens and cucumber on the the wooden cutting board the tartines are served on. Perhaps the perfect weather had a little to do with it, but even a brave, hungry bee didn't distract from the absolute beauty of this lunch. I'm sad that I can't eat here everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner but will make every effort to visit each time I return to Austin. Maybe they'll let me start a franchise of the place in Paris! Now, I just need to figure out how I would export the Austin weather...

Leaving ain't easy

Sunday, April 6, 2008

OK, so UPS hasn't completely ruined my life...yet (it takes time to steal someone's identity, doesn't it?). That being said, they did give us a scare that they wouldn't deliver our documents as requested the second time around. But, they did, so we're happy about that, and now it's just a waiting game to see if my mom will get her passport in time to fly out to Paris. It's definitely a nail-biter.

I spent the first part of the weekend with my mom, driving into Austin together and enjoying a good dose of tex-mex. We even waited in line for nearly an hour (stomachs grumbling and all) to get seated at a favorite, famous Austin eatery. It was totally worth it, though. I was telling my mom how waiting for that long is pretty much unheard of in Paris - I mean, why wait an hour to eat when you could just as easily go next door for an equally good meal, or heck, find a panini stand and be sure to have a fully satisfied belly?

It's just really crazy that this will be my last week (for a long while, at least) in my hometown. Hopefully, I'll get to see everyone and eat everywhere I love before making the move official. My friends are planning a very secret bachelorette party for me next weekend (absolutely can not wait!), and my cousin from Georgia is coming to celebrate - which is the coolest thing ever. On top of that, we'll be lunching and dining and happy-houring the week away, so much to look forward to in this final week.

The weather in Austin has been some of the best I can remember and the food seems to be tastier by the bite. The long-standing, come-and-go relationship I've had with this city is coming to an end as I leave it for the (possibly) final time, and it isn't letting me go without a good fight. It won't be easy to leave, but I've got to make myself a home in my new city with the love of my life. I'll be back, Austin, so don't worry. And next time we rendezvous, I hope it'll be with my new family and for a time long enough to really enjoy your company.
TEXAS SARAH. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.