Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Life Lessons from a Jigsaw Puzzle.

Borders is going out of business.  I often feel disproportionately sad and guilty when faceless, corporate giants go under, for whatever reason.  Well, corporate giants as well as “mom and pop” stores/the underdog.  I’m a man of many contradictions, what can I say?

I didn’t feel guilty enough, however, not to miss out on the crazy sales.  30, 40 and 50% off of everything in the store?  Are you kidding?  I may have gone a little crazy.  To the point where, while riding the “getting everything on sale” high, I saw a puzzle in the checkout line and thought, “how can I not buy a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle?”  (I actually went back later that same day with Mom and bought a second one...It was on SALE, people!)

The puzzle in question is a picture of Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss.

The Kiss, by Austrian painter, Gustav Klimt.

If you’re anything like me, this image would seem easy at first glance.  I looked at the patterns and thought it would be a relaxing, frustration-free project.  Well, five dollars later, I realized that the background is comprised of an amorphous pattern of paint splatterings, and 80% of the primary imagery is a repeated black, grey and gold pattern.   Not ideal for reassembly.

I will say, however, that the few hours I’ve spent on this puzzle so far have been quite interesting.  In a weird way, it’s been both a reassuring and enlightening experience.  I guess there’s a certain amount of subconscious life reflection that occurs while spending hours leaning over the kitchen table, staring at funny-shaped pieces of colorful, reinforced paper.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

There’s nothing wrong with asking for help from time to time.
It’s broken into 1000 pieces!  Literally!  Let someone help you, dammit!

Don’t sweat the small stuff.
You can always move to a different part of the puzzle, then come back to where you’re stuck later.  It will still get done!

Deep down, we’re all still children, hoping to get that nod of approval.
I’d better explain this one.  Every time I manage to fit two puzzle pieces together, I do a little dance in my head and I have to stop myself from saying aloud, “Look, Dad!  Look!  Did you see that?!  I just put two pieces together!  Right there!  I did it!”  This happens every time.  It’s remarkable. 

Don’t give up!
No explanation needed.

Just because you want a piece to fit somewhere, doesn’t mean it will.
In life, whether it be work, love or other, sometimes things don’t work out, and that’s just the way it goes.  Don’t for a second let that get you down!  There’s still 999 more pieces out there to try!  Every piece fits perfectly somewhere.  Finding exactly where is part of the whole, wonderfully frustrating adventure.

And, finally, the most obvious one: Life is easier piece-by-piece.
Having a “big picture” idea is great, but don’t forget that getting there doesn’t happen all at once.  It's better to tackle things one part at time.

The fam and I are still working on the puzzle.  So far the worst thing about it is that, even though we’ve repeatedly measured the border dimensions to make sure we’re not missing anything (which we aren’t), the outside pieces are all so similar that we’re still not sure how the border goes together.  Frustration-free my tuchus.

Friday, July 22, 2011


If you were to ask my college roommate, Brandon, anything about the soundtrack to High School Musicals 1, 2 or 3, he would be able to tell you the name of any of the songs, who sang them, and then proceed to recite the lyrics.

This is no fault of his own (although if you cornered him, he’d probably admit that he came around to the soundtracks after a while).  I fully accept that, during my senior year of college (yes, college), if the soundtrack to HSM3 wasn't playing in my room, you can be 99% certain I was either in class, studying in the library, out at the bar or asleep (usually one of the first three).  This is not something I’m proud of, but there it is nonetheless.

Am I the only one that goes through such extreme phases with things?  Once I heard a song on an episode of Scrubs (“Winter Song” by Ingrid Michaelson and Sarah Bareilles), downloaded it, and proceeded to listen to it on repeat for the next two weeks, taking it with me on my iPod for even the smallest of excursions.  If I had a nickel for every time I listened to that song during that eight day period, I would be able to update this blog daily without having pesky things like work get in the way.  (Not that it does right now, let's be honest, but you know what I mean.)

It's not just music either.  The website mylifeisaverage.com took control of my attention in such a strong way that I checked it every night before I went to bed, and then every morning before I went to school for at least a month.  It was a problem.

As I write this I am currently in the grips being obsessed with the series Bones.

In case you’ve never heard of Bones, it’s a forensic tv “dramedy” series in the same vein as CSI.  It’s gotten to the point where I’ve begun thinking in the same vocabulary as the characters on the show.  Here’s an example: My family and I are putting together a puzzle on the kitchen table right now, and I find myself examining the puzzle pieces with the same scientific austerity as if I were an actual forensic scientist.  I’ll think things like, “Well, the black markings on this piece are consistent with the markers in this pattern.”  Luckily I have yet to slip and say any of these things out loud.  It’s really only a matter of time, however.

I can only have one obsession at a time, so I’ll let you know what it I turn to when I finally finish all the episodes of Bones that I can on Netflix instant watch.  Hopefully it’ll be something that uses my brain more, like a book….

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

La Vie Continue (La Vida Sigue).

I had lunch with this lovely lady yesterday (this picture wasn't taken yesterday....)

Me and Annie in Spain
I drove up to Towson, MD (about an hour and a half away) just to meet up for a quick lunch together.  "Why would I drive so far?," you may ask.

Well, for one thing, Annie lives almost an hour north of Towson, so it was practically half way, but the other reason is that my dear friend is taking an exciting leap into adulthood and moving to a new locale for a job!  And when I say "new locale," I don't mean she's moving a few hours away.

My brave little toaster is moving from the greater Baltimore area, all the way down to bright, sunny Florida.

I have to admire her for this.  I'm job hunting as well, and I'm determined to move into DC.  I won't even look at a job in Rockville, MD (40 minutes away), because it would be annoying to commute from DC, haha.

It's tempting for me to concentrate on thinking about how much I'm going to miss Annie, and how excited I was to be able to hang out with her in B-more and DC, but really, it's not about me at all.  She's the one making this big leap, she's the one that's heading out into the unknown, and she's the one that needs me to be excited about it for her!  Which I am!  I have no doubts that she's going to set up a great life for herself down there, no matter how long she plans to be there.

I'm very lucky to have a circle of friends who take advantage of life and aren't afraid to step out of their comfort zones.  I have a lot of friends who make decisions like moving to different cities, states or countries for work and school.  While it doesn't make big changes less unnerving, seeing the impact that it has on other people, and how they've matured and grown from it all certainly makes the decision a little easier.

Our experiences make up a large part of who we are, so shouldn't we endeavor to experience as much as we can?  We learn a little more about life and ourselves each time we put ourselves in a new situation.  I look forward to seeing what Annie learns and how she grows during her next step.  All experience is valuable.

I wish you good luck, Annie, as well as everyone that's taking a similar leap.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Happy (mid) July!

Did you have a happy 4th?

I had the privilege of seeing lots of friends on July 3rd.  I went to a birthday cookout where we experienced weather like this

Kind of scary.  I'll be honest.
 Then I met up with some other friends afterward to just hang out for a bit.

My best friend, Sarah, is back in the States for a bit this summer, so today she came over and we cooked lunch!  A few years ago when were both living at home right after we graduated from college, we developed a tradition of cooking dinner together every Sunday night and then watching tv together.  We kept the tradition up a little bit when we both lived in France together, although it was much more sporadic, to say the least.

But today was the first time we've been able to cook together in years!  We had a blast : )

These are her pictures, so you should go to her blog after you look through here and check it out!

I would like to say I'm trying to remember something I've forgotten, but really I'm just standing here awkwardly.

Bloom!  How I've missed you!

Caramelizing les oignons.

Perrier with lemon while we wait, recipe courtesy of Paula

Finishing touches.


Bon Appétit!
  It turned out beautifully!

We followed a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, the author of which always posts the most delicious looking photographs of the food she cooks.  You really should check it out.

Click here to find the recipe we followed.

I feel pretty adjustd back to the US.  Living at home is fine for the time being, but I'm definitely exploring all employment options.  Hopefully I'll find something here soon!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Los Estados Unidos.

Welp, I'm home.

I didn't give up without a fight though!  On my way from Granada to DC, I made stops in Sevilla, Paris, Hamburg, back to Paris, and then even Reykjavik (though that one was a layover and was only an hour).

All and all I have to say I'm not glad to be home.  That being said, I don't have a choice at this moment in time, so I'm not going to sit around feeling sorry for myself.

Since I've been back, I've met up with two new friends I've imported from Spain, a good friend from high school, and a friend I've known since middle school!

I'm working on reestablishing myself in the DC/Southern MD world, slowly but surely.

DC really is a fantastic city: very young and motivated.  It's really nice to be in this kind of environment after having been in Spain for a while.  Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of motivated people in Spain, but the general "no pasa nada" mindset really started to get to me.  So it's a nice change.

Southern Maryland Speciality

Mixing worlds.

Making the best of things.

A little bit of Spain in So MD.
I'm not sure what direction this blog is going to take now that I've stopped traveling for a while.  We'll see I guess!  Nothing like the unknown to make things interesting, eh??

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Hardships in Life, Part 2: The Rain in Spain.

“Andalucía has the best weather in all of Spain!”

Lies lies lies!  I was not expecting the weather in the south of Spain to be as cold, cloudy and rainy as it has been/is.  A lot of people said that last year was exceptionally cold and rainy, but that it’s normally not like this at all.  My question: What weather IS normal these days?


From the above picture you may get the impression that us teaching assistants live in the pure, unadulterated sunshine of the famous Andalucía.  That’s simply because I’ve chosen not to show you pictures such as these:

This is not snow.  It's pollen.  Huge, throbbing pollen.

I took this picture just before the proceeding one.  The three of us go to the park whenever it’s sunny, which until recently, hasn’t been for a few weeks.  On this day in particular, I fought my way there, the whole time inhaling those little white things, or having them attack my eyes, we got to the park, had about an hour or so of intermittent sun, and then it started to rain.  Hard.  I didn’t take a picture of that, obviously, but…it happened.

That same weekend was a 4-day weekend for most of the teaching assistants, and I desperately wanted to get to the beach, either Nerja or Cádiz, but the stupid weather forecast said:

4-day weekend fail.

Of course it would decide to rain all over the long weekend.

Not only did it, in fact, rain all weekend, but during most of the Semana Santa, when my parents were here, it rained buckets and buckets.  Córdoba and Ronda held true to their tradition of raining on me every time I visit them, and even Granada came through with some dreary weather during the time they were here visiting.

Honestly I shouldn’t complain too much.  I think the biggest factor is that, when it rains in the States, I dash from the house to the car, drive somewhere, then dash from the car to a store or whatever.  Here, I have to dash from overhang to overhang during my 30-minute walk downtown.  It’s decidedly less fun.

There was a particularly cold and rainy stretch in November and December where all the teaching assistants were reaching their breaking point.  I think this status update from several of my friends illustrates the point quite well.

Dire straits.

I think that’s enough complaining for now.  I only have a week and a half left of teaching!  Unbelievable!  I’m not ready!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Hardships in Life, Part 1: Mi Compi.

For those of you out there who think that my Spanish life over here is easy, I would like to dedicate the next few posts to explain some of the hardships me and my other English Assistant friends have had to face over the past few months.  It’s not all fun and games, believe you me.

1: The Roommate sitch.

I love my roommate.  Julio comes from a pueblo in the neighboring province of Almería, he has a wonderfully cheerful and helpful disposition, and he is Spanish to the nth degree.

I don’t know if this is something specific to the region where he grew up, or if I just have some kind of mental block, but Julio is still one of the most difficult people in Spain for me to understand.  There’s logically no reason for this.  We’re about the same age, he doesn’t speak especially fast, we talk about everyday, common things.  I don’t get it.  This doesn’t stop us from talking a lot, but he usually has to say things to me twice.  He’s never gotten upset, short, irritated or anything with me, for which I’m eternally grateful.  He’s also a great source for information on anything to do with Spain, computer stuff, and lots of random stuff about Granada itself.  If you ask him a question, he’ll sit there and explain things to you until your ears bleed.

He also does uniquely Spanish things that are amusing (and sometimes super annoying).  For example, there is always, always, ALWAYS, a frying pan on the stove filled with olive oil.  It’s no secret that the Spanish love their fried foods, I just don’t know what they do with the oil.  As far as I can tell, he doesn’t keep reusing it.  That’s like, unsanitary or something, right?

[Quick sidebar regarding Spanish cuisine: Julio’s father and grandfather have been staying with us intermittently for the past week and a half because his grandmother is having an operation at the hospital.  It’s funny to meet his father and family because they’re all exactly the same.  Not only do they look alike and say the same things, but they are also perfectly capable and content to carry on a one-sided conversation with the American who sits there nodding and smiling like a fool while they recount the history of rice in Spain in response to the question, “Have you eaten dinner yet?”  I came home the other day to Julio, his girlfriend (Cristina), brother, grandfather and father spread out in the kitchen and living room, simultaneously watching the Real Madrid vs. Barcelona game and cooking dinner.  I checked out what was on the menu, and I saw (I kid you not), four or five potatoes that had been cooked, cut in half, and salted and seasoned, and on the stove top were two enormous (and I mean outrageously so) slabs of meat that were being cooked up in the frying pans.  Not a real vegetable in sight.  They had also somehow managed to use every fork, knife, cup and plate in the apartment for this bounteous feast.  After they finished I sat down to watch the game with my dinner consisting of a salad and a turkey sandwich.]

Another typically Spanish thing to do is hoard bread like it’s going out of style.  I don’t understand this either.  Sometimes when Julio comes back from the grocery store, he’ll literally have four baguettes in his grocery bag.  I originally just assumed this meant Cristina was coming over for lunch and they were going to use the bread then, but then it sits on the counter for five days.  And then he buys more!  And it sits.  And sits.  And sits.  And then one day it all disappears without a trace.  ???

Our apartment has also been selected as the ideal home in which to house Cristina’s hamsters.  Originally there was just one, a boy.  He appeared one day, cage and all, on our living room table, and Julio said, “come meet our new roommate.”  I’m not necessarily anti-pet, so I went over to greet the little guy.  I asked what his name was and Julio looked me and laughed, saying, “What do you mean?  It’s a little rat!”  Slightly shocked, I responded, “yeah, but it’s a living creature!  It has to have a name.  How about Napoleon?”  And it stuck.  Then Isabel came onto the scene shortly thereafter.  I told Julio that they were going to have babies, but apparently that was the goal the whole time.  Sure enough, a few weeks later, nature takes its course and Isabel is popping out NINE pink, squeaky hamster spawn.  NINE.  It seems so impossible that 9 of these little guys fit inside Isabel at one point.  I guess it’s the miracle of nature…or something.

Hamster spawn!

Like I said though, I really have nothing negative to say about living with Julio.  He’s been so laid back and friendly towards the dozens of friends that have stayed with me over the course of the year, and even pulled out the 12 English words he knows when my parents were here.  I loved hearing the conversations they had.  They would go something like this:

Julio: “Where……..uhh…wherrrree….go?”
Mom: “Oh!  We went to Nerja today!”
Julio:  “Ah!  Nerja!  How…..umm….howwwww….[hand motions for driving a car]…autobús o coche?”
Dad: “Ah, we took the bus.  It was just easier for us to take a bus rather than deal with all the hassle of renting a car.”
Julio: ???
Me: “Sí, autobús.”
Julio: “Ah, vale.”

There was actually much more communication than I was expecting there to be.

I've been very lucky with my living situation this year in many regards.  The only drawback to my apartment would probably be the 25 minutes it takes to walk into the center of town, but a little exercise never hurt anyone, right?  It's just a bit obnoxious when in it rains...

End part 1.  Tune in next week for "The Hardships in Life, Part 2:The Rain in Spain."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Life as we knew it.

Well, my parents are gone, I'm half way through my first week back at school, and the sun has come back out in Andalucía (but only until Friday!!).

I had a great time with my parents while they were here, but we were moving moving moving the whole time!  It was exhausting!  In the 12 days they were here, we went to Madrid, Sevilla, Guadix, Granada, Ronda, Gibraltar, Córdoba and they took a day trip to Nerja while I was at school on Monday.  Phew.  We saw the famous Semana Santa Easter processions in Sevilla, Granada and even in little Guadix.  All of them were surprisingly different, but I enjoyed everything more because of that.

I think I should mention the Nazarenos de Semana Santa (also often referred to as Penitentes) for a second.  In case you're not sure what I'm talking about, refer to this picture:

The Nazarenos de Sevilla.

Seeing these processions as an American, you can't help but feel....unsettled about the costumes.  When I took this picture was the first time that I had seen them myself, so I was quick to realize that I'm in Spain and these people are marching to represent a church.  Plus the longer you watch the procession, you see them carrying golden/bejeweled crosses, statues of Jesus and Mary, and a lot of them are even handing out candy to kids watching them walk by, lol.  So the feel of the whole event is significantly different than if you were to turn the corner in NYC and see the above picture.  This costume has been used for hundreds of years here in Spain, and should be more well known than its American counterparts.  I’m doing my part to spread the word.

Here are some more pictures I took of the processions.  These are in my old neighborhood of Triana, just across the river from Sevilla.  They actually turned off the lights of the famous Puente de Triana (Puente Isabel II) so that the procession would be more evocative.  I think it worked.

I’ll get some more of my parents’ pictures up in a little while.  I forgot to download them before they left, but I’ll get them somehow.

The procession crossing the Puente de Triana (you can only really see the candles they're holding).

In the crowd.

Cathedral in the background.

Possibly one of the best pictures I've ever taken.

Jesus, the Meditation.

 That's all for now!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Half time.

The parentals and I have been to Madrid, Sevilla, Guadix and now we're planted in Granada.  It's been quite a whirlwind.

Me and mom in Madrid.

Brittany and me: Tour guides in Madrid.

So far Sevilla's been the favorite.  I have to agree.  Madrid was great and exciting, but it didn't seem so Spanish.  When you're in Sevilla...you really have no doubts about which country you're in.

Shannon, Dad, Mom, Jojo, Elise, Dana, me, Reed and Sarah at Los Coloniales.  Super delish.
Out at Plaza del Salvador with the parentals.
Padres at the Alcázar.

We’re having a blast though.  Today is going to be the day to catch up on sleep, not spend hours upon hours touring things, maybe do a little shopping.

It’s been really interesting visiting with my parents this time.  I’ve known my parents my whole life and I’ve always gotten along really well with them.  I think that partially has to do with having been an only child.  When it’s just you and your parents in the house, you don’t really have a choice a lot of the time, haha.

When you’re not living with someone, or you stop seeing them all the time, you forget little things about their mannerisms, or their little sayings, or what have you.

So, not only have I been noticing little things my parents do, but I’ve been noticing that I do the exact same things.  All the time.  Here in Spain.  Thousands of miles away.  Without my parents being around.  Lol.

It’s been encouraging too, though.  I’ve never thought I look very much like either my dad or my mom, so having this corroboration that I’m not, in fact, adopted, has been great, haha.

Which parent (if any) do you think I resemble most? 

At the Alhambra.
(I promise I'm not really this tan.  I think that my parents' camera's white balance was a little off.  I look orange.)

Here are some more pics from our time so far in Granada:

So that's where I get that look from....
Visiting the Alhambra.
I have tons of pictures of monuments and stuff...but I think photos with people are more important.  If (God forbid) all my pictures got deleted, I could always find great pictures of the Alhambra, Alcázar or Palacio Real on Google.  But not the ones of me and my family.

Hope everyone is enjoying their Easter weeks!

Un beso desde España

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Deep Breath.

Here we go again.

I am so far behind in all of my journal writing, blog posting, friend skyping, etc etc.

It's not my fault!  The weather here in Andalucía has been amazing.  Every day has been up into the 70's.  It's been almost nonstop sun all day, every day.  The birds are singing (obnoxious), the people are laughing (also obnoxious), and I've been trying to get out of doors and soak up every bit of it that I can before the Spanish government says I have to leave.  What a sad day that will be.

I can't really complain, though.  My past five weekends have consisted of, in reverse order:

  • Weekend trip to the beach.
  • Day trip to the beach and a full night of clubbing at Granada's finest establishments.
  • Full day hike and, subsequently, a lazy day at the beach.
  • Paris and Amsterdam.
  • Weekend in the Canary Islands.

Sheesh.  I didn't even realize this myself until I tried to think of why I haven't been updating like I should.  The Canaries, Amsterdam and Paris feel like months and months ago.  No wonder I have less than 80€ to last me until my next paycheck, hahaha

...but seriously.  Yikes.

I'm at a crossroads of sorts right now, both emotionally and regarding my schedule here.

I've officially decided that it's going to be really rough going back to the States.  For those of you who I haven't told yet, I wasn't accepted to Georgetown in the fall.  I knew it was kind of a long shot, and I only applied to one school.  That part was intentional though.  There just weren't any other schools that really appealed to me.  My plan upon returning is to try and find some job that will boost my candidacy as a grad student, work for a while, and then reapply.  Linguistics is really the only field of study that I feel strongly interested in.  It sucks to have so much uncertainty as I return home.  I've decided I shouldn't come back to Europe though.  It would be too easy.  I've been doing "too easy" for too long.

In terms of my schedule, today is my last day of work before the Easter vacation (La Semana Santa).  The reality is that we only have a week off school, but I have the nagging suspicion that the time is going to whiz by far too quickly afterwards.  When thought of in terms of available weekends, there are only three left where I don't have something planned, or am working on planning something.  It's absurd.

But there's a lot of good happening as well.  I'm taking the bus up to Madrid tonight with Brittany to get our parents who are visiting for the week.  It's funny how it worked out: Our parents are flying out of different cities, but arriving at the same time, on the same day, and (this part is on purpose) staying in the same hotel in Madrid.  It's going to be quite the whirlwind tour of Spain for me and my family.  We're doing two days in Madrid, two days in Sevilla, then coming to Granada to set up our home base.  From Granada we'll be taking day trips to Guadix, Gibraltar, Nerja, Córdoba and possibly Tarifa (tbd).

Another good is that I don't have to work for a week!  If I have to correct someone from saying, "I lived in London during 2 months," I might actually lose my mind.

Another good is that I got my camera back today!  I mentioned this a few posts ago, but I forgot to wrap up the rest of the story.

In quick summary, when I got to Sevilla from Paris, I went to the Corte Inglés where I bought the camera and they were able to find the receipt from the transaction and printed me a copy.  I took it to Granada with me and they contacted Canon, set up a courrier pick up, and two days later my camera was on its way to Madrid to get checked out.  I got it back today and it works just like it's brand new!  It was perfect timing.  If I didn't get it back today, I wouldn't have it for at least another week and a half.  Thank God.

So that explains why there aren't any pictures from my most recent doings and happenings on this post.  Well, any of MY pictures.  I've pilfered some from a friend or two.

Me and Dana on my host mom's roof, checking out the cathedral in Sevilla.
At the top of the Sierra de Huétor.  Those are the Sierra Nevadas off in the distance.
Delicious fajita dinner on the roof at sunset.
On Avenida Castilla in La Antilla, Huelva.  From left to right: Me, Joey, Dana and Amy.

So there's a taste!  I promise I'll have more pictures now that I have a functioning camera.

Have a Happy Easter : )   I'll try to post at least once before the holiday is over....we'll see...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What doesn't kill you, final installment.

Needless to say this is not what I was expecting.  I protested slightly, to the effect of, “but I didn’t have a choice, I did all I could, I have two kids to feed.”  You know, the usual stuff.  But alas it seemed destined to be.

I reluctantly gave him my credit card and he left to go do his thing.

It should be mentioned at this point that my train car consisted of myself, a handful of adults, and then a million French high schoolers who were just coming back from a trip to Amsterdam.  Most of them passed out as soon as the train started moving, but a lot of them happily perked up when all of this drama started going down.

So anyway, the guy left, I miserably resumed reading my book, and then he eventually came back with a 133€ ticket (fine) and, after I signed everything, told me that he felt sorry (indifferent) that this had happened. 

Being as I couldn’t actually do anything about it at the time, I just sat there pissed off and tried to decide what my next move would be.  I figured I could go to the “Customer Service” office in the train station and talk to someone.  So once we finally arrive in Paris, I walk into the station and look around but there are only ticket windows.  Something tells me that’s not going to be helpful.  Plus there’s a big line.  No thanks.

I go to the glass “SNCF Information” cube in the center of the station.  I explain to the guy (twice) what happened, and after he finally starts listening to what I’m saying, he raises his eyebrows and says, “Yikes, that sounds awful.”

No shit, Sherlock.

He thinks for a bit and then pulls out this complaint form and gives it to me.  I look at the and it has all these fields to fill out, plus a big blank section where I have to write out my life’s story in French to explain to the SNCF why I deserve to get any money from them.  Based on the fact that I don’t currently live in France, plus based on the fact that I have lived in France before and am quite familiar with how much effort goes into actually getting what would be called “service” in the States…I figured I had a better chance of getting mauled by a bear on the streets of Paris than getting any kind of refund from the SNCF.

I asked if there was anything else he could do, to which he replied no.  Then the thought occurred to me to ask if there was an SNCF boutique nearby.  It was already pushing 6 o’clock though, so I wasn’t sure if one was going to be open, but I could put it on the To-Do List for the next day.

As luck would have it, there was a boutique (I keep saying “boutique” because that’s what it is in French…I guess in English we’d just say “store”?) right next to where Paula lives (the friend I stayed with in Paris), so I was able to walk to the store on my way to Paula’s with no problem.

I get there and sit down to talk to the lady behind the desk and explain what happened (twice).  She looks at me, then turns to her colleague and says, “We can just refund him his ticket, right?”  Her colleague replies, “Yeah, just give so-and-so a call.”  So they make a phone call and happily give me €€!

So after filling out just a bit of paperwork, the lady writes down what happened for me, then makes copies of a bunch of stuff, and says she’ll send it all out in the morning!

I left the store with Paris in front of me, my problems behind me, and the rain above (and on) me.  All in all, I’d count it an expensive win.

The next evening and day were filled with many meanderings and mini-adventures through the beautiful, twisty streets of Paris.  I was asked if all this effort was worth visiting Paris for less than 48 hours.  I replied, “yes” without hesitation.  I’ll always go back to Paris whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Happy to have finally arrived.
Getting our Prescriptions filled.
Amorino candies.
Sushi lunch.
Café hour(s).
View from the café.

Many a good metro ride with Paula.
Morning caffeine boost.
End of the journey.  Back in Sevilla.

And that's it for now!  Thanks for sticking through all these posts until the end.  I hope the story was worth it, lol.