Monday, August 20, 2007

My First Day in France


Our flight was at 1 AM, and we almost missed it (duty free…). That’s a wonderful start, wouldn’t you agree? After I settled down in my Exit seats on the plane (which appeared to be actually the row in front of the Exit, so we couldn’t lower the seat backs), I thought a bit about the day to come.

In order for everything to start well the first day must go smoothly. There were several obstacles to overcome (yes, I know, too much application essays…): the overweight (or how to send 100 kilos on the plane when I am only allowed 50), the car (or how to pay for something in advance and still get it), the ride (or how to use a GPS and to avoid making the 60 km trip in 3 hours), and the apartment (or how to see pictures of a dreamy apartment and end up in a hell hole).

Well, the overweight (we actually managed to send 20 kilos above the limited weight) was all done with, after the nice receptionist in the airport agreed gracefully to allow us on the plane with a trolley and a huge backpack.
As for the car, I was just charged 4000 Euros for the leasing (which was done by a company in Lebanon from all places by email), without getting a receipt, so obviously I couldn’t help myself from thinking that I will get to Charles De Gaul Airport, and no-one will know who I am and what the hack I want. How disappointing, the guys from TT Cars were great, supplied the car on schedule, and even explained to me in perfect English how to get to Fontainblue. Talk about two birds on one strike. The car – a Citroen C3 - is a real piece of crap, but that’s another story.

We arrived to Champagne Sur Seine on 9:30, amazingly enough (I was almost certain that everything will go wrong, so I had notified them the day before that I will arrive at noon if not later), and even managed to find the house (with no address).

The landlords actually knew who we were, and the apartment looked just like in the pictures. It is a gorgeous little place, with 2 sunny fully-equipped rooms. The huge balcony has amazing view of the Seine and the village that lies beyond it, Thomery. The church gongs every hour, and we are located in the middle of the forest. The only things to disturb our peace are the train that goes every hour, the August winter that suddenly came upon us (with no heating because this is supposed to be summer, and not rainy with 13 degrees), and the smell of the apartment that made us spend the entire afternoon cleaning it furiously (after we visited INSEAD and bought groceries for 40 Euros in a local supermarket – ATAC).

I must say that overall the day went perfect, and tomorrow we will make the errands to connect us to the rest of the world –the internet, phone, TV, bank and so on.

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