Tag Archives: Paris

Sj Daisy and Pedrata que

My cuz, Sj Daisy, is here too from time to time . . .

You can check out her and Pedrata at her blog or on YouTube. Be sure and click on the CC button for closed captioning.

Saturday in Paris ala Pedrata

Continue reading

Pedrata Flight Route

How a Rat Finds Its Way to Paris

Sj et Pedrata out . . . for now. ;-)

The wall outside a German pre-school.

I’m here to improve my German.

Pure and simple.

That’s my main goal during this phase of solo travel.

A few of you had asked. Hence the concise answer.
When it first came to me that I wanted to come spend some time in Germany to improve my language skills, I thought that I would pursue an Arbeitserlaubnis, or work permit. I’d been told that it’s difficult for a foreigner to find a job here, so earning a certificate for teaching English as a second language seemed like a good idea, a good way to get my foot in the door. It also fit a side goal of mine—to improve my English language skills. But there remained this nagging thought that if I were to do that, I’d be speaking English all the time (while teaching, obviously) and that I wouldn’t get to do what I really wanted to do, which is improve my German.
Okay Susan*, I thought, maybe you’ll just have to do that for the short term until you find something else. Okay, I replied, I can do that.
But after I returned home to Kaua‘i (after 5-months in Asia), I realized that I also want to spend some time on island just being and not working a zillion hours a day (on projects for other peoplelike Tony and I did for many, many years). What would it be like to have time to enjoy the island? (Yes, I imagine many of you have the very same question in the back of your heads.) So I decided that I’d stay in Europe for the 90-days allowed (without requesting a special visa).
“But what about work, sj? What about earning a living? Won’t you eventually have to go back to work?” you ask.
Well, I have faith that it will reveal itself in time. I’m on what I’m calling a sabbatical.
According to my computer’s dictionary, a sabbatical** is “a period of paid leave granted to a college teacher for study or travel, traditionally every seventh year : she’s away on sabbatical.” I think it fits. At one point in my life I was actually on track to be a college professor. As far as the “paid” part goes, well, let’s just say that a surprise inheritance arrived at exactly the right time to fund this dream of mine. Yes, I am a very lucky girl; I’m also very, very appreciative.
“Okay, so you’re spending the 90-days allowed in Europe. You’re main focus now is to improve your German. How are you going about that? Are you taking classes?”
Yes and no. I’m not attending formal classes at a school, but I am doing lessons on a cool web site I found called babbel.com. My goal is to spend at least three hours a day (like I did in Lyon 3-years ago) doing some type of “focused” study. I’ve been fairly loose with this and am allowing it to reveal itself. For those of you know me well, you know that I’m the type of person who generally starts a project, sets her nose to the grindstone and doesn’t raise her head until the task is done. I’m doing that in an albeit freer way. For example, an hour of conversation with a German native can count as an hour, and no, I’m not literally timing it. I’m just noticing that it’s somehow getting done each day. Watching movies in German also “counts.” Yes, I’m enjoying myself!!! And why wouldn’t I? Every single day I awake with a smile on my face. I’m so happy to be here; I’m so happy to be alive and on this journey of life!
“Okay, so you’re having fun. Where all are you going?”
That too has slowly been revealing itself. I originally thought that I’d be staying in one place for most of the time. I initially booked a room for a month in Berlin. I envisioned that I would become part of a community; perhaps do some volunteer work with a theatre company. But I’ve slowly been realizing that part of this journey’s theme is variety. While in Asia this past summer, it dawned on me that I was learning to be completely “at home” wherever I was. We all know the expression, “home is where the heart is.” Well, it’s true, and as I live more and more firmly rooted in my heart space, I find that I’m always at home.***
As far as the specific places I’ll visit (or have visited), here’s an outline for the moment:
–       Düsseldorf – Tony and I exchanged our home with two different German families. After Tony returned to Hawaii, I was able to stay a few nights longer in both beautiful apartments. : ) Yes, nice!
–       Hamburg – So many people had told me that this is a beautiful city, and as you saw from my photos (http://tvjuice.com/hamburg2/), it is. I really enjoyed my visit and would go back in a heartbeat. A very nice lady I met when I went swimming even invited me to stay at her place should I return! Yes, the magic keeps happening.
–       Berlin – When Tony and I were here in December, we stayed up late one night playing charades in a bar. We laughed so hard that our stomachs hurt. That night I met a wonderful group of smart and funny people; they’ve welcomed me into their lives. I’m currently staying at one of the gal’s apartment! She’s so much fun, smart (yes, I know that I used those very same adjectives already, get the point?), industrious, and she has sooo many books! And even a bike that she’s letting me use. Yes, I am one very, very lucky girl. : ) I’ll be here for 2-weeks for sure, maybe a little longer. Some more new friends may come to Berlin from Prague for a weekend visit; I’ll keep you posted.
–       Geneva – During World War II, Tony’s grandparents took in a young man from what was then Czechoslovakia; they considered him family and helped ensure that he got an education. He’s been a professor at NYU in the Physics Department for years and is now on a year’s sabbatial at CERN. He’s invited me to visit him. Yes, I look forward to seeing him again (he came to our wedding in Tennessee years ago and gave us an awesome flaming orange le creuset pot that we still use almost every day!).
–       Karlruhe – One of our home exchange partners lives and works in this town. She’s invited me to visit her and has said that I can join her as she drives to various places for her work. How cool is that !?!
–       Strasbourg – I don’t know anyone there but have just heard from so many people that it’s a wonderful city. I’d like to experience it firsthand. I imagine that I’ll find a wonderful place to stay through air b n b or another type of connection.
–       Paris – I depart for the continental United States from Paris; I plan on spending 3-nights or so there.
Years ago when I studied at the Uni Bonn****, I encountered very few people who spoke English. Granted, occasionally I met a fellow student who wanted to practice their English but that was exactly what they did, practice. Now, so many people speak English. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve recently realized that the skill of bouncing back and forth between languages is almost as important as being able to speak different languages. Once while Tony and I were at the Weihnachtsmarkt in Düsseldorf, we met a French family. I had so much fun speaking to them in French; we even ended up having dinner with them. So, as you can see, the above itinerary allows me ample opportunity to practice all of this: German, French, and the back-and-forth-language-bounce®, henceforth called baflb.
Returning to the topic of what I will do once I return to Kauai, I have BIG dreams. I want to do a variety of things. I want to continue to learn languages. I want to continue to improve the languages I do know (and/or am learning). I’d like to have a few Skype customers who I assist with their English learning. I’d like to write a one-woman play and perform it. I’d like to do more acting. I’d like to get paid for acting. : ) I’d like to do some translating from German to English (and get paid for it : ). I’d like to go sailing. I’d like to hangout with Tony and Rocket Girl. I’d like to biking, hiking, stand up paddleboarding, etc. I’d like to do an occasional sound job on interesting projects. Yes, I’d like to do lots of things.
But for the moment, my focus is on improving my German.
And with that, I bid you all auf wienersehen,*****
s j
* There’s been this gradual progression of my name shift. I’ve been called Susan since I was born. I always liked my name. Remember how at different times in life you’ve probably heard someone say, “I hate my name!”? I was never that person; I always liked the name Susan. Then, for various reasons, I wanted to start using my middle name too. I have a very good friend whose name is Mary Hunter. No, Hunter isn’t her last name, it’s her “middle” name. Friends call her “Mary Hunter” in one breath. Okay, I thought, people can say “Susan Jane” in one breath too. However, when signing emails, I found that I preferred to simply write “sj.” As I’ve gradually made new friends over the past year, they’ve come to know me solely as “sj.” I like the sound of it. What should you call me? Whatever feels the most comfortable to you. And as the saying goes, call me anything, but just don’t call me late for dinner! : )
** (noun) |səˈbatikəl|
*** When I returned “home” this past Fall, I had a most unusual experience (for me). As good as it felt to be on Kaua‘i, I also realized that I’d been “home” for a long while. When I think back on different places where I stayed while in Asia, I remember how comfortable I felt there, in my room, the space that had become my “home.”  Whether it was for several weeks or just a couple of nights, something had changed within me; I had truly found peace wherever I was.
**** Rheinische Friedrich Wilhems Universität
Uni Bonn
***** a nod to my husband : )

I have arrived !

date:  Sat, Jan 9, 2009

subject:  Je suis arrivée!!!!
Bon soir mon bon amis, mes bon amis?  What do I know? I just a beginner who’s only studied at home with a book and cassettes!  Yes, cassettes, not even CD’s,
So, let’s start over. Hello everyone.  I’m here in gay paree.  And wow, am I having fun.  Where to begin?  Well, first of all, I’m fortunate enough to have found an internet cafe with an American keyboard.  For those of you who haven’t ever used a European keyboard, just imagine typing on a board that just for fun throws out some of the oddest configurations.  Welcome in France!
Okay, again, where to begin?  The flights (and I do mean FLIGHTS) went smoothly.  Thank goodness and I went to sleep almost immediately upon sitting down in JFK.  It was 10 p.m. EST, 4 a.m. ala France.  I woke up 5.5 hours later for a semi-warm croissant and some pleasantly warm water (yes, I brought a tea bag, can’t remember the kind, just that it was exactly what I wanted).  I had just enough time on that final flight to enjoy a bit of the rat movie, oh shoots, the name escapes me. Oh yes, ratatouille.  It’s even funnier in French, whatever that means.  Seemed like the appropriate way to say bienvenue!
It was easy to find the train station.  Along the way I passed many good eateries.  Yes Mom, I’ll get there plenty early on the day I’m to meet you and dine at whichever one piques my fancy. A very nice young lady asked if I needed help with the ticket, I figured it out on my own but appreciated her help anyway.  Always nice to have a sweet young face smile at you encouragingly (don’t ask how I looked after 3 flights, each over 5.5 hours long!).
Thanks to my dear husband, I had my route laid out already for arrival at the hotel.  B train to Gard de Nord, # 4 line to the one with poison in the name and then only 2 stops on # 12. Easy!  Only thing was, the friendly Lamark stop had a spiral staircase to the top of the eiffel tower, okay, maybe not that high, but pretty darn high.  Thank goodness my triceps and biceps are still working for me. Once I was out in the fresh air of paree (cough) I had to look about to find the hotel.  After a short pass down the flat roadway I realized, yes, I’ve got to tote my suitcase up another flight of steps.  But they weren’t that far and guess what?  The hotel which my darling husband had booked for me was right at the top of those stairs, Hotel Roma Sacre Coeur, or something like that.

It’s a 2 star that’s really more like a 3 star.  I suppose the only difference with a 3 star is that breakfast is extra.  But the room is really nice. Okay, really nice to someone like me who’s a born optimist. But I think it’d even be nice to someone like say . . . I won’t say her name, but many of you know who I mean.  I have a private bath WITH a nice bathtub.  And two windows which look over THOSE stairs I trapsed up!  Pretty cool.  And 2 neat art deco yellow chairs.

Okay, so to the first day.  After finding the hotel and being told I couldn’t check in for all of 40 minutes (half French, half English . . . I seem to have a way of shaming them into still speaking French to me even though my skills are quite pitiful . . .) I set-off to find the Sacre Coeur (after leaving my suitcase behind OF COURSE!). I found it easily enough after having a nice chat (en Francais!) with a lovely lady with an even more lovely dog.  Yes, beautiful dogs are everywhere in the world.

I soaked in the gorgeous church (though somewhere I read that it doesn’t exactly fit a real prototype of a “perfect” church, but who cares!  I think it’s magnifique!) 

Then back to the hotel to find my room (#205, a very audacious number don’t you think?) check out the toilet, slightly unpack (very slightly, I’m only here for 2 nights after all) and then head of to Gare de Nord (again!) to buy my ticket to Lyon.  It was a very pleasant walk via the Sacre Coeur (of course! plus it was on the way).  I made it in good time and managed to buy my ticket 10 minutes before they were closing for the day.  I managed to hack my way through completely in French until the lady rattled off in Olympic record spead, 1:54 or 2:54 p.m.????  Okay, I broke down and asked her to please write it down.  No writing! she replied, and just as quickly she switched to English (this lady has surely medaled in SOME Olympic sport of some kind!). Okay, 1:54 p.m. s’il vous plait.  Free with my one chore of the day done, I meandered down the main boulevards switching to a smaller one when it got really interesting (lots of shops and things . . ) until I found myself at Les Halles.  It was really cool looking since the afternoon light had hit that wonderful martini hour.  Wow, what’s that church over there?!  It was lit up so beautifully. 

I boldly asked a man which church it was, he replied in French, well Notre Dame, of course! Notre Dame?  I took lots of pictures . . . . and wandered on over wondering why I hadn’t crossed a bridge yet to the Cite.

I happened upon a cool sculpture of a HUGE dome like rock of a face with an appropriately large hand on the side. Snap, snap.  Too good to pass up.  But is this Notre Dame?  doesn’t look like the one I remember?

I hele’d on down the road, found myself by the Louvre Place whatchamacallit.  Decided to cross Pont Neuf and voila, there was Notre Dame! 

Was the man conning me or a tourist too?? Doesn’t matter. I sure enjoyed that first church and the magical light around it.  I proceeded to then find the street and address where Mom and I are going to stay in February (the original plan of my husband joining me after 4 weeks was nixed; I added 2 more weeks to my stay in Lyon and will be in France for the 8 weeks booked so long ago . . . ). My oh my, how did I find such a cool place???

By now it was 6 p.m. and I hadn’t eaten since the warm airplane croissant around 9:30 a.m.  I went for the cheapie 10 Euro dinner with french onion soup, pasta and an apple torte completed with a 13 euro half bottle of wine.  Sounded perfect to me!  The waiter was very friendly.  So friendly that he offered to show me around later in the evening.  I very politely but non-ambiguously said, “Merci, mais NON!”  He caught my drift but continued to be a decent waiter. Then I found the metro and voila, I was home to chez Roma Sacre Coeur whatchamallit room 205.
The next morning I woke raring to go at 4 a.m.  Yep, 4 a.m.  I decided to linger in bed a bit and watched some telly.  Found a bit of this and that (including Dallas ala 1980s, they still watch that???) and even a German promo show on how to buy something wonderful to make you look beautiful.  I figured that was cheating, so I switched back to some symphony.  Then that seemed like the perfect time to doze yet again.  So, from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. I slept beautifully until the phone rang!  Yes, the phone rang! Who could that be?  Had to be Tony.  Who else has my number, unless they wanted to wake me up for the 8 euro breakfast (the way they’re all hurting these days for business, I wouldn’t put it pass them).  But there was NOTHING on the line. Darn.
Again, the phone rang.  Again, nothing.  Okay, must be time to get up and take a soak.  Please realize that I left home LONG ago and hadn’t bathed.  It WAS time.  I took a soak in tepid water thinking that tomorrow I must bathe much earlier before all the hot water is used up.  Slowly I got ready, walked to the cafe next door and had a loverly breakfast of bread, butter, jelly AND a croissant and TWO wonderful decaf coffees avec creme.
Then, the highlight of the day.  I took the metro to Hôtel de Ville to iceskate!  Remember Nancy telling us about this last June?  Well, they still do it.  I paid my 5 euros for the use of some very well-made patin and glissed for over 2 hours!  Yep, for over 2 hours.  It was just too darn much fun to stop, especially after the sun came out and lit up the entire rink.

I took lots of photos and a nice lady from the Philippines (yes! the Philippines) took my picture.  Her cute little boy grabbed my hand, so I grabbed it back.  He’s in the photo. 

Hey, who’s not to want a cute little boy in your photo or in your life if only for a few minutes?  He skated by me many times and waved.  He was my pal for the next few hours . . . And then, to the marche to buy a towel for Lyon.  Seems that the French have something about using other people’s towels.  Something about sanitation.  And we lend our towels to people all the time???? Anyway, seems ALL of Paris was at THE grand shopping center by Hotel de Ville shopping.  SOLDES signs were everywhere.  I got my pretty blue towel and washcloth, a calendar for 2009 and even a little clinique for removing my makeup (now that was the ONLY conversation completely in French, either the lady didn’t know any French or was being polite, but I sure had fun getting her to understand what I wanted.  And yes, that WAS fun!).  Then it was time to head home, back on the metro to my cool pad for a bit of a repose.  Fortunately for me (and Tony) this is when Tony chose to try and call again. Yep, it was him the first time.  But this time I was dressed and ran downstairs to the reception desk.  Earlier I had told him, “Ma telephone ne marche pas.” I don’t think he believed me, but he did indulge me and forward the call to the hallway phone.  45 minutes later my lover and I had caught up on all the pressing news (Rocket Girl loves sleeping on the lazy boy!).
And now, it’s late at night 11:15 p.m. and hopefully I’ve done my bit to pacify the jetlag gods so that I’ll sleep till a decent hour.
Oh, but wait, I must tell you about my WONDERFUL dinner! I splurged and had St. Jacques (scallops ala magnifique!) l’agneau (lamb) and rose wine and then the kicker.  I asked for something chocolat. What’s your favorite I asked (in French even). But this one, of course! It comes warm.  That’s what I want, I replied.  And oh my, was it ever delicious!
So now my friends, bon nuit and wish me well as I venture tomorrow to Lyon and my hostess who lives on the river and had a chat très adorable and plus calin (who loves to be petted, I believe!)
And lastly, thank the typewriter gods that I was actually given a keyboard like those in the USA, otherwise my mistakes would have been MANY< many more.
Oh, and get this, a poor lady was lost and asked me “Bitte” for help. I thought she was German and asked if she spoke German, “A little,” she replied.  I then gave her directions in German to the closest metro! What is the world coming to when an American tells a French woman (for I think she was French after all) how to get to a metro station in her native country in her worst enemy’s language!!
Bon nuit mes bonnes amis!  (p.s. I’ll correct the grammar after I have some REAL classes)
p.s. happy late birthday Melissa, how cool to see you enroute to the airport!