Friday, May 23, 2008

Birthday blues

This was my first birthday spent in Paris, and although I didn’t set my expectations high, it was a total bomb. We planned to be moving into our new place all weekend. We I had a schedule planned out and we figured we’d be finished with all the big stuff well before the camionette (rental truck) was due back at 6pm.

Our first task was to pick up the sofa-bed from some peeps in north Paris who were selling it on Craigslist. Man, it’s a big sofa. It was a great deal for the kind of sofa it was, but after seeing the guys take it from the 3rd-floor apartment to put in the truck, I was having second thoughts about how it was going to get into our 6th-floor apartment. We have an elevator, but if you’ve ever seen an elevator in Paris, it’s not usually big enough to fit more than three people (or two Americans…hehe). Well, my thoughts were right on because it was the biggest b!*ch trying to get the stupid thing up the winding steps of our building. Talk about a nightmare. After nearly an hour of heaving-and-hoeing, we finally made it to our apartment. Now, you’d think it’d be easy-peasey at this point, but no way. Our apartment is positioned in such a way that it’s nearly impossible to fit the couch in easily without first calculating the Pythagorean Theorem and angular degrees of how to property position the thing to fit through our living room door.

When we finally managed to get the couch into the right spot, it was off to the next task of sifting through the aisles of Ikea – the nearest one being outside of Paris. At this point, it’s a little after noon and we’re pretty hungry and tired, but we trek on, knowing that we have lots to get done at Ikea, including picking up our bed, our table and chairs, and nearly everything else for the kitchen. After spending about two hours scouring the place for everything on our list, we made it to the checkout counter with two full baskets. Thinking everything is all hunky-dory, we swipe our bank card, punch in the code and get declined. We try again. Declined. And again – but for half the amount. Declined. What. The. Hell? Gui left the checkbook at home, and neither one of us is sure if we have enough on our American accounts to pay for everything in dollars (knowing that charging it in dollars would be really stupid). Gui makes a call to the bank who tell him that there shouldn’t be a problem, so to try again. But, it’s Saturday, and only stupid people work for the bank on Saturday because what he fails to tell us is that we’ve spent more than our limit for the month and there’s no way they can do anything about upping our limit for this month until Monday. So, we think we’ll try to get the money from an ATM – it worked earlier in the day when we paid for the sofa, so it must work now. Only this time, the nearest (and only, apparently) ATM in this poor excuse for a city is about a kilometer away in city center. No, there is not one single ATM in this massive “American-style” shopping center or anywhere near it. So, off we go uphill, downhill, through the town. About 20 minutes later, we’re at the ATM and what do you know, we get declined! I’m totally done at this point, and we decide to forget it at this point.

Because the truck rental was just for one day, we had to return it that day, and we ended up getting our stuff the next day using two small cars. It somehow all fit, but we still aren’t sure how. After the chaos at Ikea, I was so burnt out from the day and wanted nothing but food and sleep. Gui, being the good husband that he is, stopped at the Italian food shop in town and cooked me a wonderful pasta al’arrabiata for my birthday dinner which I thoroughly enjoyed with the nice Lambrusco he’d also picked out. The day was horrendous, and it’s certainly the worst way I could have spent my first birthday in Paris (which fell on a Saturday this year!!). But, I’ll never forget it and I’m at least grateful for the happy ending.


We fit it in...not sure how. Thank Goodness for Ikea engineering.


One of two full cars - the day after.

Chef Guillaume.

Pouring the Lambrusco.


A fine birthday dinner.

2 comments:

Candy said...

aww...so sorry your bday was a bust. we'll make up for it in austin in June! :)

JV said...

Sarah: what type of pasta is that? Also, take a pic of your sofa.

Where are the baggettes (sp?)?