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Published: June 15th 2018
Friday June 15, 2018
Episode 1: Finding Friends in France.
Hello to all our friends and colleagues. We are in Paris, at the beginning of a five-week sojourn that starts with a conference and will end on the beaches of the Greek Islands.
Going to Europe from Aussie is all well and good, but the long haul flight makes me want to regurgitate the airline food. Both Ross and I really hate long haul flights. However, we both felt that it wasn’t too bad this time round. The first 14 -hour leg took us overnight from Australia to Abu Dhabi on Etihad. For once, we didn’t drink any alcohol on board, but instead took two temazepam and promptly slept a good several hours. During the second leg from Abu Dhabi to Paris, I made good use of the time to prepare my talk for the meeting. (I was so busy in the lead up to going away, I didn’t have time to do it!)
While I stood getting my passport stamped at the French Border Control counter at Paris airport, I could not help but overhear the conversation that was going on at the counter beside me.
French customs official to young Japanese girl that had arrived:
“How long are you staying in Europe?”
Girl: “I stay for three weeks.”
Flicking through her passport he asked: “How old are you?”
“I’m very well, thanks.”
“No, not “how are you?” I asked, how old are you?”
He stamped her passport, and said as he waved her through: “You use a very good face cream.”
We arrived in the French capital on a balmy Sunday afternoon. The place was abuzz with people and it was glorious. We have been here few times before, but you can easily see why Paris is the most visited capital in Europe. The grand old buildings, the beautiful people, the food, the al fresco culture and that infectious joie de vivre. We stayed at an Airbnb in Le Marais, run by an immaculately dressed and super helpful gay couple. It is opposite the Pompadou Centre (a modern art museum) and near Notre Dame Cathedral in the heart of the action. Avoiding the the actual museum itself, you can take the escalators to the very top for fine views over the slate grey roof tops
We were due to meet up with various friends who also happened to be here in Paris. We had an excellent time with them, and ate some truly wonderful food. While I attended the meeting during the day, Ross went out and about with our friends, and then I’d meet them all for dinner. We were all in the Marais area. Karon Mordenti and Andrew Calladine were staying in a place overlooking a lovely square just 15 minutes walk away, while Peter Taylor and Damian Hills were also just a short walk away.
Our friends Geoff Isaac and his partner Robert were also in town – living here for 12 months as Robert was on a sabbatical. Like me, Robert is a University academic (French Art History). Over dinner one night, we discussed the ARC grant system, as he too has a grant application currently lodged. Mercifully, we both got good assessor reviews and so fingers are crossed for the funding results in October. Geoff and Robert live in a nice street-facing apartment where we could see great tits just outside their window. No, I have not switched teams: Great tits are pretty little European birds.
That’s all for now. I’ve attached a few photos to this blog (opposite and also see below). This first week was primarily work. I still have my grant rebuttals to finalise and submit, and a paper to review, but my four weeks annual leave officially starts today. We are flying to Croatia, starting in the under-rated capital of Zagreb.
Craig (and Ross).
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