S1.2, TS1 Parisian Catacombs

Hi my travelistas!  On today’s travelsode of Travel Unplugged, we are going 60 feet under street level to explore Les Catacombes (the ossuary where the bones of 6 million Parisians are housed).  Located at 1 avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy in the 14th Arrondissement.  They only allow 200 visitors at a time.  Due to the length of the tour (up to 1 hour) and the fact that you walk down 130 steps (and up 80 steps), it’s not recommended for those with limited mobility.

The Catacombs are so freaking awesome!  The bones are stacked up 5 feet high in very cool arrangement of femurs, tibias and skulls.  I kept waiting for Sammy Terry to pop out and say, “Bonjour Madamoiselle, I’ve been waiting for you!”  Then I’d have screamed, died on site and had my bones mixed in with the others.

As I say in the video, what I can’t get with is that the bones are mixed up all willy nilly.  You know they didn’t try to figure out who is Celine and who is Francois.  And it would be my luck that if I was one of the dead, my bones would be mixed up with my arch nemesis (we’ll name her Becky since it starts with a “b”) and my ex (who we will call Leroix so it sounds French).  You know who ain’t trying to have their femur mixed with Becky’s tibia and Leroix’s skull?  Me.  I have gone to Glory and need time to rest.  And I know they ain’t walking the golden streets of heaven…because if they are, then I’d need to go speak with Peter about their quality control process and review their paperwork to ensure that error is corrected and they are given tickets to go down South 🙂  Ha!

If you visit Paris, be sure to check out The Catacombs in all of its macabre splendor!

Hours:
Daily from 10am to 8pm (last admission at 7pm), except Mondays and some holidays.

More information & to Purchase Tickets:

http://www.catacombes.paris.fr/

Travel Unplugged – Season 1.2 “The Remix” Trailer

Hi everybody!!  It’s a new year with new goals and plenty of chances to make bad decisions!  Ha! I want to welcome you to view the Travel Unplugged – Season 1.2 “The Remix” trailer.  I had such big dreams and big plans last year for this travel show…but life happened and it kinda fell off the radar with my move to Paris.

So, I figured a reboot was in order and I’d relaunch the Travel Unplugged.  Instead of doing Season 2 (since I only did 3 videos for season 1), I figured I’d do like most rappers/rapstresses and remix the first season.  I even have a 17 week Winter Season Schedule.  Now, the schedule is tentative as I may move some of the videos around depending on how lazy I am my mood.

This season, I will be publishing every Wednesday and will cover one of the following areas:  Destinations; Expat Experience; A Day in the Life of a Parisienne and Paris Highlights.  Check me out!

 

Tentative Winter Schedule

TU 1.2 schedule

Indian Visa Shenanigans

How did I start my day?  Well, thank you for asking.  I started it by going to the Indian Consulate here in Paris because they requested an “in-person interview” about my visa application.  It gave me the warm fuzzies when the travel agent told me that she’s never had this request before.  Yay me…always the trailblazer.

Anyway, I ask the travel agent if I need to make an appointment.  She tells me no, just show up sometime this week between 9:30 and noon.  I was like, “Are you sure you can arrive unannounced at the consulate office?”  TA, “Yes.”  So that is what I did.  And, e-family, what do you think happened?  Do you think this process went smoothly?  Spoiler Alert…it did not.

I arrive around 9:30am to beat the rush and catch folks in a good mood.  I had learned from my visit to the French Consulate in Washington, DC that some of the workers aren’t morning people but I decided to take my chances.  And crapped out.  I wasn’t rolling 7s or 11s, y’all.

However, I arrive and speak with a nice African gentleman working the gate.  As I explain the purpose for my visit, he waves me thru and I go up to the front desk.

Me:  Bonjour, Madame!  I’m here for an interview regarding my business visa to India.

Deepa (that is what I am naming her):  Why are you?

Me:  *thinking — “I just told you.”*  Says out loud, “I’m here for a visa interview.”

Deepa:  Do you have an appointment?

Me:  *looks pitiful* No, Madame.  I was told by my visa agent that I did not need one.

Deepa:  *unaffected by my pitiful look* Who told you that?

Me: *clearly Deepa isn’t processing my clear communications with her*  My travel agent.  She sent me an email stating this fact.

Deepa:  You can’t just show up at the office without an appointment!  Show me the email!

Me:  *woosah* *shows her the email*

Deepa:  Yes, it says clearly right here that you are supposed to show up for an interview.

Me: Wait…what?  Yes, it says I don’t need an appointment.

Deepa:  Exactly!  You did the right thing.

Me:  *Deepa is lost in the sauce at 9:30am*

So, Deepa then asks for my paperwork…which I don’t have since it is with THE INDIAN CONSULTATE OFFICE.  I inform her of this and she was like, “How do I know who you are?”  *Jesus take the wheel and my visa application*  I write down my name and passport number as that bit of advanced security seems to satisfy her.  Deepa then goes to speak with person in charge of my visa application.

You are probably thinking…it can’t get any worse, right?  WRONG.  See, these jokers are what Charlie Murphy likes to call “habitual line steppers.”  Which means they will cross the line each.and.every.time.

Setting the scene — Deepa walks me up some rickety steps, down the hall and to a large office where my piece of paper with my name and passport number are sitting.  I sit down in from of Mahdi (the name I’ve selected for this gentleman) and he continues to shuffle and look thru sheets of paper for 3 minutes.  I’m steadily looking at him like, “Sir?”  He finally acknowledges my presence and we have the following exchange.

Mahdi:  Why are you here?

Me:  *Take me to the King* Because I was told I needed to come in for an interview regarding my business visa to India.

Mahdi:  Hmmm. *picks up my passport*  Page 51 is blank.  Why?

Me:  *clueless*  Can I please see the passport to understand your reference? *he passes the passport and I see that it says to “see page 51” for endorsements.  I’ve never noticed this and nobody has EVER questioned me about it…and y’all know how much I use my passport.*  I don’t know what that is about.  I’ve never been asked about it.

Mahdi: *looking like, “gotcha!”* Where you come from?

Me:  Washington, DC but I live in Paris now.

Mahdi:  But this application says Washington.  There is no DC with it.  You do know that Washington is also a state?

Me: *wanting to get sassy in the mouth but holding my mule so I can get this doggone visa* I don’t know why the travel agent didn’t put DC on it.  I’m sure it was a simple oversight.  And, yes, I am aware that Washington is also a state.

Mahdi: *looking put upon like I asked him for a ride to the airport* Do you speak Hindi?

Me:  No, is that a requirement? *can’t help myself*

Mahdi:  Where you plan to go in India?

Me:  Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad

Madhi:  Hmm, what is this on your forehead in the picture on your French visa?

Me:  It’s a smudge.

Mahdi:  I thought you wore a dot on your forehead like some Indian ladies.  Have you been to India before?

Me:  No. *and at this point, it doesn’t look likely that I ever will.*

Mahdi:  Looks like you missed your flight. *They took so long processing my visa that I had to reschedule my trip for late February*

Me:  I know but it’s ok.

Mahdi:  What’s the capital of Washington?

Me:  *confused*  The capital of Washington?  In the United States?

Mahdi:  Yes

Me:  Seattle

Mahdi:  So you do know about the U.S.

Me: *taking out my phone to get Jesus on the main line*  Yes, sir.

Mahdi:  Okay, I will approve your visa.  Have a nice trip.

This is my life, y’all.  I promise you that I cannot make this stuff up.  India better be a freaking dream with everything I’ve had to go thru to get this visa 🙂

 

An Expensive-Ass Letter

Hi all and Happy 2016!!!  I told myself that THIS year, I was going to blog on a regular basis. Now, I lie to myself so take it for what it’s worth. Anyways, I have moved to the beautiful City of Lights and figured I’d start sharing my experience with you…my peeps…my e-family.

So, being offered a job transfer to Paris was so. freaking. exciting! Then, I was like, “wait, I don’t speak French.”  But immediately was like, “Self, it doesn’t matter.  You can pick it up!” LIES!

I took an immersion class in Washington, DC for 7 weeks before I moved…and know how to say my name and count.  I can’t tell you how helpful that has been.

French Person:  Excuse me, would you like something to eat?

Me:  Je m’appelle Nikki.  Neuf.

French Person:  Um, hi Nikki.  What do you mean by the number 9?

Me:  *blank stare* Deux

French Person:  Wanders off and takes away sharp objects

It is getting better though.  I am now taking French lessons twice per week and while I do get frustrated at the fast pace, it helps to push me forward into learning the language so I can assimilate faster.

Which brings me to sharing my experience at the post office (or La Poste) as it’s called here.  My sorority sister requested I send a letter to her child’s kindergarten class that basically says that I saw the gingerbread man here in Paris.  I write and address the letter, figure out what I need to say at the post office to buy the correct number of stamps, and head forth to bask in a moment of triumph.

Sigh.  As I get to the counter, I show my letter and ask how much I needed to pay in postage to mail the letter to the United States.  I hear something that sounded like “set” which I took to mean 7 (which is “sept” in French).  So, I buy 7 stamps and place ALL 7 ON THE LETTER.

Did you ever read the Harry Potter books?  If not, there is a passage about Molly, Harry’s best friend’s mom, mailing him a letter thru the “Muggle Post” (non-magical letter mailing, which is basically what I am doing).  Since they normally use owls to deliver letters, his wizarding family didn’t know how much postage to put on the letter.  It looked like this…

il_fullxfull.254382229

What my letter looked like.

 

Which is exactly how my letter looked to travel from Paris to Indiana.  When I put all 7 stamps on the letter, the address was just barely visible.  I give it to the postman, he looks at me and was like, “Why are there so many stamps on this?”  I was like, “Sir?  What?  You told me 7 stamps.”  He looked at me and muttered something in French that sounded suspiciously like “bless her heart” which we all know in southern US means that person is “special.”

After removing 6 stamps, I was finally able to get it mailed.  No telling where the gingerbread man is now…:)