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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Nothing Toulouse [20101027|22:28]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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[coordinates |toulouse]

Bon soir, mes amis. I have just dined at the same restaurant two nights in a row, but the food was so divine it didn't matter. Cassoulet one night and steak bleu the next, what more does a girl need? (Besides her boyfriend for some post-prandial frolicking.)

I am stuck in France. Here is a poll for you to guess the reasons why.

Poll #1637224 Why am I stuck in France?

Why am I stuck in Toulouse until Saturday?

The ducks are holding me for ransom for gastronomical crimes against the brethren.
The vintners are holding me for ransom for drinking ALL the wine.
The scientists are holding me for ransom until I release the FGM data.
The French have gone on strike.

I would show you photos, but my camera's USB connector has decided to start misbehaving and won't let me download anything. I forgot to bring my SD card reader. So you'll have to make do with words.

I arrived in Toulouse on Monday evening, just as the sun was setting. The sky was clear all through the flight, so I spent most of it staring out the window because when you're afforded a crystal-clear view over the Channel and of the descent into the Pyrenees, it's criminal not to appreciate it thoroughly. I managed to conduct exchanges with a kind taxi driver who, despite detecting that my primary language was English, kindly stuck to French throughout, pronouncing his words slowly and accompanying them with helpful gestures. As he drove me through the Pink City, I glued my nose to the window and watched it glow in the sunset. The camouflage bark of the plane trees caught the light and threw it onto the canals that crisscross the city and the river that bisects it. I checked in and dashed up to my room, unpacking quickly and tossing my camera in my handbag.

I decided to walk around the northern section of the ring road as a first pass at exploring the city and then cut back to the hotel through the centre of town. As all ring roads seem destined to be, this one was pretty desolate. Though the tree-lined river ran along its western edge, it still managed to be devoid of all but the most depressing signs of humanity. Dog poop and rubbish bags dotted the pavement. There were no shops, no restaurants, no bars - nothing but well-barricaded windows and triple-locked entrances to unlit stacks of flats. A door suddenly swung open five paces ahead of me, letting out a shaft of light, a flying kitten and a swearing woman in quick succession. As I neared the scene, I noticed the woman shaking her hand, onto which the kitten had been peeing liberally. The kitten landed in a pile of fallen leaves. Tail raised, it continued its business, seemingly unaware of the woman's wrath. I walked on. Two groups of men asked me for directions. I was glad that I looked as if I knew where I was going, but was also peeved to have my cover blown by my halting (and unhelpful) French responses.

I reached the bridge over the rail tracks before the hill leading to the cemetery, which I knew was likely to be closed but wanted to peer at anyway. A homeless woman perched on a mountain of jumbled possessions leaped up to bar my way. I stopped, alarmed, as she reached for my arm. Half of her head sprouted a mass of blonde dreadlocks and the other half had been shaved some weeks ago. She was very sane, je vous assure, and she had to warn me about the moon, at which she pointed with a certain urgency. Oui, oui, I said. Merci, bon soir. At this last she shook her head and returned to her previous position, muttering darkly. Au revoir, I called tentatively. She waved her hand dismissively, letting me know that I was far too dim to evade the pernicious lunar influence.

The cemetery was surrounded by a fifteen-foot-high ivy-covered wall that even a nimble cat had trouble surmounting. I gave up and trudged back down the hill, pausing to buy three enormous shiny red apples and a bottle of fizzy water.

The bricks that comprise most of the city's buildings exude warmth in the sunlight, but at night they appear dingy and grey. It needs the patterns of neon and graffiti to illuminate its narrow streets and give it life. I dodged the herds of babbling teenagers and dazzled tourists to get to the complex surrounding my hotel. In the car park, rollerbladers had set up cones and obstacles and whizzed around videoing one another's fancy footwork. I watched from the shadows until my ears went numb with the cold.


I'd write more now, but I have to go to bed since my talk is the first one tomorrow morning. The meeting is over at 3 PM and then my time is my own. I have to decide what I'm going to do with my extra day. The Musee des Augustin, housed in a gothic convent? The Cite de l'Espace (Space Museum)? Or perhaps a train to Carcassonne, the beautifully preserved medieval city? What do you think, internet?

From: anokapolis
2010-10-27 21:49 (UTC)
I will vote for "The Musee des Augustins" lived in Paris 2008 and never made it there, but heard a lot about it and those who saw it loved it.

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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-10-28 14:41 (UTC)
I've decided to go for Carcassonne. I may return to Toulouse at some point, but it's likely to be for work so I doubt I'd have a full day to spend on a trip, whereas a museum visit can be undertaken of an afternoon or evening.
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[User Picture]From: chickenfeet2003
2010-10-27 22:31 (UTC)
Aren't the French always on strike?
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-10-28 14:34 (UTC)
I think they do quite well with timing their strikes, actually. The concierge at the hotel informed me that this is a bank holiday weekend (1 November). So if you go on strike today and have tomorrow off - voila! Five day weekend!
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From: pbristow
2010-10-27 22:48 (UTC)
You forgot the button for "all of the above". =:o}

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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-10-28 14:40 (UTC)
No, it's just that I am cruel and I force you to choose. Muaha.
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[User Picture]From: bryangb
2010-10-28 22:26 (UTC)
LOL! I'd go for Carcassonne, BTW.
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[User Picture]From: dylsexia
2010-10-27 22:52 (UTC)
I'd inevitably choose Musee des Augustins... but Carcassonne looks super pretty.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-10-28 14:35 (UTC)
I've opted for Carcassonne, because I don't think I'll have a chance to go back there. If I do end up in Toulouse again, it's likely to be for work.
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[User Picture]From: dylsexia
2010-10-28 18:08 (UTC)
A wise decision, granted I do tend to spend far too much time in museums... Hope Carcassonne treats you well with wonderful weather and with an overcast sunset, except for the horizon, for extra pretty color. :]
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[User Picture]From: painted_dreams
2010-10-28 00:05 (UTC)
Can you do both the Musee des Augustin and Carcassonne? I would have trouble choosing between either.... But if you can only go to one place then a medieval city would be fantastic.

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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-10-28 14:33 (UTC)
I could, but I'm not really on holiday and I still have work to do. I don't want to end up completely worn out, and I'm missing part of my weekend already since I have to travel home on Saturday. I've booked train tickets for Carcassonne.
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[User Picture]From: cosmiccircus
2010-10-28 01:13 (UTC)
The French are always on strike!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-10-28 14:32 (UTC)
Oh no, not all the time. Only when you want to travel into or out of the country.
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[User Picture]From: nadriel
2010-10-28 05:43 (UTC)
The ducks, the terribble, terrible ducks!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-10-28 14:31 (UTC)
Everyone thinks they're such sweet little things.

You think they're cuddly but I think they're sinister.
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[User Picture]From: gourou
2010-10-29 11:43 (UTC)
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