Monday, July 16, 2007

Auntie Again, Hong Kong to Paris and Very Vélo

It's been an extremely hectic few weeks, in which my wiltering blog has been wholeheartedly rejected. I am now, however, the proud owner of a beautiful Fujitsu laptop with 2 Giga hard-drive, 15.4" screen, Wi-fi compatibility and most importantly a lovely silver casing. So, now I'll be more able to obsessively check my email while kindling my Starbucks hazelnut latte addiction.

I just spent a great few days with L who was back from Hong Kong for a wedding. We caught up, drank, ate, shopped: what we do best. I had a wonderful time with her back in the city again, and it's good to know that with some friends time passing by doesn't make any difference at all.

More great news is that G's sister has had a gorgeous little bouncing baby. Her name is Charlie (although it's pronounced à la française, more like Sharrr-liee) which is pretty unusual for a girl in France, but the more I say it the more I'm getting to like it. I don't have permission to put up a photo of her yet, but if you're a Facebook friend of mine have a look there....

In order to continue my run of urban queen activities in a bizarre embracing of Paris life when I'm thinking more of how to spend time in the country, I tried out Vélib this evening. Lyon was the first French city to try out this new concept. It involves putting thousands of bicycles out on the streets in locked up docking stations, and giving pedestrians the opportunity to use them for free for half an hour on the condition that you authorise a direct debit of 150€ if you don't return them within 24 hours. I think if you go over 30 mins you also have to pay 1€ or thereabouts, but it's not a big amount.

I got on the silvery monster at Porte d'Ivry and rode her doggy style (i.e. sit up and beg Dutch-fashion) all the way to Porte de Vincennes, going over quite an ugly industrial part of east Paris. The bicycle itself was extremely comfortable to ride, but the facilities for bikes in the city are severly in need of a repair kit. I have to admit that there are far more bike lanes than there were two years ago when I bought my own bike, but occasionally they merge with bus lanes and all hell breaks loose. There is no way a bus driver will slow down or even move to overtake so if you have a bus coming up behind you the only options are to stop on the pavement and wait until it passes or grit your teeth, peddle like mad and hope that the driver a) has seen you and b) doesn't grind over you like a boot to an earthworm.

My Vélib experience passed without catastrophe as I rode on exclusive bike lanes where possible. Since my desire to avoid a sticky end is stronger than my fear of bending highway code rules I rode on the pavement for some parts. I'm a convert and now plan to try to use it at least twice a week on some part of my journey home.

1 comment:

Lola said...

Very brave! you wouldn't have got me on one of those monsters...Paris bus and taxi drivers have way too much of a death wish for my liking.
Congrats on the new laptop - expect to see lots more blog entries from now on!
Any news on your exam?