Friday, 24 September 2010

Surf that couch.

Couchsurfing is the new craze in the travelling community. Effectively a volunteer network which offers a free couch for travellers and a way to submerge oneself and get to know some locals from the place. I had done the parties in Buenos Aires but never 'stayed the stay...' and as I explained to my work colleagues what I was about to embark on ( essentially staying in a stranger's house for free), they thought I would at least have to do the housework.

As we rocked up in La Rochelle, we were rather excited to meet our new friends, clearly of the male variety. It resembled an interview in a strangers house when we met the first boy. As we are English and overtly polite, we dared not ask the course of the events which resulted in us missing dinner to be 'party girls'. I think our main problem here was that we manged to say in our email that we were three 'easy' girls rather than 'easygoing' girls. Error. Complete and utter error. For the second night, we made our excuses and stumbled along to the nearest youth hostel or 'safe house'.

For our second couchsurfing experience, towards the north of France in Rennes, we stayed with lots of seemingly hippies. This was a very sociable, laid back atmosphere with a cool buzz and two boys cooked for all 20 of us, fresh crepes and all. We brought in gifts a 2 euro cake from the local newsagents which looked rather feeble in comparison to the fresh bread which the housemate who worked in the boulangerie had brought along. Luckily they were polite about it unlike elsewhere where upon the donation of the wine we brought, our friend said 'my wine is much better'. Very un-english really, where perpetual politeness is simply a given.

All in all,a positive experience, not to be recommended if you really are just looking for somewhere to crash but only if you are looking for somewhere to 'party', chat in foreign languages and meet people!!!

Friday, 3 September 2010

French Greetings

Bonne Journée..Bon Courage...Re-Bonjour...But the most fruitless and irksome must be 'ça va?'

Three months 'at the office' and nothing has ever come out of this question. No one has ever replied negatively to it, I am quite sure not even the frenchman lying on his deathbed would do. Quite frankly, the question just irritates me;'ça va et toi?'. It is an automatic response, hence no-one is consulting themselves whether they are okay or not, hence the question is simply superfluous. Also people tend to hae walked out of sight before I can reel off my extensive list of problems - 'ça va PAS'.

Its like 'Bonne Journée', I couldn't really give a damn whether Mr and Mrs Jean Luc have a nice day or not, yet if i want them to leave reception, I crack this one out. One of the hardest parts of being a french receptionist is knowing which greeting to use at the end of the conversation:
Bonjour.....Bonne matinée....Bon Appétit (if lunch/dinner is approaching)...Bon après-midi.....Bon fin d'après midi....Bonne soirée.. Bon soir.... Bonne nuit. phew!

I often get 'Bon Courage spat at me. There is no real translation for this in english other than 'keep brave! Quite ironic, I am sitting at the reception, I am not climbing Mt Everest. Or 'Bonne Chance' when I am attempting to find the latest lost item. In fact, in my CV top of my extra curriculum activites should be losing/looking for items. The question which grates me the most is: where did you last have them? These six words make no logical sense, if I knew that, I would not be in this situation. Keys should come with tracking devices, then again, maybe I would be found drinking vodka in street corners if this were to be true.