FRANCE - July 2-12th 2010.
With the end of the Qatar contract the staff spread themselves across the world - from Japan to Malaysia to Europe to Africa to Turkey and returns to Australia and New Zealand our friends have packed up a left Qatar.
For some the lack of commitment from Qatar to a further year of the contract has meant a decision to go back to N.Z. For others, like us, it has meant sending out CVs to different employers seeking work on their contracts in other parts of the Middle East. I’ve got an application and the possibility of a job in Oman as a Teacher Trainer and applications out for positions in Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia as well as the fall back position of work in the U.K. All of which will resolve itself mid August as the companies assess their needs and our CVs in the quest to create efficient teams.
In the meantime we are making the most of living in the Middle East to go travelling, something we’d nearly all have to do several years of heavy saving to do so that we could be away from home for an extended period to make the journey worthwhile.
This year Joy and I have headed to France before returning to New Zealand to celebrate, belatedly, Joy’s birthday with family and friends.
On Friday we flew out of Doha with Lynne and Brian Thomas who were on their way to Italy and on to Paris in what seemed to be an endless trip across North Africa and across Italy and Germany. Seven and a bit hours and yet it felt longer than our more regular 23 hour jaunts to and from N.Z.!!
We were last in France in 1997-98 when we did our first OE. Our trip, this time, is meant to take us to explore Northern France after seeing some of the sights of Paris we didn’t get to in our first visit.
We arrived, tired and jaded, early evening but had to wait for some time until our pre-hired shuttle arrived to take us to the D’Artagnan Youth Hostel and our first night in Paris. Once booked in we flaked out in what felt to be a hotter night than any we’d experienced in Doha.
Saturday 3rd July:
The next day Joy and I headed off to take in the sights of Paris. This proved to be optimistic as when we emerged from the Metro Paris was under water as the clouds burst to welcome us desert dwellers to the more temperate climate of Europe. This put a dampener on our plans to tour Paris by open topped bus and led us to Joy’s favourite fall back position - visit a shopping mall. Thus we ended up in the La Fayette Department Store by the Opera House.
After poking around the different floors of this huge souq for three hours or more we ventured out into the rain soaked streets with the semi-formed idea of going towards the Seine and the Louvre area on a window shopping punctuated stroll only to put that idea on the instant back burner when we met up with two of our Cognition colleagues, Noeline and Dhuran, who were ambling through the bargain hunting crowds outside the store looking for an electronics store to solve their iphone roaming access problems.
As Dhuran exclaimed the odds on us meeting up in Paris without any pre-arranged decision must be incredibly long as we’re staying in different parts of the city and had no indication of each other’s plans on the day.
We ended up having coffee in a sidewalk cafe and, because I was having the same i phone issue, heading off together to seek a solution to our problems which a visit to the Apple store by the Opera very soon resolved for us.
We parted ways with the understanding that we’d meet up on Sunday near the Louvre and plan a night out at the Moulin Rouge or Folle Berges before we all moved on to tour different parts of France.
While Joy darted in and out of shops all decorated with huge SALE signs I sat on the steps of the Opera House or leaned against walls taking photographs of tourists doing touristy things like photographing each other against monuments or hunting for bargains.
We still have to plan how we fit in visits to Versailles and Fountainbleu before heading to Northern France and back to Paris by the 11th.