Well I've just returned from a very enjoyable trip to Paris. I hopped on a cheap flight from Prestwick to the "Paris" airport of Beauvais. It was actually all fairly painless and the bus from Beauvais is pretty well organised and drops you in a handy spot fairly central. Michael Scherer (a fellow Mandriva contributor) was kind enough to meet me at the bus station and guide me through the rabbit warren that is the Paris Metro to meet a few other folk including Nanar (Olivier Thauvin) and Thomas "TMB" Backlund (all four of us were staying at Nanar's place). A few other familiar faces where there to! It was great to begin putting faces to the names of the people I've been talking to and working with for the last few years!
On the Friday there was the main party in the Eiffel Tower. As we left the house at about midday, I decided to just don my kilt early and live up to as many stereotypes as possible (sans ginger wig tho'). We took a brief tour in at Nanar's work before heading to Mandriva offices where I met Vincent and Oden who were also there for the party and some of the locals: Anne, Blino, Pixel and many others too! It was really nice to be made so welcome!
In the evening Pascal played the tour guide role and shepherded the tourists from Aboukir to the tower. It was a really nice walk in and the approach to the tower was suitably impressive. It's not the first time I've been in Paris but I still get impressed by some places in Edinburgh so this kind of sight is not going to get old any time soon!
We waited outside for a while and I met Fred Crozat (whom had done a lot of testing and patching during the pulseaudio roll out and, as such, I worked quite closely with for a short while) before jumping the massive queues to go straight up to the function suite. The champagne and wine flowed and there were a number of talks which were mostly in French (although I suspected that, being in France, this would be the case!). Regardless of not really knowing the talks' content, I was still able to get a feeling for the good will around the world for Mandriva and it was nice to feel like I have contributed towards that feeling in some small way.
As night fell the light on the tower was fantastic. If my cooker install wasn't quite as broken as it currently is, I'd upload some photos but at present they are stuck on my camera! With the failing light the drinks flowed further still and I was very pleased to meet other folks I've spoken with over the years. I chatted briefly with Neoclust and had some good craic with Stéphane too. Not to mention getting to know my fellow tourists a whole lot better as we all sought solace in our shared inability to speak any French!! Wearing my kilt appeared to go down well and was a good ice breaker even if the people I chatted to were not actually able to speak much English!
The next day our host Nanar disappeared to go and visit his girlfriend but myself and Thomas saw him into town and had a fair well lunch before heading to the Mandriva offices again for some sort of install party that was going on. We mostly just sat around and chinwagged until the occasional call for help for one of my packages necessitated me getting mad at French keyboards and trying to fix some problem or other! We were all going to go for a picnic for tea but sadly nature intervened and gave us a nice little downpour. So we just stayed in the office and had our picnic and drank some nice Belgian beers supplied by Erwan! This went on until about 1am and included much amusement with Stepmania (Free Dance, Dance Revolution clone!) and Mario Kart on the Wii. Sadly we had to leave fairly hurriedly to catch the night bus home so sadly my good byes to everyone were rather rushed - hopefully I'll see everyone again sometime and get another chance! We ended up missing the bus anyway - such is life!!
Sunday was a pre-planned travelling day. I left at 9:30 and arrived home at 18:00 (minus one hour for time difference). Not bad all in all, although I certainly knew I was back in Scotland..... on the train I was surrounded by annoying neds drinking Buckfast, chatting loudly (about stupid stuff) and smoking... and it was raining. Once I reached Glasgow Central I had to switch trains (and stations) and as I wondered up over George Square, there was an Orange March going on that stopped me entering the station and meant I missed the connecting train... Yes, I was definitely back home!
Interestingly, I only met two people on my trip that I didn't already know and that were not connected to Mandriva. Both were ladies (well, you know, given the choice of which gender to strike up conversation with....) and both were called Joanna! Spooky.