Le monde à l’envers

Beach handstandThis is what you say in France when a situation is entirely contrary to the way you think it should be. “C’est le monde à l’envers!” Or another way of saying the same thing: “On marche sur la tête!”

I am tempted to say it is a useful phrase in France – but that would be a cheap shot, undeserving of this blog. Not to mention entirely mostly untrue. If you are sensitive to these small ironies, you will notice them everywhere you go.

Full disclosure: I had to google the definition of irony to make sure I wasn’t using it wrong. Ironically, considering what follows, one of the definitions of the word refers to Greek tragedy.

“A literary technique, originally used in Greek tragedy, by which the full significance of a character’s words or actions are clear to the audience or reader although unknown to the character.”

Some readers will know that last week found me in Greece on holidays. Leaving behind the changing skies of the Alps, I had every hope of a solid week of sunshine. Instead, this is what happened:

Weather à l'envers

Le monde à l’envers !

I went to visit the Acropolis, the birthplace of civilization, where I was surprised to find readily available public toilets – modern, clean and free. Le monde à l’envers? Perhaps not. It was quite civilized, so that’s just how it should be.

Although in contrast to what is usually available in France, it certainly felt that way.

I took several taxis in Athens and each time the driver spoke no English and had no idea where I was going. I had to show him a map on my phone, which did not seem to help much. Then he would pass me his cell phone to speak to another person who spoke a little English but still had no idea where I wanted to go. All the while driving and texting on a tablet-size device to figure out where to go.

A note on Athens taxi drivers: avoid them. The metro is much more efficient, if rather hot.

I love Greece – it was my third time in that country. It was my first time in Athens, however, and I was a little overwhelmed by the sheer density and size of the metropolis. It was also my first time on the island of Kythnos, a beautiful spot. I will be back. By the way, the sun came out after a day of disruption.

And there is nothing ironic about that.

Where have you been lately? Was it how you expected or le monde à l’envers?