Sunday, August 10, 2014

Paris Wrap-Up: Gallimaufry

The French don't seem to use the bathroom a lot. At least, restrooms are scarce and difficult to find in Paris. There are for-pay restrooms in various places, but not the plethora of public restrooms available in the United States.

Patrick said, "You Americans are far too worried about dehydration." Thinking about it, it's true: I didn't see Parisians walking around with the jugs of water that Americans do.

----

Dogs are everywhere in Paris. Restaurants, stores, streets, everywhere. Lapdogs, though: the only German Shepard-type that I saw was with policemen. Smoking, too, was normal and prevalent. It was very usual to see a person sitting at an outdoor cafe with a cigarette, a leash, and an espresso.

----

Portion sizes in Paris were reasonable and controlled. They provided good food, not a lot of food. I never left a meal hungry, but - unlike the states - I never left a meal feeling overfull. Our restaurants could learn a thing or do: provide less food, but make it of  a higher quality (less preservatives and crap in it).

----

Wine was served with every non-breakfast meal. While I'm sure there are the same amount of alcoholics there as here, it seems like people drink for purpose way less than in America. I do understand that it could be the very small sample size of the areas we were hanging out; however, I hope the reason is that they're taught to use alcohol at a young age instead of pound it at an older age.

A half bottle of wine for the same price as two cokes? Yes, please. Tastes better and is better for you (debatably).

----

A sandwich, in France, means ham. A croque monsieur is a ham and cheese sandwich. A croque madame is a ham and cheese sandwich with an egg on it. I didn't see a turkey sandwich, or a roast beef sandwich, or a Reuben, etc., while we were over there. The crepe sandwiches were also ham. The meat served with breakfast was also ham.

Then again, we were told that Parisians tended not to eat breakfast. Maybe a croissant on the run with an espresso, but no formal meal like we have. No pancakes, and the French toast that I found contained ham in between the slices (lunch). Parisians don't drink the "buckets of coffee" that Americans do. The relative proliferation of Starbucks in Paris might mean that that isn't correct, but it's a nice thought.

----

We were told that Paris really empties out in the summer. The Parisians leave for the provinces, leaving the city for those that have to stay and for the tourists. The pace of life there was really, really slow and deliberate. Not quite southern states slow; similar tempo, but it was a different brand of slow. The three hour dinner with Peggy kind of shows that: it was only three courses, but the pace was relaxed and easy.

----

I also didn't see a lot of gyms or people jogging. It could have just been the tourist areas, although there were some people jogging through the gardens at Versailles. Yet, the native Parisians were slender and beautiful. Just goes to show you that diet is such a major feature in our health, as or more important than exercise.

----

Patrick was funny, particularly when he was talking on the cell phone. "Voila," as you know, is a wonderful expression in French that we use all the time in English. He would say, "Voilalalalala," which is hysterical.

----

Having tour guides made everything better. They didn't tell you anything, really, that you wouldn't know from reading books and guides about the area; but  it makes it more efficient to move from place to place without some serious study. The Louvre, in particular, is way too big, and it might have taken two to three times as long without a guide.

----

Not to keep harping about the restrooms, but there were four restrooms in the international baggage claim area at JFK. I'm not entirely sure if there were four sets of restrooms in Charles de Gaulle airport put together.

----

Pepsi has not made inroads in Paris. I don't think I saw one bottle of Mountain Dew anywhere in the country. Lots of Coke products, about which I'm entirely indifferent. See: the previous comment about soda and wine.

----

Wifi in the two hotels was awful. The last couple of blog entries were delayed because the hotel wifi was playing havoc with uploading photos to my Picasa account and to iCloud, and the workaround was just too much of a huge pain. You could spend money to upgrade to the premium wifi, but I have a religious objection to paying for what should be free wifi.

----

There is a group that annoys Parisians more than Americans do: the Chinese tourists. The Parisians consider them, as a group, ruder and more annoying than Americans, mostly because they have a tendency to cluster together and not let people through or around them very easily. There are also some significant cultural misunderstandings about how to stand in line; then again, that's not limited to just the Chinese. Some African men were causing us issues in JFK, and a southern Asian family tried to (literally) bulldoze their way into our line with an overloaded luggage cart.

----

We did not need to remove our shoes to get on the Air France flight from Paris to JFK. We did ends to remove our shoes, later, to get from JFK to Pittsburgh. That is not a judgment, merely an observation.

----


To show the effects of substandard wifi: I entirely missed the blog entries on the Monday night performance at Ver Sur Mer, Thursday’s performance at the Irish Cultural Center and the subsequent dinner with Aunt Peggy, and Friday’s meetup with my cousins near Notre Dame du Paris. Sigh. Well, some of the entries are going to be out of order.

No comments: