Saturday, January 3, 2015

Things I Learned in France

1.  The Metro isn't as clean as the Tube.  It kinda reeks of urine, but the signs and station have a stylish Art Deco flair. (I think that's Art Deco.). Still -- trains -- whee!

2.  If you are on day 9 of an 11 day trip, you're tired, and your seat on the Eurostar is facing backward, you probably will pass out on the train, like it or not.  I missed a lot of scenery I had wanted to see, such as the train going into the Chunnel, and the Chunnel itself, not to mention the French countryside and all the romance of riding on a real train for the first time in my life.   But I think the laws of physics were against me there.  It's like that time I blacked out on the tower-drop ride at an amusement park and came to, just a flash before the end of the ride.

3.  French people don't understand the need for a hearty breakfast. I'm not surprised they're gloriously, gorgeously thin.  

4.  I'm not sure which is worse -- dehydration or walking around needing to pee when public restrooms are hard to find.  Maybe I should head to the Metro. Heehee!

5.  If you sit on the ground in front of Notre Dame Cathedral and have a snack, thousands of people won't join you but you really won't care.  

6.  Caramels are a very bad idea if you don't want a crown ripped off your tooth at an inconvenient time.  No sticky candy while traveling.  (I was home before this mishap, but it made me fear caramels.)

7.  Air France is REALLY stringent on their luggage limits.  Don't try to fight it.  You'll be happier if you check a bag on the way home, if they don't lose it.  Lol

8.  Charles de Gaulle Airport has English speaking expediters who will assist you in getting through that crowded airport check-in. (I think they are employed by Air France for that purpose of clearing check in kiosks faster.)  They have the power to find you an empty line so you can check your luggage much faster.  If they offer to help you, let them. 

9.  Charles de Gaulle Airport is very pleasant for shopping, and there is a branch of La Duree if you feel the need for more of their wonderful macarons. I loved the rose petal ones the best. Expect to pay $1.50 - $3.00 per tiny cookie, so eat them very slowly and just revel in the flavors and texture. 

10.  I regret not buying a baguette and I regret not buying a crepe... ( French law requires that a basic baguette sell for 1 euro.)   I probably would have benefited from the carbs.

11. I don't regret the touristy photo of me holding up the Eiffel Tower, unflattering and cheesy though it may be. :D. I should have more cheesy touristy photos of myself.  

12.  The Louvre is ridiculously massive (and beautiful) and we didn't have enough time there to see much more than the Mona Lisa.  However, I didn't have the energy to walk more than did.  I'll bet some coffee and a chocolate-filled crepe would have helped.  PS - On a bright summer day, under the pyramid, it feels like you're being baked in an oven.  

13.  When you're on a boat touring the Seine at sunset, thousands of people line the river, and most cheer and wave as you go by.  There are a few rude people, though it's just a tiny percentage. Wave back at anyone who waves at you.  We rode in the seats on the side of the boat and the view was magnificent.  

14.  There's more than one bridge covered in locks in Paris.  The weight of the locks is causing whole panels of the railing to fall off into the river.  That charming romantic trend is spreading like a fungus to other Paris bridges, and other cities as well.  I saw several on Westminster Bridge in London.  The general consensus is, please, stop damaging the bridges. It's gotten rather old.  

15.  We had lunch in a cafe on ille St. Louis and discovered that the French love putting eggs on everything -- including hamburgers.  I thought I was supposed to fear excessive mayonnaise, but it wasn't a concern.  I ordered Eggs Benedict for lunch, which of course, already had eggs in it.  One of the best, most beautiful lunches I've ever eaten.  The name of the cafe was St. Regis.  It was definitely worth the cost. 

16.  Paris is difficult to properly appreciate when you are utterly exhausted.  If you go on a trip like this, you might want to snack a lot more than usual.  

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