Sunday, December 29, 2013

Paris on Our Last Trip - And We Are Going Back!!!

Somewhere in our travels in 2012, I wrote this, but neglected to post it. However, we love Paris and are planning on returning in a couple of weeks, so it seems appropriate to post now:

We had a great time in Paris!

Of course, there were a few things of note.

First, there are a lot of people here; I mean a lot!!

After the apartment, we relocated to a hotel near the Champs-Élysées, which I just refer to as "Champs" mostly because I can't quite pronounce "Élysées".  The sidewalks are huge on this street and very well used.  There are seas of people going up and down the sidewalk; some just standing stupidly around, many taking photos, including trying to take photos of themselves with some French thing in the background (like the Arch, Tower, street sign saying Champs, storefront, etc....); it is a zoo with all the animals set free!


There is also a distinct perfume-y odor that we have been noticing; not in a good way.  It is a particularly musky odor (think muskox in heat or dead muskrat) that is at once penetrating and sneeze-inducing, with a faint back smell of something which is several months past its pull date.  As far as we can tell, it is THE most popular men's cologne in Paris.  The men who use it have no apparent ability to put it on lightly; they must use a spray hose applicator.

The women are equally at fault in the sneezy, smelly, Eau de Cheap Date department, but there seems to be more variety.  The men have gone for "Old Muskox" in droves.

The combination of the smells and thousands of people pushing at you from all directions is overpowering.

We have been trying to determine whether there is an Sidewalk Walking Code that we are missing.  In the States, people usually keep to the right side when walking so that the foot traffic can flow sort of like car traffic.  Here, people either get sucked into whatever space isn't currently occupied (which can be left, right, forward or back) or wander aimlessly with a map in one hand and a camera in the other staring blankly into space and muttering inexplicable sentences with the occasional "du", "le" or "pardon moi" sounding vaguely like they are from Texas.  The result is that foot traffic is flowing (or not moving) all directions (if you don't understand how it is possible for person "not to move in all directions" come to Paris - you will see it) and you find yourself just dodging people as opposed to actually going anywhere in particular.

We try and hold hands; both from love and the hope that we won't become permanently separated.  However, we have a recurring problem with this in that some other couple, family, tour group, phalanx, or warring tribe bears directly at us with no apparent acknowledgement of our existence or any clear intent of moving out of our way, splitting up or stopping.  We have seen all types, ages, ethnic varieties, and a wide variety of numbers, but their only apparent goal is to see us separated or trampled.

Karen has gotten a bit annoyed at this and periodically demands that we stand our ground and keep walking straight.  She usually says things like this just before a large group of hoodlums with headphones and malicious glares appears in front of me or a huge-breasted girl starts bearing down on my sights (even more than normal).  There is no way I'm going to run into either of those (ahem; I mean the hoodlums OR the girl)!  So, I keep dodging and weaving, reconnecting hands and trying to keep Karen in my sight.

Our typical day in Paris has been to stay in bed until about 11 a.m. or so, work at getting out of the hotel room, heading out to find a place to have lunch, including wine and dessert, seeing one or two "things you're supposed to see in Paris", heading back to our hotel room to nap, if we can do it, heading out again to "do something your supposed to do in Paris", find a place for dinner, including wine and dessert, and then back to our hotel room to sleep.  It is a wonderful existence, if I could play harp while being fed grapes, I'd be doing that here as well.

We have managed to cruise the Seine three times so far on this trip.  We did an extravagant dinner cruise, a sort-of lunch cruise (in that we had to carry on our food and wine) and a "late night see the lights and drink cruise".  I recommend them all, but the last one was particularly nice.  We have also done one of those double-decker bus tours of Paris.  With this tour, you get a set of earphones which play irritating music which has nothing to do with France interspersed with descriptions of what you would have seen if the description had come on about 30 seconds sooner.  You could see confused people throughout the bus looking around for a building and then pointing several blocks behind the bus.  We did the full tour on the first day and then chucked the earphones and used the bus as a taxi service the next day (it was a two-day ticket; we're not totally clear why).

When we haven't been on board a boat or a bus, we have been walking, everywhere.  I'm not totally clear how many miles we have walked since arriving in Paris, but it is a lot - basically like a marathon, only with more wine and bathroom breaks.

In the food and wine department, the thing you need to be careful of in France is the "Noon to Two Rule".  This has two aspects to it.  The first part of the rule is that nothing is open or gets done apart from eating and drinking between Noon to Two.  This includes all museums, sights, many public transports, hotel desks, stores, etc...  The second is directly related to the first and that is, if you want to eat or drink, you better do it between Noon to Two, because after Two, the restaurants all close until dinner, which will not occur until very late by American standards.

I think the reason I didn't post this was because I didn't finish it.  However, since we are returning I can post this now and do a sequel later!!!

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