Yea yea I know I have not posted in a long time. But as I stated in my first post I am not very good at this so you were warned....
I just got back a couple of days ago from my first overseas vacation!! Or as they call it over there my holiday. I kind of like that saying, going on holiday. Sounds very chic don't you think? I have lot's of stories but will start with this one.
My sister and I went to Paris, France for 10 days and then to Barcelona, Spain for 5 days. If you have been you will get this but if you have not here is a bit of info for you just incase you decide to go.
I knew as soon as I stepped off the plane in Paris that I was not in Kansas anymore, I don't live in Kansas but we all know what that means right? The French culture is so different. There is no sense of personal space and let me tell you if you are not moving along to wherever you are going you will get run over. They are movers, they have somewhere to be and that is what they are focused on. At first I considered this very rude as there is no excuse me or anything from anyone. But once I realized this is the way then I adapted and it worked very well. The people in Paris walk everywhere, they take the metro (which is a fabulous system) , scooters are the thing to use there, as a matter of fact I would love to get one for here. Great gas mileage and easy to find parking... It is not a wonder that I did not see any overweight people over there. Well until I looked in the mirror...:) Except of course at the museums which were full of tourists like myself... The only muffin tops I saw were in the bakeries where they belong.. When people talk about sitting at a outside cafe in Paris they are not kidding. Just about every restaurant has sections outside. Also they all have their menus posted so you just roam from one to the other checking out the menus and prices until you find the one you like. It's a great system as there have been many times that I have chosen a restaurant here, sat down and looked at the menu and realized this is not where I want to be. Do be prepared to spend time at a cafe when you go. They do not go out to eat, they go out to socialize. It is not uncommon to sit at a table for several, several minutes before a server even gets to you. Then expect about a hour for each course, so if you order entree (which is appetizer over there), a plat (main course) and a dessert you will spend on average 3 hours at dinner. To me this was very refreshing once I got over the "where is our server, why have we not been brought our drinks, what is taking so long to get our food" shock. Here in the states we tend to rush through our meals and throw a fit if we are not waited on immediately. I went to lunch with my husband yesterday and the server was apologizing for the food not being out after only 10 minutes or so of taking our orders. I found myself eating much slower while my husband plowed through his meal and was done before I had finished half. Then he and the waiter both asked if I wanted a to-go box. LOL... That is another thing you do not get in Paris is to-go boxes for leftovers. You eat what you eat and that is that. They do have take away places which I also love that term. Take Away. Something about it just feels nice.
Not everything they do works for me however. Such as ordering water. Make sure you order tap water. Other wise you will get bottled water and you will be charged. You have to ask for ice and soda's cost more than most drinks and they are usually warm... McDonalds (yes I went into one the last day or so of being there) pre-pours their sodas, so when you order a coke they just turn around and grab the one on the counter. Bleck... It is flat and warm. So get your sodas out of machines, unless of course you like warm flat Coke. If you are a Pepsi fan good luck finding it. Coke is the main soda over there. I did not see a Pepsi until I went to Spain and then only once. Luckily I am a Coke fan. The toilettes are mostly co-ed and some you have to pay to use. Usually only about 50cents. The first time I experienced the co-ed was my second day. We had lunch at a wonderful little cafe in the Latin quarter and I used the toilette. I payed my 50cents and went in. It seemed like a normal room, a sink and a stall with a door. I was the only one in there so I go into the stall, lock the door and hear someone come in. No big deal they will just wait till I am finished right??? Well I open the door and what I failed to see when I entered was right across from my stall was a room with a urinal. So as I exit my stall expecting to see someone waiting to use the stall I see a man with his back to me using the urinal...... Let's just say I was shocked and no I did not hang around to wash my hands.....lol I promptly left. I never really got used to that situation. LOL..... Overall the restaurant experiences were fabulous and if you attempt to speak in their language then they are very nice and will try to speak in your language to help you out. Learn the basics such as Bonjour, Mercy, etc and you will do just fine.