Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mise en Place: Paris -1

5 nights in and we are finally pausing to rest at the Chateau de Verrieres (pronounced the usual way) (thanks Sivillis for the recommendation).  I'll walk back a bit to the beginning of the trip but at halftime we are in the lead.

The urge to be full-on type-A-first-born-over-do-ers is strong and Paris in particular will consume you if you let it.  The more I travel, the more I re-enforce for myself that checking off boxes of famous places to see is a dangerous business.  Some are under- and some are over- and I suppose a few are perfectly- whelming but as always it is the process not the product that ends up mattering. That is a long way to say that we have left plenty on the list of to-dos for a future visit and are viewing this in part as a reconnaissance for a future sortie (those are French words used incorrectly because French).

In prep for our 10 days we read all the blogs and guides and made lists and put off learning any French until it was far, far too late.  Our friends who had preceded us offered up the Common Wisdom:

  1. The Louvre is big and you should only see a part of it
    1a. The Mona Lisa is tiny, crowded etc.
  2. Just drink the house wine, it's cheap and great
  3. Bring shoes you can comfortably cover ground in
  4. The Metro goes everywhere
  5. You don't really need to speak French
  6. Watch out for pickpockets at the X.  Where X is everywhere tourists go which is everywhere.
  7. On the first day, walk up to the biggest, meanest guy you see and punch him in the face as hard as you can.  You may lose the fight but you will gain their respect.
  8. Dan Brown is the authoritative source for all the Parisian history you will need.
Some of that advice was good and some will get you arrested (#5).  At the midpoint I will add a few more.
  1. Learn how to wear a scarf, it is a real and actual thing.
  2. Free WiFi  (pronounced WeeFee) is a lie on several levels
  3. Drinking black coffee is for uncultured barbarians
  4. You are an uncultured barbarian
  5. You will be mistaken for British which is code for uncultured barbarian
  6. The dairy here is from some other species of cow that has never existed in the US.  It must be a closely held trade secret and so I have filled my suitcase with packets of butter.
To wrap up this introductory post I will say that much of the prep we did was useful and I'm glad I spent the time.  

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