June 15, 2009 at 8:06 am
“London or Paris (choose one). Which city did you like better? Why” – Mary Jo
Hmmm, this is like asking me which piano-based musician I like better: Ben Folds or Tori Amos. One is a flame-haired, kooky, piano goddess and the other is a charismatic, geek, rocker. I like them both for very different reasons.
I like that they speak English in London, or at least some variation of English. Despite the fact that there are no trash cans downtown, London seemed cleaner than Paris. I found the London tube to be easier to navigate and prettier than the Paris Metro, which was grimier and not as well labeled. I also disliked the little rectangular paper tickets you have to use in Paris, which littered the ground at many stations.
However, London was much more expensive than Paris. By the time I was ordering my first lunch in French, I was relieved by the much lower prices. The French food was better, allowing me to sample tarts, chocolate bread, crepes and other naughty carbohydrates. Paris was also home [...]
June 11, 2009 at 7:45 am
Before my recent vacation, I suffered from Paranoid Traveler’s Syndrome. Now I’ve come down with a case of I’ve Been There! Disorder. When I read an article about the Obama’s visiting London, I shouted “I’ve been there!” I scanned the text of the article and then pulled up my mental map of London to locate the pub where they ate. When I read about their trip to Paris, I knew exactly where Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower were in relation to one another. Now that I’ve been to these cities, I look at photos from them differently. I don’t just see the Arc de Triomphe, I think about the crazy traffic circling the building and how you can get there by taking the Metro and what the view down the Champs-Elysees looks like.
I first experienced I’ve Been There! Disorder after a trip to New York after my college graduation. When I watched David Letterman on TV afterward, I’d clap my hands when I saw the theatre front or the Hello, Deli, thinking, “I’ve been [...]
May 21, 2009 at 9:44 am
May 19, 2009 at 6:05 pm
It was raining and the sun was trapped behind a blockade of grey clouds, but I was in Paris, damn it, and I was going to walk the Champs-Elysees. I only had a hat and a water-resistant jacket, but at least this statue knew how to dress for Paris weather.
My two-day museum pass would expire tomorrow, so I declared museum mania on Sunday. I’d planned on waking at seven o’clock to finish my walk down the Champs-Elysees, through the Tuileries, and directly into the Louvre as it was opening at nine o’clock, but once again my body had other plans. I dragged myself out of bed by eight and had the hotel breakfast again because it was quick and easy, but swore I’d hit a patissiere for some pain au chocolat tomorrow.
Several runners jogged past me as I walked by the obelisk at Place de la Concorde and through the green gardens of the Tuileries. These people were running past famous landmarks in sweat shorts like it’s no big deal! There is so much grandeur [...]
May 18, 2009 at 2:42 am
I wasn’t sure why the train started playing accordion music on the way to Versailles, but on the ride back I figured it out when I saw a busker hop on at one stop and play us some tunes before collecting tips and hopping off at the next stop. He must hit a lot of trains a day and the man was just an example of how many more buskers and beggars I’ve seen in Paris than London. Twice at tourist spots I’ve had a woman come up to me with a card and ask, “English?” The first time I said yes and was presented with a card begging for money, but the second time suddenly, “Je ne pas parle anglais.” Some of the beggars sit on the streets with cute little sleeping dogs which they probably keep to increase tips.
I wanted to arrive at Versailles, the ornate palace of Louis XiV, right when it opened at nine o’clock to avoid the crowds. My body had different plans and I didn’t crawl out of bed [...]