Go to Paris

Trip Start Aug 25, 2008
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Trip End Oct 17, 2008


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Friday, September 19, 2008

Paris is hands down my all time favorite city I have ever been to.  I absolutely love it and I will be back again.  and again, and again.  Are you getting the picture how much I like it?  Remember what I was telling you about how I felt on the Gold Coast?   Take that feeling and multiply it a few times and that is how I am feeling about Paris now.   It is just a great place to wander around on foot and I never get tired of people watching or looking at the buildings.  Picture mile after mile of 7 story or so buildings with grey roofs, balconies and shutters and that's the general look of the place.  The city just oozes sophistication and the people have actually turned out to be pretty nice.

I had heard over and over how nasty the Parisians are but to be honest I have yet to meet one who is rude.  I met some Americans to hang out with today and they even noticed the same thing.  Maybe I am just so used to the Atlantitude back home you get from everyone, especially stores.  Here people are genuinely helpful and they don't mind if you don't speak French.  If you say Bonjour they will quickly answer you back in English and to me that's a welcome thing.  I don't know why that offends some people who want to go on and embarrass themselves with their very broken French.

If you visit Paris as a European would it can actually be surprisingly affordable.  I have found that by buying sandwiches and water in the tiny little grocery stores the prices are comparable to back home.  If you go out to eat you have to keep in mind that the price already includes 18% sales tax and a 15% gratuity so that knocks down the actual cost a little closer in line to home.  I've been taking a look at menus posted outside of places as I walk around and Asian food seems to be the best value.  If you want to stay at the Four Seasons and buy all the fancy couture this place could set you back a few paychecks in one week.  But live like the locals and and you can still have a great time.  The best stuff in Paris all takes place out on the streets anyway.  It's a never ending show.

The dollar has really strengthened in the past few weeks so it's not as expensive as I thought originally.  It still is more than back home but it's doable.  One Euro is now $1.43.  Last time I was in Europe this spring it was about $1.63 so that is a huge difference in terms of quality of life for us Americans over here.  If my airline friends are reading this, use your benefits and get over here.  You will NOT be disappointed. 

I figured out why a pastry is $5 and a cup of coffee about the same at a sidewalk cafe.  You are paying rent on that tiny little sidewalk table with view and you can stay as long as you want.  Parisians will linger for hours and get their money's worth.  I guess that is a foreign concept to us since we just want it to go or we eat it fast and move on.  So I if you are going to camp out for the afternoon in a prime spot $10 is a pretty good price.  It's not my lifestyle but I am glad  they have made it an artform for themselves.

I made my way over to Montmartre this afternoon and it was awesome.  The city is for the most part flat but Montmartre is like a bit of San Francisco.  This big hill just all of a sudden rises out of nowhere and some of the streets are just steps.  The long climb up the hill and what seemed like hundreds of steps is worth every bit of the effort since all of Paris just sprawls on forever down below.   The Basilique du Sacre-Couer is on top and it's a pretty old white church.  I didn't go in but it was definitely a hot spot for tours.

My feet have four or five more hours left in them so I am out of here so explore even deeper in Paris.  I'll see you tomorrow in Porto, Portugal. 
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