Clumsy American

Trip Start Dec 30, 2005
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Trip End Jan 11, 2006


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Monday, January 2, 2006

Ashley's sleeping in and I'm sitting back at Le Pain with giant salt and pepper shakers, an open bowl of white and brown sugar lumps, three jars of spread (hazelnut, dark and white chocolate), and a jar of preserves all open and communal. No fear laden trip about catching a disease from previous users or the natural process of food being food. We'll see how the tummy does later. With the delivery of my serving board of bread and my one soft boiled egg, I have no idea how to proceed. Without proper instruction, even after asking how, and in an effort to stave off starvation I fumble into my egg like the clumsy American I feel like I am. Between eating sandwiches gracefully with fork and knife, a breakfast of a single soft boiled egg with a bit of bread and cafes closed between feeding hours no wonder Europeans are lithe. Maybe if Americans couldn't shovel with both hands at any hour of the day we'd collectively shed a few.

The regular cup of coffee here is better than what any haughty Starbucks barista could whip up with their patented side of attitude. Sweet enough to not need sugar and creamier than any latte. Most cafes only seem to offer coffee or espresso anyway (even the beggars here use paper espresso cups, handouts in moderation). My guess is that this cafe makes its own bread or walks it over from next door's Boulangerie. It's great that on one street you can hit different stores for your various needs - dairy, bread, meat... but I won't be frequenting the meat shop on Montorgueil. The heads and neck feathers are still on their smaller birds and legs/claws remain on the larger ones. Right... Ended up grabbing some groceries in a hole in the wall playing Sinatra.

Later Metroed it to the Louve. We were there just over 4 hours but it felt like days and days more were needed. By the end of it I was dragging Ashley by the hair through antiquities. Saw so many things from cultural references, art history flashbacks or clips of the History Channel. Mona Lisa - smaller than expected and only dwarfed by the crowds around her. Winged Victory - larger than expected, very imposing. Venus de Milo - more sensual than expected. Most surprising award goes to Mary at Jesus' Feet by Pierre ____ (Art History was a loooong time ago). It was easily 10'x50' and I had all along expected to be able to roll it up and fit it under my jacket.

While spectacular, the Louvre was a bit much and a bit too much. The French/Italian Renaissance painters dominated and I usually don't care about antiquities, so I look forward to the Impressionists at the D'Orsay.

It's a little sad to be surrounded by so much American culture. Not just the labels, ideas or art actually worthy to jump the Atlantic, but the cheapening of French culture with the likes of McDonald's, Starbucks, Keds/Converse (are we 10 years late, kids), MTV, etc. Makes it that much harder to believe I am this far from home.

The dogs here are so cool. They are mostly allowed free reign, few leashes and access almost everywhere including cafes, shops, etc. They have the cutest sweaters, designer no doubt, and they understand French better than I do! Fascinating. Smarter and more fashionable than their American counterparts by far.
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