Paris, city of Paris-people

Trip Start Feb 14, 2006
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Trip End Dec 15, 2006


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Flag of France  ,
Saturday, December 2, 2006

After we rode out of Amsterdam on a long haze of smoke it was time to enjoy Paris. We found the bike riding quite difficult though and ended up taking an overnight bus to get there. That bus ride, not particularly surprisingly, will not be remembered fondly.

Incidentally, considering how long Louise and I have now been travelling we have had to invent a couple of obscure conversation topics in order for us not to kill each other. One of those is the 'how many countries have you been in' conversation. However, having 9 months to discuss this topic has allowed us to pretty much cover all the fine-print that such a conversation entails. We both agreed, for example, that stop-overs in airport terminals do NOT count as visiting a country. You must leave customs in order to say you have been there. Whether Alaska is different to the USA is a topic that remains debated. However, the reason I bring this up (I am getting to it), is that both Louise and I took that overnight bus through Brussels to get to the France. The question is... have we been there? Can I ratchett one more country up on my list? I expect a healthy dose of replies to settle this (we both tend to think that we haven't, incidentally)

Speaking of healthy replies I think everyone should give themselves a pat on the back for now I have had over 1200 hits to this page! I reckon that is pretty good so thanks to everyone who checks this out and reads it. It makes the fact that I am currently sitting at an internet terminal at 1am and writing a little easier to take.

OK - Paris. This city had been built up by mother to such staggering levels that I think if I had visited Atlantis itself I would have been disappointed. Paris, in all honesty, was a fine city. I can't really be much more enthusiastic about it though. Certain things were obviously lovely - the Eiffel tower was great, the Louvre gallery was probably the best gallery I have ever visited, the world's biggest roundabout around the arc was indeed very large but, when it was all said and done, it didn't really capture my imagination.

Part of this was caused by the French language (and my inability to speak it and therefore my tall-poppy-hacking nature to not like it). On listening closely I decided that it was not as beautiful as it thought it was. I kind of feel sorry for the French in some ways - I think they have so much pride in their culture and language but are facing a losing battle against English in terms of international languages. I just think that it's usefulness is beginning to fade. Perhaps I am resentful to the French bloke who told me I had the 'English-speaking-disease' but I doubt it. If I was going to chop off one of the 6 official languages of the U.N (French, English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Arabic) guess which one it would be? Russian. (I mean, seriously, who speaks Russian?)

I hope the tongue-in-cheek is not lost on all you Russian speakers (a language where one rarely places one's tongue in one's cheek, or so that French guy told me). Sorry about how bad that joke was but it really is 1am over here.

I also got the occasional sense that the French LIKED people not understanding their language and took pride in ensuing confusion (like at the international-departure lounge of an airport that ONLY served Spain - I think maybe SOME signs or overhead announcements could have been made in Spanish).

Speaking of Spain it is time to get back to where I belong. Seville!!!

See you all soon

James
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Comments

hello_ondrej
hello_ondrej on

been there done that?
yes! your spanish-speaking snobbery is the root cause of all your troubles in paris - the centre of the world. they may be losing a battle against english, but at least they're doing it in style! oh paris - my love, my heart!

as far as placing one's tongue in a russian's cheek, personal experience commands me to highly recommend it.

the eternal question of whether you've entered a country or not...ahhh...what a debate. several points i cannot help but make:

1) alaska is not a separate country that is the most foolish thing i've ever heard.
2) did you get off the bus in brussels? then perhaps you WERE in the country. i once got off a bus through guatemala to take a piss and was later told that we had actually short-cutted through a corner of belize, and that i had stood and voided on belizian soil...so have i visited belize? i like to think yes, but the pride factor says no. i reckon if you are transitting through a country, regardless of means of transport, you have not visited it. if you actually stop and DO something in that country, that's a different matter completely.
3) i have always wondered whether to call scotland a separate country from england. the scots certainly think they are, and will tell you so ad nauseum even before 3 pints of beer, but for the rest of us, laughing behind our hands at that silly (but beautiful) little nation, it seems obvious that they're not a separate country at all.
4) i was wondering whether you could call SAR macau and SAR hong kong separate countries. but because you have to go through customs and get separate visas, i would still say yes. what do you think?

so how many countries HAVE you visited?

buenas suerte en seville!

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