I was complaining to Doug that I had to do all the boring, day-to-day posts, and he was getting to do all the interesting, thoughtful posts, so we decided to switch it up today. The only problem is that after a nice dinner in a French cafe and a few glasses of wine, I don't have anything interesting or insightful to say. So, I guess I'll post a few random observations:
1) There are a lot of gypsy women at the tourist sites. In fact, we saw a group of them being led off by the gendarmes yesterday at the Arc de Triomphe. We still haven't figured out how their deal works though. Just today, I realized that while they start off with "Do you speak English?" they don't actually speak any English other than those words. After Doug or I shake our head, Quin and Berkley always start in with the - Why did you say no? Why did they want to know if we speak English? etc. But for these women, we could be speaking Swahili - they don't recognize Quin and Berkley's questions as English. Once they find someone, they give them some piece of paper, obviously with some sort of plea for money, and in fact, we actually saw it work on someone today. Part of me wants to say yes sometime just to read that little piece of paper.
2) We walked by the Presidential residence the other day. LOTS of guards around, few signs. No sign of Sarkozy though.
3) I love baguettes and all, but the lack of variety in bread around here is starting to get to me. Luckily, today we found "American Sandwich Bread" and we able to make the boys PB&Js, but what I wouldn't give for a good slice of wheat bread.
4) At the Eiffel Tower, we saw about a dozen Asian brides having their wedding. Not sure what to make of it. Our first thought was - Moonies - but there didn't seem to be enough of them. Maybe just they got a cheap package for a Parisian wedding?
5) I'm not sure I agree with Doug about how Paris is not so different. I get his point and all, but maybe since I've been here before and knew what to expect, it keeps striking me how different life is here. Not just the beauty, but the way they live, look, drive, eat, etc. For example, their playgrounds are very different. A few random pieces of equipment (see below), but no HUGE jungle gym. As another example, today at the carnival, we were struck by how expensive each ride was (although the whole day - rides, snacks and all - was still only the same as it would have costs for two adults at Disney; we used what we would have spent on kids' tickets on a nice dinner out). In the US, you would pay a little for a short ride. But here, you pay more for a really long ride. For the boys, that was perfect; rather than wanting to ride again, they were pretty much done with a ride once their time was up. That, to me, seems to capture the difference between French and American culture in a nutshell.