Checking in…From our European bureau

November 2019 Posted in Arts, Culture & History, Columnists & Opinion

As time goes on, The Man is constantly reminded that “none of us are getting any younger” and hence, the “Bucket List” comes into play. Ever since high school the Man-ette has whimsically talked of going to France so I figured the top of the list was as good a place to start as anywhere and dove in. Paris and Venice sounded good. For a guy who’s happy as the proverbial clam camping out in the PNW woods or on a mountain side it quickly became clear that an alternative mindset was in order to enjoy time our “across the pond.” Here are a few things I learned:

1) Apparently they don’t speak English over there (who knew?). Just as I was finally starting to get slightly comfortable with the few French phrases I knew, our circus moved to Italy where evidently they don’t speak English or French (again, who knew?) What ensued was a disjointed “language” of my own creation consisting of  English, French, Italian, grunts, groans, exaggerated facial expressions and wild hand gestures… it seemed to work…
most of the time…

2) They use something called the metric system so that a Yank like me is left not knowing how far away or deep anything anything was. Speed limits? Got no idea but it was fun clocking 140+ on the Autostrada… in a
Smart Car.

3) Speaking of driving, or whatever they call it over there, vastly exceeds all known norms for aggression, lack of common courtesy, lack of common sense, lack of self preservation, and defies the laws of physics, gravity, inertia and what any normal person would consider prudent. How there are vehicles in Paris that aren’t completely covered in dents on both sides is beyond me. And don’t even get me started about the motorcycles…

4) As a trip through the Louvre indicates, Europeans have been around for a looong time… and in all that time couldn’t they have come up with bathrooms larger than those tiny ones on your average airplane? Bidet? Uhhh, no thanks. And how is The Man supposed to read a magazine if there’s no toilet seat?

5) Paris. Smoking. Everyone. Everywhere. All the time. How is it possible in a city as cosmopolitan as Paris that they somehow didn’t get the memo that smoking is bad for you?

The Man has to admit though, it was pretty freakin’ cool to be standing in front of the actual Eiffel Tower or on the real Venice canals. They make the fake ones in Las Vegas look pretty silly. To tour the Mont Saint Michel Abbey that was built just a few years ago (in 1228)… To spend several hours wandering the Louvre, slack jawed at seeing all of the paintings and sculptures you had only read about years ago in history class… To take a champagne cruise with your sweetheart on the Seine past the Eiffel Tower at night… To imagine the horror Parisians must have felt watching Notre Dame go up in flames but glad to see reconstruction is well underway… To wander, happily lost in the “streets,” alleys and canals of Venice (like you have any choice) or on a scenic drive up into the Dolomites… Yep, The Man will admit there was comfort being back in the states where everyone understands the words coming out of my mouth and my cash ain’t trash. It was sure good to be back in Our Towns… But I can’t wait to go again.

See you on the street…

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