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Thread: Europe trip, dernier installment

  1. #1
    Cindy Fuller Guest

    Default Europe trip, dernier installment

    Our last stop was Paris. We left Wengen (Switzerland) at 6 am to catch
    a series of trains to Bern, where we got the TGV to Paris. We landed at
    the Gare de Lyon around 1, both of us schlepping huge quantities of
    luggage. This is what happens when you have to haul meeting, hiking,
    and city clothes for a single trip. When we got to the rental agency,
    we learned that the apartment we were supposed to rent was flooded and
    the only other unit available for the week was a large apartment in
    Montparnasse, on the opposite side of the Seine. This was possibly the
    best luck of the trip. The place was huge--3 bedrooms, the equivalent
    of 2 baths, a decent-sized kitchen, and a patio equipped with table,
    chairs, and sofa. For most of our visit in Paris, we were joined by the
    SO's cousin from Amsterdam.

    We got into the swing of meals in Paris easily. Most mornings I went
    around the corner to a boulangerie for bread and mini-Viennoises (Danish
    to us Yanks). After a leisurely breakfast, we'd hop on the Métro to
    sightsee. Lunch and dinner were also relaxed. Most of our lunches and
    dinners were the standard two- or three-course prix fixe variety. We
    did have excellent meals at Basque and Moroccan restaurants, as well as
    French and Italian ones.

    A few foodie highlights of the Paris leg:

    Librarie Gourmand. A bookstore that's about twice the size of Kitchen
    Arts & Letters in NYC. Most of the volumes are in French, but there was
    a selection of English-language books that I had not seen in the US.
    Since we were perilously close to the weight limit for luggage, I
    restrained myself to a Cambodian cookbook in English and a Corsican
    cookbook in French. I also bought a recipe birthday card for a friend
    of mine who was born on Bastille Day.

    La Pistacherie. A nut store the likes of which we had never seen. The
    quality was amazing. We bought 100 g of Turkish pistachios and 100 g of
    the best smoked almonds either of us have had in a long time.

    Berthillon Ice Cream. The original store is on Ile St. Louis, but the
    ice cream is sold throughout the city. I had an outstanding raspberry
    sorbet on our first day.

    Rue Montorgeuil. This is the foodie street on the Rive Droit. Lots of
    sidewalk cafés, boulangeries, patisseries, charcuteries, and fromageries.

    Le Palais de Thé. I bought Georgian and Laotian black teas there.

    The trip out of Charles de Gaulle Airport reminded us of a Kafka novel.
    Lots of lines, and you were never sure the purpose of the lines. We
    stood for 20 minutes on one line, thinking it was for security. It
    turned out to be for the Value-Added Tax rebates. The first security
    line (passport control) was exceedingly long for non-EU citizens, mostly
    because there was only one window open. The airport staff reluctantly
    opened a second window when the non-natives got restless. The second
    security line (metal detector) was a breeze--no need to take off shoes,
    belt, etc.

    The trip as a whole was great. We never felt treated like "ugly
    Americans", and only had one episode where we were scammed (when we were
    attempting to buy our first packet [carnet] of Métro tickets). With the
    exception of the area around Montmartre, we felt reasonably safe. It
    may be another 20 years before we go back, but the good feelings we had
    about this trip will last that long.

    Cindy

    --
    C.J. Fuller

    Delete the obvious to email me

  2. #2
    Pete C. Guest

    Default Re: Europe trip, dernier installment


    Cindy Fuller wrote:
    >


    <trimmed for commentary and questions>

    > best luck of the trip. The place was huge--3 bedrooms, the equivalent
    > of 2 baths, a decent-sized kitchen, and a patio equipped with table,


    What is "the equivalent of 2 baths"?

    > Librarie Gourmand. A bookstore that's about twice the size of Kitchen
    > Arts & Letters in NYC. Most of the volumes are in French, but there was
    > a selection of English-language books that I had not seen in the US.
    > Since we were perilously close to the weight limit for luggage, I
    > restrained myself to a Cambodian cookbook in English and a Corsican
    > cookbook in French. I also bought a recipe birthday card for a friend
    > of mine who was born on Bastille Day.


    Did you consider shipping some books back home rather than limiting
    yourself to luggage capacity? The book store could probably have shipped
    them for you for modest cost. How about at least taking pictures of the
    covers and publisher information so you could hunt for them later?

    > Berthillon Ice Cream. The original store is on Ile St. Louis, but the
    > ice cream is sold throughout the city. I had an outstanding raspberry
    > sorbet on our first day.


    Sorbet isn't ice cream. How was their ice cream and were there any
    unusual and interesting flavors?

    > The trip as a whole was great. We never felt treated like "ugly
    > Americans", and only had one episode where we were scammed (when we were
    > attempting to buy our first packet [carnet] of Métro tickets).


    How did you get scammed? Aren't there automated ticket vending machines?

    > With the
    > exception of the area around Montmartre, we felt reasonably safe.


    What was unsafe in that area, and what limited you to only "reasonably"
    safe feeling in other areas? When I was in Egypt I felt "reasonably"
    safe, I'd expect "very" safe for France, but I've not been there
    personally.

  3. #3
    Julian Vrieslander Guest

    Default Re: Europe trip, dernier installment

    In article <4e237d16$0$20065$[email protected] >,
    "Pete C." <[email protected]> wrote:

    > Cindy Fuller wrote:
    > >

    >
    > <trimmed for commentary and questions>
    >
    > > best luck of the trip. The place was huge--3 bedrooms, the equivalent
    > > of 2 baths, a decent-sized kitchen, and a patio equipped with table,

    >
    > What is "the equivalent of 2 baths"?


    [SO reporting]

    The apartment had one small bathroom with toilet and small sink, another
    room with shower and sink, and a third room with bath tub, sink, chest
    of drawers (for cosmetics, etc.), and heated towel rack. If you are
    really interested, this web page has links to pics and VR panoramas of
    the apartment we rented.

    http://www.home-rental.com/default.a...&visite=506001

    > > Librarie Gourmand. A bookstore that's about twice the size of Kitchen
    > > Arts & Letters in NYC. Most of the volumes are in French, but there was
    > > a selection of English-language books that I had not seen in the US.
    > > Since we were perilously close to the weight limit for luggage, I
    > > restrained myself to a Cambodian cookbook in English and a Corsican
    > > cookbook in French. I also bought a recipe birthday card for a friend
    > > of mine who was born on Bastille Day.

    >
    > Did you consider shipping some books back home rather than limiting
    > yourself to luggage capacity? The book store could probably have shipped
    > them for you for modest cost. How about at least taking pictures of the
    > covers and publisher information so you could hunt for them later?


    Shipping stuff from France is not cheap, from what we've read. Although
    maybe there are special rates for books. I think it was more a matter
    of convenience: there were no obvious must-buy books, and we did not
    want to spend time in post offices.

    > > Berthillon Ice Cream. The original store is on Ile St. Louis, but the
    > > ice cream is sold throughout the city. I had an outstanding raspberry
    > > sorbet on our first day.

    >
    > Sorbet isn't ice cream. How was their ice cream and were there any
    > unusual and interesting flavors?


    I'm not sure what the difference is between ice cream and sorbet. If
    the criteria is cream, the tiramisu-flavored stuff that I had was
    definitely ice cream. And it was delicious.

    > > The trip as a whole was great. We never felt treated like "ugly
    > > Americans", and only had one episode where we were scammed (when we were
    > > attempting to buy our first packet [carnet] of Métro tickets).

    >
    > How did you get scammed? Aren't there automated ticket vending machines?


    On our arrival at Gare Lyon, we were standing in line at one of the
    vending machines (which we had never used before), trying to figure out
    how to operate the on-screen menus. There was a long line of impatient
    commuters behind us, and we felt rushed. One of the guys in the line
    offered us some Metro tickets for a few Euros. We discovered later that
    he gave us used tickets, which don't work in the turnstiles. It's a
    standard scam, and we were stupid to fall for it.

    > > With the
    > > exception of the area around Montmartre, we felt reasonably safe.

    >
    > What was unsafe in that area, and what limited you to only "reasonably"
    > safe feeling in other areas? When I was in Egypt I felt "reasonably"
    > safe, I'd expect "very" safe for France, but I've not been there
    > personally.


    Montmartre, and especially the area around Sacre Coeur, was very
    crowded, with tourists overflowing the sidewalks onto the streets.
    There were also lots of shady-looking characters selling miniature
    Eiffel Towers and other schlock. These guys would sit on a curb, with
    their wares on a small blanket. I suspect that they were unlicensed, or
    illegal in some other way, because they would run away whenever a cop
    showed up. One of them was not fast enough, and the cop confiscated his
    stuff. We did not feel that we were in danger of violent crime, but
    (because of the pressing crowds) we were wary of pickpockets and purse
    snatchers. I was also carrying an expensive camera, although in a
    nondescript shoulder bag. My mother was once attacked by a purse
    snatcher on a busy street in Montreal, knocked down, and suffered broken
    bones. So we try to be careful.

    --
    Julian Vrieslander

  4. #4
    Steve Pope Guest

    Default Re: Europe trip, dernier installment

    Julian Vrieslander <MY_FIRST_NAME@MY_LAST_NAME.com> wrote:

    >Shipping stuff from France is not cheap, from what we've read. Although
    >maybe there are special rates for books. I think it was more a matter
    >of convenience: there were no obvious must-buy books, and we did not
    >want to spend time in post offices.


    We sometimes have shipped stuff from the UK to the US while in
    mid-vacation. In the past the price was more reasonable than it
    has been recently. To ship a 3.5 kilo package from a UK post
    office was L. 48. There was no cheaper method for that package
    size offered by the post office, although had we split it into two
    packages each under 2 kilos, then it would have been around L. 40.
    There are probably less costly services available from other
    than post offices but it would have taken some research to identify
    them.

    I haven't kept track exactly but it would have been about half
    this cost to do the shipping a decade ago.

    Steve

  5. #5
    Pete C. Guest

    Default Re: Europe trip, dernier installment


    Julian Vrieslander wrote:
    >
    > In article <4e237d16$0$20065$[email protected] >,
    > "Pete C." <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    > > Cindy Fuller wrote:
    > > >

    > >
    > > <trimmed for commentary and questions>
    > >
    > > > best luck of the trip. The place was huge--3 bedrooms, the equivalent
    > > > of 2 baths, a decent-sized kitchen, and a patio equipped with table,

    > >
    > > What is "the equivalent of 2 baths"?

    >
    > [SO reporting]
    >
    > The apartment had one small bathroom with toilet and small sink, another
    > room with shower and sink, and a third room with bath tub, sink, chest
    > of drawers (for cosmetics, etc.), and heated towel rack. If you are
    > really interested, this web page has links to pics and VR panoramas of
    > the apartment we rented.
    >
    > http://www.home-rental.com/default.a...&visite=506001


    So one US "half bath" with toilet and sink", and two bathing only rooms
    with no US equivalent. Interesting.

    >
    > > > Librarie Gourmand. A bookstore that's about twice the size of Kitchen
    > > > Arts & Letters in NYC. Most of the volumes are in French, but there was
    > > > a selection of English-language books that I had not seen in the US.
    > > > Since we were perilously close to the weight limit for luggage, I
    > > > restrained myself to a Cambodian cookbook in English and a Corsican
    > > > cookbook in French. I also bought a recipe birthday card for a friend
    > > > of mine who was born on Bastille Day.

    > >
    > > Did you consider shipping some books back home rather than limiting
    > > yourself to luggage capacity? The book store could probably have shipped
    > > them for you for modest cost. How about at least taking pictures of the
    > > covers and publisher information so you could hunt for them later?

    >
    > Shipping stuff from France is not cheap, from what we've read. Although
    > maybe there are special rates for books. I think it was more a matter
    > of convenience: there were no obvious must-buy books, and we did not
    > want to spend time in post offices.


    Yep, it does seem a bit pricey for shipping. I guess we do well in the
    US with international Priority Mail.

    >
    > > > Berthillon Ice Cream. The original store is on Ile St. Louis, but the
    > > > ice cream is sold throughout the city. I had an outstanding raspberry
    > > > sorbet on our first day.

    > >
    > > Sorbet isn't ice cream. How was their ice cream and were there any
    > > unusual and interesting flavors?

    >
    > I'm not sure what the difference is between ice cream and sorbet. If
    > the criteria is cream, the tiramisu-flavored stuff that I had was
    > definitely ice cream. And it was delicious.


    Yep, cream. Tiramisu is definitely a good one. Most anything tiramisu is
    one of my favorites.

    >
    > > > The trip as a whole was great. We never felt treated like "ugly
    > > > Americans", and only had one episode where we were scammed (when we were
    > > > attempting to buy our first packet [carnet] of Métro tickets).

    > >
    > > How did you get scammed? Aren't there automated ticket vending machines?

    >
    > On our arrival at Gare Lyon, we were standing in line at one of the
    > vending machines (which we had never used before), trying to figure out
    > how to operate the on-screen menus. There was a long line of impatient
    > commuters behind us, and we felt rushed. One of the guys in the line
    > offered us some Metro tickets for a few Euros. We discovered later that
    > he gave us used tickets, which don't work in the turnstiles. It's a
    > standard scam, and we were stupid to fall for it.


    Ah, got it. I would think commuters would already have their tickets or
    some sort of pass.

    >
    > > > With the
    > > > exception of the area around Montmartre, we felt reasonably safe.

    > >
    > > What was unsafe in that area, and what limited you to only "reasonably"
    > > safe feeling in other areas? When I was in Egypt I felt "reasonably"
    > > safe, I'd expect "very" safe for France, but I've not been there
    > > personally.

    >
    > Montmartre, and especially the area around Sacre Coeur, was very
    > crowded, with tourists overflowing the sidewalks onto the streets.
    > There were also lots of shady-looking characters selling miniature
    > Eiffel Towers and other schlock. These guys would sit on a curb, with
    > their wares on a small blanket. I suspect that they were unlicensed, or
    > illegal in some other way, because they would run away whenever a cop
    > showed up. One of them was not fast enough, and the cop confiscated his
    > stuff. We did not feel that we were in danger of violent crime, but
    > (because of the pressing crowds) we were wary of pickpockets and purse
    > snatchers. I was also carrying an expensive camera, although in a
    > nondescript shoulder bag.


    Sounds rather like the bazaar in Cairo. Crowded, maze like and with
    plenty of "interesting" characters (and a cat that wanted me to take it
    home). I didn't feel unsafe, but I was on alert. The government escort
    with the MP5 adds to the comfort level a bit too.

    > My mother was once attacked by a purse
    > snatcher on a busy street in Montreal, knocked down, and suffered broken
    > bones. So we try to be careful.


    Wholly crap! In Montreal?! I used to go up to Montreal fairly frequently
    when I lived in the northeast and it was a 5.5hr drive. I've hiked
    through industrial parks in Montreal at 3am and never had a problem.

    >
    > --
    > Julian Vrieslander


  6. #6
    sf Guest

    Default Re: Europe trip, dernier installment

    On Mon, 18 Jul 2011 03:03:21 +0000 (UTC), [email protected]
    (Steve Pope) wrote:

    > Julian Vrieslander <MY_FIRST_NAME@MY_LAST_NAME.com> wrote:
    >
    > >Shipping stuff from France is not cheap, from what we've read. Although
    > >maybe there are special rates for books. I think it was more a matter
    > >of convenience: there were no obvious must-buy books, and we did not
    > >want to spend time in post offices.

    >
    > We sometimes have shipped stuff from the UK to the US while in
    > mid-vacation. In the past the price was more reasonable than it
    > has been recently. To ship a 3.5 kilo package from a UK post
    > office was L. 48. There was no cheaper method for that package
    > size offered by the post office, although had we split it into two
    > packages each under 2 kilos, then it would have been around L. 40.
    > There are probably less costly services available from other
    > than post offices but it would have taken some research to identify
    > them.
    >
    > I haven't kept track exactly but it would have been about half
    > this cost to do the shipping a decade ago.
    >

    We've had rugs shipped from Greece and from Tibet at very reasonable
    rates. They arrived here in the minimum amount of time (time was the
    biggest surprise) that was given to us by the sender. Compared to the
    cost of sending a postcard, the cost of shipping rugs was downright
    cheap!

    --

    Today's mighty oak is just yesterday's nut that held its ground.

  7. #7
    pure kona Guest

    Default Re: Europe trip, dernier installment

    On Mon, 18 Jul 2011 08:02:16 +0200, "Giusi" <[email protected]>
    wrote:

    >
    >"Cindy Fuller" <[email protected]> ha scritto nel messaggio
    >
    >> Our last stop was Paris.

    >
    >
    >Again, very enjoyable. Thank you.
    >


    Loved your tales too!

    Thank you.

    with aloha,
    Cea

  8. #8
    Julian Vrieslander Guest

    Default Re: Europe trip (photos are now up!)

    Cindy and I typically take lots of photos and keep a journal of our
    major vacation trips. This year's journal was titled "The Beer, Boots,
    and Baguettes Tour 2011", after our favored activities in Berlin,
    Switzerland, and Paris.

    We won't be copying the (handwritten) journal into RFC. But you are
    welcome to view our photo galleries. Our shots are usually a bit higher
    quality than the usual "Here's Ethel and the Mona Lisa" stuff.

    A few tips: The best way to view our galleries is to use a large
    monitor, with browser window expanded to full screen, going through them
    in sequence. Click on the first thumbnail and then press arrow keys, or
    click the on-screen arrow buttons, to move between shots.

    The captions contain a few bits of interesting info and snarky comments,
    and some of these will be more meaningful if you read them in order.
    Captions are under the photos. If you use a laptop, you might need to
    scroll vertically to see the captions under the vertically-formatted
    shots. Some shots have no caption. *Note: If you click on an image, the
    web site switches to a black blackground, and suppresses captions.
    Click again on the image to remove the black background.

    http://julianv.zenfolio.com/f432840165

    Comments and factual corrections to the captions are always welcome.

    --
    Julian Vrieslander

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