Before we left, I read on about toilets on Rick Steves site the following:
"The flush: After you've found and used a toilet, you're down to your last challenge — flushing it. Rarely will you encounter a familiar handle. Find some protuberance and push, pull, twist, squeeze, stomp, or pray to it until the water starts."How true. Every toilet so far has been different; seat, flush, smell, shape, etc. Just something to think about. There's something nice about building codes.
Yesterday, as we ascended the Eiffel Tower in both of the elevators you take to reach the top, I couldn't look out without getting very uneasy. Once we were at the top, I had no problem looking over the edge, since it was caged in, but I have a fear of falling from hight places. Any time I peek over the edge, I get butterrflies. That's the feeling I got as we went up and down. I had to close my eyes. It was totally worth it though. Paris is a huge city with some well thought out designs (and some not so well thought out ones). The architecture is spectacular.
The language barrier hasn't been that big of a deal except aroud meals. I don't speak French ( I refuse to use the correct accents for the words to sound right), but I've learned a few critical words that have helped. Aside from the obvious oui and bonjour, combien (how much), pour alay (to go when placing an order), desole (sorry) have all been very helpful to know. I still can't get the larger numbers but most times they are on the register, so I don't have to figure them out. When words won't do, gestures, grunts, pointing - rudimentary communication - have all worked well.
The driving has been a blast. I was dreading it up until we got on the A7 to head north from the train station. The GPS did pretty good and I only made 1 missed turn. The roundabouts are an amazing invention. They really keep the traffic moving and aren't that bad if you pay attention to what the traffic is doing. I found that you pretty much have to drive as fast as you feel comfortable then push the gas just a bit more to drive like a European. It's fun, though I think I made Megan sick on the back roads.
French food is terrible. Let me explain. Tonight was the last straw in trying to find French food for dinner. The menu system is strange (3 courses for a set price at most places) and since the places we've been are tousisty, they serve the same food everywhere and it's at least 15 Euros a plate. We've had a few 50 euro dinners. Not cool. On top of the price, the language barrier has made it tough. We don't understand the menu's and even when it's written in English, it doesn't translate. The other night, I ordered a filet mignon. I got some chunks of beef in a sauce with carrots. I was expecting a nice juicy steak. So far, everything has tasted fine, it's just been weird, hard to order and quite different.
Well, it's 11:30 and Megan fell asleep 45 minutes ago. Off to somewhere else in France tomorrow! By the way, we are having a terrific time and are looking forward to the remainder of the trip.
Also, if you are looking at the pictures on Picasa, they are taking time to sync to the web, so it may be a day or 2 before each album finishes, so check back for updates. We've started tagging and mapping the locations of the pictures so you can see where we've been. We are trying to purge the pictures each night and label some, but it's a lot of work, so sorry for poor pictures and lots of duplicates where we are working on lighting or focus, etc. Oh and we aren't proof-reading or spell-checking the blog... :-)