Monday, June 11, 2007

Stupid Travel Tales, Part One

So the latest stop on The Beloved World Birthday Tour was Paris. Given France’s elevation to “butt of all jokes and harborer of evil” by our current administration, I was expecting a less-than-gracious welcome by the French people. After all, the Parisians aren’t known for their exuberance toward American tourists to begin with. I could only imagine how it would be now.

What a shocker. They were nice. Not smug, we-told-you-so nice (although it must be noted, they did tell us so), but gracious-and-friendly, nice.

The one exception was the cabbie to the airport, who pretended he couldn’t understand a word of my French. Now I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t speak fluent, or even conversational French. But, dude, seriously. I speak French like a five-year old. Pretty simple construction there. For example, he didn’t understand “Charles De Gaulle.” S’il vous plait!

I guess thousands of years of civilized living has made the French a bit more circumspect about our young buck of a nation. Or maybe they think the bulk of Americans have finally realized what a doofus GW is, and they’ve decided to cut us some slack. Or maybe they’re still swallowing the fact that they’ve elected a conservative to lead their nation as well.

Now comes the crazy part. Most of the Americans in Paris behave like the denizens of this blog. Jesus H. I swear these people still churn their own butter. My favorite was at the Louvre, which is a bit like one of those glass ant farms with that giant pyramid. There are escalators everywhere, with people buzzing about. And wouldn’t you know it, Ma Kettle “gits own tha wrong wun.” Now, any normal person would just go to the top, where there is an identical escalator heading right back down again. Not Ma! She decides to turn around and push her way BACK DOWN THE UP escalator, reuniting with her cross-eyed offspring.

And of course, there were plenty of the turistas who got to the top of the escalator and stopped to figure out which way to go. That’s one of my personal faves. In the evil glee department: The crowd literally forced me to run over a couple of those people. And I confess, it was satisfying. Who knew trampling could be fun?!

And of course the people who take pictures of themselves next to some piece of art, which is right next to a NO PHOTOS sign. In fact, I’m guessing that many people wind up with that sign in their pictures.

Mostly, though, we strolled for miles along beautiful boulevards, along picturesque back streets and canals, enjoying every moment of being in one of the most romantic and remarkable cities on earth.