We just got back from spending three and a half days in London and then three and a half days in Paris.
The worst thing about London, if you’re planning to go there, is . . . well, actually there are two worst things about London. A) they drive on the wrong side of the road, so that even if you aren’t driving, you don’t know which way to look to see if you’re about to be run down by someone turning a corner, and B) the toilet paper is perfectly dreadful. It’s sandpaper, really, in its coarseness and absorbency.
The best thing about London is that they speak English there.
The worst thing about Paris is not that they speak French there. It’s that ALL, and when I say all, I mean it, ALL the signage is only in French. For god’s sake, even in south Dakota we have at least some signs in Spanish. In Paris, millions and millions of English speaking people from all over the world visit every year, and yet, they have no idea where they are or where they’re going. Most of the people we met spoke at least a little bit of English, and I learned a few words of French, so communicating wasn’t actually all that bad. But the damn signs were worthless. We ate 11 meals there, and two of the menus had English translations. That we managed to avoid eating something totally surprising is a miracle.
The best thing about Paris is the food.
Now the WORST meal I had, in fact probably the worst meal I have ever had anywhere, was at a Thai restaurant near our hotel in London. It consisted entirely of “giant grilled prawns.” How could that be bad, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. They were WHOLE giant grilled prawns. Not peeled, not cleaned, and with feet, antennae, and EYES still intact. They gave me shrimp with eyes. I literally may never eat shrimp again. And it didn’t even taste good. It tasted like almost nothing, yet had a gritty, mushy texture. It was truly stunning to think that anyone could ruin shrimp so thoroughly. I choked down a few bites with my eyes closed, after peeling and cleaning the thing as best I could, but it was so dreadful, I couldn’t go on. Even Jim agreed it was awful, and he’ll eat anything. It looked awful, it tasted awful, and the thought that they probably threw those little guys on the grill while they were still alive, frying their tiny eyes and feet and antennae, was enough to make me wish I was dead. Warning: DO NOT eat shrimp in England. You will hate it and you will hate yourself.
The best thing I ate was at a cafe near the Louvre in Paris–a buckwheat crepe filled with goat cheese, honey, walnuts, and olive tampenade, and garnished with sliced apples. And if you’ve never had a French croissant, trust me –you’ve never had a good one.
More entries in The Good, the Bad, and the Dreadful will continue in the next few days.