observations on life

The Good, the Bad, and the Dreadful Part II: The Odd


Get this. In neither of our hotels, the one in London nor the one in Paris, were there 1) washcloths, 2) facial tissue, 3) a top sheet on the bed (just a filled comforter), 4) a clock.  These were nice mid-range hotels.  They were clean.  The staff were nice.  But you couldn’t wash your face, blow your nose on kleenex, cover with just the sheet, or know what time is was when you woke up in the night.

Odd in Paris:  It is apparently the City of Chronic Dehydration.  I have never been anywhere that’s so stingy with drinking water.  You had to practically beg.  One restaurant, the Cafe Louvre, charged us 10 euros for water.  I swear I’m not making this up.  Also, the coffee was great, but the cups are so tiny–even when you just order coffee, and not espresso or cappuccino.  Tiny little cups.  And no refills.  You want more, you pay more.  Warning: there is no diet Coke in Paris.  There is “Coke light,” which has no calories but doesn’t taste like diet coke.  It was better than nothing, but it wasn’t diet Coke.  The best thing about flying for 8 hours from Paris to Minneapolis was the diet Coke.

More Odd in Paris:  I saw maybe five or six women wearing dresses, and they looked like they were on their way to or from work.  Everybody else wore pants, and NO women were wearing shorts.  (No women wearing shorts in London, either.  ?????  Are they just wimpy?)  I bemoan the recent fad of not being able to buy any clothes that aren’t tan, gray, black, or white, but it was even worse in Paris.  Black black black black.  Tan.  White.  A little gray.  The only color in any of the clothing stores was coral/orange.  That is apparently the only color that is acceptable in the present fashion climate.  Happily, I had my coral shirt.

And scarves.  Amazing.  Not just scarves hanging at one’s neck.  No.  Scarves wound around and around the neck, as if it’s ten degrees out.  What is that???????????? Even men wore scarves wound around their necks, bundled up in them.  It was in the high sixties.  It was not cold.  I was hot just looking at them.

Of course everyone knew right away that we were not French.  Just by looking.  Jim did have his University of Wisconsin hat on, so maybe that was it.  But I’m not sure about that.

Odd in Paris:  No costume jewelry.  I finally found a little shop the last day we were there.  There are, however, beauty salons and glasses frames places on every block.  Yet almost nobody was wearing glasses.  Skin care/makeup stores, everywhere, where that’s all they sell.

Maybe they knew by our bad skin, unfashionable glasses, and (apparently) bad hair that we weren’t French.


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