Browsing articles from "February, 2004"
Feb 18, 2004

Europe, I am in you!

It’s midnight in Holland, 3:30 PM in California.  I was just in Switzerland and the Netherlands, too, but now we’re stuck in Holland momentarily because our driver put the wrong gas into the car.  We’re at the at an auto body shop waiting for them to slowly drain the car of diesel right now and we’re not going to get to Paris till 5 AM.

The people in Holland are so, so nice.  This wrong gas experience being one example of the kindness I’ve experienced over here.  Our driver accidentally filled the diesel car with regular gas, which means ka-boom times if we started the car.  The gas station attendants called a tow truck to help us siphon it out.  While we were waiting for the tow truck, they invited to their personal break room, where there were tables and chairs, and where we could be out of the cold (it’s a European winter over here!).  They even offered us drinks and snacks, gratis.

When the tow truck people realized that this wasn’t going to be as easy as siphoning out the gas, they called another car to come pick us up and take us to the auto body shop with the car, where we were offered the same great treatment.  Heck, I’m writing from one of their computers right now.  Did I mention how nice people are here?

One very cool thing: they accept AAA insurance over here.  It really does work all over the world.

I had baked goat cheese at a little Parisian cafe a few days ago and I’m still dreaming about it.  It was thick medallion of goat cheese covered in buttered bread crumbs and it came to me straight out of the oven and atop a spring salad.  The exterior was crunchy while the interior was hot and creamy.  I can’t wait to try to recreate this at home.  That was also the day that I went to the most beautiful church.

One awesome realization: I found that I can speak more French than I had originally thought.  It’s the only way I can communicate with some of my relatives and full immersion is really the best place to learn and practice.

Paris is a lot like San Francisco, but more calm.  It’s like how I compared Ashland to Berkeley.  Ashland is the quieter, more down to earth and more… real version of Berkeley (I think this may only make sense if you’ve lived in and truly experienced Berkeley).  I wouldn’t mind relocating to Paris.  I love the food, the people are beautiful and I just love the laid back lifestyle.  Everyone’s totally chill.

One shocking thing for me, though, is that Paris is a lot more rundown than I’d expected, like Italy.  The streets are pretty broken up, the buildings are run down, and I slept on a wooden bed frame without a mattress last night, just a blanket.  The latter isn’t the norm here, but it’s also not surprising.  I guess I shouldn’t be shocked by all this, though, considering that many of these buildings are very, very old.  Definitely a rustic feel with that old world charm.

Tomorrow, I’m most excited about going shopping with my cousin.  She’s under strict orders from my aunt to take me to all the spots that locals go to.  Paris fashion, bring it.

I’m extremely tired right now.  I literally haven’t slept in days (that mattress-less wooden bed frame didn’t help!), but that’s going to change in preparation for my impending adventures.

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