Monday, September 08, 2008

Like a plastic Airedale in a sailor dress...

the great city of Paris took me by surprise a few years ago.

Pleasantly so.

- I'd expected rude locals who would insult my feeble attempts at their language. In reality, people couldn't have been nicer (or maybe I just didn't fully understand what they were saying).

- I'd expected to be openly scorned by condescending intellectuals about all matters of U.S. if I personally had dreamed up and implemented that policy single-handedly. (In fact, the "Buck Fush" graffiti waited to make its appearance until northern Italy.)

- I'd expected the Louvre to feel like Disney meets the Da Vinci Code. No way, in fact - one simply can't be cynical about the Mona Lisa or Venus di Milo in person.

- Snails and frog legs? Bleah! But oddly they seem to work when served up in a little cozy bistro with misty rain and cobblestones outside of the window.

- Overall, I'd expected to be underwhelmed by a city that's so universally praised and beloved that I figured there was no way it could live up to expectations. I was wrong.

But maybe my enchantment was due to the fact I don't live in Paris full time. Apparently conditions outside of the tourist areas can be less than magnifique. Traffic jams, pollution, crime...

And now the government is considering urban planning measures based on what works in London.

London? That would be another interesting Parisian surprise.


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