Have you ever noticed that when abroad, even very normal things, like going around the shops or sitting at a café, people-watching, is much more fun? It’s different.
Yesterday I went up to Paris (not a very frequent event for me) to meet a friend and bring him back home for a week’s holiday. I forget that Paris is so different from my rural corner. It’s so lively, so cosmopolitan, so noisy!
My friend is from London and although they are both large cities he noticed a big difference too. Mind, he was with the world’s greatest “talk to strangers” champion. We sat outside a café where the owner came and stood by our table chatting all through the meal. The taxi rank just by it provided endless amusement as a very patient, very large, black driver finally lost it and had a shouting match with an extremely unreasonable customer. The Parisians all took this in their stride, raised their eyebrows and said “Quel cinema!” (what a performance!)
An accordian player aged about 92 turned up and made some noises until he was told to go away. The next taxi driver with whom I’d got chatting asked what I thought so I said, “Oh go on, I’ll pretend to be a tourist and love it” then turned to my friend and shrieked “Oh my God, this is just so French!” Everyone doubled up.
Stopped by American tourists and asked for directions I did the only sensible thing and shouted out in French “Oi! Anyone know where Rue Margot is?”’ One chap caught my eye so I trotted over, showed him their slip of paper, got directions, shook hands and went back. Everyone slightly shocked but everyone happy.
Final yell of the day was Starbucks – no I don’t normally go there but it was the only place with coffee AND seats in Gare de l’Est. The charming lady serving me offered me a bucket of coffee for my friend’s Americano (whatever that is when it’s home) and I replied that I’d like a small one.
“That IS a small one”
“Bloody hell, he is going to be pissing for England!”
Collapse of entire staff…. it’s the way I tell ’em.