One Witch Abroad

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.

We’re back. Now it goes quiet again as my friend from London has a relaxing time in the country…which is nothing like Paris. Shame. I like my odd visits to Paris. Somehow people seem to remember me.accordion eiffel

18 thoughts on “One Witch Abroad

  1. I guess we find more time to stop and stare (and interract of course) when we’re “abroad” – no homely distractions. Keeping on going out, Ailsa. We love it.

  2. I find that if my day to day Spanish is not sufficient I tend to raise my voice as if that will make a difference!! Parking here is highly creative and I often get vocal about it – however, I was back in the UK and in Waitrose car park and when I returned a car was parked so closely to my driver’s side that even Twiggy would have had a problem. I noticed a woman approaching and sarcastically asked ‘Did you go to the Spanish school of motoring?’ She responded ‘ Si, Si – Madrid, Hola’ got in her car and drove off!

    1. Typical! We just never got the hang of roundabouts since they changed the “always give way to the right” rule. Pedestrian crossings are only decorations painted on the road and consideration for others doesn’t exist. May I come and live in Spain please?

      1. Pedestrians here look very dubious if a driver stops for them at a crossing, as if suspicious that it is some evil game and they’ll be run over half way across. Either that or the car behind runs into the back of you because they weren’t expecting you to stop. I have been to Spain many times and I can agree on the creative parking. That’s why I’m always grateful to the lads who make their pocket money by saving a space and waving me in. I give them a good tip and ask them to keep an eye on the vehicle. (They won’t try to rob it with Titch “grinning” at them from the driver’s seat)

  3. I love this kinds of long, convoluted social interactions with strangers that you only get in France. Many is the time I’ve wished I spoke French better… Or at all, really, in order to catch the nuances do a conversation.



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