After a couple of days here, some impressions:
- The airline flights that dump you off in Europe at 7am which seemed so convivial when I was consulting are less so when I am a tourist. We had the experience of arriving at our hotel about 8am, which of course did not yet have a room anywhere near ready. We had a nice day walking around, but we sure were exhausted by the time we got to our room and had a nap. Note: American Airlines 767's have very very uncomfortable business class seats - really a disgrace nowadays.
- The Louvre is magnificent, but is ridiculously big. It is impossible to digest. You really have to find a branch of art, like the Flemish painters, and stay in that area. The Musee d'Orsay, which focuses on 19th century French art, is much more digestible. Also, it has a cool location in a train station, which was a very important part of 19th century life.
- The French smoking thing has been joked about so much it is almost a caricature, but it is still a shock the first time in a restaurant. We observed many American smokers reveling in their smoking freedom. I wonder if there is a business opportunity to sponsor smoking trips to Paris, much like those Asia sex trips to Thailand.
- Wow, the food is expensive! $50-80 entrees in some places, and for that you can get two slices of tenderloin. It was good though, and we have yet to have a bad, or even so-so, meal.
- I would feel safer in a golf cart than some of the cars here. You can really see the trade-offs with fuel economy we make in the US by having crash test standards. Over here with no crash tests and $6.00 gas, you get lots of tiny cars. Mini-coopers look average to large-sized here.
- The Champs d'elysees was amazing on Sunday afternoon - a sea of people going up the hill. It looked like those pictures of the start of the NY marathon, but it went as far as the eye can see. Amazingly, with all this foot traffic past the door, half the businesses were closed that day (welcome to Europe, I guess)
- There are more shoe stores here than fast food restaurants in Phoenix. And my wife has stopped in every one of them