First Week in Paris

Trip to Europe series

Here’s a bit from the first week. We were pretty exhausted from jet lag so I’ve delayed posting, but figured better something now than to keep on delaying. Enjoy!

Karis’ Entry: We went to a bakery the first full day here in Paris, France. After the bakery, we enjoyed our food at a park. I had a delicious glazed croissant chocolate. Then, as if on cue, a double rainbow appeared. It was amazing - the new double rainbow people! At a bus stop, I caught my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, that amazing landmark. We got closer, went around it, and let me tell you, it was amazing. We saw the Eiffel Tower from the top, and I got it all on the GoPro, but everything looks tiny through it, still it was cool. Then as it got dark and the lights went on, the Eiffel Tower became ten times more amazing, all sparkly and bright. Later at a bridge - not the most famous but still famous, and a beautiful carousel nearby - we didn’t go on, but it sure was fun to look at. My mom took lots of pictures. But yeah, Jasper the cat was there when we got back at like 6 or 7 pm, and he’s just the best, he’s my new stuffy.

Ella’s Entry: There were more than ten parakeets outside our window this morning! Then last night, we went to the Gellato Shop - a different one than before. Oh, and we also went to a park dad stopped at for a few minutes on our walk home, at night. They had ropes and a big net. Climbed it like there was no tomorrow. Saw another rat. And there was this trash can while we were walking and out of nowhere, a whole bunch of rats scurried off, yuck! I have a new stuffy bat. That’s all for me.

Karsten’s Entry: So, about today… We went shopping and saw the Arc de Triomphe, not necessarily in that order. And I’ve got something to say about the subway here - I’ve been learning to navigate it. Oh, and by the way, my dad’s bad at it. He’s the worst with directions.

Sheldon’s Entry: The stress from our journey’s beginning is fading, and the challenges we’ve faced together have brought us closer. Mastering foreign metro routes together stretched our comfort zones but boosted our confidence. Seeing Karsten navigate crowded subway stations with ease was gratifying.

I’ve been playing with ChatGPT-4, and its image recognition for translations is awesome. It’s been super helpful with everything from understanding ventilation systems to deciphering mixed-language menus. When Karsten asked about options without meat, the previously translated menu was used as the source and ChatGippity filtered the choices from a photo of the menu.

This whole experience is giving me a new perspective on what folks moving to an unfamiliar country might go through, with a place not using their primary language. It’s an odd experience to not have my known language spoken commonly. I’m less chatty here, partly because small talk feels more awkward, and partly because people respect personal space differently.

Here, privacy is about respecting boundaries, not just physical distance. It’s quite different from Texas, where even a slight bump might lead to a chat. In France, you could be elbow-to-elbow with someone in a cafe and not say a word, and that’s totally normal. I’ve noticed that here, privacy is valued regardless of how close you physically are to others, which is a stark contrast to the space-equals-privacy mindset back in Texas. Getting used to crowded subways, something I’d usually avoid has been a challenge. It’s like New York in that sense. But watching my family adapt so quickly to these new norms has been amazing - they’re doing great!

The first time I packed my entire family into a subway car that had no room it was a difficult thing, as my tendency was to “wait for the next subway”, as I’m averse to that level of crowds. It’s just the way things are here (and in places like New York).

On our journey down from the Eiffel Tower, I met some folks from Australia, and felt kinda silly being excited to hear someone speaking English… thinking “There’s my people”… I mean seriously, they are from Australia.

Not exactly Texas. 不

The most pressing thought as I traveled down the stair stepper from Hell (aka Eiffel Tower), was: “If the Eiffel Tower was translated to London or Syndey, would we all be going down on the left side instead of the right, and walk on the left of the sidewalk instead of the right?”. I know I know… important things.

Thankfully my suspicion was correct. Those good folks told me that yes, it’s the opposite and it does take a bit of getting used to when it’s engrained in your muscle memory.

I told Sarah later that I wish I’d been witty enough to reverse the “Dumb and Dumber” joke about mixing up Austria and Australia and asked them if they made the best Vienna sausage in their country. Yeah, I know it’s stupid, but I can’t help what goes this this brain sometimes.

Fun fact, they did know about one of my favorite Australians, Tim Minchin. I said, he’s a comedy singer, can’t remember his name at the moment, but reminds me of Johnny Depp, and they got it immediately. 不

Here’s a mix from the first week.

I’ll do some video later as I get the time (the internet is painfully slow at this location).


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