Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Vive la différence!

September 16, 2008 Vive la différence!

We’ve only been here one week and everyday we feel like we’ve got a lot to learn before this will all seem normal. It’s part of the adventure, but here are some of the differences that we hadn’t expected:
1) TV programs start anytime, not just on the hour and half hour - 6:50 PM is just fine.
2) Public toilets are everywhere – nice - but for men you go into a large phone booth type place on the sidewalk behind a metal half door. Flushing turns into a waterfall – look out for wet shoes!
3) Mini lap top computers (10 ounces!) – cost $425.00 – but watch out for the French keypad!
4) Cars yield for pedestrians in the crosswalks (don’t try that in Spain!)
5) Restaurants only serve from 12-2 and again after 6PM – don’t try to eat in between, no service.
6) Stores don’t pull down an iron grate over their windows at night.
7) When you pay with a charge card at the restaurants, they don’t take your card out of sight; they bring a hand held swiper to the table.
8) You can only park in spots outlined in white, not blue (we learned that the hard way).
9) When you are eating a block of cheese or getting butter from the stick, you need to slice it so that it retains its original shape (ie. Don’t cut the tip off the Brie or cut the corner off of a stick of butter). Paul cut the corner off of the new block of butter at one of the B&Bs while we we eating with the owners – glances were exchanged.
10) We have a combination microwave/toaster oven above our stovetop.
11) We wanted ice for our cooler at a grocery store– none to be found. One store person suggested a box of icecream!
12) When you set the table, forks are placed tine side down.
13) Dogs are incredible – no runnings around, jumping on people, barking – even without leashes. Owners barely say anything, let alone yell, and the dogs stay right with them.
14) When you go to a restaurant or café even for just a coffee, the table becomes yours for as long as you wish to sit and watch the world go by. No one comes to see if you want something else to encourage you to move on. It is impolite to bring the bill before you ask for it.
15) When you meet someone, even for a dinner party in which you will be sitting at the same table for several hours; people do not share their first names. Even people who know each other well call each other Madame or Monsieur.
16) The Hotel de Ville is not a hotel. We saw the beautiful building in the center of town and decided to go in to check out their rates – it’s the City Hall!
17) There is very little graffiti here and the streets are super clean.
18) We found the WalMart/Sam’s/Target of France! It’s called E. Leclerc and it’s a huge building complex on the edge of town with really nice quality and selection at cheap prices - gas ($6.75 per gallon), electronics (we bought a coffee maker for $20.00), pharmacy (haven’t needed it, yet!) and food (we bought a whole baked chicken for $7.00, usually over $20.00). There are some things about the USA that we really do miss!

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