Notes from France
Does anyone drink and eat at home in France (other than us)? Tonight, after our dinner at our Strasbourg apartment, we went for a long walk. There were thousands and thousands out and about. And it did not seem crowded, although most seats were filled. That's because Strasbourg has more cafes, bars, squares and neighborhoods than people (only slightly exaggerating). Of course, it was the same in Paris. Every day and evening have been like this.
Families and couples. Young and old. College kids. Teen-agers. Walking, sitting at sidewalk cafes and bars. Kids riding carousels, yelling “cou cou!” or “yoohoo!” Some are tourists, but most are not (I have a sense about this.) Is this socializing a reason the French live so long?
There is another side to this coin and it is smoking. So many people, from teens on up, smoking, one cigarette after another. Other than inside stores and restaurants, it is okay to light up. That romantic table outside in the square can quickly be surrounded by smokers. We were able, most of the time, to avoid it when we drank or ate outside, though.
Do you think Europe is becoming more Americanized? We feel as though it is. More English language, spoken and written, especially on menus. McDonald's, Starbucks, Subway, Burger King. Baseball caps, worn by locals, not necessarily Americans. T-shirts with brand names or other words written on the front and back. Hamburgers and fries on most menus.
We don't remember it being this way when we lived in Scotland and visited France 19 years ago. Our trips the past four years have revealed a different Europe. But, we saw much of the same in China in 2007.
On the one hand, some of this makes our travel easier. But … (Anyone want to finish this? We would love to hear from you…add your thoughts in the comment section at the bottom of this post.)