Monday, August 18, 2014

12 Ways Tourists Annoy The Parisians

The Local asked readers the top 12 complaints
that drive Parisians crazy:

1. Stop getting robbed
In other words, watch your money closer
and be more careful on the subways.
Keep your purse and pack in the front and wallets out of trouser pockets.
Apparently, our carelessness is giving Paris a bad name. 

2. Thinking no one speaks English
Be careful what you say in front of others
and don't assume the Parisians don't understand you. 

3. Stop with the Locks~ 
No one, especially the Parisians, is happy about the love locks
damaging bridges in and around Paris. 
Nor the keys tossed into the Seine. 
It's causing huge problems for the bridges and the river
so take a Selfie and post it on Facebook or email it to your friends
but keep your locks to yourself. 

4. Manners go a long way~
Saying Bonjour before asking for help or directions
is common practice among Parisians
so consider saying hello or Excusez-moi before launching into your questions. 

5. Metro etiquette~
There are several unspoken rules when traveling by metro:
Let others off before getting on.
Take off your large backpack and keep it on the ground next to you or between your feet.
Don't lean over others to look at the Metro map again and again.
Move back away from the door to let others in.
Keep your voice down while inside. 

6. Velib bikes~
These are meant to help Parisians (and visitors) get from place to place in a hurry.
If you want a group bike tour, find one online and schedule it. 
And remember to keep your Velib on the street
and not ride on the sidewalk. 

7. Learn the basics~
Everyone has told you when traveling to France
to at least learn a few phrases to start with. 
As mentioned before, Bonjour or Parlez-vous anglais? 
lets them know you're trying. 

8. Blocking while taking photographs~
Be mindful of blocking pedestrians and/or traffic while stopping to take your pics.
Yes, everything IS gorgeous but remember you are probably about the 
100th tourist they've had to step or drive around that week. 
Take care that you're not blocking someone's way. 

9. Table etiquette~
Sitting down at a table clearly set for lunch or dinner
and asking for drinks only will leave your waiter plenty surly. 
Or moving chairs and tables around to suit you 
can sometimes cause them fines from the Police
so ask first. 

10. Keep your voice down~
The French are a much more discreet lot
and when sitting in close quarters (as many of the cafes, metro and trains are), 
they don't appreciate our booming voices or laughter. 
Again, more manners than anything. 

11. Road hogs~
Apparently, far too many visitors insist on walking down narrow pathways
en masse. 
This seemed to be a common complaint
and can be easily rectified by walking in couples or single file
to keep oncoming traffic happy. 

12. Changes to the menu~
It's a simple thing in the US and most restaurants will accomodate us
but in Paris, it is again considered rude. 
Ask for substitutions at home
but when in Paris, try it the way the chef created it. 
Keep those chefs happy! 

Some of these seem pretty basic and maybe even a little whiny
but with 30 million tourists a year, 
I imagine some small slights
can become huge. 
Seems common sense mostly. 
If you're not sure what bothers your hosts,
do a little reading online about etiquette of your host country.
We appreciate it when travelers do the same for us. 

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen
Info via The Local)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Secret of Health~ Buddhist thought for the day

I had a different post scheduled for this week
but the untimely death of a certain public figure
and beautiful, tortured human being
as well as the recent diagnosis of a family illness
left me with the need for something different. 

Monday, August 11th,
was also the birthday of a beloved friend
who would have been 51
but was taken from us,
fighting all the way,
at 26. 

So I went in search of Buddhist quotes 
as I sometimes do. 

"The secret of health for both mind and body
is not to mourn for the past,
nor to worry about the future,
but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly."

Today's quote is so basic
but a real reminder that when we spend our precious energy
on rehashing the past or worrying about the future,
our bodies don't have their full energy potential for healing and staying healthy. 
And usually, rehashing and worrying
are filled with toxic, negative emotional components
that also destroy our ability to heal. 

Being in the present
gives our bodies all the attention they deserve
and the energy they need. 
And since the present moment is really the only thing we truly have,
we might as well be living it to the fullest. 

Take a moment today,
maybe even more than one,
and spend it in gratitude just for this one particular moment
and the beauty around you,
your friends, your family,
and the love that encompasses you
through the grace of God and the universe. 

Feel that peace. 
And wish that soul (among so many others)
who just chose to leave us
a breathy, beautiful farewell
and that same peace. 

My hope is that my friend is there to greet him,
these two who both so loved the same city.
That they still feel the love we send them
and know how much joy they brought to us
and that they keep each other giggling 
with their funny characters and voices. 

Miss you both.
Til we meet again. 

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen
Lithia Park, Ashland, Oregon)

Monday, August 4, 2014

French hospital to offer wine to terminally ill patients

In a little French news,
a hospital in southwest France,
located in Clermont-Ferrand,
plans to open a wine bar specifically for the terminally ill. 

Dr. Virginie Guastella decided it was time 
to bring pleasure to those coming to the end of their lives
through 'medically-supervised wine tasting.' 
The wine bar will include champagne and whisky
and patients will be welcome to invite friends and family. 

Those French are always considering quality of life! 

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen
Info thanks to France 24
Article by Louise Nordstrom)