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Day 22 - Au Revoir Europe

Reflections on our brief sojourn around northern Europe

sunny 23 °C
View Following in the Family Footsteps on Neileeann's travel map.

Today is our last day in Paris and Europe and tomrrow we take the Eurostar to sunny old England.

So I thought today was a good time to reflect a little on Europe (well the little bit that we saw in the short time that we had).

As a person that has a big personal space need it didn’t take long to bring back memories of previous visits where the sense of bustle brings a high degree of vitality that soon turns to “hey dude move over”. I certainly miss that sense of space that I have when I am in Australia. I still haven’t managed to fit by big fat arse into the small space allocated in most Parisian cafes and end up moving chairs and tables around so I feel more comfortable. I think that’s why French (women – book reference) don’t get fat – you can’t fit into the chairs. The amount of walking up and down stairs and between connecting metro stops also helps keep up the cardio levels (I still don’t know how people in wheelchairs get around). Walking the streets it is a case of negotiating passages between you and on-coming traffic. So that lack of personal space is one thing I am missing, but I love the vitality that these busy, hectic cities generate. If I was to live and work here – then it may be a different story, as you can often see the look of sheer tiredness on some people’s faces as they go about their daily life.

While never in your face, the reality of living in a potential terrorist hotspot is always omnipresent. In all countries there were some serious big military boys with big guns prowling the hotspots. Glad they are there, but again coming from Australia where the threat is so low, it does stand out when you see then literally on patrol. There were several times in Brussels where the metro lines were closed down on the orders of police. Don’t know exactly why they were closed, but if terrorist related, it can become a source of hatred on behalf of locals. Still in all the time so far, I have never felt in any way threatened or I should cross the road here. Maybe it is a tolerance that you learn when live check by jowl for so long. There were certainly plenty of screaming loonies, but they mostly let it out and moved on.

The people have been exceptionally nice. The Germans, quiet and reserved, but give them a beer and a football match and they become mad as cut snakes. The Dutch I love, mainly for their tolerance and libertarian nature and you wonder why such trails develop in one country (is it religion, education?). Also every time you ask someone on the streets, they always answer so nicely and with a genuine warm smile and not the “not another stupid tourist looking for the coffee house”. Didn’t have a lot of interactions with the Belgium people this time around. Of all the races they looked the most weary and probably reflecting their lower economic status. Very impressed with the French, when you sit and observe their interactions with each other you see a politeness to their way of life. The social etiquette of their language and the mannerisms of hellos and goodbyes makes for interesting observations. While all cities have their beggars the Parisian beggars often are accompanied by dogs and cats, which pulls at my heart because of the loyalty these animals have to their owners, sitting there all day by their side.

Weather makes a big difference. Today is a sunny warm day (23) after a slow gloomy start, but it just makes such a big difference to how you perceive a place. Most days have been overcasts, without being gloomy or sunny and it has only rained once or twice very lightly. So we have been lucky in that regard, but it would make or break your perception of places if it was dark and gloomy most days.

Would I like to live here? Not at this stage in my life. If I was young and had languages then yes it would be a great place to live. But for now it is au revoir Europe.

Posted by Neileeann 17:00 Archived in France

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