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Not Coming Home

travel france \ 2010-07-31

I have found my greener pastures. Those pastures where no matter which side you look at your side is always greener and theirs always a little bit brown. I'm talking about Strasbourg. Strasbourg is a city of many things: beautiful buildings, beautiful scenery, beautiful food, beautiful beauty. It's very nice - the weather is great and the atmosphere very relaxing. There's only about 400,000 people all told (compare this to the 1.3M people in Minneapolis and the metro area), it's a very...quaint place. Not quaint in the bad sense, but in the "I can't believe there's a city that's actually like this." It's very reminiscent of old school Germany. This is like straight up old school. Not like...70 years ago old school.

One other thing I like about Strasbourg is its transportation. The basis is trams and buses and everything is pretty close. Only a 20 min walk from an "outskirts" stop where we're at to the city center. This is not quite different from Paris, which is something I give props to. However, the closeness of stops gives the impression that the French are lazy (Or does that come from their 35 hour work weeks, weeks of vacation time, businesses only open for like...7 hours during the day, cafes closing at 3pm, and general lack of doing anything? Naaah -- rioting and surrendering take a lot of work! The French are hard working!). Imagine coming from Shanghai where each stop is at least a mile away (unless you're in the city center, then maybe half a mile). Having stops that are 3 blocks away is absurd. Seriously, in the time that you wait for the tram you could just walk to the next stop. Hell, in the time that it takes you to walk to the next stop and wait for a tram to go to another stop you could just walk to your destination. Walking home I was passed by only 1 tram. One. The French are lazy, but very good at making pretty and relaxing cities. You win some, you lose some. Pragmatism is not part of French culture (Can I get a shout out the Maginot Line! Hey-oh!).

Which is the reason for the title of this post. I'm not leaving Strasbourg. I like Strasbourg. It's very pretty. I will journey to Kazakhstan and find my Singapore raised, England educated wife (and depending on who reads this, she will be Jewish/Quaker/Christian/Hispanic/Made of gold) and then come and live in Strasbourg. You can visit!

But yes, Strasbourg has been very nice. We toured their Kronenbourg brewery today. Tour was completely in French. I got a little lost during the part where they talked about little kids dying from asphyxiation when cleaning out the inside of barrels, but I think that's ok (not the death, the forgetting of French, just fyi) because I don't quite remember the lesson on keggery (totally a word).

This is good because I have decided to become a beer connoisseur. Well, in 2 years (is this where I throw in a wink?). I feel like this is cheaper than becoming a wine connoisseur.

Oh yes, I'll try your $1500 bottle of wine that tastes the same as box wine with my $90 steak vs. Ok, yeah, uhh...I'll have your Grimbergen Blonde...$3? Ok, cool, yeah, a burger too.

It's also in my blood. Using some logic from 9th grade English:

All breweries have the Brauerstern - a 6 pointed star. All Jews have the Star of David - a 6 pointed star. Therefore all Jews are brewers. Q.E.D.

My excitement for the potential this city is much greater than Paris (I even looked at home prices! 250-550 euros per month to rent, 220K - 450K to buy!). Paris...is dirty. The smell of dog poo is not romantic. Tourists (at least ones you know are tourists...i.e....me and EE.) are not romantic. Really expensive cafes are only occasionally romantic. More so with coupons. Less so when its your only option to eat out. Paris is also really cluttered. Signage doesn't point in real directions (well, it depends on if you ask a math major or someone who wants to know where the heck Rue de La Rape is. I kid you not, that is a real road. It means grater. Still makes no sense as a road name.). People are nice only to women with baggage they can't drag down the stair to the subway (here's looking at you EE - They got to her before I could help, I swear!). Thank god people in wheelchairs or casts or who have huge carry-ons don't need to use the subway to get anywhere, this means we don't need to install escalators or elevators anywhere!

Damn Parisians. You're lucky your food is delicious and your cafes are adorable.

However, I'm ok with immigrants in Paris - quite in contrast to actual Parisians. Givin' a shout out to Mr. Pakistan who informed me that "I have a beautiful nose, a very nice face. I should get a caricature done." And to Mr. India who came to Paris to draw caricatures cause it's good money (20Euro an hour minimum ain't bad at all) said that my French was better than most Americans. Seriously, travel for the compliments. This trip has been an awesome ego booster. I'm beautiful, smart, above the normal human, and can play the violin. I'm not coming home. You guys need to work on your compliments first.

But yeah, wow. That was some major exodus of random-paragraphery. Tomorrow is wandering around Strasbourg again (to be honest, the tourism within Strasbourg proper is lacking - definitely more a living city rather than a visiting city.) Then attempting to get to Marseille the day after!