When you are really not in the know about European cultures

Americans often think of themselves as European or Europeans as their cousins. Not so fast the cultures are lost over here.

If you travel to Europe do not expect NYC skyscrapers to wow you. It is the little cafe in Paris. It is the small very quiet island in Greece. It is the cake in a German restaurant. It is the unique sights and sounds of walking a city street. Like picking up a slice of pizza in NYC on any corner. But there is more to it. The busses. The trams. The high speed rail. The country side. The fresh flowers. The parks. The people. And the people is where the cultures start and stop.

If you want a standard hotel room…you want American in Paris.

Hence the well showered went to Europe this summer and complained as much for sport as for shallowness about life and travels in Europe. Talk about missing all the points.


I stayed in Paris at the Vice Versa Hotel, back in 2014.

It’s a small boutique “theme” hotel themed on the 7 deadly sins. Each floor featured a sin.

I was on the “sloth” floor!

The theme decor made it a fun place to stay.



I think those influencers would be happier if they limited their travels to cruises on boats like the Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas.

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Last September we stayed for 10 days in a VRBO apartment in the 5th arrondissement. It was one of my two favorite trips. The other was hiking the high Sierra in Yosemite. It was our second trip to Paris. In 2019 we stayed in a hotel near the Louvre for a few days, and how we ended up there is another story, but we will NEVER use AirBnB again. Then we moved on to Nimes, Aix en Provance, and Leon. Last year’s trip was incredible we saw so much more than our first trip and felt like we were seeing a neighborhood’s life. We walked 120 miles in those 10 days.


We dodged out of QEII’s Silver Jubilee weekend bun fights back in 1977 and stayed at the hotel St Petersburg, Rue de Caumartin in the 5th arrondissement. A very modest hotel…but I was coming at it from the perspective of what I was used to in England rather than a Ritz Carlton experience so it suited us very well. Had a fab time but had to really economise.

Our last trip (for a few days around a scientific meeting) was the summer before Covid. Didn’t need to economise quite so much…but didn’t need to spend a fortune, either. We stayed at a lovely hotel on the Champs Elysee and, although the main drag was full of tourists, just a few blocks took you away from all that. Husband would do his thing at the meeting by day and I’d set of exploring…just following my nose, really…and suss out the night’s eatery. Only disappointment was, we tried to practise our French on the reception desk staff…only to find that they wanted to practise their English. Possibly another thing that doesn’t comport with Americans’ expectations of what they’ll find sur le Continent


I do not know if I shared this on the fool last year.

This time almost beginning of last August I went with all of my families to Dublin. We met up with the extended family to celebrate my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. We had three nights of partying and eight days of walking the city. What an incredible city to walk.

We had my mom’s four siblings together all in the 80s. We had the twelve cousins in my generation together for the first time. We had 22 of 28 of the next generation together for the first time. Possibly the best family gathering we have ever had.

Some of us stayed at Buswells.

My grandfather, gramps, lived opposite the forty foot. He swam every day of his life here. The winter water was 35 F and the summer 45 F the Irish sea. James Joyce’s Tower, the Forty Foot.


One emblematic memory, out of hundreds during my Dublin sojourn (including a dazed whiskey enhanced philosophical reverie on the coast near what I think of as “Stephen Daedalus Tower”) was a walk along the Royal Canal. A boat came along, proceeded by an athletic locksman boy sweatily on the run from lock to lock. (You see, in the old days each lock had a resident locksman living in a lockhouse, but the traffic being low those days are long past. Each boat instead hires a locksman worker who must both run like hell to keep ahead of his boat, works the lock, and then runs like hell to get to the next lock.) Seeing my husband and me looking on with intense interest, he went beyond merely being expertly functional in working the complex early 19th mechanisms at high speed to being a sign of God’s glory shown forth by righteous actions on Earth. In doing so he was being deeply Irish.

david fb


IMO your temperatures are are low by 10 F. Winter water is 45 F and summer water is 55 F.


I looked it up. You are right.

I guess Gramps did not do a good job figuring out Fahrenheit.

Winter is actually more like 47 F to 50 F.

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Still pretty darn cold for swimming!!!


My cousins got over here from Ireland to join us in a house near Kennebunk Port last summer. The river next door was freezing in the summer. The relatives got in it at least once a day. One of my sisters joining them.

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Thank you for the video link.


Was this perchance the tower, David?

We were in Dublin last September (run up to QEII’s funeral) Another scientific meeting for dh held at Malahide just on the coast outside Dublin. This was on the walk from our hotel in Portmarnock. Spent 4 days there and then another week in England with the bro in law and his wife.

Loved Dublin. Lots of lovely architecture and indeed a great walking city. Interesting coincidence…the taxi driver from the airport to our hotel mentioned that we didn’t sound very American and asked me where I was from. I told him…a town just outside Coventry…Nuneaton. “I knew it” he said…“my cousin played goalie for Nuneaton Borough” (local football club). It’s not everyday you meet someone who knows where Nuneaton is.



Similar, but I think a different one of the “Martello Towers” than this one featured in Ulysses:

I am ready to go back to anywhere in Ireland at any time…

david fb


@VeeEnn FB posted the tower. Odd thing is the tower character is lost in the photos.

The tower is skipped to see the Forty Foot swimming hole. That is the actual character of the small area. It is a small maze of walks into the water front. I can not find photos of how people walk around the tower to the water. So it is not my experience in any of the photos. Really not anyone’s experience in the photos online around the tower.

The reason for this dates back into even the 1980s. The men were swimming in the nude and sunning themselves on the rocks. So oddly enough the local photographers show a different side of it without the usual approach if you walked in yourself.

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Something I hadn’t known until we came back from our September trip, a lot of films, TV series that are set in London are often filmed on location in Dublin.

I always get attacks of homesickness when we return from trips “home” and spend a few weeks binge watching BritBox series. After one very popular series…Foyle’s War (a great crime drama/police procedural set in WWII Hastings and London…with the BBC’s customary attention to detail) … an add-on programme analysed all of this with the folk responsible for getting the cars, wardrobe, hair and makeup etc spot on. And locations. So much destroyed by the Luftwaffe that Dublin is the better alternate, ironically enough.

Apparently it’s well known but even some of the locations I was sure I recognised on various Sherlock Holmes renditions and a few others supposedly set in Victorian London etc were also shot in Dublin.

One of the complaints the disgruntled Americans in the OP make about these foreign parts is true, though…they’re just so geographically inconvenient :thinking:. It was bad enough traveling from NY or Boston but the additional time from Denver almost makes me think twice about trips. We’re off in a few weeks time and I’m already starting to fret…and recall how I took what were, by comparison, quick hops to Europe for granted. Heck, when we lived in S. London and baby needed a new pair of shoes or whatever, a quick, there and back in a day to ports like Boulogne and beyond was quite feasible.


This show is great. Made by Apple TV. Bad Sisters about 5 Irish sisters who need to kill one of the husbands. The insurance agents try to track down who killed him. Any scenes without the agents are pre the murder.

This is so Irish and so well done. The Forty Foot is in the trailer a few times like when they are in blanket like towels. The sisters swim at the Forty Foot. Oh the last of the trailer Aug 19 was about two years ago.

John Paul is a Swede which fits an Irish sort of opinion.

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