Ok, as both of my readers know, I just got married and went on a honeymoon. We spent four days in Paris and then ten days in Spain. Here's what I observed, learned and/or did on the trip with my new wife.
1. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE seemed to know that I was American. Sometimes, folks knew before I opened my mouth. At first I thought it was because I was carrying a camera bag. But tons of people carry camera bags there, so I think that I must have a weird sort of aura that lights up like Vegas. Or maybe I smell like apple pie. All I know is that even the Asian tourists in Paris had me pegged. So much for trying to fit in. I bought a scarf in Paris to try to remedy the situation. It did not work.
2. Katie has a gift for languages. Or something.
3. I did not find the French rude or impolite in the least--quite the contrary. The people were friendly and funny. The Spaniards are a bit more reserved at first. Once I managed to break the ice, they were wonderful. I felt like most of the folks we interacted with in Spain would bend over backwards for us once we established a little bit of rapport.
4. I experienced my first little taste of married life reality in Barcelona. Katie would not let me spend 130 Euros on a pair of blue suede shoes. I guess I knew this sort of stuff would happen eventually. What a bunch of b.s.
5. We did tours in every city we stayed in. Three of them were bike tours. I cannot recommend them enough. It really helped us get our bearings and nail down the things we wanted to do in the cities. The guides always had interesting little pearls of wisdom. See No. 6, to learn some more.
6. In Barcelona, it is legal to walk around completely nude. However, you will get arrested if you put on a shirt. Pants and no shirt = ok. No shirt and no pants = ok. Shirt and no pants = not ok.
7. In Paris, we did a night bike tour on Halloween. Riding bikes in a group of 20 at night on the streets of Paris while being led by a complete lunatic was insane. The photo above is our guide for the evening. Yes, that is a plastic bag on his head. The tour lasted four hours and we never saw his actual face. He spent the night running red lights, leading us down bus only lanes and scaring pedestrians. I highly recommend Fat Tire Bike Tours. They do tours in Paris, London, Barcelona and Berlin. We hooked up with them in Barcelona too. It was just as good.
8. Katie and I drank 127 gallons of Sangria and ate at least 50 pounds of calamari. I didn't realize it at the time, but the wife managed to work some calamari into the menu for each day in Spain. Don't order a margarita in Spain. Ever.
9. I would move to Spain. We spent time in three very different cities there and a full afternoon in a fourth. Barcelona is the big city on the Med. Granada is about a quarter of the size, has a huge Moorish history and is in the mountains. Malaga is a 3000 year old city founded by the Phonecians and they can't till their gardens there without ending up with a huge archaelogical dig in their yards. Ronda is a tiny picturesque city perched on top of a gorge in Spanish olive country. I loved all of them. Barcelona is one of my top three favorite cities for sure. It tops Katie's list. All of the Americans and Canadians we met there seemed similarly enamored.
10. When people ask about our trip, they all want to know how the food was. Paris and Spain both have great reputations for their food. The food was terrific, there's no doubt about that. But you know what? I kept thinking about how lucky we are here in Cleveland. The restaurants here are great, too. If you are in or around Cleveland and don't make an effort to enjoy them, you are really missing out.