Thursday, May 24, 2007

Transalpine Gaul

Naturally, if I'm going to be blogging from Europe, I'm going to use the most pretentious terms possible to describe what's going on. And technically, Lyon and Grenoble are not in the Roman province of Transalpine Gaul, but close enough. A few scattered impressions to start things off:

France is energy-conscious, it turns out. Obsessively so. You can't leave the lights on in the hallways, no matter how hard you try: most of them are equipped with 60-second timers. Now, turning off the lights when you leave the room is one thing; not having air conditioning is another entirely. The only building in GTL that's air conditioned is the computer lab, from whence this entry originates. Dorm rooms? Nope. Classrooms? Out of luck there too.

I also don't know how these people stay hydrated. Water fountains are as rare as air-conditioned rooms, and a bottle of water is something extortionary like 2 euros. That makes old water bottles and sinks very valuable things.

The Decemberists have it right: Orangina is an amazing beverage.

The Brits, on the other hand, have some very bizarre tastes in beverage. Here's a new one. The guy next to me wanted tomato juice with his pretzel snack (I got Sprite). I thought that was a little weird, but whatever. The thing is, the attendant, without missing a beat, asks "Worcester and lemon?" to which the guy responds "please." She then proceeds to shake in a few drops of Worcester and put in a slice of lemon and hand it to the guy. Then the same scene repeats with a woman two rows behind me.

On my quest to become a wine snob, I've bought one bottle. It was a Pinot Gris from the Moselle (the river that runs through Metz), a white that was really good chilled. I don't know how to properly use words like "crunchy" or "refreshing minerality" yet, but I'm sure it was both those things too.

The French, for some reason, really like their pizza. But it's bizarre pizza, like Roquefort cheese and onion pizza. As for food, apparently Lyon is the cuisine capital of France, or something. So at the restaurant we went to, I decided to have a Lyonnaise specialty of "(word I can't read) sausage (words I can't read)." This turned out to be tripe sausage, which I believe to be rolled up intestine in a sausage casing. It was chewy and a little bitter, but not terrible.

One of the weirdest things is the cars you see, like Renault, Peugeot, and Citroen. It's almost a breath of fresh air to see good American cars like Toyotas and Mercedes.

And I'm going to be staying in a castle for the weekend.

For those interested, here are some pictures from the first week:

Currently listening: "My Slumbering Heart," Rilo Kiley

1 comment:

Gina said...

Gorgeous, as only Europe can be. You've got some pretty awesome pictures there, Matt. :-)