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Author Topic: Trip to Paris and London  (Read 2074 times)

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Trip to Paris and London
« on: June 18, 2022, 11:07:28 AM »

This is not primarily a road trip, but of course, we're seeing a lot of roads.

Day 0 (since there seem to be a lot of floor 0s in Paris, and even a floor -1 in the airport): We (my mother and I) took the plane from Logan to Charles de Gaulle Airport in the middle of the night. Somehow, the Uber driver took two wrong turns trying to get to Logan, although the second was caused by a car refusing to let him in. On the flight, the horizon never got completely dark due to a combination of it being a few days from the solstice, the high latitude, and being in an airplane meaning I could see below the horizon.

Day 1: We took a taxi to temporarily stay at a relative's house at the 15e arrondissement about 2,5 km south of the Eiffel Tower. We had croissants for breakfast at 1,25€ each (cheaper than the US, but to be expected sine I've previously gotten a cruller in Quιbec for C$0,99). We walked to the Eiffel Tower. It was under construction due to the upcoming 2024 Olympic Games, so the park next to it had some blocked off areas, and the top floor of the Eiffel Tower was closed when we got there but open when we finally finished. They were selling souvenirs such as the typical ones (including a metal Eiffel Tower for 7€ that I got for 1,50€ elsewhere), Christmas ornaments (in June!), and outside not not associated with the tower itself, people selling cheap plastic ones for 1€ or "one dollar American". Aren't British tourists more common than American tourists? There were also two shell (well, cup) game setups, which we obviously did not play. However, it's going to get to 39°C as I type (note that I'm still thinking in Fahrenheit despite switching to euros, 24-hour time, and possibly kilometers), and Europe has very little air conditioning, so it made my mother really uncomfortable in the hour wait to the Eiffel Tower despite most of it being in the shade. We then ate lunch (I had a croque madame), and we took the train (1,90€ each) one stop back to where we were. We couldn't check into the actual B&B until 4, so we stayed at the place we dropped off our luggage for about 45 minutes before calling a taxi an getting to the B&B in the 2e arrondissement, where I am now.

Oh yes, the roads.
  • I don't like that there are near-side signals only. It means that you can't see the cross street indication, especially as a pedestrian. There are green/red pedestrian indicators, but there is no flashing phase, and in one case, cars could turn left against a green walk sign (the walk sign was probably green because the cross street was red).
  • There are like six types of gasoline, ranging from maybe 2,10€/L to 2,80€/L, except one type (ethanol?) that was slightly under 1€/L. I haven't seen any inside the Peripherique yet.
  • License plates seen: F (obviously), N, B, D, E, I, and a two-letter one that I couldn't see clearly. No UK plates yet.
  • Trucks turn wide sign: "angles morts" (i.e. death angles)
  • Freeways are much harder to understand than their US counterparts due to lack of cardinal directions on signage and lack of route numbers inside the Peripherique. Pretty much everything else is easier given pictograms.
  • Motorcycle lane splitting is legal.
  • New numbered routes traveled: By taxi, straight shot from the airport to the northern terminus of D69 on the west side of the exit on the Peripherique just past the Seine. (I can't count D69 itself.)

Urban design (i.e. kernals12 debate):
  • There were a lot of bikeshare places, even in what would be considered in the inner suburbs in the US.
  • Both houses I've been in are multifloor residential with three keypad buttons required: one for the house number, one for the elevator (Paris can't decide whether to use the American or British term when translating to English, and one for the room. The first floor is businesses. House numbers are in the single and low double digits, which is familiar to those in New England but not elsewhere in the US. There were a whole bunch of "private property" signs for those where you could just go into a communal garden space.
  • Almost no air conditioning during a heat wave. Saves significantly on electricity, and I don't think 38° days (previously forecast 40°) are common. Humidity is low, though.

Non-road-related observations:
  • Airport: French, English, can't tell whether it's Japanese or Chinese
  • Eiffel Tower: French, English, Spanish, sometimes Japanese/Chinese.
  • Why can't New York City give several languages? Maybe because they don't know which ones they would choose?
  • The green emergency exit signs with the running person and the door should be used in the US, too.
  • Two places seemed reluctant to break down a 5€ banknote. The first purchase was 2,50€, and the second was 1,50€ (but he didn't have any 0,50€ coins). Given that people have to break down a $20 bill in the US, and tourists usually don't come with coins (I came with no 0,50€, six 1€, and one 2€ from the duplicates in my coin collection), it shouldn't be that surprising.
  • Bottled water is at a place that's about 30% more expensive than a typical place in the US. It was 0,5L and came in a glass bottle, but still...
  • On the second taxi ride, we saw a diving competition in the Seine with a whole bunch of people watching, including an absolutely mobbed bridge.
  • I saw a Ukraine flag and a Czech flag before I saw a French flag actually flying.
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J N Winkler

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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2022, 11:53:33 AM »

Just a few observations:

License plates seen: F (obviously), N, B, D, E, I, and a two-letter one that I couldn't see clearly. No UK plates yet.

It surprises me a little that you have seen N (Norway) before NL (Netherlands).  And although the official distinguishing sign for the United Kingdom is now UK, I'm betting you will still see GB.

Almost no air conditioning during a heat wave. Saves significantly on electricity, and I don't think 38° days (previously forecast 40°) are common. Humidity is low, though.

I've experienced hot and humid days in Paris in late summer.  I don't know how common this has become in northern Europe yet, but in southern Europe (Greece and Spain) bedrooms routinely have room A/C units.

Airport: French, English, can't tell whether it's Japanese or Chinese

I would have guessed Japanese on the basis of decades of First World status with visa-free entry to northern European countries.  However, a Google Images search of CDG interior signs suggests Chinese.  Exit is "出口" (also used on exit tabs and in distance expressions of the form "Exit 1 km" on Chinese expressway signs) and baggage begins with "行李" (the full phrase has more characters that I suspect are a Chinese translation for carousel; the British English phrase would be baggage reclaim).  Japanese uses the same characters for exit but "荷物" for baggage.
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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2022, 05:11:16 PM »

Day 1 wasn't complete. It is now.

We had to move from the Airbnb (which was under construction anyway) to a 3-star hotel in the 1e arrondissement because someone else (part of the reason of the trip, can't give details lest I reveal myself) was afraid that my mother wouldn't be safe in the heat. He's paying for it. The hotel does have air conditioning. We ate dinner at a place that actually had surprisingly low prices (lower than home for some items despite being in the centre of Paris).

More road-related observations:
  • How are the no standing and no parking signs supposed to be naturally intuitive?
  • I still haven't seen a stop sign yet, except at customs inside the airport where it was obviously not meant for vehicles.
  • The plate I saw was more likely NL and not N and I just misremembered. Wikipedia says Norway plates have the country flag on them. I also saw a PL plate on a commercial vehicle after I posted before. ("I" mentioned before was also commercial.)

Not road-related:
  • Prices vary wildly. A souvenir at the Eiffel Tower for 8€ (second floor) or 7€ (on the ground) was only 1,5€ 3 km away. Similarly, the restaurant I ate for dinner charged 5€-7€ for sandwiches and 15,9€ for duck (easily $20-30 in the US) but 5,9€ for glass 50 cL bottled water (we got 1L which was only 0,9€ more).
  • Google Maps is fully in French now. I'm not even using google.fr.
  • The New York Times has a yes/no cookies option as required by EU law, but what surprised me is that it doesn't give a free articles warning. Is the New York Times free in Europe?
  • No wait at any restaurants, even ones we didn't go to. Maybe because there are so many, or maybe because of the heat wave? (Today was the only bad day.)
  • I can't get Airdrop to work properly to upload photos...
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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2022, 09:21:58 PM »

I am literally one week away from my own trip to both Paris and London. This will be my first time in Paris but I have traveled to London before so my visit there will be to other areas within England. Right now the weather is looking very nice next weekend into the following week. Needless to say I will be reading this thread with much interest.
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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2022, 06:33:55 AM »

Tip: Order a "caraffe d'eau" instead of bottled water. You should get tap water at no charge. I did this in Bordeaux a few years ago.

Also, nice to see someone in my time zone, even though only temporarily :sombrero:.
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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2022, 09:32:33 AM »

  • How are the no standing and no parking signs supposed to be naturally intuitive?

I agree.
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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2022, 11:12:40 AM »

Day 2: I can't say much to avoid revealing who I am. However, I saw Saint-Chapelle, the Arc de Triomphe and its 12-exit roundabout and clinched A3. (Yes, I know they're on opposite sides.)

Day 3 (not over yet): We went to the Louvre. It turns out the main exit puts you in the middle of an underground mall.

What are your opinions on the two-tone emergency sirens in Europe vs. American emergency sirens? At first, I thought the interval between the two tones indicated what type of emergency vehicle it was, but that's not actually the case.

I've seen two pharmacies (easily identifiable by the green + sign) that had hilariously wrong dates: 24/12/2029 and 18/01/2011.

Still haven't been charged anything that's not in increments of 0,1€.
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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2022, 11:58:06 AM »

How are the no standing and no parking signs supposed to be naturally intuitive?

I wouldn't claim they could be understood in full without study in advance, but I think the crossed slashes on the no-stopping sign help underscore the higher level of restriction.

I still haven't seen a stop sign yet, except at customs inside the airport where it was obviously not meant for vehicles.

Some countries, like the UK, do not allow stop signs to be used for priority control in the absence of a non-removable visual obstruction.  I can't tell if France has a similar restriction, but the interministerial instruction that covers traffic signing does note that stop signs and traffic signals require a higher level of authorization--for example, if the device is used on the centrally maintained road network, the prefect of the dιpartement must sign off.
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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2022, 04:45:29 AM »

Rest of Day 3: We went to the Tuileries after going back to the hotel.

Day 4: There's a hop-on-hop-off Seine river cruise tour, so we did that, getting off at the Alexander III bridge at one point and as a coin collector, going to a coin museum. No new numbered routes, as we were near the centre the entire time, and there are no numbered routes inside the Pιriphιrique.

Day 5 (in progress): As I type this, I'm at Gare du Nord, past customs, waiting for the Eurostar train to London. There is a railroad strike in the UK from the 21st to the 25th, announced well in advance; it only partially disrupts things instead of stopping them entirely.

New plates seen: BG, Switzerland (has a flag instead of letters), I motorcycle (previously saw I commercial vehicle

Most French restaurants seem to be similar: if you want to order water without paying, you get a carafe (as CNGL-Leudimin said), and bread (baguette slices?) comes with the meal. They have the credit card scanners that I previously saw in Canada and really should spread to the United States. I didn't go to any foreign cuisine places except one Italian, so I don't know if it works the same way at those places.

I was expecting things to be more expensive, but overall, they were actually slightly cheaper. Meals for 13€ after tax (before tip, but tips are much less outside the US) are common, and there are even some for 10€. My guess is that 1€ was significantly more than US$1 until recently (it was 1€=US$1.04 right before we left), and somehow the exchange rates converged toward 1:1 despite the US having more inflation than the EU, meaning that European things are underpriced. (If these numbers look expensive to you, keep in mind that I'm comparing to prices in Massachusetts, not the US average.)

I thought meal sizes were smaller outside the US, especially after getting a C$3 (≈US$2.25) ice cream that was pretty small a few years ago, but that does not seem to be the case in France. The Lebanese ice cream we got (Lebanon speaks French) was 4,3€ for two scoops, which were quite large for a two-scoop ice cream like most in the US. Additionally, one of the Italian places we saw had their steak at 250g, which is about 9 oz; many steaks in the US are 6. However, as I type this, there is counter-evidence; there is coffee with two sizes at 20 cL and 33 cL (at 5,1€ and 5,6€, although we're through customs at a train station), smaller than in the US.

Based on what we've been told about the B&B in London, the "three passcodes to get into a residential building" thing isn't present, unlike in Paris.

Question: What does it mean if a van or lorry has circles numbered 80, 90, and 100, or something similar? They look like "this vehicle doesn't drive faster than this speed", but that doesn't make sense with more than one number on the same vehicle.
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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2022, 08:34:07 AM »

Yep, they mean what you think. They may have more than one to account for different types of roads and even countries.
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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2022, 11:27:20 AM »

I thought meal sizes were smaller outside the US, especially after getting a C$3 (≈US$2.25) ice cream that was pretty small a few years ago, but that does not seem to be the case in France. The Lebanese ice cream we got (Lebanon speaks French) was 4,3€ for two scoops, which were quite large for a two-scoop ice cream like most in the US. Additionally, one of the Italian places we saw had their steak at 250g, which is about 9 oz; many steaks in the US are 6. However, as I type this, there is counter-evidence; there is coffee with two sizes at 20 cL and 33 cL (at 5,1€ and 5,6€, although we're through customs at a train station), smaller than in the US.

I thought so too, but from what I understand, it applies to drinks more than food. My relatives from the UK thought our soft drink sizes were massive compared to theirs. Without measurements, they thought a small drink from Wendy's was about as big as their large.

For interest, 20 cL = 6.7 fl. oz and 33 cL = 11.2 fl. oz, which would definitely support this, since 12 fl. oz. would be a small in the US.



Question: What does it mean if a van or lorry has circles numbered 80, 90, and 100, or something similar? They look like "this vehicle doesn't drive faster than this speed", but that doesn't make sense with more than one number on the same vehicle.

Yep, they mean what you think. They may have more than one to account for different types of roads and even countries.

Interesting. How do you know which one applies to which circumstance?
« Last Edit: June 22, 2022, 11:45:01 AM by webny99 »
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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2022, 11:42:32 AM »


Yep, they mean what you think. They may have more than one to account for different types of roads and even countries.

Interesting. How do you know which one applies to which circumstance?

I'm no expert on the matter, but my understanding is that the stickers only apply to the country in which the vehicle is registered.  So, if a truck has three stickers on the back, then they might refer to the speed limits for non-priority roads, priority roads, and motorways in the country of registration.  If it has four on the back, then they might refer to non-priority roads, single-carriageway priority roads, non-motorway expressways, and motorways in the country of registration.  If they only have two stickers, then they might refer to non-motorway roads and motorways in the country of registration.  It all depends on the rules in that country.
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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2022, 12:42:21 PM »

They have the credit card scanners that I previously saw in Canada and really should spread to the United States.
Allegedly a big part of why we're chip and sign in the US instead of chip and PIN is because restaurants here refuse to adopt those machines and insist on continuing to take customer cards to a central register.
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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2022, 12:48:58 PM »

They have the credit card scanners that I previously saw in Canada and really should spread to the United States.
Allegedly a big part of why we're chip and sign in the US instead of chip and PIN is because restaurants here refuse to adopt those machines and insist on continuing to take customer cards to a central register.
It is absolutely true that any business in the US that doesn't use chip/contactless technology, is doing so because the business has refused to obtain devices that will read chip/contactless cards.  And, having worked for a credit card company, it seems ludicrous that they don't, since the merchant has to eat the cost of fraudulent transactions, and it's near-impossible, if not impossible, to clone a chip card.
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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2022, 01:07:13 PM »

To add to the discussion of stickers:  unless things have changed in the last ten years or so, there is a 90 km/h (= 56 MPH) limit for buses and lorries that is mandated by EU directive and thus applies throughout the whole EU.
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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #15 on: June 22, 2022, 01:10:05 PM »

They have the credit card scanners that I previously saw in Canada and really should spread to the United States.
Allegedly a big part of why we're chip and sign in the US instead of chip and PIN is because restaurants here refuse to adopt those machines and insist on continuing to take customer cards to a central register.
It is absolutely true that any business in the US that doesn't use chip/contactless technology, is doing so because the business has refused to obtain devices that will read chip/contactless cards.  And, having worked for a credit card company, it seems ludicrous that they don't, since the merchant has to eat the cost of fraudulent transactions, and it's near-impossible, if not impossible, to clone a chip card.
Who was talking about businesses still swiping cards in this thread?  I was talking about why you have to sign your name when using the chip in this country rather than entering a PIN, as most of the rest of the world does it (including Europe and Canada, which is why US cards don't work well at unattended kiosks in those places).  We were discussing the different methods of running cards at restaurants - in the US, the waiter takes you card from you to a central register, where they process the transaction (whether it's chip and sign or swipe and sign or tapping doesn't make a difference here) and then bring your card back with additional receipts, on which you write in the tip.  In the rest of the world, the waiter brings a mobile card reader to you, where you enter the tip percent, insert your card, and enter your PIN.  At no point does your card leave your possession.

The really ludicrous part?  I've actually seen the Euro/Canada mobile readers in the US, but they're inevitably taped down to a table and used the same as the old swipe attachments to the registers were.
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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #16 on: June 22, 2022, 03:17:38 PM »

To add to the discussion of stickers:  unless things have changed in the last ten years or so, there is a 90 km/h (= 56 MPH) limit for buses and lorries that is mandated by EU directive and thus applies throughout the whole EU.

Ahem... buses can run 100 km/h (about 62 mph) on motorways in Spain. And unlike the UK we are still in the EU.
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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #17 on: June 22, 2022, 03:42:17 PM »

Ahem... buses can run 100 km/h (about 62 mph) on motorways in Spain. And unlike the UK we are still in the EU.

Is this information current?

https://cga.ct.gov/2005/rpt/2005-R-0814.htm

It says there is a 90 km/h speed limiter requirement that applies to buses that can carry more than 8 passengers and have maximum authorized masses of more than 10 T as well as lorries with MAMs of more than 3.5 T.
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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #18 on: June 22, 2022, 03:45:38 PM »


Ahem... buses can run 100 km/h (about 62 mph) on motorways in Spain. And unlike the UK we are still in the EU.

Is this information current?

https://cga.ct.gov/2005/rpt/2005-R-0814.htm

It says there is a 90 km/h speed limiter requirement that applies to buses that can carry more than 8 passengers and have maximum authorized masses of more than 10 T as well as lorries with MAMs of more than 3.5 T.

Here's a much better site for you:

https://trip.studentnews.eu/s/4086/77069-Buses-standard-speed-limits-in-Europe.htm
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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #19 on: June 22, 2022, 03:47:31 PM »

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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #20 on: June 22, 2022, 04:01:01 PM »

Here's a much better site for you:

https://trip.studentnews.eu/s/4086/77069-Buses-standard-speed-limits-in-Europe.htm

Actually, you might find this one more authoritative:

https://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/going_abroad/spain/speed_limits_en.htm

I found both sites in a casual Google search.  I'm interested in whether the 90 km/h limiter requirement still applies to buses.  If it does, then it would seem the ability to go faster than that when permitted by national legislation is limited to buses to which the limiter requirement does not apply for one reason or another, such as the bus being registered outside the EU.

BTW, Germany actually limits trucks to 80 km/h on the Autobahn (10 km/h slower than the mandated limiter setting).
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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #21 on: June 23, 2022, 03:01:03 PM »

Rest of Day 5: We took the Eurostar train to London, getting my farthest east and north points as described in that thread. Trafalgar Square was on the way to the B&B, so we saw it (although it was under construction). At the end of that day, we saw Back to the Future: The Musical, which was much cheaper than it would have been on Broadway (£19.55 for back section seats, likely £19.95 if it was any other musical, and even the back wasn't that far back). As many roads in and near the centre of London are numbered, I have traveled A4 and A400.

Day 6: A bus tour for certain parts of London. The first stop was Buckingham Palace, the second was St Paul's Cathedral, and the third was the Tower of London. This also included a boat on the Thames. We also paid for the London Eye, so we got to do that. New routes traveled: A3, A40, A100, A200, A302, A3212, A3213, A3214, A3215 (clinched) (why isn't this on Travel Mapping, or did Google Maps make something up)

Differences between the US, Paris, and London, and which I like better:
  • Architecture: London looks like it could be a major northeastern US city. Paris is completely different.
  • House numbers in London don't follow the even/odd rule, which I dislike. I believe Paris followed it.
  • Emergency sirens in the UK sound like the US. I prefer the ones in Paris.
  • Emergency exits are the green running man in both cities, which I think the US should do.
  • Again, the credit card readers. They're present in London.
  • Prices seem to be higher in the UK than in Paris. The exchange rates and relative inflation rates went in opposite directions for $/£ like they did with $/€, so things in the UK should be underpriced, but this doesn't appear to be the case. Maybe we're just in the expensive part of the city.
  • Paris rounds to the nearest 0,10€. London uses 1p coins. I prefer Paris's approach.
  • Paris had nearly everything in multiple languages (or pictograms). London, while still having a decent number of pictograms, is pretty much only in English except in certain museums. As soon as I got out of the Eurostar region of the train station, it was English only. I was not expecting this; I thought the United States was uniquely bad at this.
  • Ground floor is 0 in Paris and G in London. I prefer Paris's approach, although I'm undecided on US vs. Europe on which floor should be the first floor.
  • The UK has quite a lot of LGBTQ pride celebrations, such as many flags, a restaurant that sold two of the same drink for £8 each, and even some of the pedestrian walk signals (green only) in and near Trafalgar Square being various pro-LGBT symbols. However, the parade is 2 July, which is outside US pride month...
  • Speaking of traffic signals: There is a red and amber phase in London that I never saw in Paris, and there are far-side signals so you can see what indications other directions have (like in the US but not Paris). I prefer London's approach over Paris for this.

I have over 10000 posts, and this is the first time I've gotten a "you posted less than 15 seconds ago" message.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2022, 03:33:39 PM by 1 »
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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #22 on: June 24, 2022, 01:36:22 AM »

My Paris photos have been uploaded to Flickr. They don't have descriptions yet; I'm adding them now.
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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #23 on: June 24, 2022, 02:09:00 AM »

Road/sign photos first, then two non-road photos at the end. Clicking these photos will enlarge them without opening a new browser window.



Taken at a time when I thought those that weren't multiples of 10 km/h were rare.


Maritime signs, but close enough


Signals, but close enough, right? Also, what does the + sign mean? Right on red allowed?








And my favorite photo of all the ones I've taken (I could buy it for 2800€, but I won't):


Another of my favorite non-road photos, showing water marks during floods (just watch out for fake marks, especially post-2015)
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Re: Trip to Paris and London
« Reply #24 on: June 24, 2022, 10:28:37 AM »

Day 7: British Museum. The day is not over yet, but my mother is worried about walking too much. I might walk around outside by myself.

  • I meant to mention this before, but Charles de Gaulle airport is split between two suburban municipalities. I exited next to baggage claim 30 and immediately took a taxi. Which municipality did I set foot in outside?
  • Museums in London often tell you how many steps up a higher floor is. I didn't see this in Paris, and the areas of the US I'm familiar with don't do this, either. It's a good idea to implement everywhere.
  • There seems to be something in the US that prevents sandwiches from being less than $8-10. Sandwiches can easily go for 6€/£5, and US restaurants where main courses are in the high teens or low 20s often have $10-12 sandwiches, but US sit-down restaurants with $12-14 meals still put their sandwiches at about $10 for some reason. Even inside tourist destinations, sandwiches are still 8€/£6-7.
  • The Tube is expensive. It's £2.50 minimum — this means using an Oyster Pass (not tourist prices) and within Zone 1. For comparison, in Paris, a ticket in the innermost zone is 1,90€ (about 1/3 cheaper) without getting cheaper tickets. Trains are much more frequent than what I'm used to in the US, though. (Note: I have never used the NYC subway. I've only done Boston, DC, Chicago, and Atlanta.)
  • I haven't seen a non-UK licence plate in the UK yet. Also, what's the difference between the plain white plates, the plain yellow plates, the ones with the country code on them, and the ones with a green rectangle where the (blue) country code label would be?
  • Apple Maps doesn't seem to be aware that it's the Ministry of Defence. Google Maps is correct.
  • Where are the police boxes? Are they fiction only?
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