Sunday, December 16, 2007

Greetings from Paris

Regular readers will note the absence of posts for the last few days. Your guides chose a perfectly awful week in Chicago to fly off to Europe. We started out in Paris on Thursday. So far, we've managed to hit the Marais, the Champs Elysees, The Louvre, the contemporary exhibitions in the Pompidou Centre and Paris' best selection of crepe stands and cafe's.

Paris is breathtakingly expensive. The dollar strengthened against the Euro in the last couple days, but it's still weak. A most modest lunch can easily run $60 for four people and be careful - $200 dinners are the norm after the exchange rate. Yikes!

From the real estate magazines, it seems comparable to Chicago, but with a higher high-end. You can still locate hotel-room sized studios in good neighborhoods for 150,000 euros. But only a few $4-million homes in Chicago change hands each year - here that's not out of the ordinary. One thing you don't find are a lot of Chicago-style three-flats or townhomes like we have in the western edges of some popular neighborhoods.

Most of the residential buildings seem to max out at 6 stories. This is apparently the upper limits of how high people are willing to climb. These 200 to 400 year old buildings mostly don't have elevators.

Dog lovers, take note: you can bring your pup nearly anywhere in Paris. We've seen dogs inside the department stores, on every street, and even on the Metro (the subway.) Look out on the sidewalks, though. Parisians do NOT pick up after their dogs and there are stinky land-mines everywhere.

We'll try to post again if any interesting photos seem appropriate. We're off to Germany on Tuesday.