Originally Posted by killarney_sailor
Interesting comments all, and I hope we got more people participating.
I had an intriguing experience on my first visit to Europe a number of years ago. I expected to really fall in love with London. My parents were born in UK and there are so many cultural links to England and London - from street names in Toronto to all the movies we see set there. I very much liked the city (so much to see and do - cheap theatre tickets - the only cheap thing there btw) but I liked it in the same way that I like NYC ie I did not fall in love with the place.
Went to Paris and absolutely fell in love. I know it is not all that is Paris. Other than to and from the airport and coming into town on the trains I have only seen the downtown bits and I know that the suburds are pretty dreadful - but what a downtown. I even know where I want to live (can't afford it mind you, but we can dream). It just seemed such a civilized place and on a human scale for such a large city. Still trying to figure out this happened. Know cultural connection other than a few movies (the new Woody Allen shows he loves the city too) and my French is brutal (63% in grade 12 French in 1966 with no real learning since then). I even like Parisians - they were not the cold, standoffish people I had been led to believe them to be.
Yeah, Paris was a hoot the first time I went there. I remember walking along the Seine as dawn was breaking on my last day there. Beautiful. The food, wine, women, galleries, museums and monumental buildings all lived up to their promise. Should I ever return to France however, I most want a return visit to Lyon and to visit the French Basque Country.
As for London, I wonder whether my bad initial experience echoes yours in that my mother is English and at the time so I thought was my father. To be frank I was bought up to be as much an English gentleman living in the colonies as I was native born Australian. Like so many Australians of my generation I first visited the "mother" country expecting to be greeted with open arms only to be looked down on as no more than a colonial of doubtful heritage. That first visit most certainly awakened in me both my true Australianism and my republicanism. England didn't give a flying fluck about me so they could go fluck themselves. To boot my last surviving English relatives turned out to be racist, right wing, xenophobic, homophobic arseholes who I studiously avoided ever contacting again.
Since then I've returned on numerous occasions, have made a bunch of friends both inside London and out and have grown to at least tolerate London while thoroughly enjoying the beyond. One simply has to accept that unless you have very deep pockets and/or like admittedly very good Indian food you will starve, while on the other hand the museums, galleries, theatres and the like are hard to beat.
Funnily enough my last visit to Paris was bloody awful. Go figure.
What's more the Pom's initial opinion was closer to the truth than I then thought as my father turned out to be partly descended from an Irish convict shipped to Australia in the late 18th century.