Jamie: Just a few things we forgot to write about in the original post.
I'm truly amazed by the efficiency and usefulness of the tube in London. There seems to be no more than 5 minutes between trains and you rarely have to wait even that long. Most of the time, there was a train waiting for us. Even changing lines is not such a big drama because you don't have to wait very long for your connecting train. There was a tube station close to everything we needed, though admittedly, our time was spent pretty close to the centre of London. It seems far preferrable to driving through the awful traffic; we sat on a tour bus for over half an hour for only a few stops and most of that time was spent idling. The metro in Paris also seems to be extremely efficient, although it always seems to be crowded, even in the middle of a Sunday. I'm going to miss this when I get home to Brisbane and its half-hourly, frequently unreliable trains.
In both London and Paris, I haven't encountered a single audio light. I'm told that there are some in London, but as I noted above, we spent most of our time in the centre of London and I somehow didn't encounter a single one. I find this quite perplexing. Are there really so few or are they just at obscure crossings that most people don't use? Are there any at all in Paris?
Music nerd alert: Immediately following our arrival in Paris, one of the first things that caught my attention was the sound preceding announcements at the train station. Rather than the boring old major arpeggio or perfect fifth tones that so often preceed announcements, this was a minor, unresolved, slightly sinister/creepy tune that reminded us somewhat of the X Files. Other pre-announcement sounds heard in Paris were somewhat more cheery, but even so, they were still much more interesting than the norm.
It's been great to have a break from computing and the like, but nevertheless, I'm finding our extremely infrequent internet access to be difficult. It's not so much the social aspect, though it's certainly nice to catch up with people at home every few days. However, more than anything, we tend to take the ability to quickly Google something for granted. Yesterday, we gave in and spent the €20 (ouch!) to get 24 hours of internet access at the hotel. As an example, this enabled us to quickly find a nearby laundromat and pharmacy, including maps. (Concierge told us that the former didn't exist and that we'd have to go quite some distance to find an open pharmacy on a Sunday. Grrr.)