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I recently took a trip to Paris for the first time. It was a lot of fun overall! My two biggest surprises were:
1. The coffee there was mystifyingly bad, like every café was using stale beans, and
2. I saw a man wearing an honest-to-god stripey turtleneck, an object of clothing I associate so heavily with the Anglophone stereotype of French people that I assumed it was never worn by real French people.

I also picked up a ton of French-language comic books, a specific spirit they don't export to the States, and had some really good food and wine and walked around some beautiful places, and also gave a pretty well-received talk at a Ruby conference there. Pretty good time, overall!

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…and I took a day trip to Stuttgart, which turned out to also coincide with the German holiday of Fasching, which in that area involves (as my friend explained) dressing up to scare away the winter, which meant I arrived to groups of people wearing garishly colorful hairy costumes and sometimes playing music and dancing.

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Also, for the most part, my French was sufficient for day-to-day communication, with the major exception of the time I accidentally told a waiter that I was dead when I meant to tell him I had finished eating.

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