Dublin v. Paris…

I’ve lived in Paris for two months now and I’m settling in rather well. Though sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that I do in fact actually live here.

Since this is my second expat experience, I can’t help but compare Paris with Dublin. I’m not talking about who has better museums or a more picturesque countryside. That’s a comparison of tourist attractions. I’m talking about how these two cities stack up against each other when it comes to LIVING in them.

Here’s what I’ve come up with thus far:

  • People – You’d be hard-pressed to find a population nicer than the Irish. They exude friendliness and it was one of the things I knew I would miss most. But, surprisingly given their reputation, the Parisians I have encountered have been almost shockingly friendly to me. My french is, in a word, appalling, yet whenever I must apologize that I don’t understand something because I’m new in Paris, I don’t get eye rolls or corrections on my accent. Most often, they ask where I’m from and compliment me for at least trying to speak french. It was a surprise and it’s been nice.
  • Landlords – So, those friendly people I was talking about? Landlords are excluded from this category – in Dublin and in Paris. However, my situation in Dublin was especially dire and it was the greed of my landlords that ultimately had me decide to make the move to Paris. Parisian landlords aren’t much better but at least in Paris the laws favor the tenant, whereas in Dublin, tenants are pretty much shit out of luck.
  • Weather – No one moves to Dublin or Paris for the weather, and I’m one of the very few people who actually didn’t mind the weather in Dublin. This freak-show of a winter notwithstanding, it doesn’t get too cold and the summers don’t get too hot. Paris is much the same, though for me, I think the edge goes to Dublin because every year Paris has the canicules (heat waves) where the temperatures soar and everyone, especially the heat-averse moi, becomes pretty miserable.
  • Food – Everyone knows that Parisian food is ridiculously good. But, I’ve been struggling with the food in Paris this time around. Since I moved here I’ve adopted a reasonably strict LCHF (low carb, high fat) way of eating (and I’m down 20 pounds, yo!). In Dublin, I feel like there were more LCHF choices and that restaurants were more willing to make substitutions. In Paris, with the pastries and the bread and the frites and the… well, let’s just say eating low carb can be a challenge. And restaurants are less willing to sub out something like potatoes for a salad or some veggies. Thank goodness that wine and cheese are both gloriously low carb.
  • Ease of Travel – Ireland is an island. There’s no way around that. So, if you want to go somewhere you need to get on a plane. Paris is much better located as a travel hub and being able to take trains to places like London or Amsterdam is amazing. I feel like I have all of Europe within reach now that I am in Paris.
  • Amazon – I was addicted to ordering from Amazon when I lived in the States. Sadly, Dublin only has access to the UK Amazon and it’s therefore very limiting and very expensive. Now that I am in Paris, I am back to my old Amazon habits. I have my french Prime membership and order just about anything I need in the click of a button. Oh Amazon, how I missed you.
  • Time Zones – I know, I know, how can one time zone be better than another? Trust me, they SO can be. Paris is only one hour ahead of Dublin but I was shocked at how big a difference that hour made. I still work mostly with people in the GMT or EST time zones. I’m forever confusing my schedule because I don’t know if calls are set for GMT or CET. And being one hour later means I usually end up working an hour later. I’m a GMT gal all the way!
  • Transportation – Paris has this one down. Even in a spring that is set to be riddled with strikes, it is so easy to get around this city using public transportation. The metro is one of the best in the world. And I’ve recently overcome my bus phobia and now take the Paris busses BY MYSELF on a regular basis. Dublin, for a european capital, has always sadly lacked in the public transportation arena. Apparently the LUAS lines are now joined up – that only took about 15 years. I took a bus in Dublin once and feared for my life the entire time. Never. Again.
  • Coffee – Some might find this shocking but the coffee in Paris is average at best. For a coffee snob like myself that borders on the tragic. Dublin, though, had great coffee. How I wish I could walk to Nick’s in Ranelagh right now for an americano.

So there you have it – my initial take on little bits of living in each city. Two cities I love. Two cities that are “home”. So, who wins?

Me.

There’s no place like home… for some things.

I’ve been in Dublin for a little over two months now, with one hiatus in Buffalo for Christmas.  I’m starting to get used to the way things work over here and trying to get used to what they don’t have that I wish they did.  But the fact is, there are some things that I really miss and seriously wish existed in Dublin.

In no particular order:

Target – There really is nothing you can’t find at Target.  True, you run in for shampoo and come out having spent $200 on stuff you never even knew you needed, but it is the essence of convenience.

amazon.com – I am addicted to amazon.com – virtually anything I desire delivered to my door in two days, what’s not to love?!  Yes, they have amazon over here but it’s not the same.  It’s actually the UK site so there’s no amazon prime for residents of Ireland, the prices are in British Pounds and there isn’t nearly the selection we have in the US.

Crossfit – I have a gym membership here in Dublin and it’s a nice gym with good classes right in my neighborhood but I really miss the crossfit WOD’ing that I started in Los Angeles and continued in Buffalo.  I’ve never pushed myself as hard as I did in crossfit and I was really starting to see some results when I had to move.  There is a crossfit box here in Dublin but it’s in a not-so-great neighborhood and it’s really, really expensive.  I’m still hoping I can find a way to make it a part of my life again.

Wegman’s – I actually only became used to Wegman’s during my months in Buffalo right before the move but seriously, best grocery store ever.  Grocery stores in Europe are smaller and therefore have less of a selection.  Most of the time I don’t mind going to one store for the coffee I like, another for the best veggies and another for the best priced meats, but sometimes it’s a bit exhausting and I wish I could just saunter into a Wegman’s, fill my cart with everything I could possibly want and grab some take-away sushi on my way out.

Mexican food – I’ve found one good Mexican restaurant here in Dublin, but only one.  And there isn’t nearly the selection of mexican ingredients to cook with.  I’d kill for a can of green chilies.

These are first world problems, I know. And I don’t think it’s really a bad thing to miss certain things back home as I become accustomed to new things in Ireland.  When I am home for a visit and place an order with amazon, run to Target for conditioner before heading to my noon crossfit class and then pick up some green chillies at Wegman’s on my way home, I’ll appreciate all those things that much more.