I drove in France and Switzerland. Germany would have been fun, but train travel there made more sense. It all went pretty smoothly, though as you'd expect the streets can get pretty narrow in towns. The motorways are great - a generally high speed limit and people are very good about driving in the right lane
, leaving the left open for passing. Roundabouts beat the hell out of stop signs and lights. The French motorways seem to be pretty much all toll roads, we ended up spending about $60 getting from Geneva to Nice.
I didn't drive in Paris, but Aix felt like a mini-Paris. I quickly learned that in France, cars have the (de facto?) right of way. As a driver, I learned the courteous thing to do is to drive directly at pedestrians because if they smell fear or weakness it breaks the whole system down.
Nestle owns basically all of Europe, and so espresso pulls have regressed from beautiful Italian metalworks to little Nespresso machines
. You can occasionally find a real cappucino, but it's rare.
As is commonly noted by American tourists, passing people on the street you don't make eye contact, you don't exchange half-smiles. The French glared at us, the Germans glared in German. I guess you get used to it, but in the States that brief eye contact is the interpersonal cue where someone might, say, ask about train information
. That said, when we did force questions upon random strangers, they were almost always very happy to help.
Much to Jessica
's chagrin, in Europe people don't socialize their pets with strangers. Her only success was an off-leash dog on a trail that came around a bend in advance of its family. She greeted the animal as she always does, and judging by the panicked looks on the family's faces when they came around the bend, they may have thought their dog had attacked someone.