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Monday, May 25, 2015

Caffeine, Chocolate Cookies, and Toilet Paper: Tips for Travelers

More of my humble--very humble--tips. I am a caffeine addict. In Nantes five years ago I had a wee meltdown. We stopped for some mediocre espresso to revive me (Mr FS has a lot of stamina so I drank most of his).

Next time I was on the verge, Mr FS whipped out a surprise: a small baggie of instant coffee. He mixed some in an empty water bottle with the water we always carry and, you know, it was pretty good. It averted the meltdown. He is a genius.

We refined the lifesaver by adding some of the schoolboy (petit ecolier)  cookies you find all over France.* These are a chocolate topped square cookie embossed  with a schoolboy. Caffeine plus a hit of that dark chocolate. Instant revival. 

We sometimes eat them in a quiet corner of the Louvre, breaking the rules. SHHHHH.

Speaking of the Louvre, we always carry some toilet paper. Even in that august institution, one often finds empty toilet paper rolls. Last year, an American woman peered in the stall and lamented the fact that there was NO TOILET PAPER. I gave her some of my stash. She was very admiring of my savvy. 

The gray bathrooms in the streets are often similarly paper-less. Miss Em and I once improved international relations by handing some tp to a Russian woman who spoke no English or French. We also prevented her from entering as we exited, thereby saving her the shock of being sprayed with water by the automatic cleaning. Her rather scary looking male companion got kind of angry at us, but we managed to explain with gestures why she needed to let the door close. 

So my lifesavers are instant coffee, schoolboy cookies, and toilet paper. 

And a question: why is it that in the US the default color for toilet paper is white while in France it is pink? 

*Newsflash! You can get the cookies at Walmart and on Amazon! I don't think I want to eat them outside of France. 


hostess of the humble bungalow said...

I was surprised at the pink TP in the Bon Marche and the BHV? Any thoughts on why the pink?

MM said...

I'll miss your blog this summer! You always inspire me to keep up my frugal New England ways, even though I left 40 years ago...
You've also inspired me to become very particular when thrifting. I usually hold out for Eileen Fisher or another type brand. Oh, and I still seek the elusive Hermes scarf!

So be well, safe travels and enjoy your adventure.

Frugal Scholar said...

@hostess--No idea. Totally culture-specific??
@MM--I only find EF once in a great, great while (and then often with holes or other serious damage) and it took me 30 years of thrifting to find my Hermes scarf. Check out the tie section. For some reason, I've found at least 10 Hermes ties.

Shelley said...

TP in Austria & Hungary is grey-beige...unbleached which is much nicer for the environment. No idea about pink in France...

lagatta à montréal said...

You can buy instant espresso coffee, at least here in Montréal, and certainly in some European places. Nestlé makes it, and I've found Italian brands at an Italian supermarket near my place. I little can also be stirred into that horrid weak, bitter coffee sometimes encountered on the road (I don't use sugar).

As for the loo paper, it was recycled and greyish in France, the pink was some kind of marketing. My ecologist friends there buy paper like that in Austria and Hungary, though I suspect it costs more.