Saturday, May 31, 2008

Paris 2008 - 30 Mai

Vendredi - We started to make a special trip the the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle, but Robb wanted to go to a bank to open an account. We walked down rue Maillard which becomes rue Mercoeur, to Boulevard Voltaire. Over Blvd Voltaire, past rue de Charonne to the BNP Paribas. Again we had to go through two doors. The second door does not open until the first door closes behind you (it's the same on the way out).

BNP Paribas is a strange bank. All the executive offices are on the first floor and the main banking takes place on the second floor. I'm chalking that up to being typically French. If there's a more complicated way to do things, they will find it and utilize it at evey opportunity. Mostly, it's amusing but I can understand how, for some people, it could be a huge pain in the ass.

BNP Paribas, as expected, told Robb there was no way he could open an account in Paris, or France for that matter. That's probably not true for a couple of reasons. First is the complication factor. Second is the fact that when a French clerk tells you it can't be done, it's impossible or just 'no', that is just the beginning of the conversation. But, Robb being the non-confrontational person that he is, will always say "okay" and consider the conversation over.

So we left the bank. It was too late to go to the museum and too late to have lunch at the tearoom. I suggested we could go to Monoprix and see what kind of luggage they might have. We found no luaggage at all, but did buy a bottle of cologne each. Considering the problems I'm having with umbrellas, I considered buying one I saw there because the one I just bought to replace the one I had bought in Toulouse, is already about to become garbage. I'd bet there's no more than another day or two of functionality, at most. We are used to things being made with built-in obsolescence in the US, but I expected more in France. I guess it just goes to show how much France is being Americanized.

We left Monoprix and wandered around the area for a while. We saw the police checking some guy's ID. There were three policemen but one of them was busy talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone. Then, I thought I saw a sundry shop down the street and we checked but it was just the sidewalk tables in front of a resto. We walked back to the apartment. I was again near exhaustion and took a nap for a couple of hours.

Around nine-ish, we walked down and got the bus to Place d'Italie. A person who read my Blogger blog, left a restaurant recommendation and we thought we might try it. It is Chez Gladines at 30 rue des Cinq Diamants in the 13éme, just a couple blocks off Boulevard Auguste Blanqui. From two blocks away, we could see that a crowd was collected outside the place. There was another resto across the street and that, too, had a crowd waiting to get in. Now, while that usually means the resto is good (or cheap), it also means that we probably won't be going there, because there are far too many good restaurants to wait to get into one.

We turned around and back-tracked. On the way to Chez Gladines, we had passed several likely looking places. We first stopped at a creperie, but decided against it since that was all they offered. We found a place right on the corner of rue des Cinq Diamants and Boulevard Auguste Blanqui, called Jardin d'Italie. There was an available table right next to the window and I had my eye on that, but the waiter suggested that we might be just a bit snug there between the tables on either side that were already occupied. He was right and we chose a table which still permitted us the view of the street that we (I) desired. I found the decor of the place to be fascinating. There was almost no square inch of the place that had not been painted with 'something', flowers, or leaves or abstract things. We began with pâté de compagne, that came with the crispiest, tastiest pickles I've ever had. Because of their deliciousness, they kind put the pâté on the back burner. I followed that with spaghetti bolognaise and Robb had veal marsala. The spaghetti was great with just enough spiciness to make itself known but not feel like your mouth is on fire. Robb,on the other hand, felt that his veal was not a good cut even though it was tasty. We partook of dessert. Mine was "three scoops of ice cream" (it was written in English). I chose vanille, café and pastachio. Robb had something they called "Kilmanjaro". I'm not sure what it was, but it appeared to be a rounded cake surrounded with chocolate sauce with whipped cream on top and a few dollops around the plate. Finished with café.

We had thought that we would take a taxi back to the apartment, but I was feeling up to taking the bus, so we walked back to Place d'Italie and caught the 57 to Gare d'Austerlitz. Unfortunately, I missed our stop and we ended up somewhere near Gare de Lyon. From previous experience, I knew there was a bus stop nearby, so we walked over there. After we arrived and were awaiting the 61, I discovered that we could have stayed on the 57 and it would have brought us to the same place. Okay, information for another time. Also, I forgot that since it was the weekend, the buses run until 01h00 or 02h00, I thnk. I know the métro runs later on the weekend.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Paris 2008 - 29 Mai

Jeudi - We didn't really do much today, but we did get out of the apartment for a couple of hours. We took the bus to Place d'Italie. We walked down to the little store that had the orange suitcase to see if they had gotten any more in the size I want. If they did, I didn't see it, nor did I ask.

We walked back up the street and entered Italie2.

Went down to Tati where I bought a pair of jeans and another shirt. The shirt does not have a regular collar, and though I know there is a name for that particular style, I have no idea what it might be. But I like that style and now have about a half dozen shirts in my little collection.

After leaving Tati and checking a few more stores on that level, I asked Robb what he wanted to do because I just wanted to return to the apartment. Once again, it was wearing me out to wander around. This time I think the reason is l'enfoiré who lives upstairs. I think there may be more than one person living there because that's the only way it makes sense that "he" could be up all night and all day. Whatever, his night prowling and my headache kept me up for most of the night. I took an aspirin and he finally quieted down somewhere around 04h30. I'm not certain at what hour I finally dozed off, but I awoke a little after noon.

So, anyway, after the usual lack of direction from Robb, I suggested that we could go up to Armand Thierry because I knew he wanted to get another pair of jeans. They were way too long and he consulted with the salesclerk to have them altered. While he was waiting at the checkout counter to get his receipt, I decided to buy a nice sweater-shirt that caught my eye. And besides, we both are starting to feel a little conspicuous when carrying a Tati bag, since it is not known for quality. Having stated that, I have to say that I have bought several shirts there and I really like all of them. It can't be beaten for price and the quality isn't that far below the more (much more) expensive stores. It's like anything else, if you shop around, you can find good stuff without emptying your bank account. But in spite of that, we felt much better carrying the Armand Thierry bags into which we had put the Tati bags.

We finally left Italie2 and waited the arrival of the 57 bus to Gare d'Austerlitz. Something I didn't know before today; there is actually a space reserved on the buses for baby carriages. Now, while I think that's admirable, I also think it's a royal pain in the ass, because although the carriage almost fits in the space, the woman/man pushing it, does not. So it's a bit inconvenient for all the other passengers who have to get past her/him/them to get off the bus, since the space is just opposite the exit door. I have witnessed a few occasions when a passenger just barely got to the door in time. While I'm ranting, what in hell are they doing riding the bus during the rush hour?

I like getting the bus at Gare d'Austerlitz because it's the first stop and you're almost guaranteed a seat. That's something you might not get after a couple of stops, and especially during the rush hour. I don't don't why, but we always seem to time our excursions so that we end up having to ride the bus or métro during the rush hour. We need to put an end to that. There are enough people going home from work and they don't need us taking up space. I feel about that as I feel about people in our building in Fort Lauderdale doing their wash on the weekend when the working people need that time.

We were going to go out to eat, but neither of us much felt like it.

Plus à venir, mes ami

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Paris 2008 - 28 Mai

Mercredi - At last!

The sun came out and lasted most of the day. I could breathe sufficiently to do something beside sit around the apartment.

After sitting around the apartment for the past three days (going for groceries doesn't count), we finally got out and did something. Of course, hanging around the apartment did afford me the opportunity to wash the jeans I had worn for the karaoke drama. But, because of the tiny size of the washer, they were barely cleaner than when I put them in, so they're going to have to go to a real laundry facility as soon as we get around to it.

We walked to the bus stop to take the bus down to Place Léon Blum to get the métro to Franklin D. Roosevelt. I've been wanting to go to the top of l'Arc de Triomphe and today seemed like the perfect day for it. I checked the bus schedules but we would have to have taken at least different busses to get there, so I opted for the métro with only one train all the way over. I did miscalculate the vicinity. I thought FDR was one of the streets radiating from l'Arc de Triomphe. It isn't. It's off the Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées. So we ended up walking the rest of the way to the Arc. Passed a lot of neat stuff, of course, including the Renault showroom where I saw this beauty. We also passed Ladurée, but decided we would stop on our return to the métro. Then we passed a theater where people were lined up in what would have been about two blocks if the line had been straight. Today was the first showing of Sex and the City, Le Film.

Upon arriving at l'Arc, I began looking for the tunnel that takes you under the traffic swirling crazily around it. It's possible some brave souls might be able to somehow get through all those vehicles, but I didn't want to even think about trying it. It's much easier and safer to use the tunnel, which brings you right into the ticket office if you want to go to the top, and that was our goal. I have been putting it off for years, thinking it would just be too difficult for me. Then, after all these years of visiting Paris, I only recently discovered that there is an elevator to the top of l'Arc de Triomphe, well, almost to the top. You still have to climb stairs for the last few feet, but it's nothing daunting.

It's worth the trip no matter whether you climb to the top or take the elevator. What a gorgeous view. And what a gorgeous day it was for us on which to finally make this trip. I really don't think it could have been any better. Of course, I took the obligatory pictures; La Defense, Sacre Coeur, Tour Montparnasse and la Tour Eiffel. It was so beautiful, we didnt want to leave, but it was getting late and we wanted to stop at Ladurée.

Ladurée was great. We each had an éclair café, followed by a café. Then I purchased a box of 15 mini-maccarons, while Robb bought a couple of croissants and a couple of strawberry tartes. I had wanted the regular size, but remembered how long it took me to eat the one we got about a week or so ago, and figured the minis would be just right.

We left there with the idea of getting the métro back, but I thought that since we were so close, we should check out the Petit Palais to which entrance is always free. Unfortunately, we were on the wrong street. So close and yet so far, we were only a couple of streets off. I knew we were close but I couldn't remember which street it was. Oh well, next time.

Since we couldn't go to the Petit Palais, we went down to get the métro. Every one that pulled into the station was overflowing with passengers. We waited. And waited. And waited. Finally jumping onto one that wasn't quite so crowded.

Back at the apartment, we indulged with a framboise mini-maccaron. Now we understand how Ladurée got their reputation.

Around nine-ish, we decided to go out for dinner. Robb wanted to go to a place we've passed several times in our travels about the area, Le Rey, so we walked down to Boulevard Voltaire, taking a bit of a different route so that we could check out some new things.

Once at the restaurant, we wanted to sit inside, but Robb wanted to sit all the way in the back, where we couldn't see the street or any of the other customers, but we did find these signs of the new times in Parisian dining. I would have preferred sitting a little closer to the action, mais c'est la vie. We started with a Kir Maison, which was champagne, Mandarine and Grand Marnier, that was served with a plate of sliced ham of a kind with which I am not familiar but it was a bit like hard salami. Then Robb ordered his salad, which for anyone else would have been a meal. For our main courses, I ordered Duo de Côte et Selle d'Agneau Grille (lamb chops) and Robb had Cou de Canard Farci Maison Lentilles du Pay (duck with lentils). I like lentils and tasted his; they were really good. After we got our main courses, the place started filling up and became somewhat lively. Because of all the food, and the snack at Ladurée, we passed on desert and just had coffee.

After dinner, we went for a short walk down to rue de Charonne for a look around. It was quite nice. We are, if you haven't guessed yet, looking for a place we can afford in a section of Paris we find attractive (which is most all of the city).

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Paris 2008 - 27 Mai

Mardi - A miserable day. Rain and cold. We braved the elements again. This time while Robb went to the marché, I went to the sundry store and bought a really neat dish drainer. I mean just how much fun can one have in an exotic city like Paris?

That was all the excitement for the day.

It's 01h30 and I am sitting in the living room watching a very cool lightening display with lots of thunder.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Paris 2008 - 26 Mai

Lundi - It rained most of the day and I still am not feeling too well. I'm not sure what's wrong. Perhaps my breathing meds aren't working properly.

The rain stopped for a while and we ran out to the store to get a bunch of stuff that we didn't get yesterday. I could barely walk back to the apartment. I had to keep stopping every block or so to catch my breath.

I hope this doesn't go on for much longer. I don't like it and Robb gets restless when he has to sit around. He's already been out for several long walks. Most of the time he has no idea where he's going, but he seems to be able to find his way back to the apartment. At the very least, this time he has memorized the address, so if he does get lost, he'll know what to tell people to find his way back.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Paris 2008 - 25 Mai

Dimanche - After last night's disaster, I wasn't really feeling up to doing anything at all today, but Robb wanted to go shopping for food and stuff. I tried to explain the directions to the only stores I thought would be open, but I could see by the look on his face that he wasn't getting it. So there was only two alternatives; we could eat nothing tonight (not an option), or I could go with him to get what we need. Of course, option number two was the only real choice, and so off we went.

Surprisingly, I didn't feel all that bad after we got back to the apartment. Maybe it was the walk in the warm sun that made the difference.

But that was it for the day.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Paris 2008 - 24 Mai

24 Mai (Samedi) - Every once in a while, life kicks you in the butt just to make sure you're paying attention and to remind you of your frailty. It serves to keep you aware that no matter how cool you think you are, you are not the most important thing in the universe. Today was my turn to get a swift kick. This will probably be the most embarassing post I ever have to write (I hope).

Before I get into the events of the day, I want everyone wherever you are to give a long, long standing ovation to Katia and Frog, two of the most wonderful, friendly, caring people it has ever been my pleasure to meet, and without whose help I'm not sure I would be able to write this today.

The day (actually it was evening) got off to an ominous start when we walked to the bus stop to get the 69 to rue Vielle du Temple in the Marais. What had originally been scheduled as a picnic meeting on the Point Vert, was changed because of the inclement weather, to a bar meeting in the Marais. But it started looking like we might have another bus incident, because there was another manif and, of course, it affected our bus. It has seemed like someone is deliberately trying to sour us on Paris, or at the very least, the Paris transportation system. It's not going to work. We are too far into this romance to let a few setbacks deter us.

It was time for plan-B, but we hadn't formulated a plan-B, so we had to wing it. First I thought we could walk down to Place Léon Blum to get the 56 to Place de la République, but after checking the plan de l'autobus, I decided we should take the 56 to Charonne and pick up the 76 which would drop us off right at rue Vielle du Temple (well, within a half block). We started to walk, but I was already tired so decided we should wait for the 61 down to Place Léon Blum.

We caught the 56 to Charonne, where we awaited the 76. We had time to take a good look around and decided we really liked the area.

Upon arriving at rue Vielle du Temple, I checked the information I had written down from Katia's email, and we took off for the Yono Bar at 27 rue Vielle du Temple. The only problem was that the address was what appeared to be a private residence. We began walking up the street looking for the bar. Robb went into a place and asked for directions. The address was 37 rue Vielle du Temple. It was about 20h20 when we arrived to find no one there. Katia had said there was a chance they wouldn't be able to get in, in which case they would go to another place just around the corner. When we walked in there was almost no one there. We thought about going to the other place, but I decided to call and see where everyone might be first.

Just as I was dialing Katia's number, they all appeared in the dorway. Katia, KylieMac, Frog, Erica and a few people I didn't yet know.

Everyone walked to a table in the back, but KylieMac has serious allergy problems and couldn't stay there, so we all walked to the other bar. We commandeered a large table in the back of the place. There was a championship futbol game on TV between Paris and Lyon. Before the game started they showed some information about a match that had taken place in 2006 and I mistakenly thought that was the game they were showing tonight. I couldn't figure out why everyone was getting so excited about a game that had taken place two years ago. At any rate, some of the other customers were getting quite loud in their enthusiasm for the game, so we all moved to the front of the place where it was a bit quieter.

Robb and I hadn't eaten anything and we were getting hungry, so we told the others we were going to get something to eat and then we would rejoin the group. There was a tenative plan to move the party to L'Enchanteur, a gay karaoke bar some distance away, so if they weren't there when we got back, that's the place to go.

KylieMac suggested a well-known falafel place just around the corner (L'as du Falafel) and we thought we might go there, but we didn't see it and opted for a nice looking restaurant instead. We started with a cold soup similar to gazpacho but not. It was very good and welcome because we were feeling a bit warm. Because of the crazy weather for the past week or so, we're never sure how to dress, so we had worn our new leather jackets. We followed the soup with a plate of duck with potatoes and salad. The duck was in some kind of sauce that neither of us recognised, but it was so good. I may have eaten a bit too much. We drank a pichet of vin rouge and finished with a café.

We headed back to the party at the bar. As we arrived everyone was just starting off to the gay karaoke bar, L'Enchanteur, so we tagged along. It was quite the trek and if Rhino hadn't lingered with us, we might not have found it. But find it we did. It is on two levels (it might be more, but I only saw two) with the karaoke part downstairs. OMG! It was like being packed into a sardine can in a steam bath, there were so many people there. Someone explained that they usually do this on Thursday night and it's never that crowded. Frog and Katia started organizing who would sing what. It was determined they would do a duet and Frog, Rhino, Robb and I would do "I Will Survive". It was exciting to be included in the festivities and I was really looking forward to it.

Unfortunately, that was precisely the time life decided to administer its kick in the butt.

Suddenly, I was absolutely exhausted and to make matters worse, I really needed to urinate. I thought if I could just sit down for a minute, I would be okay until I could get to the toilet and relieve myself. But the exhaustion got worse and worse. I put my head down on my arms and tried to suck in as much air as I could, but it didn't help. And then I felt like I was going to throw up. I could actually feel myself slipping into unconsciousness. Then Katia and Frog were there helping me to get up. They were taking me upstairs where it was a lot cooler, and I remember being near the top of the stairs. The next I knew, I was lying on a bench just inside the front door, with Katia and Frog still there making sure I was okay. As I slowly regained consciousness, I was suddenly aware that I had emptied my bladder when I fainted.

God, I was so embarassed! It was bad enough to have fainted like some silly drama queen, but to have peed myself in the bargain was just too much for someone as socially insecure as me.

I hoped desperately that no one had noticed, but now that I think back, I don't see how anyone could not have noticed. But, if they did, they didn't mention it, thankfully. They asked how we were going to get home and I told them we were going to take the bus. Frog said there weren't any buses at night, but I said we would take the Noctilien. The only problem was I didn't know which one or where to get it. He insisted we take a taxi and called one for us. In the meantime, he and Katia sat with me to make sure I was okay.

The taxi arrived and we said our embarassed goodbyes. The cab took off. Sometime during the ride, I regained enough awareness to realize we were going in the wrong direction. I told Robb to ask the driver if he had understood the address we had given him. He had, but we had mistakenly said it the wrong way, and we were indeed headed to the wrong section of the city. The driver was very nice about it and, even though it was our fault, accepted part of the blame for the mix-up. We finally got it sorted out and were let out in front of our building.

I want to take this opportunity to apologize to everyone in our party for screwing up what should have been a wonderdul evening with friends, and to again offer my special, heartfelt thanks to Katia and Frog for their assistance.

Also, I apologize for no pictures on this post. My camera also recieved a swift kick evidently, and the only picture I thought I had taken before it bit the dust did not come out.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Paris 2008 - 23 Mai

23 Mai (Vendredi) - We got ourselves ready and walked down to get the bus to Gare d'Austerlitz. Once we got there, we had our first encounter with a rude bus driver. A bus that should have been going to our destination arrived, but it indicated that it was going to a place we didn't recognise. I asked the driver if it was going Place d'Italie. Evdently he didn't like the way I asked the question and lied, telling me that it was not going there. We got off to await one that was going to Place d'Italie. Then we started thinking; wait a minute, it has to be going to Place d'Italie no matter where else it might go, so the driver flat out lied to me.

At any rate, we were getting a llitle tight on time for our appointment to meet Rhino at Place d'Italie, so I suggested we take a taxi. We couldn't see any taxi stands, so we determined that if we went into Gare d'Austerlitz, we would certainly find a taxi stand. We did.

Upon arriving at the taxi stand, there were at least four people ahead of us and the taxies were arriving rather slowly. It finally got to be our turn, when some old woman and her husband showed up and thought they were going to jump in front of us. When the taxi came, she tried to push in front but I elbowed her out of the way and we got into the taxi and took off. It didn't take us long to figure out how to handle the queue jumpers, of which we've encountered quite a few on this trip. probably because we're using the bus instead of the métro. And it seems to be mostly the women who are the perpetrators. The men pretty much just wait patiently for their turn. I suppose they've been beaten into submission by the pushy women.

We got to Place d'Italie in plenty of time and waited at the métro entrance for Rhino to appear. He was running a little late, but no problem, we weren't in a hurry.

While we were waiting, Robb was accosted by two Indian-appearing women who were selling some kind of paper about feeding the poor. He paid €2 for it and then immediately regretted it. He got into a mini-confrontation with them but it apparently ended with both parties laughing about it. He because he realized he had been had, and they because they, too, realized he had been had.

Rhino showed up and we started walking down to L'Oisive Thé. Even though Rhino and Aimee know each other, he had not yet been to the tearoom. In the tearoom, Rhino and I had Aimee's wonderful chocolate cake while Robb had a huge salad. We all shared a huge pot of very good tea. We chatted for about three hours, with Aimee joining us for a while.

Afterwards, we walked with Rhino back to the Place d'Italie métro station, on the way to which we saw this neat building just down the street from the tearoom, and then we caught the bus back to Gare d'Austerlitz where I walked to the Pont d'Austerlitz to get this picture of the metro pont (if it has a name, I haven't been able to find it, but it's between Pont d'Austerlitz and Pont Charles de Gaulle) and one of the backside of Notre Dame. As we were approaching the pont I noticed this interesting contrast between old and new. Then we got the bus to the apartment. We have started riding the bus all the way up to Pére Lachaise and walking back because it's downhill all the way and a lot easier for me to navigate.

Back at the apartment, we indulged in another bottle of champagne. This one was even less expensive than the last at €2.20. It was a rosé and really quite good. Wow, who would have thought? We have checked the prices for our champagne of choice in the US and found they are more expensive here.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Paris 2008 - 22 Mai

22 Mai (Jeudi) - Robb fell in love with the jacket I bought yesterday and decided he had to have one too, so we headed for the bus stop. When it came, I decided we should get off at Place Léon Blum and take the 56 to Place de la République. While we were waiting for it to show up, someone came and put up a notice about another damned manifestation. According to the notice, the manif would last from 13h00 to 18h30, during which time the bus service would be disrupted. A woman came along and saw the notice, but like we, she also noted that the bus had just driven past and it was well after 13h00, so we all just sat there and waited and hoped the bus would come by. Sure enough, it did. But when we got to Place de la République, we got to see the actual manif. The notice had said something about the police, but the people we saw demonstrating were blacks. Yesterday, we had seen a black guy handing out brochures, but he only gave them to black people, so I assumed and still believe, it was some kind of black thing. Of course, that meant the second bus we wanted to take would not be running.

We started walking in the general direction of our goal and finally came across the police manif. Then we had a choice. We could continue to walk or we could take the metro. I figured walking was the lesser of the two evils. Does anyone hear that annoying buzz? So off we went. I thought we were following the correct street, but somehow we missed a turn. We stopped at a shop because I was hoping to get another man-bag just a bit larger. They had one that I liked but I decided to shop around a bit more. We asked the salesgirl for directions to rue des Archives. She supplied the info and we set off again.

People in France, and Paris in particular, love their plants and they can be seen almost everywhere.

As soon as we got to the corner of rue des Archives, I recognized it immediately. We walked down to the clothing store where Robb got his jacket, which I like more than mine and, indeed, looked at yesterday but they didn't have it in my size, although I might have been able to get into one a size smaller which is the size Robb bought.

We left the store and walked down to rue de Rivoli and the sidewalk shops outside BHV, where Robb bought a scarf. I was going to get one also, but they didn't have the color I wanted.

We then walked down by l'Hotel de Ville. We were going to just walk past on our way to the Notre Dame area a couple of blocks away, but I saw they were having some kind of exhibit and I suggested we should see if we could get in. No problem. We approached the gate to the entrance and a guy handed us an information brochure and we walked in. Just after entering, we had to stop and let them search our stuff, which was a simple formality. We entered l'Hotel de Ville and began looking at the stuff. It was about a French Navy aircraft carrier, le Charles de Gaulle. It was a great exhibition. They actually built a mock-up of the carrier in one of the rooms and there was a big screen movie showing life aboard the vessel, including the diferent planes taking off and landing, the section in which the guys slept and lived when not on duty, the mess hall and of course, the operational areas. Except for the cute sailors, I think Robb was kind of bored but I loved it.

We left and headed over to the Notre Dame area because the tourist shops there are the least expensive place in town to get souvenirs. The shop to which we went had the kind of scarf I wanted in the color I wanted. Than just to make the deal irresistable, they offered three for the same price everybody else in town was asking for one.

We were both getting hungry, so we stopped at a cafe just around the corner. I had a ham and cheese sandwich; Robb had a salad.

After eating, we walked down to the Pont Neuf and got the bus back to the apartment.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Paris 2008 - 21 Mai

21 Mai (Mercredi) - I needed an different kind of extension in order to plug in my converter. All the plugs in the apartment are recessed and will not accept the converter. I figured we could just run down to BHV; I was certain they would have the kind I need. but then, while we were getting ready to go out, I discovered that I already had a plug that would work and it did. But we were ready to go and wanted to go, so off we went.

When we got to BHV, we found they have changed considerably. First, the price of everything was much increased because they had gone from a Sears-like operation to a Bloomingdale's kind of place. Then, they had moved all their mens wear stuff to a diffeent building, but again, the prices were not like the BHV we were expecting. We were very disappointed because we very much liked BHV before.

We left there, walked to rue de Rivoli and we bought a scarf. Then we decided to take a walk up rue des Archives just for the hell of it.

We came upon a store with a great looking leather jacket in the window. I checked the price but couldn't believe it. We went in and looked around. I found the jacket and again checked the price. I still couldn't believe it, so I asked the clerk and she verified it. €99 for a beautiful leather jacket. Sadly, they didn't have the one I really liked in my size, but they had one that was almost as nice, so I bought that.

We left and started a leisurely stroll of the area taking in as much as we could, Just up the street, we found this Plan de Marais. After which we came across these three cars that represent one I used to like, one I love and one you see all over Paris. It was really our first day of any length spent in the Marais and we were beginning to see what everyone was raving about. We walked to the Archives Nationales, walked through the garden to the main building and had a look around inside. The was a small charge to actually enter but it was so late, we figured it would be closing very soon, so we didn't buy a ticket to enter.

Another thing one sees a lot in Paris is Smart cars whose owners make a few hundred euros a month by letting companies advertise on them. I think it pays between €300 and €700 depending on the company.

We returned to rue des Archives and caught the 75 bus to Place de la République where we got the 56 bus to Place Léon Blum.

We almost passed the pâtisserie again, but the call was too much to ignore. Robb bought an apricot tarte for me and a strawberry tarte for himself.

Which brings us to this point; there are a lot of words in English which are very close to French words. One of those words is apricot. In French, they change the p to a b. Then there is the word April, in which the p is changed to a v. It's all so very stange don't you think?

Another thing I've noticed here is the number of men who are minding the children. You see guys all the time walking with their kids, picking them up at school or pushing strollers. I think that's really nice.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Paris 2008 - 20 Mai

20 Mai - The day started by going to the marché where we bought way too much stuff that we had to carry back to the apartment. By the way, that group of things in the picture foreground are the Velib stations and the place where you pay. You can see there are only a couple of bikes left in this rack.

After lunch, we caught the bus to l'Hôtel de Ville, from where we walked to rue des Archives. On rue des Archives, there is a very gay-friendly bar/restaurant called Les Marronniers at which we were to meet yet another blogger. A Brit this time who writes under the name of Rhino75. The meeting was scheduled to take place at 18h30 but because we weren't sure of the time on the bus, we got there about a half hour early. This was not a bad thing because we got to take a brief tour of the Marais.

A couple of doors from the bar/resto is what used to be a church. In the courtyard an artist, Ostoya, was having his show. Aside from being interesting in their own right, most of the pieces had moving parts so that you could rearrange them or, like me, just play with them. 1, 2, 3, 4 Number four was my favorite. There were two or three more like it, of varying sizes.

Then we went to the bar, got a couple seats inside and waited for Rhino. He arrived shortly after 18h30, having walked from his apartment not that far away. I think it was an instant mutual attraction. We got along famously, as we have with everyone we've met over here. We chatted for about three hours until Rhino needed to leave to eat the dinner he had already prepared. Robb and I decided to have dinner in Les Marronniers. We both had the l'entrecôte grillée with potatoes and salad.

Unfortunately, it became time for us to return to the apartment. I knew from the last time that we couldn't get the bus on rue de Rivoli, so we walked down to the quai. We had to walk past l'Hôtel de Ville, and I got these shots of the back side and some detail. We also happened past Saint-Gervais. We looked in both directions, but saw no bus stop. We were confronted with the possibility of walking down to Pont Neuf or walking the other way, the direction in which the bus would travel. We chose that. It's too bad the universe doesn't utilize one of those annoying buzzers that buzz when you make an incorrect choice like on the quiz shows on TV. So, we walked and walked and walked and walked. We finally found the correct bus stop and waited. And waited. And waited. We noticed that the time thingy wasn't listing the 69, but we've seen that before and it just meant the thing wasn't working correctly, so we kept waiting. There's that buzzer again. We watched several 76 busses go by and finally one stopped and I told Robb to ask the driver if it went to Voltaire, meaning Place Léon Blum, of course. The driver said the bus would go to Voltaire, but the one of which he was speaking is not the one we wanted. When I realized it was not going where we wanted to go, we got off the bus. Unfortunately, I had no idea where in Paris we were. Or even if we were still in Paris. We started walking back to who knows where, when we luckily came upon a taxi stand. We hopped into one and were off. It turned out we were only a few blocks from the apartment and the taxi ride was relatively cheap.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Paris 2008 - 19 Mai

19 Mai - It was borderline freezing today. But we went out anyway.

A few days ago, on our way to the tea house, I saw a suitcase at a little store. I thought about buying it because of a few reasons; I wanted it, I could afford it, it would certainly stand out in the luggage racks (it's orange) and it appears we're going to need another piece of luggage to get all the stuff we're buying back home.

So today we went back to get it. Of course, it was gone and the guy had no more.

Then we tried Tati. They had a bunch of nice suitcases, but nothing like the one I wanted. After Tati, we walked down to another little store I know on Avenue d'Italie. They had one I might have bought if they had had the size I wanted, but it was a no go.

So we hopped on the bus back to the apartment, but when we got to the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle, we decided we had passed by it long enough, it was time to go in. So I pushed open the door to enter and was greeted by a young girl who informed me the the museum was "fermer". It wasn't a total loss though because while wandering around the grounds, I saw this guy and then got a shot of some interesting detail on the side of the building.

On the way home on the bus, I got this shot of one of the columns holding up the metro tracks that ran alongside the street. I think there were eight of them in all.

Yesterday, Robb did some light laundry. This is how it is dried since there is no drier. When we were looking for an apartment, one of the critereria of our search was laundry equipment in the apartment. Well, there is a washer in this place but about the only thing it will hold is a few pairs of socks or maybe a couple T-shirts. Ha ha, the joke's on us. I took a picture of the washer with my coffee cup on top for scale.

It's almost 01h00 and it feels a bit warmer. The temp tomorrow (today) should be near 19C which is around 62F. Not hot, but not really cold.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Paris 2008 - 18 Mai

18 Mai - It was raining when I got out of bed today. Robb said it started when I got up, but I thought I heard it before I managed to rouse myself. And it was quite a bit cooler. All in all, not the kind of day when one plans to do a whole hell of a lot. But around 15h00, it seemed to be a little warmer, so I thought we could go for a little walk. I checked my bus map and saw that the 56 bus ran from Place de la République back to Place Léon Blum, so we could walk over there and then return by bus.

We began by walking down to Place Léon Blum where we picked up Boulevard Voltaire and started our sojourn. One of the first things we saw was the new Smart Car Sports model. I like it.

We continued down Boulevard Voltaire where we came upon this Mustang. Someone has beaucoup des bucks to be able to bring that over here and then afford the gas to drive it in Paris, where more often than not, traffic simply crawls at a snail's pace. We just passed a Total gas station the other day and I noticed that gas there is going for €1.47 per liter. That makes it a little more than
€6 per liter which would be about $9 per gallon.

Of course, we checked a lot of the immobliers we passed, to get an idea of real estate prices. We re-discovered what we already knew; if we wanted to live on the outskirts of the city, we could buy a really nice place quite reasonably, or if we could settle for a studio (fat chance) they're also inexpensive. Some of the studio apartments are relatively large, but not for two people.

We came upon the beautiful Saint-Ambroise, which I remembered from the very first time we were here in 1999. There was a neat sculpture in the garden-like area in front of it. Shortly after, we passed a lovely flower shop. As we walked, we marveled at the great architecture. Here is a typically French building.

We were now nearly at Place de la République and I had not yet seen a single bus. When we got to the place, there was a bus stop right on the corner, so I checked it and, wouldn't you know, there was some kind of demonstration scheduled for between 12h30 and 15h30 and they had canceled the bus service for the entire day. Drat, that meant that, like it or not, I would have to use the métro. Well, if life was going to give us lemons, we would make lemonade. This would be a good opportunity to walk around the area to which we came on our very first trip. Starting with the statue of Columbus in the middle of the Place.

One of the first things that occurred at Place de la République, was we ran into two gay guys who were almost like Robb and I. One knows his way around and the other gets lost. We both thought that was really funny. I forgot to mention that the other day in the Pont Neuf métro station, Robb ran into a couple of guys from the University of Miami. Talk about a small world.

There were a lot of changes, starting with what once was our favorite restaurant, Chez Adi. It is now called the Pachyderm. Then we discovered the hotel which used to be called the Luxour, is now called Hotel Taylor. We kept on walking and looking. Some things were just the same but others were gone or re-named. Bistrot Ma Tante had been re-named Chez Tante Alice. We walked down to rue du Faubourg-St Martin. I took a beautiful picture of the lovely mairie but when I looked at it back at the apartment, there was some jerk's thumb in the way. I tried to find one on the internet but couldn't.

We walked toward the Porte St. Martin. Robb saw this place and asked me take a picture. Then we passed one of the many passages in Paris, Passage Brady. There used to be hundreds of passages in Paris, most of which were covered, There are now about twenty.

We got down to Boulevard Saint-Martin. Just across the street was a lovely Italian place in which I had had a great pizza, La Botte d'Italie. It was only a short walk from there to the métro station, where we caught the train back to Place Léon Bum.

As we passed a patisserie we've passed at least a hundred times, the macarrons called out to me from the window and I made a sharp right into the shop. If you're even vaguely considering a diet, you do not want to get close to a French patisserie, the fragrance is sent directly from hell to entice all within range of it. Resistance is futile! I bought two macarrons chocolat.

When we got back to the apartment, we put our stuff away and decided to consume the macarrons immediately. Those things are much richer and more filling than they appear. We could barely eat half. All the better for tomorrow.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Paris 2008 - 17 Mai

17 Mai - We met our neighbor down the hall (down the hall is about twenty feet). She is a sweet, young Italian girl who came to Paris for a job. Her English is flawless, in fact, when I heard her speak, I thought she was an American. She came to borrow a screwdriver.

We walked down to the bus stop to take a ride to the Champs de Mars, but remembered we needed to buy wine and a few other things, so we went to the marché a few feet away. We got the wine and we also got two huge blocks of paté for €1. We are still in a state of shock about that. So we took it all back to the apartment, and while we were putting the stuff away, it began to pour.

We decided to take advantage of the situation to have some paté and wine.

After, we were undecided whether to go out or not, but decided to go anyway. If it rains, it rains; if it doesn't, so much the better. We walked down and got the bus to the Champs de Mars. When we got to the École Militaire, we got off. Then we had to decide whether to walk to the Champs de Mars or to the Grand Palais. Kylie had told me that Saturday night a lot of the museums were having a freebie from 18h00 to minuit (12:00 PM). We opted for the Grand Palais, so we set off in that direction. To get to the Grand Palais, one must cross le Pont Alexander III, a fascinating structure with a lot of worthy art on its own. I love the lamp posts and the detail the architects included. We crossed over just in time to see the Champagne Cruise go by.

We finally arrived at the Grand Palais. It was not free but it was half-priced. We entered by way of the very ornate front portico. Okay, how can I say it? The exhibit at the GP, which was being heavily advertised here in Paris, was simply ridiculous. Some artiistic types might think it's great but, I'm sorry, to me and Robb it was just lame. The steel slabs that Richard Serra came up with are each 56 feet high, 13 feet wide and 5 ½ inches thick, and each weighs some 73 tons. I may not be an artist, but I'm certain, given the opportunity to exhibit in the Grand Palais of Paris, I could have come up with something a hell of a lot more interesting. And then, to add insult to injury, they give you an audio player in which the artist explains the profundity of his work. My god, what a load of bullshit. Of course, there were the dimwits who had no clue, so they thought they could appear to be cool and with-it if they ooh-ed and ahh-ed. We were just about to leave, in fact, we had left and were waiting under the portico for the rain to stop, when lo and behold, Monsieur Serra, himself, showed up in a fanfare with newscameras flashing all the while. We didn't bother going back in to check out the festivities.

Instead, we caught the bus to the bus stop. For some reason, when the bus arrived, I was certain it was the 63 bus and we got on. As we were riding along, it suddenly dawned on me that it was the 83. Ooops. So we rode it to the end of the line, got back on and returned to Place d'Italie, where we could get the 57 bus. But on our way to the bus stop, we decided to stop at l'Ecran Italie for dinner.

And what a dinner it was. We started with a Kir Royal. Then, Robb had his usual salad and I had Escargot Bourgogne, probably the best I've ever had. For our main course, Robb had duck, as usual, but I had the most wonderful Poulet au Curry. Even Robb had to admit that it was a hundred times better than his duck. We were both too full for dessert and finished with a café.

Although he was exceptionally nice to us, I did notice that the waiter treated people of color with some disdain. One guy he treated that way was not even African, but appeared to be Indian. I was kind of surprised, but the people he was insulting seemed to expect it and made no obvious objections.

After dinner, things got a bit strange. We got the right bus, but missed our stop. We wandered around the Gare de Lyon for a while until I finally, totally by accident, saw our bus and we got on.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Paris 2008 - 16 Mai

16 Mai - I slept pretty good, though Robb woke me about midway through "my night". I didn't get to bed until nearly 03h00 (or 3 AM to you guys). I know, I couldn't believe it either when I looked at the clock, and now it's about 01h00, so it could be another late night.

Robb wanted to go to l'Oisive Thé today, so we bundled up and took off. The weather has taken a slight downturn, although it's still a lot better than when we arrived. But we've learned to take some simple precautions....just in case. We took the bus to the Gare d'Austerlitz stop, which is really just in front of the Jardin des Plantes. Normally, we walk around it to the next bus stop, but today I decided to walk through because I saw a sculpture of a dinosaur,and I have a thing for them. Just a few feet from the dinosaur was a sculpture of a mammoth. Also at the Jardin des Plantes, is the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle. I've been wanting to go there for many years, so I think this might be the year. And soon, if I have my druthers.

We had another lovely afternoon at Aimee's teahouse. Then we walked up to Italie2 where we went to Tati again and bought a bunch of stuff. We then caught the bus(es) back to the apartment area. But I wanted to check out the local sundry store. I bought a clamp-on lamp because we really need another light in the living room. Robb bought some very nice champagne flutes. The lamp definitely adds much needed illumination.

Back at the apartment, Robb prepared some stinky cheese which we accompanied with some very expensive champagne (hey, it cost almost €6). Okay, it's not really champagne, but it is a very nice sparkling wine. Considering the price, it was a great bargain and I would recommend it if you ever come to Paris and want to drink well but at the same time save a couple of euros.

It was then decided that we would finally go back to the area of Avenue de Choisy for dinner. We discovered that riding the bus well after rush hour has many advantages, not the least of which is the diminished number of people riding at that late hour. We got off at Place d'Italie and walked down to rue de Tolbiac. The wind picked up a bit and it was rather cold. Robb had worn a light jacket and he was about to freeze. Luckily, we didn't have much further to go. We turned onto rue de Tolbiac and walked down to Avenue de Choisy. Right on the corner, is a great restaurant to which we have gone many times, Le Mandarin de Choisy. I tried to get a shot from our table, I don't think it came out too well.

Because of the chill in the air, we started with a wonderful asparagus soup. Our main course was scallops deep-fried in a fantastic batter and dipped in a lovely duck sauce. Words cannot convey the splendorific taste! We shared a bottle of Sancerre. We opted for desert and each had a wonderful ice cream concoction. Mine was called something Saison and Robb's was Menthe (mint). And, of course, café to end it. The wait staff must be noted because they were so friendly and attentive and helpful. I called one of them over and asked if I could keep my chop sticks. He left and returned with two pair for each of us. WOW! At one point, we thought we were going to be the last ones in the resto, but shortly before midnight, a huge number of local people started showing up and the place became quite lively.

We were going to take the bus back, but Robb decided he couldn't cope with that and had the waiter call a taxi.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Paris 2008 - 15 Mai

15 Mai - This is our NEW favorite French song by our NEW favorite French star:

We didn't really plan to do anything today except go to the store because we had run out of a few essentials (wine). We walked to Franprix, and the local pharmacie, got the things we wanted, plus a few that caught our fancy while we were there, and returned to the apartment. We are definitely thinking of buying one of those little carts with wheeels that people here use when they go shopping. I did think you might be interested in the parking situation in Paris. It is a major hassle and you can pay as much for a garage as for an apartment. Most people just take their chances finding a place on the street, and that's especially true in our working class neighborhood. There are some free spaces, but mostly they are areas in which you have to pay a parking fee. They don't have parking meters like you find in the US, they have one or two machines per block at which you make your payment. I think that's a much more viable method. Of course, that's just for those who own a car. Motorcyclists usually use this method.

We came back to the apartment, sat around for a while, had lunch which was a sandwich with ham, tomato and cheese we had just bought, then sat around some more. We were both getting a case of "cabin fever" after a while, so I suggested we go for a walk. Robb was more than ready for that also.

Before we really got started, we stopped at a shoe repair shop so Robb could check on the shoelaces because the ones he bought were a bit too short. The lady who waited on him was so very nice. She even put the laces in his shoes after he bought them.

My original idea was to walk down to Place Léon Blum, and then follow the bus route down rue Chemin Vert for a few blocks. Everytime we've taken the bus, I've seen a store on that rue that had nice leather jackets in the window, and I wanted to check it out. Of course, we ended up on the wrong street, but at the time I wasn't sure that it wouldn't turn into the street for which I was looking, so we just kept walking. It finally dawned on me that it was the wrong street, and I suggested we try one more street over. Sure enough, that was rue Chemin Vert. So we walked all the way down to Boulevard Richard Lenoir.

I couldn't believe we had walked so far, but then with the Colonne de Juillet staring me in the face, I couldn't deny the length of our journey. As we traversed Blvd Lenoir, we came across an office supply store. It was the famous Office Depot with which we're all familiar. There are several in the city. I have been looking for a refill for my pen in every place that sold pens that we've come across, but to no avail, so I figured why not try Office Depot, and sure enough, they had the one I needed. I bought a package of ten for about €3.

We continued down the boulevard to Place de la Bastille, where we came upon a flea-market-like thing that has been there since we first got here. We checked it out, stopping at an oriental booth, where I bought a couple of oriental jackets for €15. I tried to bargain them down to €10 and thought I had been successful until the guy handed me back €5 change for a €20 note. It was still a bargain. We passed one booth where they were selling incense. It smelled so good and I was hoping Robb would buy one, but he didn't.

Then, we made our way through the crowd to rue de la Roquette where we got the bus back to our area. I've told you before about the cool offer they have here for getting ADSL-TV-Téléphone and today I was lucky enough to come across an advert for it. If you're pc gives you a large enough picture (or if your eyes are good) you can see that the offer is €19.90 for the first three months, then €29.90 per month with a €3 a month fee for the box. But even with the box, that's only about $51 bucks a month. I pay more than that for basic cable. And by the way, their ADSL is faster than our cable internet.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Paris 2008 - 14 Mai

14 Mai - We were up and about by 10h00 today (yes, even me). Though we didn't get started doing anything until around 12h30 or so. Robb wanted to go to a Geox shoe store. We checked the internet and found the closest one was in the Opéra area in which we were just yesterday. So walked down, grabbed the bus and rode to the Palais Royal again. But this time, instead of walking all the way up to the Opéra, we grabbed the 27 bus and rode up. The good news is, there was a Geox at the address we had. The bad news is that it was just the corporate offices. It was in the same building as Celio, so we wandered in there. We each bought a nice belt.

After leaving Celio, my first thought was to have lunch at Café de la Paix, even though it's a really touristy place, but after checking the ridiculous prices, we changed our minds. We were approached by an English girl who thought we were French. She was looking for Notre Dame. She evidently wanted to walk and it really is close enough to do that, but she wasn't sure where she was. When I pointed out that the Louvre was just at the end of the street, she seemed to get her bearings and, thanking us, took off.

We started after her down the street but stopped at a sidewalk sandwich stand, got a sandwich and then sat at a table at the café next door, where we ordered a café.

After the light lunch, we walked down toward the Louvre, stopping once to take a picture of a fountain. There are two fountains, actually, one on each side of the street. I had taken a picture of the other fountain yesterday. Then, at Robb's urging, I took a picture of all the motorcycles parked around the fountain. I stopped a couple blocks later to get this picture of Place Vendôme, a few blocks away.

We were going to walk through the Louvre (there is a street that runs through the center), but then I saw the sign for the Carrousel du Louvre, and we figured we would go in, have a look around and get a cool drink. Not many people know of this entrance to the Louvre, most think that one must enter through the Pyramid. This entrance brings you in to a place where you can see the upside-down Pyramid (if you remember the DaVinci Code). This entrance also brings you in through the Carrousel which is like a mini-mall with all kinds of stores. I saw this interesting display of fossils in the window of one store. Then we walked through the room which contains a remnant of the original wall that surrounded the city of Paris back when it was first built. We ended up at the restaurant area and stopped to get an Orangina and sit by the railing overlooking the upside-down pyramid. It was great for people watching.

We left the Louvre by the entrance through which we had entered and continued our trek through the courtyard, where I stopped to take this picture of the Pyramid. Then we left the Louvre and walked along the Seine. I took this picture of l'Institute de France, the body entrusted with the preservation of the French language. I followed that with this picture of le Pont des Arts, which is usually full of people doing all kinds of things when the weather is good. Next, I took this picture of le Pont Neuf and Ile de la Cité. The green area in front of the island is the Point Vert, a little park, in which we will be going to a picnic in a couple of weeks. In the background to the left of the picture, you can see a couple of pointy turrets; that is the Conciergerie where Marie Antoinette awaited her fate after the revolution. Then I spotted Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois, which is just opposite the eastern side of the Louvre.

We walked down to the Pont Neuf, where I stopped to take this picture of the crazy motorcyclists riding in the middle of the traffic, then we walked midway to the entrance to the Point Vert. While we were checking that out, it started thundering, so we headed back to get the bus before the rain came. We didn't make it. We were only about half-way back to the street when the rain began. Luckily, I thought, I had brought my umbrella, but the damned thing wouldn't open correctly and I had to hold it open. We made our way to the Pont Neuf métro station and ducked inside just as the real downpour began.

The rain only lasted ten minutes or so, and then we set off to find the bus, which I thought would be on rue de Rivoli, but I forgot that rue de Rivoli is one way in the wrong direction at that point. So then, I figured we had to go back to the street along the quai. We walked down there, but the only bus stop I saw was for several buses, but not the 69. I thought we were going to have to walk further down the quai, but Robb somehow spotted another bus stop next to the one I saw, and that was the right one.

We hopped aboard the bus which showed up almost immediately, happy to be safe from any remaining showers that might happen along. None did. The 69 bus passes the Bastille both going and coming. It stopped in the perfect spot for me to shoot this picture of the Opéra Bastille.

We got off a stop before our regular stop because I wanted to stop and buy another umbrella, having deposited the other one in the first trash container I found after leaving the Pont Neuf métro station entrance after the rain had subsided. I got my umbrella and we continued back to the apartment. It began raining lightly, just as we were almost there. The rain continued pretty much for the rest of the night.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Paris 2008 - VII

12 Mai - We got up bright and early (around noon), actually Robb did get up around 09h30 to mail his letters, but someone to whom he spoke at the local La Poste told him he had to go to a main post office over by the Opéra, so we took off to find it. We finally got our chance to ride the 69 bus. We boarded on rue de la Roquette, riding past the Bastille down to rue de Rivoli. We rode down rue de Rivoli to the Palais Royal stop where we got off. Then we started the trek to the Opéra area. It was further than I thought and we probably should have taken the 27 bus, but we were determined and walked all the way, looking all the time for La Poste.

We stopped at several places asking directions to La Poste with no success. When we got the Opéra Garnier, we heard music but couldn't quite figure out what it was or from where it was coming. We finally saw them. We still have no idea who they were or why they were there, but there was a thirteen-member band performing in front of the Opéra. While we were watching, the white limo you can see behind them drove up. It was from, one of the French radio stations to which we listen online at home.

I took the picture from the steps to the Opéra entrance. Then, I panned a bit to the left and shot this scene of the Place de la Opéra down to the Louvre.

We still had to find La Poste, so we took off again. We came to a Celio. I bought a "man-bag", a kind of purse for men that will come in handy because I like to take my camera everywhere I go but it's a bit cumbersome carrying it in the pocket of my jeans. Robb bought himself a hat. It occurred to us to ask directions to La Poste while we were there. The store clerks were very helpful, although they didn't know exactly where it was located, they gave us the general direction but told us it was probably closed today because it's a holiday. I didn't know it was a holiday and for whatever reason it never entered my head to ask which one, so I still don't know. When we got home later, I did look up French holidays on the internet but found nothing for the 12th of May.

We left the store in the general direction they had given us. We wandered around in back of the Opéra but found no post office, as I knew we wouldn't because just behind the Opéra is Galeries Lafayette. Galeries Lafayette is a huge department store comprising three seven-story buildings. There is the main store (mostly women's stuff), Lafayette Maison (the home store) and Lafayette Homme (the men's store). We entered the men's store because Robb has been trying to find shoelaces for the past few days. We have looked in just about every place we could think might have them. We found a place in Monoprix, but it was closed. Neither did we find a place in Galeries Lafayette. We wandered about for a while, during which I shot this picture from the third floor walkover. Robb bought a nice short-sleeved shirt and then we left.

I thought we might go to La Taverne on Boulevard des Italiens, have a café and then have dinner, but I didn't realize it was only 16h00 and it would have been a long, long wait for dinner, so we grabbed a taxi back to the apartment. That was probably a mistake but I did manage to get this picture of the Panthéon across the Seine.

When we got to the apartment, we were only there a short while before we realized we needed to go the store for a few items. We got some things for dinner as well as milk for the morning coffee and that was pretty much it for today.

13 Mai - The day got off to a good start for Robb. He had spoken to the concierge yesterday and she told him that he could send his letters from La Poste down the street instead of having to trek across town. So he got up around nine and went down. Then it got a little dicey because he saw a boulangerie and decided to get a couple croissants. Of course, you all know by now that his sense of direction is a bit muddled, so it caused him a few moments of consternation. But he finally figured it out and made his way back to the apartment.

In the meantime, I was trying desperately to get some sleep after having been kept up most of the night with various problems, some of which were caused by Robb and some of which were caused by the people in the apartment directly above us. I'm not sure what kind of schedule they keep, but they seem to be up all night and disappear (or sleep) during the day. At any rate, they're not quiet during the night and since I'm a very light sleeper, that makes for a long night for me. Then, around 07h30, the demolition squad starts work next door.

I finally gave up trying to get any more sleep and got out of bed around 11h30. Robb had already made the coffee and mine was in the micro-onde. Sweet Robb had bought some croissants, so we had those with coffee and that was breakfast.

We walked down, got the bus to Place Léon Blum and walked past the mairie du 11e to Picard, where we (Robb) bought a bunch of dinner stuff. Picard is a frozen food company, but don't even think of American frozen food when you think of Picard. There is no comparison. For about €25, Robb got enough for several dinners. We aren't doing much actual cooking here, because the kitchen is less than conducive to cooking. All we have is a tiny two-burner stove and a micro-onde, so it's a lot easier to buy frozen stuff or eat out.

After returning to put the frozen food in the freezer, we decided we wanted to see whether or not L'Avenue was still where we remember it being, so we caught the 61 bus to Gare d'Austerlitz where we then got the 89 Bus to Bibliotheque François Mitterand. We then walked back to L'Avenue,
which as it turns out is not on Avenue de France as I thought. I forgot how the streets change names every few blocks or so. We were then confronted with what to do next. It was way too early for dinner and way too late for lunch, so we decided to sit on the café terrace and have a café.

We drank our café slowly and thought perhaps we would walk over to the MK2, which is just next door. The MK2 is a large complex containing twelve movie theaters, several cafés
, at least one club (the Limelight) and a store where you can buy DVDs. The current popular movie at MK2 is Indiana Jones. But they're already excitedly advertising the showing of Sex and the City around the end of the month.

We checked out the DVDs at MK2 and walked over to the Seine to check out the new passerelle Simone de Beauvoir, built since we were last here. We couldn't come all this way and not have a walk across, We took a long last look across the passerelle and started off. I walked as slowly as i could, stopping to take a few pictures as I went. The first was this picture of the Junk, an IN jazz club mostly known to just locals. Then, I couldn't very well pass up the opportunity to get this beautiful sailing vessel. Since it was pretty much the beginning of the rush hour, I snapped this picture of the traffic on the quai, although my timing was a bit off and it doesn't look much like rush hour traffic. From the middle of the passerelle,I took this picture in which, if you look real hard, you can see the spire and towers of Notre Dame just beyond the Pont de Bercy.

We made our way back across the passerelle (so called because it's for pedestrian traffic only), caught the 89 bus back to the Jardin des Plantes, where we got the 61 bus back to the apartment.

It had been an exhausting day for me, and evidently for Robb as well, since he fell asleep on the couch just after dinner while I was writing this entry.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Paris 2008 - VI

10 Mai - It's a lovely, lazy Saturday in Paris. My cold medicine ran out because I stupidly forgot to buy more, so we're off to a pharmacie for that. We walked down to Place Léon Blum since the only open place seemed to be the one to which we went the other day. Then we noticed that a lot of stores had a sign in their windows indicating that they would be closed from 13h00 to 15h00. So now we know not to try going to a store between one and three in the afternoon in this neighborhood.

I got my Jour et Nuit and then we wandered around the area a bit. Just a block or so from the pharmacie we found a Monoprix; the bottom floor is is a general department store, while the upper level is a large grocery store. We bought a few items and left. The building above the Monoprix contains many apartments and was nice looking. We started back towards the apartment walking toward Parc de la Roquette, the edge of which can be seen by the trees on the upper left. The upper end of the parc is just a block from the apartment. At the lower end of the parc is a marchè at which we bought some things for tonight's dinner.

We started the walk back to the apartment when we came across a building with the popular French liberté, egalité, fraternité and the French flag flying just below the words. It's not unusual to come across buildings with those three words emblazoned across the front.

We also came across this advertisement for a Big Band concert on 15 Mai, to which we hope to go.

I couldn't remember the champagnes we had on the cruise, so I wrote to Ô Chateau, the sponsors, and asked them to supply the names. Mademoiselle Claudine Kervadec emailed them to me. The first sampling was a brut, LeLarge Ducroq. The second, which was most preferred by all seven of us, was a demi-sec, Vincent Perseval. And finaly, a champagne rosé, Floquet Doucet. I was not previously, nor since, familiar with any of these wines. I assume they are small, little known houses. I will continue to look for them.

Dinner tonight, at home, started with a wonderful appetizer of Coquille Saint-Jacques, followed by Penne au Poulet et Champignons (Penne pasta with chicken and mushrooms). Robb had his usual salad, but I couldn't handle any more than the appetizer and the main course. I drank Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Robb drank a light chardonnay.

11 Mai - This was a day of miscues.

Robb, forgetting that it's Sunday, got up and made his way to La Poste. I arose a couple of hours later, had my coffee and checked my email. Since most stores are closed on Sunday, by law, we set off on rue de la Roquette to see what we could find. There are a lot of places run by Muslims here, so we figured we could find something. And we did, a nice little store down by Place Léon Blum. On the way back to the apartment, Robb stopped at a fruit stand for oranges, while I went next door to a sandwich shop to get a sandwich for lunch.

We finished our lunch and decided to take a bus ride on our favorite line.....the 69. Unfortunately, the RATP decided they didn't want to operate the 69 line on Sunday, so we're out of luck for today. While waiting for the bus that never came, Robb noticed this birdhouse just outside the parc de la Roquette.

We did go for a very nice, very long walk in the neighborhood. We came across a Ford that you will never see in the US (if the oil companies have their way, and they always do). Across the street from the bus stop is this Chrysler-Dodge showroom, where they sell American sized vehicles including the Jeep Liberty, one of which you can sort of see behind the car on the right of the picture. We have seen a lot more SUVs this time, though most of them are either Mercedes or BMWs.

We were just going to walk around the block, but ended up walking all the way to Père Lachaise and back down to the apartment.

Then around nine-ish, we thought we would go to a restaurant in the 13e, L'Avenue, but after checking the internet, we found a bazillian restaurants by that name, but not the one to which we wanted to go on Avenue de France. Then we thought we might go to one of the great oriental restaurants on Avenue de Choisy, but after walking down to the métro station, we decided to have dinner at Au Cadran Voltaire.....again.

I'm really glad we made that decision, because we had a table by the window on the coin de la rue (corner of the street) where we had an excellent view of all the comings and goings in Place Léon Blum. We sat there for many hours taking it all in and appreciating the fantastic lifestyle we were enjoying. At one point, an older couple was seated at a table next to us. The guy was trying to take their picture with his camera and was having a difficult time. I volunteered to take the picture for them and did. They were most appreciative and I got my brownie points for the day.

We finally left the restaurant and were going for a walk, when we both "got the call" at the same time. We canceled our planned excursion and headed back to the apartment.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Paris 2008 - V

7 Mai - Another day spent pampering myself and doing nothing constructive. So here's a couple of pictures.

These two pictures are of the post office just down the street. In France, La Poste is also a full service bank. For us, it's a convenient ATM from which to replenish our euros.

This is the Mairie du 13e (City Hall of the 13th arrondissement). There are twenty arrondissements in Paris and each has it's own city hall complete with all the bureaucracy for which France is so famous. I've asked about the trees with the purple flowers but no one seems to know what they are.

8 Mai - Today we took the métro to Place d'Italie. We went to Italie2, our favorite centre commercial (shopping center) in Paris. We didn't do much shopping today, we only went to Tati where I bought some pants hangers and what I thought were T-shirts but turned out to be some kind of "muscle" shirts for which I'm a bit long in the tooth (not to mention that I simply don't have the body for them). Then, still in Tati, we found a photo machine where I had some pics made so that I could put one on my current métro pass and a couple for the next two. Then we walked down rue Bobilot looking for L'Oisive Thé, a teahouse just opened by a fellow blogger. We walked the entire length of the street but did not find it. So we walked back to Place d'Italie.

We had planned to have lunch at the tea room, but since that didn't work out, we decided to have lunch at the Café de France. I had a tomate-mozzarella salad and a glass of wine. Robb had a huge seafood salad and wine.

We went out around nine-ish for dinner at l'Artiste Café (the place to the left is the café), again. I had Penne au trois fromage and Robb had the Magret du Canard. Notice, in the forefround, the double-wheeled scooter. I never saw them before on any of our trips to Paris, but there seems to be a lot of them now. For guys who need training wheels perhaps?

9 Mai - I remembered, after we returned to the apartment yesterday afternoon, that Thursday was not the day to go to the tea house, because that's the only day of the week that Aimee takes off, so we would have missed seeing her. I checked the address on her website again and we set out confident of finding it today.

And we did find L'Oisive Thé. Aimee was happy to see us since Katia had called and told her we were coming. What a nice experience we had. The ambience was so welcoming and comfortable. The tea was excellent and the food was Parisian good. This was the view from our table. It's a must do when you come to Paris.

After a charming couple of hours at L'Oisive Thé, we walked up to Place d'Italie and Italie2. We went back to Tati so Robb could get some pics for his métro pass. Then we stopped into FNAC where Robb completed his Raphäel cd collection. We left there and went to a perfume store looking for perfume for his cousin. We didn't find it, and I think the reason is because it's something that's not made any more. His cousin (who was married to a Frenchman) keeps asking for all these things that she bought in Paris many, many years ago and when we try to find them, of course, they're no longer available.

Then Robb discovered that his sunglasses were missing. We thought maybe he had left them in Tati and went back, but couldn't find them, so we stopped at Printemps where he bought another pair. After, we caught the métro back to the apartment.

We were going to have dinner at A La Rennaisance, but it was closed, so we walked back to la
Bistro Expo. Did I forget to mention the music when we were there the other day? What an interesting repertoire; jazz, typical Moroccan music and you haven't heard reggae until you've hear Moroccan reggae.

After dinner, since it was so nice, we walked around the area for a while.

I managed to crash my computer a few days ago and lost all my files. That's why there is no music with these entries. Coming soon.....maybe.

Plus à venir, mes amis.