Monday, June 30, 2008

Paris 2008 - 26 Juin

Jeudi - I had tentatively planned to take us to a couple of museums today, but Robb wanted to take his jacket back to Armand Thierry to see what he could do about getting it fixed. We are beginning to realize that the clothes Armand Thierry sells are not exactly the best. This is not the first time we've bought something there and had a problem with whatever we bought. I'm convinced to not shop there again, Robb is taking a bit longer to see the light. I will admit that he had no trouble getting them to fix the broken zipper on his jacket. The sales clerk was almost cheerful. But the point is we shouldn't have had to waste time (and métro tickets) going back to get it repaired.

It is the time of the summer soldes (sales). In France, the stores can only have sales twice a year as regulated by the state. They can have "going out of business" sales, and frequently use that excuse to have an unregulated sale from time to time. No one seems to get too upset when they don't "go out of business". We did check out a few places, but saw nothing we couldn't live without.

After, Armand Thierry, we were waiting for the 67 bus that would take us across the Seine to rue de Rivoli, when we decided to go over to O'Jules for lunch. I had my usual mixte baguette (it's about the only time I get to enjoy a baguette), and as usual, I couldn't eat all of it, so I wrapped it in a napkin and placed it in my bag to bring home for tomorrow.

We walked back over to the bus stop and got the 67. It was an interesting ride and we got to see a section of the city we wouldn't ordinarily see. We got off at the rue Vielle de Temple stop, which was several blocks from the street for which I was looking, rue de Pavée, but it took us past several stores I had seen many times on previous bus trips that I was glad to have the opportunity to check out.

We eventually walked up rue de Pavée to 11, rue de Payenne and the Centre Culturel Suedois (Swedish Cultural Center) where the current exhibition was paintings by Hilma af Klint. When we entered the courtyard, I wasn't sure we were in the right place because there were a lot of people sitting at tables drinking wine, tea and coffee. But it was the right place and we found the entrance to the museum and the exhibition, which was free. Ms. Klint was definitely ahead of her time.

We left there, walking back to rue des Francs Bourgeois We walked down to the corner of rue des Archives where we stopped at a bistrot (3eme Chinon) for a beer and a bit of rest. Just down the street was this interesting building.

Then it was off again to rue Rambuteau and the Centre Georges Pompidou. The Pompidou is as interesting outside as in. In front of the musée is a large square where lots of people gather to just sit around watching and listening to the buskers (street performers) and there are usually many of them performing all kinds of things from mime to playing a digeridoo.

Upon entering the musée, we were uncertain what we wanted to do, but decided to get a ticket to check out all the exhibitions, of which there were several. We started with the permanent collection which was, pardon my French, shit. I mean really people, how much talent does it take to stand on a ladder and pour a couple cups of paint on a canvas? Or to nail a few boards to a piece of plywood? There was one large painting(?) of about eight feet square, that was nothing but black paint on canvas. If these things are art, then I'm the world's greatest artist and you should all be paying homage (and money) to me. While we were walking through, Robb heard a group of German tourists complaining that this stuff was garbage.

Luckily, there was another exhibit to which we went. It was titled Traces du Sacré, and contained the work of many real artists including the just-visited Hilma af Klint. There were many, many pieces on display. So many, that I couldn't do the whole exhibit. We made our way back to the main entrance area where I found a bench and sat for quite awhile.

We left the Pompidou, walking up the square to a souvenir shop where Robb finally found the T-shirt for which he had been looking since we arrived in Paris. He had seen a lot with the inscription "I (heart) Paris" but he wanted one with Je (heart) Paris. And he got it at a good price. We walked back over rue Rambuteau, passing this cute fella, to the 29 bus stop. We waited quite a while but it finally arrived and took us across town to the Bastille, where we got the 69 bus home.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Paris 2008 - 25 Juin

Mercredi - Laundry day again. This time for both of us. During the wash cycle, we walked down to La Grande Roquette, sat at a sidewalk table and had a café. After the wash was done and we had returned to the apartment, Robb realized he had forgotten his man-bag with his wallet. He got lucky and it was still there when he went to get it.

A few days ago, we had received a flyer for Les Casseroles, Restaurant Espagnol which is just down the street, so we decided to give it a try. We started with a tapas. Part of it was a delicious olive spread. I got bold and asked the waitress, a lovely young Parisian girl, if I could get the recipe and she went to the chef and got it for me. Our main course, was grilled Tilapia, done perfectly, with a nice veggie side dish of green beans, mushrooms and diced potatoes accompanied with a small salad. Dessert was wonderful ice cream (glace) with cocolate sauce and coconut.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Paris 2008 - 24 Juin

Mardi - Dinner at Beyrouth.

I think we've solved the mystery of the upstairs neighbors: it's obvious they are vampires. I mean look at the evidence, as soon as the sun rises, they are nowhere to be seen or heard. As soon as the sun sets (actually around 01h00), they're up and re-arranging their furniture, or building bookcases, or whatever it is they do up there to make all that noise when everyone else in the building is trying to sleep.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Paris 2008 - 23 Juin

Lundi - Even though I don't really feel rested, I've done very little for the past three days and so I'm hoping we can have a nice trip over to La Défense on the far western side of the city. We have never been there because it's basically a corporate village with a lot of ultra-modern buildings. But I know from viewing on the internet, that it also has a lot of art work and a nice shopping center, and you know how we love shopping. Also adding to ease of the trip, is the fact that we only have to take one métro, the #1 line (though we do have to take two buses to get to the métro).

We left the apartment somewhat later than planned (so what else is new), but we got the métro at Nation and got seats which we will not give up since La Défense is the last stop. By the time we got to La Défense Esplanade (the next to last stop), the métro was packed and we decided to get off. That is a significant difference from the last stop and requires a lot of walking to get to the major attraction, la Grande Arche. That is not a bad thing, because there is a lot of artwork throughout the entire area. Almost every corporate building has something and they are all rather fascinating and mostly large sculptures.

Other than la Grande Arche, the major attraction for me is Les Quatre Temps, a shopping mall. I have been wanting to go for some time, but I had no idea it was so massive. Kiddies, we are talking at least a half mile long and four stories high. The funny thing was that we didn't even get past the first store (strangely called Pull and Bear before Robb was buying clothes. It was after that when we discovered just how big the place is. By the time we got near the end of the first level, we were hungry and stopped at a chain bistro called Paul, for a Baguette Mixte, pretty much the best I've ever had. It was more than we could finish, so we wrapped the remainders in a napkin and brought them home.

You can see all the La Défense pictures here (click on the La Défense group, of course): Flickr

After our lunch break, we walked out to the main court and found ourselves next to la Grande Arche. There is an elevator to the top, but we didn't go up. We were preparing to find the métro, when Robb discovered he had misplaced his bus pass. We thought he might have lost it in Pull and Bear, so we walked all the way back to the beginning of Les Quatre Temps. It was not there. I didn't really think it would be, because it's good for unlimited rides on the bus, the métro and the RER until the end of the month. That, of course, means that everytime we want to go some place, Robb will have to use a regular ticket. We went down to the métro area, which is another level of the mall, found a ticket booth and he bought a carnet of ten tickets. He will use three just to get back to the apartment.

When we got on the métro, we got a seat, but we had to give them up at the next stop. Let me explain that. All the cars on the métro have seats that fold down, where you can sit until the car gets really crowded, then you are supposed to stand up to allow more people into the car. We had to stand all the way across the city to Nation.

We had dinner at a Thai restaurant, the Q Bar, that Robb had thought was a gay bar , because of the Q, I suppose. If you drew a line from the Q Bar to l'Artiste Café to l'Angela and back to the Q Bar, it would form a nearly perfect triangle. Once again, we were the last to leave.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Paris 2008 - 20-22 Juin

20 Juin (Vendredi) - These next two or three posts are going to bore you because we basically did nothing. I am taking a few days to recover what little strength I can before attempting to do anything else.

Robb went for another of his marathon walks today, but this time he got himself really lost. He called me several times to get directions, and at one point seemed to be within a few blocks of Place Léon Blum, but somehow he managed to make a wrong turn and ended up quite a distance away from it. Or so it seemed from the way he was describing the area to me on the phone. It turned out that he was only a few blocks from the apartment, but didn't recognize things he has seen almost every day since we've been here. His basic problem is that when he realizes he's lost, he won't stop and figure out where he is, he just keeps on walking, getting more and more lost.

We went to l'Artiste Café for dinner. I, again, had Penne aux Trois Fromages. Robb had so much food, even he couldn't eat all of it.

21 Juin (Samedi) - I slept till almost 12h30 and then forced myself to get out of bed. I was still tired. Even when I don't recognize that I'm tired, I can tell by the way my eyes feel very heavy and it's almost painful to open them.

Today was a beautiful day in Paris, with temps around 24C (74F) and blue skies with almost no clouds. Around 15h00 or 16h00, we heard really loud music coming from the street. We had the window open, so I had a look but could see nothing. I suggested to Robb that he could go down and have a look. He called me a few minutes later, but I could barely hear him over the music and people. He had found the source of it all. Near the Square de la Roquette, there was a free, outdoor disco-like thing set up. When he returned to the apartment, he said there were signs indicating that the music style would change every couple of hours (it didn't) and that it was scheduled to end around 21h00 or 22h00. We went to
Bistro Expo for dinner around 21h30 and it was still going strong. It is now 01h30, and it is still going. I suspect it may last all night.

I've just learned that the music was because Saturday was the occasion of the Féte de la Musique, with music being played at many places around the city. It's all free, of course, so wherever it happens, there are hundreds of people in attendance; dancing and drinking until the early hours of the morning.

22 Juin (Dimanche) - A real nothing day. We didn't even go out for dinner. Robb went for a walk for an hour or so somewhere near Pére Lachaise. I can never say exactly where he went because he doesn't usually know. He just starts walking and, sometimes, finds his way back without assistance.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Paris 2008 - 19 Juin

Jeudi - We got up around 07h30, packed everything that wasn't packed already, paid our bill and took a taxi to the train station.

One thing I dislike very much about using the trains in France, is that they don't tell you which track it will be on until about twenty minutes before the scheduled departure time, and every once in a while, they change that at the last minute. We waited in the lobby with many other passengers awaitng the track information. Fortunately, we were on track #1 and we didn't have to drag our bags down the stairs, walk to the indicated track and drag the bags up the stairs to the train. We simply walked out to the track area, checked the sign that tells you which car will be in which area, walked down there and got on.

Something we hadn't counted on was that the train would take us to Gare Montparnasse and not Gare d'Austerlitz. It also would go through Bordeaux and not Limoges. In direct opposition to the trip down, this time we got to see a lot of the countryside and the neat little towns along the way, including an occasional chateau. It was a much nicer journey and it was on a TGV, although it took the same six hours to get to Paris that it had taken to get to Toulouse.

The closer to Paris we got, the cloudier it became. Toulouse had been warm and sunny while we were there and when we left there wasn't a cloud in the sky. When we got to Paris, it was very cloudy.

We dragged our bags to the taxi stand and were on our way to the apartment, when LIF called to see where we were. I hadn't called before we left, because I felt relatively certain that they probably hadn't gone to bed until about the time we were getting up to leave.

Maybe because of the weather, Paris seemed so grubby compared to Toulouse. And dirty.

As we got out of the taxi at the apartment building, it started to rain. After we were safely inside, it started to pour. It did stop in time for us to go to dinner at L'Angela, which was disappointing. The last time we were there, Robb had had a terrific Osso Bucco. I ordered it this time, but apparently, the chef doesn't make the same dishes each time. He changes them according to the ingredients with which he has to work. That's all well and good if you don't have your mind set on something in particular, but I was very unhappy with the dish I got in place of the one I was expecting. I'm not sure we will return there.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Paris 2008 - Toulouse3

Mercredi - Another terrible night. I didn't even get up for breakfast, but I must have fallen asleep because when I awoke, Robb was gone. He returned in a while with a guy carrying my breakfast on a tray. My stomach wasn't feeling all that steady, so I just drank the orange juice and ate some fruit.

Sadly, we have decided to return to Paris tomorrow, instead of going on to Barcelona. I just don't see the sense of going if I'm not going to be able to really walk around and check it out. It will be our first time and it's totally illogical to do it, if it can't be done right. Perhaps, in a year or so, we can make a trip with Barcelona as the first city at which we stop. Hopefully, by then, I'll be sufficiently rested to enjoy it.

We walked over to Place Wilson and caught a taxi to Gare Matabiau, where we stood in a long, long line which surprisingly moved quite quickly. Then we took a taxi back to Place Wilson. Robb was feling hungry so we stopped at a café but were told they were not serving food. We left there and went to the Hippopotamus. While sitting in the Hippo, I noticed a police car drive up and block the street. Robb had run into a manifestation yesterday during his journey, and said that was the way it had started. Sure enough, by the time we left the restaurant and started walking to FNAC, a group of protestors, with police escort, began marching and chanting their slogans. It was a rather small group, and once they were past, we continued to FNAC where Robb bought a CD by Christophe Mae.

We walked down to Place Wilson and walked around there for a while, until I was really needing to rest.

LIF called to confirm our dinner appointment this evening.

LIF met us at the hotel, and we walked to Place Saint-George. Tonton had secured a table on the café terrasse (under the white covering on the right side of the picture). It was to be the very first time Robb and I had ever eaten dinner at a café terrasse. Fortunately, the weather co-operated and was warm and dry. For dinner, Robb had ordered a Toulousain specialité, a sausage. He didn't much care for it, but I liked it and traded the piece of grilled salmon I had left for his left-over sausage.

After dinner, it was decided we would all walk to another gay bar, Bears. Tonton and Robb walked ahead while LIF stayed back with very-slowly-moving-me. About a block from the bar, he and I ran into a couple of guys from Barcelona, who explained to LIF that they were looking for cocaine. LIF told them we didn't have any, nor did we know where to get it. Then we continued on our way to the bar, followed by the two guys. Robb and Tonton were already inside and we joined them. One of the Barcelona guys (the cuter of the two) came in with us while his friend waited outside. After a few minutes he left. We had our drinks and prepared to leave because the bar was about to close. It was somewhere around 02h00. When we got outside, we again ran into the two Barcelona guys, who joined us on the way to another bar that would be open for several hours later. During the journey, Tonton and one of the Barcelona guys walked ahead, the other, cuter guy stayed back with LIF, Robb and me. When Tonton and the guy's friend turned a corner, cute Barcelona made his move, telling us that he was gay and started kissing all three of us. It was quite amusing. As luck would have it, we had to pass our hotel, and when we were in front of it, Robb and I told the others we were just too tired to go any further. We bid the other four adieu and entered the hotel.

Earlier in the evening, while going to the Bear bar, we had discussed the possibility of staying another few days in Toulouse and then returning to Paris. But during the night, Robb and I talked it over and decided it was just too much of a hassle to return our train tickets (we weren't even certain we could do that), drag our bags to LIF's apartment because we had to leave for one night, drag everything back to the hotel on Friday and party hearty every night. Ten years ago, I wouldn't have questioned doing that, but now I'm just too long-in-the-tooth for that youthful stuff.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Paris 2008 - Toulouse2

Mardi - After shivering most of the night and getting very little sleep, we discovered much to our dismay, that they are re-doing the entire hotel and workmen began banging and drilling and making other construction-type noises. I dragged myself out of bed and we made our way down to the very nice salon for our petit déjeuner around 10h00.

After breakfast, I grabbed my laptop and went back to the salon to use their WiFi. I had forgotten to pay my credit card bill before we left Paris and it was due today. I charge all my cell phone, TV and internet bills to that card because I get a couple of percent back, and I like that. That was easily accomplished and I returned to the room because I was worn out and my stomach was doing flip-flops. Unfortunately, for me, the noise level was just incredible and I got very little rest.

I really felt poorly and expected to spend my entire birthday in bed.

We had a 19h30 appointment to have drinks at LIF's place and I was seriously thinking of just sending Robb and staying in bed. But when he tried to follow the directions I gave him, they did not bring him to their apartment, so I had to get ready to go with him. Once we got outside, it finally dawned on me that the directions I had given him were not even close to correct. I had forgotten about a couple of extra turns that needed to be made.

LIF and Tonton greeted us warmly and then we were joined by a young lady named Lucy. We drank champagne and ate snacks for an hour or so then went to dinner at Le Colombier. Lucy declined our invitation, and after saying "au revoir" to her, we all walked over to Place Wilson to get a cab to the restaurant.

Dinner was wonderful and quite varied because we all had something different for our main course. But we did all start with the same entrée; chocolate foie gras. I would not have considered ordering that on my own and didn't. but LIF ordered one that we could share because he wanted me to try it. I should have known; it was really, really good.

After dinner, we all walked down to a new gay bar (the name of which I did not get) that had just opened. I guess it was still early, because there were only a handful of guys there. We drank vodka-tonics until Robb announced that he wanted to go home. A taxi was called for us, we bid LIF and Tonton "adieu" and returned to the apartment. As far as I know, they remained there.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Paris 2008 - Toulouse

Lundi - We tried calling a taxi but were told the taxis only go to the airport. Robb walked down to Place Léon Blum, got a taxi and brought him back to the apartment to pick up me and our luggage, then we were off to Gare d'Austerltz and the 13h46 train to Toulouse. When we got to the station there was a sign indicating that the train would be fifteen minutes late, but it was on time and left at 13h46 on the dot. If you're planning on taking a scenic tour of France on the train, forget it. Although there was an occasional sight to behold, most of the time the only thing we saw were warehouses or trees, and almost every time you thought you were going to see something, what you saw was warehouses or trees. After Limoges, the tunnels began. There seemed to be an endless number of them. We got to a tiny place called Gournod and the train had to stop because a group of people had blocked the tracks in protest of Sarkozy's announced plan to spend €1.5 million on a private jet similar to the one his buddy George has at his disposal; AirForce One. We were only stuck there for a few minutes and were once again on our way.

When we boarded the train, in Paris, we found our compartment with no problem, but there was an old lady sitting in one of our seats. She made motions to move but we just told her to stay there and we would take other seats. When we left the station, the compartment was full, in fact the entire car seemed to be full. All but one guy got off in Limoges. He was a young guy who was on his way to Toulouse to interview to attend a university. He said if he didn't get that, he was going to apply in Bordeaux. He and Robb had quite a conversation, with Robb speaking French and he speaking English, which he said he wanted to improve.

In Toulouse, it was a long, long walk from the train to the terminal in Gare Matabiau, during which we had to go downstairs and then up stairs, dragging our bags with us. Fortunately, it brought us to within a few yards of the taxi stand. The driver loaded our bags into the back of the taxi and we were off to Hotel Royal Wilson, which is ideally located right downtown, just off Place Wilson and across the street from the Théâtre de la Cité. It is also only a couple of blocks to our friends' apartment. The room is strangely located off the main floor across an atrium, luckily it didn't rain, so we didn't have to test that situation when getting to the room. It's a typically French hotel room; small, but rather nice.

Before we got ourselves settled in, our friend (Lost In France) called to see how we were faring and to invite us for drinks at their place before we all go to dinner tomorrow night.

We rested for a few minutes, then set out for what used to be called Le Bistro' Toulousain, but is in the process of changing to Maison du Cassoulet. I was surprised to find it almost full, and the clientelle was all French. Our waiter was a cute, young oriental guy. We ordered the cassoulet and for the very first time, I ate the whole thing. Afterwards, we went for a nice, long walk down to Place du Capitole and then a round-about way back to the hotel.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Paris 2008 - 14-15 Juin

Samedi -

Sometime after 17h00, we walked down to the bus stop to get the 69 to rue de Rivoli, the Pont Neuf stop. The weather was not my idea of picnic weather. We started to go to the marché to get a bottle of wine to take with us, but then decided that wouldn't be too wise if we got there and the others had decided to go to a bar, as was the contingency plan. First, we would be going to a bar with a bottle of wine and secondly, we would have to carry the damned thing around with us for the rest of the evening.

There was an English couple already waiting and debating the probability of the bus arriving. According to the bus time indicator, it was service perturbe, but we had just seen a bus going in the opposite direction so we thought it might have to come back past. Hopefully, it would be in service and pick us up. The English lady said that one time she had been on the bus when it stopped and the driver announced that everyone had to get off, so getting on was no guarantee that you would get to your destination. The bus finally arrived and we boarded. Luckily, we arrived at our destination with no problem.

We walked to the middle of the Pont Neuf, where there is a little square-like area with steps that go down. When we got there, I called Katia to see if they were indeed there because I didn't want to have to walk down those steps only to have to climb back up. Once you get to the bottom of the steps, there is a green area with a walkway on either side that extends to the very point of the Ile de la Cité. A few feet before that point is where we found the K&K gang, with cloths or various types spread out, upon which were many bottles of wine and cheeses, crackers, bread and other goodies. I recognized Katia (that's Katia and Daragh ), KylieMac (in the foreground), Frog With A Blog (on the left), Samantha (sunglasses), and Sebastien and Kathryn (guy with camera, girl with black jacket), Lisa and Georges (guy in black shirt, girl in red sweater). Rhino was not there as he is currently in the US (the last I heard he was in Memphis). There was a couple I had met before, but I can't remember their names. Of course, there were several people I had never met and still don't know. There were more pictures, but for whatever private reasons, some people don't want their pics on the internet, so I took them down.

Katia and KylieMac

Frog With A Blog



One of the new people I did meet was an Irishman named Daragh, who had just spent several years in Australia, and has lived in many countries, including the US. His girlfriend (in the middle with the light jacket) is a dancer at the Moulin Rouge. As you can see, she is quite pretty. They were with another couple who left shortly after we got there. Daragh's girlfriend had to go to work, so she left with them. He spent the next half-hour or so, chatting with us. He is one of the funniest people I've ever met, a natural comedian.

Even though he was wearing a leather jacket Robb was cold and shivering most of the time we were there. Surprisingly, it didn't bother me that much and I'm not sure why.

We stayed for a couple of hours, then left to find a place to eat. I figured as long as we were that close, we might as well pop over to the Latin Quarter. I've mentioned in other trip blogs about the fabulous restaurants in the Quartier Latin, and nothing has changed. I had hoped we could return to the Italian place where we had eaten with Cynthia and Ana a few years ago, but when we got to the place it used to be, it was no longer there. Every place we looked was filled with people. The tourist season is in full bloom, after all, and they are here in hoards. We opted for a semi-inside table at Le Petit Pont, where we had our first experience with the outdoor heaters. Wow, do they ever put out some heat. After a few minutes, I had to take off my jacket and I was still warm. Believe me, I am not complaining. I was so comfortable, I didn't want to leave, but it was getting late (after midnight) and in spite of the fact that the métro runs until 01h00 or 02h00 on the weekend, what with all the manifs and perturbances, I didn't want to push our luck. We did walk down the street to have a Look at Saint Severin and checked out Saint Julien-le-Pauvre, where several concerts were scheduled. A quick look at Notre Dame and we made our way to the métro.

I decided on the métro because it would have been too much to cope with trying to find a bus stop. Luckily, the heaters, the wine and the walking had me sufficiently warm and the métro station was only a couple of blocks away. We had to take two trains and it was the usual crueling challenge for me, but in the end it was worth it because we got off at Philippe Auguste and walked downhill to the apartment.

15 Juin (Dimance) - This afternoon, we walked down to La Poste so I could replenish my very diminished supply of euros.

Ce soir, we walked down to Le Royal for diner, where we got to see the Czech Republic snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in a soccer match (they were winning 2-0 and lost 3-2). Had dinner, ate too much, drank some wine, crawled home in the cold, cold night air.

Tomorrow, we are off to Gare d'Austerlitz and the train to Toulouse.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Paris 2008 - 13 Juin

Vendredi - Today, we did nothing. Robb went to the store, but other than that - nothing.

This evening, though, we went to a concert held at a place called Kiron Espace about two blocks down the street from the apartment. The Aurore Quartet was appearing in concert. And what a fantastic concert it was. They are a hundred times better in person than these videos. There were even a couple of surprise guests, although I'm not certain who they were. The first was a young boy (somewhere between twelve and fifteen) who appeared to be a bit retarded. He attempted a break-dancing routine at which he wasn't very good, but the audience was very generous and applauded him nicely. The second guest was another young person. A female of about the same age category, and we think she was the boy's sister. She however, was greatly talented and played jazz violin backed by the Quartet to very enthusiastic applause. If you somehow have the opportunity to see them in person, I urge you to go. If you like jazz-swing, you will not be disappointed.

There was an amusing incident before the concert. When it was our turn to get our tickets, they had nothing set aside for us. After a little explaining of how we had made the reservation, one of the girls went over to the main desk and found the book into which the information had been written. We got our tickets and stepped to the side, out of the way. Robb tried to take off his jacket and discovered that he had zipped it onto his scarf. We tried and tried to get it out but finally had to tear it out. It's just a little hole. No one will notice. Then they let us into the concert room. It was like a tiny theatre with seats that could have been a little larger, but the view of the "stage" was quite good. The thing I enjoyed most about the place was warm!

After the concert, we walked down to Place Léon Blum to find a place to eat. We considered Le Royal, but ended up at Le Rey again. This time it was quite crowded. A lot of people had come to watch the game on the big screen TVs. Robb started dinner with a HUGE salade of haricot vertes. For our main course, we both had Filet de Canard (duck) with the best-tasting potatoes I've ever had. We drank two pichets of red wine, skipped dessert since we had both eaten too much, and finished with café.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Paris 2008 - 12 Juin

Jeudi -

Robb had to go to BNP Paribas again. He couldn't have chosen a worse day on which to go. It was raining lightly when we left the apartment. By the time we got to Place de la République, it was a bona fide downpour. It was also freezing. I mean, it was COLD! Robb was not dressed appropriately, wearing only a light jacket, and spent most of the trip shivering.

When we finally left the bank, an hour and a half later, the sun was shining but it was still cold. As usual, Robb was hungry, so I suggested we go to La Taverne. What a laugh that was. I was indisposed when Robb placed our order, so I don't know if he screwed it up or if it was the waiter, but I did not get what I had told him to order. I suspect it may have been the waiter, because Robb ordered onion soup and had to ask again before he finally got it. Then, he had haddock with sauerkraut and I had salmon in a pastry. I wasn't overly fond of it. He loved his poisson.

While we were eating, an American family (dad, mom and son) walked in. Not a word of French passed their lips until the mom asked directions to the "salle de bain". The waiter looked at me with the most amused expression on his face, and I was flat-out laughing. The reason that is funny is because the French NEVER ask to use the "bathroom", they always ask directions to the toilet (ou sont les toilettes, s'il vous plait?).

When we left, as we passed their table on the café terrasse, I said, "Enjoy Paris." To which the dad replied, "Thank you. Merci. Viva la France." I mean how can you not crack up at something like that?

Since we got back to the apartment, I haven't been feeling too well. I hope it's just a temporary thing. I did take a short nap, but it didn't seem to help, although now, several hours later, I don't feel bad at all.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Paris 2008 - 11 Juin

Mercredi - The weather today is not quite as good as yesterday, which was beautiful. We wore light jackets and made sure we had our umbrellas with us. Then, we caught the 61 to Gare d'Austerlitz to get our tickets to Toulouse on Monday. Basically, the plan is this: train to Toulouse on Monday arriving around 20h00, dinner with our friends Tuesday evening, Montpelier on Wednesday, train to Barcelona on Thursday. When we got to Gare d'Austerlitz, we were surprised to find that it's quite a walk to the area at which you buy the billets. We did pass a group of several ticketing machines, but it wouldn't accept any of our credit cards. I suppose they have them set-up to accept only "smart cards", which we in the "greatest country in the world" do not have. Once we got to the ticket office, we stood in a long line for several minutes before Robb noticed a sign indicating it was for tickets on trains leaving today only. Getting to the pre-order section was not easy, something we are beginning to expect everytime we have to do anything here. We did however encounter one of the nicest public service people we've met. He was friendly, funny and quite helpful.

The trip back to the apartment on the bus was like riding in a mobile hospital ward. It seemed like everybody was coughing and sneezing. I was very glad when we finally got off and I'm hoping I didn't catch anything nasty.

We went out for dinner around nine-ish with no idea where we were going. I was going to take us down to Place Léon Blum and see what was open that looked interesting, but as we were walking down rue de la Roquette, we came upon Le Bouchon de la Roquette. It's a tiny little place, but it looked interesting and beside that, we were being accosted by some old guy who wanted god-only-knows what, but he kept walking behind us complaining about the weather and the wind, which was blowing somewhat strongly. So in we went. It was obvious that it was populated by locals only. We settled into a table and checked the menu. We both made a decision which we changed as soon as the waiter told us the plat du jour, Pork Roti with roasted potatoes. Excellent. For dessert, I had a tarte tatin and Robb had an apple tarte. Before we even finished dessert, we were the only ones in the restaurant and we wondered if the waiter would even offer café. He did and we accepted. All in all, a wonderful experience. Another place to which we hope to return.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Paris 2008 - 10 Juin

Mardi - We did it. We finally did it. We found an area of Paris that we absolutely hate. We took the bus up to the Pére Lachaise métro area. The idea was to find a nice restaurant and have lunch. We thought that perhaps the restaurants right there might be too busy, with all the tourists and such. So we started checking out the area and found a nice place just across the street, but off the beaten path. We settled into a table on the café terrasse and awaited the waiter. He informed us that the only thing they had was salads. So, we took off to find something else. We walked to the corner, looking down the street. We saw a lot of restaurants that seemed to be considerably less crowded. We looked at one after another until we finally gave up in disgust. They were all filthy. One even had a table that had been shit upon by a bird, and they didn't even bother to clean it off. After seeing the table, I noticed the chair was in even worse condition. This might seem like I'm prejudiced, and maybe I am now, but this was a predominantly muslim area, and the restaurants were almost totally muslim owned and run. We couldn't get away from there fast enough. We finally settled on one of the tourist places we had previously shunned.

After the fiasco near Pére Lachaise, it was such a pleasure to go to a new restaurant, l'Angella, in our neighborhood, just next door to the Chinese place to which we went for lunch the other day. It's all very modern with interesting furniture and a large waterfall just opposite the front door. I think our waiter was the owner, but I'm not certain. He was quite charming and we learned that, though he is French and his wife is Italian, he spoke Japanese, among several other langauges. The food was quite good and not dished out in family-sized portions. I had Spaghetti alla Carbonara and Robb had Osso Bucco. Robb's dish was clearly the better of the two, although mine was very good. They presented the veal as meatballs and the whole thing was covered in a delicious tomato-basil sauce. Dessert for me was very thinly-sliced pineapple with cerise. Robb again had the best, coffee ice cream with chocolate sauce. After our café, we left with the definite intention of returning one evening.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Paris 2008 - 9 Juin

Lundi - After all the cold, miserable days, we have a day that is warm and beautiful. Temp around 24C.

Friday (Vendredi), Robb got a letter from BNP Parisbas informing him that his debit card was ready for pick-up today for the acount he decided he didn'want to open. Unfortunately, he didn't get that mesage to the people in the US who were sending the necessary funds to open the account, so he reluctantly has a French bank account. Sort of. We hopped on the bus(es) and went to the bank. After several clerks, he was finally told that the card won't be ready until next week. On top of all that, he still needs to deposit another €500 into the account because by the time they got the funds and deposited them, the exchange rate had risen so it wasn't enough Are you beginning to get an idea of what it's like to deal with the French? Nothing is easy and very little is logical. I can now fully understand what he meant, when someone told me that dealing with the French when you want to get something done in a reasonable time, is absolutely frustrating. We left the bank dreading the return next week.

We tried something with the 20 bus that we had done with the 69. That is, we took it to the end of the line (Gare St-Lazare) to ride it back without getting off. It didn't work this time. Then when we were looking for the place to re-board, we couldn't find it, but in the process, Robb noted that the 26 went to Nation, so we hopped on and had a nice ride all the way across the city. Not only was it a great sightseeing tour (some of which one might not want to see), but it dropped us off at the exact location to get the next bus, from which we could see these columns, but very close-up.

While we were waiting, we decided to cross the street to several restaurants we saw. The first we tried was the Marco Polo. We were comfortably seated in a table in the corner of the café terrasse and the waiter brought the menu. Oops. Talk about expensive. I mean, okay, they had some nice decorative touches, but not enough to qualify for those prices. We had wondered why there were so few people there. We collected our things and left.

Practically next door was the Chez Prosper, which was crowded. We have to learn to start reading these signs. Crowded restaurant = good food, resonable prices; empty restaurant = food may not be too good, outrageous prices. We had a full meal of moules (mussels) and frites (fries) with une biere (a beer) for less than it would have cost for the entrée at the Marco Polo. I don't normaly eat bread with my meals, but their bread was so fresh and good, I ate several pieces. If you've never been to a French restaurant (even the cheap little local places), they always give you a basket of bread, which is usually, but not always, a sliced baguette. It will amost always be great. We stayed quite a while at the restaurant, even having another biere (if you've read my posts for any length of time, you know we rarely drink beer). We were, technically, sitting inside, but they had all the doors wide open, so it was like sitting on the terrasse with all the amenities of people watching, but without the extra cost. You do pay more if you sit on the terrasse, but it's mostly worth the extra cost. The only problem now, is that all the smokers sit there because of the new "no smoking" rules.

We left the restaurant and were going around in circles for the next hour or so. Literally, since the Place Nation is concentric circles. There is a large sculpture in the middle of the inner circle. I probably, shouldn't have done it, but I wanted to walk all the way around before getting the bus back to the apartment. It was a really nice walk and we saw a lot of neat stuff. I had forgotten to bring my camera, again, so until we get back there, I can't put up any pictures, except whatever I can find of the internet. We stopped at one wine cave where Robb asked about getting a bottle of absinthe. The owner told him that they used to carry it but it's difficult to get a good quality anymore so they stopped selling it.

We came across a Casino and followed two English speaking people, who had just left the Irish Pub, into the store. Just as they entered, the guy asked, "Do you think they sell beer?" I said, "Absolutely." They were surprised to hear someone speaking English. We saw them a while later, but they still had no beer.

We walked back to the bus stop and returned home.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Paris 2008 - 8 Juin

Dimanche - Got up around 13h00, still tired. I think it was a mistake to come to France for so long. Robb just cannot grasp the severity of my illness and it's getting really frustrating for both of us. I simply cannot go day after day. Even simple little things like walking down to Place Léon Blum and walking back, wears me out if I don't get sufficient rest. I think the best I can do is maybe two weeks, but then I need at least two days of down time. Robb can't understand that and thinks I'm just being lazy, which in turn, pisses me off.

He wants to go to Toulouse, then Montpelier followed by Barcelona. I want to do that also, but there's no way I'll be able to do it without a couple days of doing little walks, no trips to the store and certainly no major trips like the one he wants to make tomorrow to the bank.

The problem is further aggravated by the fact that he cannot find his way around without me, so I feel guilty if I don't go with him.

So anyway, I could sense that he was feeling antsy today and I knew we needed some staples plus the weather actually took a turn for the better, so I got myself ready and off we went to Place Léon Blum because that's the only place to find an open store on Sunday. We again went to the Cocci Market. Then, on the way back, I stopped at a patisserie and bought several items; two macarons, two apple tartes and two fantastic cookies with whole hazelnuts.

Of course, once we got back to the apartment, which took a while because I had to keep stopping to get my breath, I was pretty much wasted, so going out to eat tonight is out of the question. As luck would have it, we do have something in the fridge.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Paris 2008 - 7 Juin

Samedi - Today, Robb wanted to go to Italie2 to pickup the pants he bought at Jules. After getting his pants, we went down to FNAC where he bought a couple of CDs. The new one by Frances Cabrel and the debut of Renan Luce. We had to ask for the Renan Luce CD because there is nothing on the cover except a tiny picture of him that's almost lost in a burst of feathers.

It was then decided that we would stop somewhere for lunch. Since we haven't been there yet, we walked down to le Canon de Tolbiac, only to find that it is now Chez Canon. Not only was the name changed, but it was given a whole facelift, including the toilet that now has an actual sit-down facility. It's either a modern design, or they forgot the seat. We entered and found a nice seat in the corner by the window, but before we were waited upon, a large group of guys, appearing to be some kind of amateur sports team, entered and surrounded us. We didn't mind that but they were so noisy, we could barely hear ourselves over them, so we moved to a table in a different section. Still by a window.

After lunch, which seems to occur later and later each day, we walked across Avenue d'Italie to Maison de Monde, which used to be Pier Imports. They apparently changed the name and raised their prices. The bus stop was just outside. We caught the 47 to Place d'Italie, where we got the 57, then the 61 home.

Lunch was late and somewhat large, so neither of us felt really hungry, but around ten-ish, we decided to walk down to Place Léon Blum to see what kind of restaurant we could find open. On the way, we saw that a place we've passed many times was open, Beyrouth. It is Lebanese. We walked over, had a look at the posted menu and the interior. It was almost totally full. There were only a couple of tables open. We were shown to a table in the corner and given a menu. I still wasn't hungry and ordered only an appetizer, Jawaneh (it appeared to be chicken wings) which was quite good. Robb order something called Mananek. We're not sure what it was, but it was like tiny little sausages. I don't remember the name of his main course, which was chicken on a skewer with potatoes. We let the waiter/owner choose the wine and he chose well. In the course of ordering, he told us that he had observed us passing by every now and then. How curious. Who remembers people who pass their business? The hit of the evening was the dessert. Chocolat Blanc ice cream. I chose that as soon as it was announced. Robb had asked for a recommendation, and surprisingly, it was the same thing.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Paris 2008 - 6 Juin

Vendredi - Another cold, wet miserable day spent totally in the confines of this apartment. Robb went out to buy groceries and that was it for the day.

It was a productive day anyway.

A few days ago, I was putzing with the TV when suddenly it presented me with a message to re-install the ADSL (remember. it's all connected: TV - Internet - Telephone) in order to get the TV to work again. I didn't want to mess with the ADSL because I didn't want to lose it, too. The TV I could live without. The internet is my lifeline.

I sent an email to everyone I know in Paris, but none of them responded (they still haven't responded). Then I thought to email Lost In France in Toulouse. He replied within a few minutes with the solution to the problem, explaining that he had had the same problem just a while ago. It was a simple solution; simply unplug everything and plug it back in. It worked like a charm and we once again have everything working correctly.

I spent a good portion of the night listening to the neighbors having sex. It's surprising they didn't break through the wall, or end up on the floor below.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Paris 2008 - 5 Juin

Jeudi - Hooray! Laundry day. So exciting. So expensive.

I mentioned a time or two, that we were thinking of buying one of those wheeled carts that is used for grocery shopping here. Robb was digging through the hallway closet one day and guess what he found? Yep. A wheeled cart. A nice, big one, too.

So, I filled it with my dirty clothes (not all of them by any stretch of the imagination) and wheeled them down to the Laverie just around the corner. I had way too much for one of the little machines and used the large one. Unbelievably, there is only one large one. Luckily, no one was using it. It cost €7.50 for thirty-five minutes. That's $11.75. On top of that, if one dries their clothes, and I noticed that most of the French people don't, that's another €.80 per ten minutes. I figured at least forty minutes, which brings my total to €10.70 or $16.75 for one load of laundry. It's cheaper to buy new clothes That same wash in the US would have cost no more than $4.00, probably less..

While we were waiting for the drier, we walked down to rue de la Roquette to a nice Chinese restaurant (picture by Robb). I had Poulet au Curry on Riz Cantonnais. Robb had beef on Riz Cantonnais. We drank Cote du Rhone. It was the least expensive meal of any kind we've had here so far. And it was very good.

Back at the apartment, Robb took his wash from the washer and decided to take it to the Laverie to dry it. After he left, I thought I would download the pictures we had taken, but I couldn't find my camera. I looked everywhere and determined that I must have left it in the Laverie. I tried to call Robb but as usual he had his phone on vibrate and had no idea he was being called. I grabbed my jacket and walked over. As soon as I entered, I saw the camera was not where I would have left it. I told Robb I had lost it and he told me I didn't. He had found it on the table when he got there. A huge sigh of relief.

We went back to l'Artiste Café for dinner. Where I got to sing Happy Birthday to a young French boy who was sitting with his family at the table across from us. We were surprised when the place closed around midnight. They actually started folding their tent around 23h30. Even so, they did offer and bring us our after dinner café. Shortly after we arrived at the café, I got to see them light the outdoor heaters for the café terrasse. It's surprising how much heat they put out. I was hoping some of it would come inside with the wind and the cigarette smoke, but no such luck.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Paris 2008 - 4 Juin

Mercredi -

The original plan was to make yet another trip to the bank for some ridiculous something, but overnight, I managed to talk Robb into forgetting the whole idea. I mean, it would be nice to have a French bank account, but not when we have to put up €8.000 that we can never access without replacing it immediately. We don't have $12,000 that we can just give to a bank. It rankled me to the core to even think of doing that, and Robb finally woke up to the stupidity of it also. Of course, stopping the process is almost as difficult as starting it, so we most likely haven't seen the end of it, yet. We're still waiting for a call from the person with whom he dealt at the bank.

In the meantime, we needed to go to Place d'Italie and Italie2 to pick up Robb's pants from Armand Thierry. Then I had an idea; I've been wanting to go to the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle for some time, why don't we go there first and then go pick up the stuff at Armand Thierry? A brilliant plan if I do say so myself.

I even came up with a new way to get there. Instead of taking the 69 to Gare d'Austerlitz, we could take the 56 to Nation, a section of the city to which we've never yet been except on the métro. Great idea! Nation is rather nice. More so than I was expecting for some reason. After we arrived there, I took these three shots of the area: 1, 2, 3. At Nation, we caught the 57 to Gare d'Austerlitz and the museum.

We entered, paid our six euros and proceeded to look around. There were bones everywhere, even on the walls above the display cases, as well as on the floor. The stuff on the floor was cordoned off and watching some of the too-young-to-be-there kids, I could easily understand why they had done that. I think it's totally admirable for parents to want to take their children to educational places like the museum, but I think it would make a lot more sense if they waited until the kids were old enough to have a clue as to what they were seeing. Many of the kids thought it was just a cool playground, and I'm certain that tomorrow, they will have no remembrance of where they were or what they saw.

The first floor, starts off with an excellent argument for evolution, although it was somewhat obvious in their display that a link or two might have been missing. Most of the stuff on the first floor was primates (including man), four-legged animals and fishes and whales. We walked up the stairs to a mezzanine where I took the pictures, somewhat hesitantly, because I had asked if it was okay to take pictures and the attendant said it was if you do not use a flash. I took the first picture and there was no flash, so I figured I was good to go.

While the first floor was quite interesting, the second floor was more to my liking. Dinosaurs! They had a full skeleton of a Brontosaurus and even the head of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Wow! Those were the biggies for me, but there was a lot of lesser sized critters filling the room, including some not-so-small mastodons. There was a guy on a ladder cleaning one of the skeletons. That was interesting because it never occured to me that they ever needed cleaning, but after seeing him at work, I began to notice that some of the skeletons were a bit "dusty". I took my first picture, and wouldn't you know the flash came on. Well, we had seen pretty much all there was to see, so I took a chance and took the second picture. If anyone noticed, they said nothing.

I have to admit, as much as I liked it, I was disappointed. I had seen pictures in which they had whole dinosaurs, mastodons, sabre-toothed tigers and much more. I saw none of that today. Maybe it had been a special display. Still, it was easily worth the pricce of admission and I'm glad we went.

Then, it was off to Italie2. Robb collected his jeans from Armand Thierry, was very satisfied with the alterations and bought a light jacket, though I'm beginning to wonder if he'll ever get to use it. The weather has been very much on the cool side (according to some, it's downright cold to me). I can't believe it's this cold on 4 Juin. It feels like it should be mid-February or something.

We wandered over to Chez Jules for lunch. I had an Omelette Mixte, Robb had a steak filet. We drank Sancerre.

After lunch, it was back to Italie2 because Robb decided he needed pants with which to wear his new jacket. While he was doing that, I bought yet another man-bag. A larger one because I seem to be carrying more and more stuff with me whenever we go out. With the crazy weather here, I'm afraid to go out without a scarf, my hat and an umbrella. Then there is my camera and all the métro/bus plans and my copy of Paris Practique. Robb was complaining that the original man-bag I had bought and given to him, was too small, so I gave him the second one. Now we have one that will never be used.

Part of the plan for the day had been to bring all our purchases back to the apartment, get some rest (me) and then go to MK2 to see Sex and the City with dinner at L'Avenue afterward. It never happened. By the time we got back to the apartment, it was after 19h00. I laid down to take an hour nap, that lasted until about 20h30, which meant there was no way we could make the movie. Ah well, maybe tomorrow, after the laundry is done. Finally. I hope.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Paris 2008 - 3 Juin

Mardi - Because the French do things the way they do, we had to make a return trip to BNP Paribas for some piddling little reason. I guarantee it won't be the last.

Sometimes, when we ride the bus, Robb and I do not get to sit next to each other We just take whatever seat is vacant. Today, I sat next to a French girl from Strasbourg who is currently living in Paris. The conversation started when she, showing me her copy of Paris Pratique Par Arrondissement (lots of maps of the various areas of the city), pointed and asked if the bus was going to take her near her destination. Since I knew the area, I assured her she would be within a block of where she wanted to go. Then, of course, having broken the ice, we continued to chat until arriving at our stop, where we got off and said "au revoir", she going one way and we, the other.

At least, it didn't take as long in the bank as the first day.

Otherwise, it was pretty much a wasted day and it was cold. It was also wet, off and on.

On the return to the apartment, we stopped at a pizza place on Place de la République. We both had the Quatre Saison pizza; cheese, tomato sauce, peppers, and mushrooms. We each got a pizza the size of Montana. We ate as much as we could, which for me was about half, and for Robb, about two-thirds. Then - surprise, surprise - the waitress suggested we could take the rest home with us. What? Are we still in Paris? Have we been transported back to the US for bad behaviour? What's going on? But, sure enough, she put the leftovers into a pizza box and we were off.

I thought I was feeling better, but by the time we got back to the apartment, I was worn out. This is getting really old

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Paris 2008 - 2 Juin

Lundi - We had planned all weekend to do laundry, but of course, when the day dawned, Robb decided he wanted to go to BNP Paribas to open an account. He had been told by Rhino that he could do that if he went to the main office on Boulevard des Italiens. He would be able to accomplish that because that is the International Headquarters. So off we went on the 69.

We had to walk past Place Collette, so I took what I hope is better picture of the métro entrance there.

By the time we got to l'Opéra, the weather changed and we found ourselves with raindrops falling on our heads. Robb had not brought his parapluie, so since we were so close to Celio, we stopped in there and he bought one. A very nice one from the appearance. Again I was tempted to buy another, but mine seems to be holding on for dear life, even though it appears to be mortally wounded.

We found several branches of BNP on Boulevard des Italiens. The first, to which we went, was of course, the wrong one. They sent us on a quest down the street. The second one we entered was the correct branch, in fact, I suppose it was the main office. It was just across the street from a lovely restaurant, La Taverne. I waited in the waiting area while Robb was seen almost immediately by a bank conseiller (or whatever they're calling them these days).

Robb was gone for over an hour, so I assumed things were going okay. I was partially correct. He could open the account but he needed a lot more paperwork filled out and submitted (did you forget the French bureaucracy). But it is not the unattainable goal they had made it seem at the first branch to which we went on Boulevard Voltaire.

Having accomplished that, we walked across the street to the Café Gramont where I had a Sandwich Baguette Mixte (ham and cheese on a baguette) and Robb had a sandwich Provençal (that appeared to be a long, thin pizza, and according to Robb was excellent). We each had un verre du vin rouge.

Then, feeling adventurous, I walked us down to get the 20 bus to l'Opéra. As we approached the bus stop, we saw yet another branch of BNP Paribas. We wondered just how many branches they have on this street. We got the bus to l'Opéra. We walked over to rue du Quatre Septembre, just across from la Brioche Dorée, and got the 20 going in the opposite direction, toward Place de la République. Just before we got to our stop, I saw a huge luggage store. We walked back there and, after checking every damned piece of luggage in the store, I bought a huge neon-blue bag. Of course, it was again the rush hour (how do we do that) and there was no way I was going to try to carry that thing on a bus and then lug it to the apartment, so we found a taxi stand and waited for one to show up.

We waited for several minutes, with many taxis driving past, none of which even looked at us, much less stopped. Finally, one stopped. When Robb gave him the address, which may or may not have been correct, he replied that he "doesn't go there". Not to worry, he had barely left when another taxi stopped. The driver got out, put my empty suitcase in the back and we took off. On the way, I took this picture of the luggage store, Rayon d'Or, as we drove past. He was not familiar with the address and I pretty much had to give him directions, street by street. Fortunately, that's one of the things at which I'm rather good.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Paris 2008 - 1 Juin

Dimanche - We needed a few things from the store today and since it's Sunday, that means we have to walk down to Place Léon Blum. Once we got there, Robb saw the pharmacie was having a sale on Elgydium toothpaste, buy one, get one free. This was not to be passed up. I tried Elgydium several years ago and didn't much care for it, but Robb loves it.

Then it was off to the little store down the street, Cocci Market. We got some stuff, but the main thing we wanted was not to be found.

We took our booty and started back to the apartment, but we came across a boucherie that was selling roasted chicken. We bought one and went home.

Around two-ish, Robb wanted to go to L'Oisive Thé. Going there is a two-bus affair, but nothing difficult....if you pay attention to what you're doing. Today, we did.

The tearoom was semi-crowded, but we found a nice table in the back near a window. We each ordered Le Coque; two soft-boiled eggs with bread and butter. The object is to break open the egg and scoop out the yolk with the bread. I know it doesn't sound all that tasty, but it was. We drank Earl Grey tea. We opted for a gateau citron for dessert.

After a while, Aimee's husband showed up with her son, Max. He's a cute kid. And very lively. He had his father and Aimee chasing after him the whole time he was there.

After leaving the tea room, we wandered around the area a bit. We discovered that the neat red buildling down the street is actually a swimming pool. And there were people in there splashing about. It made me pull my jacket tighter, just thinking of them in that water. Just a couple doors down was another neat looking building.

While we were walking to the bus stop, I snapped a picture of a guy wearing what appears to be the latest style here; skin-tight jeans. This guy didn't seem to have them as tight as most I've seen. They usually look like they were painted on the wearer. I don't know how they get into them. But more and more younger guys are wearing them. A few older guys, too. Trying to remain young, I suppose.

Plus à venir, mes amis.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Paris 2008 - 31 Mai

Samedi - As usual, the day started a bit late, I didn't get up until around noon. But, after all, we didn't even go to bed until after 02h30, so that's not that bad.

When we were at Place de l'Opéra the other day, we had seen an offre exceptionnelle at the Finsbury shoe store. Robb wanted to go and take advantage of the sale, so we hopped onto the 69 bus and were off. Once we arrived at the Palais Royal stop, I thought it might behoove us to go to the Opéra métro station and renew our passes pour le moi de Juin. We should have taken the 27 bus, but another came along and we jumped on. Do you hear that annoying buzzer again? It barely went a block before I knew we were on the wrong bus. And then, the damned thing just kept going and going, until I thought we might be out of the city before it stopped again. I was wrong, of course, and we ended up only a couple of blocks from Place de l'Opéra and the métro station we wanted.

Once in the station, we had little trouble finding the ticket window. Of course, there was a guy holding up the line of several people while he argued with the attendant, who was quite obviously becoming more and more annoyed with him. He finally left and the line moved quickly. We had our new passes in no time at all after that.

We were both feeling a bit hungry, so we stopped at the Brioche Dorée where we each had a slice of pizza. I had a glass of jus d'Orange and Robb had a café. While we were eating, we thought we saw Frog across the street chatting on his phone while awaiting the bus, but before we could get out to check, his bus came and he was gone. We're still not certain it was he.

Then it was off to find Finsbury's. I wasn't really sure where it was, so we started walking. After a couple of blocks, I remembered that we had been sitting at a sidewalk café when we had seen it across the street. As we continued to walk, I saw the café and, sure enough, the Finsbury shoe store was just across the street. We went in. Robb, in usual Robb manner, took quite a while to choose the shoes he wanted. The feat was finally accomplished and we started the walk down to rue de Rivoli and the quest for the bus back home.

However, when we got to Place Collette, there was a group of musicians playing beautiful classical pieces in front of the entrance to the Palais Royal Jardin, so we stopped to listen. I liked them so much, I bought one of their CDs. Then, we decided to take a walk throught the garden and wouldn't you know, there was another group of three young people playing for whatever people were willing to give them. I couldn't very well just walk past, and beside, they were playing Greensleeves and we both love that song, so I gave them a few euros. I joked to Robb that I couldn't afford to hear any more music, it would break me.

We entered the garden area and began walking to the far end, passing this lovely fountain, notice the daddy playing avec son enfant I told Robb that the garden area reminded me very strongly of the Piazza del San Marco in Venice, with all the restaurants and shops side-by-side all the way around.

After the walk through the jardin, we were faced with a decision. How would we get back to the apartment? We could walk down to the quai and try to find the bus stop, we could take the métro which was right there, or we could take a taxi. It dawned on me that there was another choice: we could walk to rue de Rivoli and take the 69 bus to the Champs de Mars where we could re-board it for the return trip. And that's what we did. But, surprise, surprise, when we got to the Champs des Mars, we didn't even have to get off. We just kept our seats and rode all the way back. It was so nice.

Plus à venir, mes amis.