Mardi - What a fantastic day we had. Robb may not agree, but I thought it was great! First, we boarded the 69 and rode to the end of the line, Place Gambetta, where we got off and re-boarded one of the buses sitting there while its driver took his break. There were three buses sitting there, which explains why it takes so long for one to show up when you're waiting at the bus stop by our apartment. So, we did finally get on and rode to l'Hôtel de Ville.
We started with a short excursion through the BHV plumbing section, where we noticed that those prices too, have risen significantly. We left and walked over to the quai de Seine, where we got a look at Paris Plage. Neither of us wanted to go down and mingle with the tourists, but it was interesting to see the real thing from the safety of the quai between the bouquinistes. If you're interested, most of the people on the lounges and in the tents, are Parisians who get there before sunrise to secure a place on the sand.
Afterward, we rode down to Avenue d'Italie. While we were waiting for the light to cross the street, a young black girl came over and asked if I knew the location of Avenue de Choisy. She was with a large group, of whom only one was an adult male. I pointed it out to her, but they went the wrong way anyway. If we hadn't been right behind them and saw they were starting in the wrong direction, they probably would never have found it. After sending them in the correct direction, we walked down Avenue d'Italie to rue de Tolbiac, then down to Avenue de Choisy and the Village de Chinois (Chinatown). That was kind of disappointing. There seemed to be more Anglos and blacks, than Chinois. But we walked all the way to Porte d'Ivry by way of Avenue de Choisy. We did stop at a McDonald's and got a milkshake from the walk-up window. Then we walked down to Porte d'Ivry where got the new Tramway Ligne 3, on the way getting the opportunity to see the Petite Ceinture that used to circle the city. We rode to the end of the line and then got back on and rode to the end of the line in the other direction. Once there, we got on and rode back to Porte d'Italie where we planned to get the bus.
Unfortunately, there was a guy there who was so drunk, and smelled of piss so bad, that no one could stand him. Seriously, you couldn't get within ten feet of this guy. We all waited to see if he got on our bus. When he didn't, we got on. But then, son of a gun, he got on by way of the rear door. He no sooner got on, then the rest of us got off; and I do mean almost everyone else on the bus.....he stunk that badly. Luckily for us, the driver came back and escorted him off the bus. We all got back on.
After getting back to the apartment, we decided to go to le Bouchon de la Roquette, a nice little place that we have come to like, that is only five or six blocks from us. But tonight was exceptional. I hope I can explain this to sufficiently describe the comraderie we experienced. We have been there two or three times previously. Tonight, it was as though they have known us forever. You know, like you would greet and treat friends. The waiter did that tonight when I was laughing at Robb taking so long to order. That's just a tiny example, it gets a lot better. A guy and his wife/girlfriend came in. It was his birthday. The owner asked everyone what they would like to drink to celebrate the guy's birthday (his name was Mark). Everyone else chose l'Armagnac, Robb chose Calvados for us. I'm not explaining this as accurately as it happened (I can barely type. I'm so full of alcohol). Previously to this, the owner was going from table to table, joking with everybody and making everyone feel like they were family and in a family atmosphere. It was just so fantastically friendly. Some time during all his table-hopping, he had asked if we were American. I said yes, but Robb said he was Allemand (German), to which the owner replied, "We can't all be perfect." Everyone was laughing, because we realized it was just a comment and not a serious accusation. At any rate, we all got our drinks and toasted the birthday boy (he was thirty). Later, as we were leaving, the owner stopped us and told us how much he enjoyed our visit. I'm sure this doesn't convey the real feeling of the night, but it's the best I can do, under the circumstances. Suffice it to say, it was one of the best nights we've had since we've been here.
Plus à venir, mes amis.