Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

 Merry Christmas
Joyeux Noël
Froehliche Weihnachten
Frohe Weihnachten
Zalig Kerstfeest , Joyeux Noël
jwaïeu Nouel
Chestita Koleda
Mutlu yillar et Kala Christouyenna
Glaedelig Jul
en gaélique écossais : nollaig Chridheil
Feliz Navidad
Roomsaid Joulu Puhi
Iloista Joulua ou Huyvä Joulua
Kala Christouyenna
Vroolijk Kerfeest
Kellemes karacsonyi unnepeket
Nodlaig mhaith chugnat
Gleðileg Jól
Buone Feste Natalizie, Buon Natale
Priecigus Ziemassvetkus
Linksmu Kaledu, su Kaledoms
schéi Chrëschtdeeg Joyeux Noël
il Milied it-tajjeb
en Provençal Bòn nové
Gledelig Jul
Wesolych Swiat
Boas Festas
veselé vanoce
Sarbatori vesele, un Crãciun fericit
Veselé Vianoce
vesel božic / vesele božicne praznike
God Yul
Fröhlichi Wiehnacht, Joyeux Noël
Mutlu yillar

Monday, December 20, 2010


 I am really proud of myself.  For the first time ever, I made a meatloaf and it came out really good.  I used ground turkey instead of beef, since we rarely eat beef.  Making a meatloaf is relatively easy, but it's a lot of work. 

Saturday morning, I called a gift shop in Frankfurt, Germany because I had bought one of those ceramic buildings for Wendy's husband, Steve, who has a huge model train village that he sets up every Christmas..  At the time I ordered it, I was told it would take about six weeks to get here which was not a problem. Unfortunately, the postman wouldn't let our neighbor sign for it and they sent it back to Germany.  I waited to see if they would call me, since I had already lost the receipt and any other information I had.  According to the woman to whom I spoke, they didn't have my phone number nor email address, so it was a good thing I found them on the internet and contacted them (using Google. of course.  It cost me all of twelve cents for the call.)  She told me she kind of remembered my name on the package and would email me on Monday to let me know the status.  I asked if it would be possible to remail it to me and she said it was not a problem.

Then we called Jean-Michel in Paris to see what apartments he might have available in the Marais in June.

I no longer have a smart phone.  Tiger Direct wouldn't meet the reduced price of the other site and in the meantime, I had received my first bill from Sprint.  I would have been paying almost $200 a month.  That's a bit much for what is basically just a toy.  And it's not like I would be spending several hours a day playing with it. Plus I discovered that tethering to use it as a wifi hotspot wouldn't work all that well either, and that was one of the major reasons for getting it in the first place.  There is a mobile service that charges very reasonable rates, the kicker is you have to buy one of their phones, and I don't really like any of them.
Bis zum nächsten Mal, meine Freunde.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Secret Channels

Robb continues to regain his health, though it seems to be taking longer than either of us thought. He is mostly pain-free but still has an occasional twinge. I took him for his two-week check-up with his surgeon on Friday. He is pleased with Robb's progress thus far, but indicated that he's at least a couple of weeks away from anything strenous, like driving or carrying anything that weighs more than twenty pounds.

I have no idea how I got them, but I now have 45 music channels on my TV. I have two classical channels, two jazz channels, a Big Band channel, hip-hop, rap, easy listening, a ton of rock channels both old and new, and several spanish music channels (of course, no French or German, or any other European country representation).

I love how the media coverage of "global warming" is slowly switching to "global climate change".  It's only a matter of time until they'll be back to predicting a "global ice age".  It was bound to happen. After all, Gore's ridiculous film, An Inconvenient Truth, was so inconveniently full of misinformation and outright lies, there was no way it could stand the test of time.  Most of the scientific community (those who weren't looking to add a few bucks to their endowments) always argued against "global warming" in favor of climate change.

OK, it’s no longer a well kept secret. Answer To An Age Old Question. Why are Jewish Men Circumcised? Jewish men are circumcised because – Jewish women won't touch anything unless it's 30% off.

Bis zum nächsten Mal, meine Freunde.

Monday, December 06, 2010


Reason number 1001 why there should be no pets in the house:

Wednesday afternoon, around 16h30, I went back to the hospital because Robb had been told he was definitely scheduled for release. We were still there at 18h00 when they brought dinner around. He wasn't going to eat, but I suggested he might as well. That reminds me of an interesting thing that happened during Greg's last meal there. They brought in his lunch, but they had given him whole milk which he doesn't drink. He asked for skimmed milk and the woman said it would not be a problem, then promptly forgot it. But Greg had asked her to take back the whole milk and she told him she couldn't do that. Once she puts it in a room, she can't take it back, even though it had never been opened. That was only one example of the runaway waste I saw while I was visiting. And we wonder why it costs so much for medical care. Hospitals (and doctors) are just as bad, if not worse, than the government when it comes to wasting our money.

The good news is we finally got out and drove home around 19h30. We stopped at the drugstore, but when I told Robb it would be a twenty-five minute wait, he asked me to drive him home. I did that, and then went back to get the drugs. Wow, talk about getting ripped off. He got three drugs, two antibiotics and a pain killer (Percoset). It was over two hundred and fifty dollars. It's a good thing we don't need socialized medicine in this "greatest country in the world".

A friend who has a house in the Loire Valley of France, posted the following in his blog. I thought it was interesting enough to share. "A friend from Blois called last night just to say hello and see how we were doing. She said the school buses around Blois haven't been running this week, so all the kids are staying at home. Teachers are posting lessons for them over the Internet to keep them busy and productive. That's the 21st century, I guess." 

I don't know how many of you may have watched those really stupid drug commercials, but I love them. I'm referring to the ones that always have a disclaimer at the end in which they more often than not, indicate that their drug's side-effects are far worse than the reason you're taking them. They always have a section near the end during which they tell you to tell your doctor about various things. My absolute most favorite of these is the one for Plavix, in which they tell you to tell your doctor if you're planning any surgery.

As if we didn't have enough about which to worry, here's another:

Hasta la próxima, amigos.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Thanksgiving didn't go so well. Around 04h30, Robb awoke in pain and he spent most of the day in discomfort. He found some of the medicine he had brought back from France. He took it and it seemed to control the pain to the extent that he could move without being wracked with pain. Then he thought it was over. But the next day the pain was back. He called the doctor but the office was closed on Friday, which is normal for this doctor because they work on Saturday. Saturday morning, we drove over to find that they had closed the office for the entire weekend.

Robb was still in pain, so we drove to the Holy Cross Hospital Emergency Room because it is closest to us. We both thought they would give him something for the problem and we would be on our way in a couple of hours. But they did an Ultra Sound Scan and discovered that he had gall stones. The ER doctor wanted him to check into the hospital, but, since he retired, Robb is one of those millions who have no health insurance. Finally, we decided if he checked in, they could run some tests and when they found nothing, they would at least give him something for the pain.

The problem was that when they ran the tests, they discovered that he needed to have his gall bladder removed and they recommended doing it NOW. Supposedly, they would do the operation on Sunday morning and he could leave that night, but because he wouldn't sign the paperwork before he talked to me, he missed that window. We talked it over and decided that he should go ahead and have it done and get it over with instead of waiting until March when he would start Medicare. At least, he would be rid of the pain which seemed to be coming on more often each time.

His roommate, Greg, was already scheduled to have the same surgery on Monday, and that's the day for which they scheduled Robb. Originally, they were told they would go down to the operating room around 13h00, but they didn't come for Greg until after 14h00 and Robb learned that he was scheduled for 17h30. The nurse told them that it would take about three hours; an hour in prep, an hour for the operation and then an hour in the Recovery Room before they would be back in their room.

I went over to the hospital around 19h30, Greg was there, but Robb hadn't been brought back yet. I sat around talking to Greg for awhile and then went down to see if I could see Robb in Recovery. I could find it, so I went back up and sat in the visitor's lounge for a few minutes. While I was sitting there, his doctor walked by, saw me and came over to tell me what had transpired in the operating room. He began the conversation by telling me that Robb's was the absolute worst gall bladder he had ever seen. He went on to say, that he couldn't remove all of it because it was attaching itself to his liver and if he had cut any more, he would have been cutting into the liver and that was not a good idea. So he had to leave about fifteen percent of it inside. He said that wasn't really a problem because Robb's body would compensate and get rid of it.

Both Greg and Robb were originally scheduled to leave the hospital on Tuesday morning, but because of the complications, it was necessary to keep Robb for another day or two until they were certain they were no more problems and the healing process was moving as expected.

I drove back to the hospital tonight, after taking a couple hours off. Robb was in good spirits and just a while later, the nurse came in and unhooked him from the IV, which means he'll probably be released tomorrow. As confirmation, he was told the doctor had written on his chart "For probable release tomorrow". He really wants to get out of there and I have missed him being home, muchly.
Keep your fingers crossed.

Hasta la próxima, amigos.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Smart Phone

You may have noticed I don't post as often when we're not traveling about.  Normally, I post once a week, but our daily lives aren't that interesting, so it could be longer between posts until we go somewhere.  I know you're all heartbroken.  We're already discussing where we'll go this summer.  At this point, it looks like Paris, Berlin, and either Madrid or Valencia in Spain.

Last week, we went to dinner at Candela's with Robb's niece Wendy and her husband Steve. Candela has changed muchly since we were last there.  It's bigger, the menu has changed and the prices seem to be higher.  I guess that's what happens when a restaurant becomes successful. The food is still good, well actually great, although I wasn't crazy about the presentation of my Trout Andaluza.  All in all, it was a good meal and we had a nice conversation with Wendy and Steve.  At the end of the meal, Wendy introduced us to a dessert wine she had brought (Candela is a BYOB place although you can buy from their wine list).  It is ChocoVine and it tastes very much like Bailey's Irish Cream.  I really like it.

After we left Candela's, we drove to a store named To The Moon.  It's a tiny place and I couldn't believe all the stuff they've got there.  They have just about every candy ever manufactured from the forties until now.  I even found the milk chocolate bar with hazelnuts that I just brought back from Europe.

In other news, I finally succumbed to the smartphone craze.  I was already pissed at T-Mobile because they wouldn't replace Robb's phone without charging us way too much. Tiger Direct sent me an email advertising the HTC EVO 4G, which is the latest, hottest mobile on the market.  So far, Sprint is the only company offering it, and since I was looking for a new mobile company (and since just about every electronics site I checked said it was the best) I went for it.  It's kind of expensive, but I get unlimited calling to and from any mobile phone in the US, unlimited text, Pic and Video messaging; unlimited emails, web browsing and messaging; all calls free after 7PM weeknights; and nationwide long distance.  It also has an 8 megapixel camera and it can shoot HD videos.  Here is the first picture I took with it.  I think it's a pretty good deal.  But there are two really great features; the HTC EVO has a 4.3 inch screen so I can easily see what's there, and I can use the phone as a WiFi hotspot no matter where I am.  I've already used it to post on Twitter.  EDIT:  Since I ordered the phone, I found another site that's offering the same deals for $40 less per phone.  I am currently negotiating with TD for a matching price or a refund.

Am I the only one who has noticed how things are getting smaller and smaller, while the prices rise and rise?  The other day, I bought what I thought was a half-gallon of Edy's ice cream.  A half-gallon is two quarts.  What I got was 1.8-quarts (and that was with 20% more).  Breyers is even worse; I only got 1.5-quarts.  I think we need to start an email campaign telling these companies that we won't buy their products until they give us the full size for which we're paying.  I've already fired off emails to Edy's and Breyers.  Our local supermarket, Publix, still sells half-gallons of their own brand, and it's just as good if not better than the others.  The same is true of coffee.  The usual containers have 39 ounces.  But when they're on sale, have you noticed they're only 33 ounces?  I've already gotten a reply from Breyers.  They're so unhappy that I'm unhappy. They're going to send me a coupon.  But this is just the tip of the iceberg, it seems to be true of just about everything sold in this country.
Here's something fun: The Tone Matrix.

An ingenious French anti-ronflement (anti-snoring) solution?

Hasta la próxima, amigos.

Monday, November 08, 2010


Monday night (wow, has it been a week already?), after we got home and dragged our bags up to the apartment, we attempted to drive to the store to get milk and stuff.  The car was dead.  Our neighbor who had agreed to start it at least once a week, forgot to do it.  Tuesday I called for the Smart roadside assistance.  Because it has only been a little over a year, it's covered by warranty and it cost me nothing.  The guy came and got it started, after I showed him where the battery was located.  Forget normal cars.  In the Smart Car, the battery is under the carpet on the passenger's side of the car. Talk about a pain in the butt.  There are so many things to love about the Smart that you've got to shake your head in wonder at how they could have ever come up with such a stupid idea.  I drove it for about an hour and a half, but as soon as I turned it off, it was totally dead.

Wednesday, I called roadside service again, and they came with a tow truck, got the car and took it to the dealer who put in a new battery.  All at no cost.  However, they did rip us off big time for an oil change and rotation of the tires.  I couldn't believe they charged us $35 for one (count it - ONE) quart of oil. The total bill, which did not include the towing or the battery, was over a hundred dollars.  I'll never change the oil there again.  But in Florida, as in most of the US, you must have a car.  As much as I love riding the trams and buses and métros in Europe, I really miss being able to get into my car at my convenience to go, or return from, wherever I want.

It seems so strange to be back to our normal life.  One of the things which takes a lot of re-adjustment for us, is the never ending number of commercials on American televison shows.  This was driven home when I attempted to watch a football game on Sunday (an hour early because we hadn't set the clocks back).  Thankfully, we don't watch that much TV, but it's so annoying for those few times we do.  You would think American businesses would have figured out by now, that almost no one actually sits there glued to their TV screen during their (usually) obnoxious advertisements.  It just seems like a hell of a waste of time and money to me, or do they really gain or lose sales this way?

Hasta la próxima, amigos. 

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Paris 2010-End

29 Octobre (Vendredi) - We were already late when we left the apartment, so when we saw that the bus wasn't going to arrive for another half hour, we grabbed a taxi. On our way to Avenue de l'Opéra and rue du 4 Septembre, we of course, passed one of my favorite "sculptures".  Although all of them have the correct time at least twice a day, none had the correct time as we passed.

Because we had taken a taxi, we were more than half an hour early for our meeting with FWAB (Frog With A Blog) in front of the BNP on the corner. We wandered about until the appointed time, noting there were at least three BNP buildings in the same area.

FWAB was on his lunch break.  He took us to a great restaurant, Le Zinc d'Honoré, on the Place du Marché Saint-Honoré.  I wasn't planning to eat anything, but then the waiter mentioned cassoulet and, well....  We had a very nice lunch and a very nice chat, and then FWAB had to get back to work.  We wandered around the area a while longer.  All around the square containing this huge building, that I think is full of artist's ateliers, are a bazillian restaurants and a few clothing stores. 

We walked over to Avenue de l'Opéra and caught the 68 Bus to rue du Bac, passing these interesting sites; a beautiful fountain near Place Collette, l'Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, the section of the Louvre through which traffic flows (and where Robb got lost the other day), la Seine et Pont Royal and the representation of the City of Paris.  We walked down to rue de Grenelle to the Musée Maillol, where we saw Trésor des Médicis.  It was a great exhibit, but rather crowded.

Checking out the area after the show, we came across this fountain, this antique store and a boulangerie.  Then we walked over to Boulevard Raspail and caught the 83 Bus to Place d'Italie and Italie2..  It's a good thing Robb bought a large suitcase, because the two bulky sweaters he bought at Jules will take up a lot of space.

Dinner at Pizza Trionfo.  We had the lasagna bolognaise.  I couldn't eat all of mine and, again brought it home.

30 Octobre (Samedi) - Oh, I forgot.  Thursday, when we were changing trains at the Concorde station, we came across a group of buskers that I've seen on many videos, but had never had the pleasure to see and hear in person.  Of course, I had to make a short video.

We thought today we would pop over to the 13é and visit Aimee at her tea house, L'Oisive Thé.  We rode the very crowded Ligne 6 to Place d'Italie, walked down rue de Bobillot to rue de la Butte aux Cailles.  As has been our luck the last couple of times we tried, Aimee was not in today.  Since we were there anyway, we had a pot of Thé Vert Amande (Almond flavored green tea).  It was excellent.

After our nice, warming tea, we caught the 57 Bus, past Gare de Lyon, to Nation where we got the Ligne 6 métro back home.  I shot another picture of l'Arc de Triomphe, but this time with the lighted Tour Eiffel in the background.

Robb wanted to eat at Chez Gabrielle, but she flat-out lied to us and said she was full.  So we ate again at Pizza Trionfo, which was fine with me because I really like the place, the owner and the food.

31 Octobre (Dimanche) - It most definitely does not seem like we've been in Europe for three months already.  Not only that, but tonight they're turning the clocks back an hour.

It's about 13h30 and I've packed everything that can be packed.  Surprisingly, I got it all in the one suitcase.  I'm not sure how I did that.  Of course, picking it up now will be the problem.

Jean-Michel called and arranged to meet around 17h00 to give back our deposit check and reimburse us for the money we spent to have the washer fixed.

We had our last Parisian dinner at the Hippopotamus.  You smirk, but it was quite good.  Since they will be turning back the clocks tonight, we ate earlier than usual.  Also, because we have to be up at the crack of dawn to get to the airport around 08h00.

1 Novembre (Lundi) - Up at 07h00.  Jean-Michel had arranged for a taxi to pick us up at 08h00 and whisk us off to Aeroport Charles de Gaulle.  I was bringing down the last of the bags when he arrived.  Because Monday was a holiday celebrated by the French (Toussaint), traffic was extremely light and we made excellent time.

We were flying American Airlines and it was the very last check-in counter in the airport.  But we had no trouble and were directed to the self-serve machines for online ticket buyers.

When we arrived in Dallas, ten hours plus later, it was all I could do to get off the plane.  Luckily for me, one of the airport security people noticed the trouble I was having and arranged for a wheelchair.  One of the problems with landing in Dallas-Fort Worth is that you have to do the whole customs thing.  Meaning, you have to check in with passport control, pick-up your bags and go through customs.  Because I was in a wheelchair, I was treated as special, and I have to say I really enjoyed it.  We just whizzed through the whole process in a few minutes and were on our way to the boarding gate.  Of course, the plane wouldn't leave for another four and a half hours.

With about forty-five minutes to go until they started boarding, Robb ran off to the men's room.  He'd only been gone a couple minutes, when I overheard one of the staff tell someone that the gate had been changed from A35 to A21.  No announcement was made.  If I hadn't overheard their conversation, I would not have known.  I went over to the men's room to alert Robb.  As I was about to go in, I overheard a 'guy' with a wheelchair ask another staff member if he would like a ride.  I said, "I would certainly like that."  I told 'him' of my problem and 'he' offered to take me in the chair.  However, when we got to gate A21, we were told it was now gate C43.  That meant we had to take the Rail Link (an elevated tram) to Terminal C.  We barely made it in time.  Just before we left, I discovered that the 'guy', whose name I thought was Bill, was actually a woman named Marilyn.

I thought the flight to Fort Lauderdale would never end.  My legs were cramping up like crazy and I was in a middle seat.  Robb and I were in different rows on different sides of the plane.  Once off the plane, my legs were fine.  Again, a staff member saw the trouble I was having and called for a wheelchair.  I coudln't believe that all the stewardesses actually stood with us until the guy (really this time) with the chair showed up.  A few minutes later, we were in a taxi on the way home.

You can see all the Paris pictures here: Paris 2010 

À la prochaine, mes amis.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Paris 2010-7

25 Octobre (Lundi) - Started with a trip to G-20 for a few essentials and some chocolate.  All of a sudden I have this craving for chocolate.  Wonder where that came from?

Then, we bundled up and hopped the métro to Italie2 in the 13é.  I love riding the Ligne 6 métro  (be sure to scroll to the bottom for some very good pictures) because a lot of it is above ground.  Of course, my favorite part is when it passes la Tour Eiffel and la Seine.  Fantastic views of both!  This has been a strange Paris visit, because I am alternately loving and hating it.  A lot of the hate is caused by the very cold weather, of course.

In Italie2, we came across Celio, and since everyone was staring at my Dolphin cap, I bought a cap that looked really nice and even has a 'bill'. Unfortunately, when I got out into the cold, the wind just whipped through it like I was wearing nothing. Drat, I HATE the cold, and especially the windy cold!  Robb bought another suitcase similar to mine with four wheels.  The guy who invented them is most definitely a genius.  Now, if only they came in a size just a little larger.

Because of the suitcase, we took a taxi back.  During the ride we saw these signs, the PanthéonNotre Dame, the Louvre the statue represents the city of Marseille.  We also saw they are working on the Louvre, but I couldn't get a good picture from our side of the Seine.
Dinner tonight at Chez Clément, the site of our first meal in Paris this trip.  The staff was much more friendly this time.  In fact, the guy who gave us a hard time before, was nowhere to be seen.  My dinner consisted of Crème de champignons "Maison" (a really great mushroom soup), Travers de porc au miel et épices, pommes Pont-Neuf (I found the description of the French fries quite funny and the pork was ribs which I would not have ordered had I known, even though they were also very good).  Coupe Mont-Blanc was the dessert and it is an ice cream sundae with chestnut sauce. Robb's dinner started with Salades fraîches de saison (salad with cabbage and jicama).  He then had Noix de Saint-Jacques, légumes oubliés (scallops and forgotten veggies - which were forgotten because we didn't recognize most of them).  His dessert was Tarte Tatin à l'envers et sa crème fraîche d'Isigny (an apple tart with créme fraîche which is sort of like whipped cream but not).

26 Octobre (Mardi) - Walked to the 30 Bus stop.  Just acoss the street was a pharmacie, so we went over and I bought a package of PepcidDuo.  Then back to the bus stop.  We rode the 30 Bus to the Trocadero to check out the Architecture Museum.  I knew it would be closed today, but I wasn't exactly certain where it was located or how to enter.  We both saw it as soon as we got off the bus and walked to the corner.  There are several other things in the Palais de Chaillot (commonly called the Trocadero, but the Trocadero is actually the name of the area, not the building) and there is a ticket office there which was open.  I asked the guy there how to get to the Architucture Museum and he obliged with the information I needed.  We're not sure yet, if we're going tomorrow or Thursday.

After getting my information, we went out and walked a little.  I took the obligatory pictures: the golden statues with a view of la Tour Eiffel, Apollon Musagète (Apollo), and a picture of some of the knock-off copies being sold by the blacks.

We caught the bus back and stopped into Brasserie l'Étoile for a café.

Dinner at Thai Siam on Avenue Wagram. It's a very prettily decorated place, as are most oriental restaurants. We wanted to sit at one of the window tables, but after only a couple minutes, we became aware of why we were the only ones sitting in that area. It was freezing and actually felt like they had the air conditioning on. We moved to an inside table. My dinner began with Ho Mok Pla (steamed fish in a white curry sauce). Robb had Pet Yang (roasted duck with veggies). We drank Pinot Noir d'Alsace, which was listed as a rosé, but was red. For dessert, we both had the Beignet de Banane (flambé bananas), we didn't like it.

Upon leaving, I took a picture of l'Arc de Triomphe at night.

27 Octobre (Mercredi) - Woke up to no hot water this morning. The water heater is one of those that only heats the water as you use it. It's another love-hate relationship. I love the way it saves on electricity, but so far, I've never seen one that heats enough water for a full shower. Ours works on gas, so apparently the gas had been turned off for some reason. 

Around 14h15, while Robb was out getting bread, a repairman came to check the gas in the apartment. All was well and he left. I tried the water, but it wasn't heating. That meant it had to be reset. I called Jean-Michel and he told me how to do it, so now we have hot water again.

When Robb returned, we walked down and got the 30 Bus to the Trocadero and Palais de Chaillot, with the intention of checking out La Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine (the City of Architecture and Heritage). "Mais au'jourdhui il est fermée" (but today it is closed). We asked but no one has any idea when it will re-open. So we came out and I took a couple photos, statue of Foch and a couple of buildings on Avenue du President Wilson.

Since we couldn't do that, we thought we would go back, get the métro and check out the Louvre. We haven't been there in ages.

The first problem was we got off at the Louvre-Rivoli station, from which we used to be able to enter the Louvre. No longer, but I did get an example of how Paris is changing (and not for the better). This copy of an ancient relief has been in this station since before our first visit and had suffered no damage.  How sick must one be to do this kind of damage?

 We climbed the steps to the sidewalk and started to the museum, when I detoured to get a photo of Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois. When the Louvre was still a royal palace, this was the royal church. Just around the corner, on rue de Rivoli, is l'Église Réformée de l'Oratoire du Louvre. A little further down the street is the Conseil d'Etat (Council of State) and the Hôtel du Louvre.

It was only minutes later that everything went to hell and Robb managed to get himself lost. He says one of those supposedly deaf people accosted him and he lost sight of me. I guess I need to explain that Robb never walks beside me, he always walks a couple of steps behind. And, of course, when he gets lost, he never stops, he continues to wander around, so I would have to get really lucky to find him, especially in a crowd like there was today in that area. I waited for quite awhile until it became obvious he wasn't going to show up and took the métro home, where I found him waiting. He had taken a taxi.

Dinner at Lacombe. We both had the duck with winter fruit and pureed potatoes. It was very good. Dessert was disappointing for me. I had what they called 'carrot cake'. It wasn't like any I've ever had before. I'm not really sure what Robb had. It looked a little like a macaron, but wasn't.

28 Octobre (Jeudi) - Robb had an early meeting with his BNP representative, so we were up bright and early. The reason for the early meeting was because there was another retirement demonstration scheduled for around noon. We took the 43 Bus to Gare St-Lazarre where we got the 81 Bus to Opéra. We saw no grève, but I was surprised to see construction on the Opéra, and there were police vehicles filled with policeman all up and down the boulevard. We stopped at the American Bistro for a cafe and watched as they pulled into position. By the time we left, there was still no demonstration, but it had screwed up the bus service.

We decided to walk up to Galeries Lafayette, where just beyond it, I saw another of those temporary buildings. I'm still not sure what they are but they seem to have something to do with construction of some sort. We left Galeries Lafayette and walked up to Trinité, because I thought maybe we could get the 43 Bus back to the apartment. Then we decided, instead, to take the Ligne 12 métro to Concorde where we could get the Ligne 1 métro to Saint Paul.

 We were walking past Saint Paul, but detoured to have our first look inside. It was very nice, but looked like most of the other churches we've seen in the past three months. We continued to Fontaine Sully where we were greeted warmly by the owner. We sat at a table by the window from which we had this view.

We left Fontaine Sully, caught the 76 Bus to BHV, walked through to BHV Homme, bought nothing again and finally walked to Les Marrionners where we would meet Rhino75. We were an hour early because we thought the place would be full, but it wasn't. Steve showed up and we chatted for an hour or so.

We were going to hang out and go back to Fontaine Sully for dinner because they were having tartiflette, but I was just too knackered, so we caught the métro home.

You can see all the Paris pictures here: Paris 2010  
À la prochaine, mes amis.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Paris 2010-6

22 Octobre (Vendredi) - I see on the news, that the strike is going on and now the disruptive criminal set is joining the fray.  Burning cars, looting and just generally taking advantage of the situation as those assholes are wont to do.  So far, we haven't seen any demonstrations, nor has it interfered with our getting where we want to go.  As for people walking to the airport, that can only mean my favorite people in the city (namely the taxi drivers - you do see that description is dripping with venom, right?) are refusing to drive them.
This must be a winter plant.  How else could it thrive in these freezing temperatures?
23 Octobre (Samedi) - It's dark, wet and cold.  As we were on our way to Monoprix to get some essentials, I looked across to rue Poncelet and saw the street market about which Jean-Michel had told us when we first arrived.  Until today, I thought he had spoken about something many blocks from here.
We made our purchases and took them back to the apartment.
Then we walked back to rue Poncelet.  The first thing we noticed was that there were two streets on which markets were open, and thriving.  Rue Bayen, perpendicular to rue Pocelet, was also part of the market scene.  First we walked down rue Poncelet.  There were places selling just about everything, but I think the seafood places were most remarkable for their size and selection.  One place was selling packages of two dozen escargot à la bourguignonne, ready to be cooked (heated) and eaten.  We didn't buy
We stopped at a Nicolas wine store.  Robb bought a bottle of Bergerac.
Then we walked down rue Bayen.  It was pretty much the same as rue Poncelet.  
After leaving the street markets, we went back to Monoprix to get the orange juice Robb had forgotten earlier.  We just made it back to the apartment before a thunder storm passed through.
Dinner tonight at Kyo Fuji.  As soon as you sit down, and even before they bring you the menu, you are presented with a kir. A nicely appointed interior only added to the very good food.  We started with Soupe Unod (shrimp, noodles and veggies in a luscious bouillon), followed by a brochette du canard (duck on a stick) and dessert, Parfait Caramel (caramel ice cream - for me) and Parfait Café (coffee ice cream - for Robb).  They were both excellent, but the Parfait Café was superior.
24 Octobre (Dimanche) - The day started with such promise.  The sun was out and we had tentative plans for a little trip around the city.  It all came to a screeching halt when the sun disappeared and we realized today is Sunday and the things we wanted to visit would be closed.  Aye, que vida!  So ist das Leben!  C'est la vie! 
After a bit of internet sesrching, we determined that the place we wanted to visit was indeed open today.  So off we went to the Chocolate Museum, which is named Choco-Story.  It entailed taking a bus and two métros.  We almost cancelled our plan when we were walking to the bus stop because it started to sprinkle a little, but we stuck it out and by the time we got off the bus, the rain had stopped.  We paid the extra €3 which included a tasting and hot chocolate after the tour.  I wasn't sure what to expect. but it was very interesting.  It included the history of chocolate and its introduction into Europe. There were several videos and a lot of displays throughout the three floors.  The hot chocolate at the end was also quite interesting because you had several different kinds from which to chose.  I would recommend it, if for no other reason than the history lesson.
On the way back home, I saw a couple of interesting signs in the Ligne 9 métro station.  There is a rock star in France named M, who is apparently doing a concert at Bercy (a big sports and entertainment complex in the 12é).  There was a sign for a LIVE concert by another 'M'.  I'm really curious as to how they plan to bring that one off.
You can see all the Paris pictures here: Paris 2010
À la prochaine, mes amis.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Paris 2010-5

18 Octobre (Lundi) - Woke up in the middle of the night, freezing!  Searched for another duvet, but all I could find was a couple of duvet covers, so I threw them on the bed.  That was a little better.  The temperature dropped below freezing last night.  You would think they would adjust the heat to compensate, but apparently that's like expecting air conditioning, it's not going to happen. There is no way I could ever live in a building with chauffage collectif.  For those who may not know what that is, it means the heating is controlled by the building concierge, or what we in the States would call the building manager, and not by a thermostat over which you have control.

Because Robb isn't feeling well, we're not doing much for a day or two.  We walked around to the pharmacie.  He bought a package of Jour et Nuit (day and night cold medicine) and some Advil.  Then a stop at Monoprix for wine and snack stuff, and then, home.

The oil tank drivers have joined the strike and the gas stations are running out of gas.

Dinner at Del Papa.  It was excellent and we had a good time chatting with the waiter.  We had planned to go to the Hippopotamus.  In fact, we actually did go in, but the place was jammed with people and I over heard one of the waiters tell another guy there would be a ten minute wait.  So, since I knew it was just around the corner, we went to Del Papa, which we loved.  Merci beaucoup, R.

19 Octobre (Mardi) - Robb is still ot feeling too well.  We had sort of planned to go to Italie2 but decided it probably wouldn't be a good idea right now.  We also wanted to go to the auto show and we're hoping we can do that before we run out of time.

I walked down to Pharmacie 24 and bought some Jour et Nuit just in case I need it.  While I was there I got some Prontalgine (medicine with codeine), which can be purchased over the counter without a prescription.

Then I walked around to Monoprix to get some beurre (butter).  And took a picture of one of the cheese sections so you can see there is a huge selection from which to choose. I also bought some chocolate madeleines (cookies) that I've had my eye on for a while.  When I came out of Monoprix, it was raining, but by the time I got back to the apartment, the sun was out.  Of course, that didn't last long.

Dinner at Bistro de 4 Saisons was good and strange at the same time.  We sat at a table in the back.  I was just about to complain to Robb that we were sitting in a draft, when I noticed they had the air conditioning on.  Now kids, it was barely five degrees outside and they had their A/C on!  The good news is that the meal was very good.  We both had magret de canard (duck).  We drank Bourgogne (a red wine).  We both had panna cotta for dessert.

Last night when we came out of the restaurant, I got the answer to 'when would they turn on the lights'.  They were on.  Tonight, when we went to dinner at Bistro de 4 Saisons, just across the street from Del Papa, they were not.  I was disappointed because I wasn't happy with my picture, but when we left after dinner, they were and I shot a short video.  I'm not really happy with that either because it's in black and white.

20 Octobre (Mercredi) - A strange day, weather wise.  It's quite cold, of course, but big white clouds are streaming across the sky at rocket speed.  One minute there is bright sunlight, the next, it's dull and grey.
We had planned to go to the Paris Auto Show today, but when I checked the website, I noticed it had closed on the seventeenth.

So once again the big event of the day was a trip to Monoprix.

One of these is a cat and one is me.  Which is which?

A fantastic dinner at Chez Starman.  We both had the Hachis Parmentier (Shepherd's Pie) with Taboulé á l'Orientale (Coucous with Mint and Raisins). From our exclusive table, we had a great view of the dishwasher, but if we leaned to the right, we could clearly see the micro-onde (microwave).

21 Octobre (Jeudi) - We started by walking down to the local branch of BNP, so Robb could write himself a checque to get some money.  God forbid it should be that simple.  The eye-rolling, tongue-clicking, overweight clerk made him fill out a bunch of forms so he could get a temporary debit card, which he would then have to take out to the ATM, get his money, then come back into the bank and return the card to the clerk.  I suggested to Robb that if an American bank came to Europe and did business the way they do in the US, the European banks would be out of business within a week.

Then we caught the 92 Bus to Étoile, where we boarded the Ligne 1 métro to Hôtel de Ville.  When we got off the métro, I discovered something I hadn't known.  You have the option of taking the exit up to the street, or you can enter BHV (one of our favorite department stores) through the bricolage (do-it-yourself) department, which is what we did.  Since we were there, I bought some shoelaces which were just a tad too short and more AA batteries.  The batteries here do not last long at all, yet they're the same batteries we buy in the US that last three or four times as long.

After my purchases in BHV, we took the escalator to the ground floor (rez-de-chausée).  We left the store by the main exit, which brought us onto rue de Rivoli.  We passed several outside stands where we bought nothing, and walked to rue du Renard.  We turned right and walked up to the Pompidou.  We went inside, and after checking out the exhibits, decided to not buy a ticket.  Robb was feeling hunger pains, so we went up to the restaurant, but the food looked like it had been sitting there all day.

I suggested we go to Les Marrionniers on rue des Archives, just around the corner.  The outside tables were mostly all taken, but there was only one other customer inside.  We got a table at the window, ordered a coupe (glass) de champagne and a Créme Catalane (like a créme brulée but sort of chocolaty) and relaxed.  After, we walked back to BHV to go through there to the métro because I (rightfully) thought it would be warmer.

Dinner at Pizza Trionfo.  Excellent again.  Something new tonight.  I asked if I could take my left over food home and he was very happy to accommodate me. So now I have diner pour demain (dinner for tomorrow).
You can see all the Paris pictures here: Paris 2010

À la prochaine, mes amis.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Paris 2010-4

15 Octobre (Vendredi) - No sun and colder.  Strike Day Four.

The repairman showed up around noon.  A really nice guy with little English.  Evidently, it was the socks falling out of the open door that was keeping it from spinning back to the top.  The repair guy used a wire coat hanger to remove the socks and once he had the last one out, the door swung to the top.  One problem down, one to go.  The latch on the main door is missing a spring and they need to replace the whole door.  He'll be back around 16h00 or 17h00 to do that.

In the meantime, we walked down to FNAC (which the French pronounce Fuh-nack, as do I) to get our tickets to the Monet show.  So all we have to do now, is get ourselves there by 19h00 on Samedi (Saturday).  Robb bought another headset with microphone. because his isn't working so good after he dropped it the other day.  After we left FNAC, I noticed they had placed Christmas lights on the trees.  I wonder when they turn them on.

The repair guy came back around 16h30.  He was finished in less than five minutes.  I tossed in my socks and had no problem.

Dinner at Chez Gabrielle just up the street, another nine table place.  I had the Piccata de Veau (slices of veal) in a creamy pepper sauce with grapes.  Robb had Saint-Jacques (it was supposed to be a flambé, but wasn't).  Both were excellent.  We drank Sancerre blanc (white).  For dessert, Robb had the Peche aux Rhum et Créme Brulée (Peach half with rum sauce and Créme Brulée) and I had Framboise avec Créme de Fraise (raspberries with strawberry flavored whipped cream).

16 Octobre (Samedi) - Strike Day Five.

Caught the 43 Bus to Trinité, which is only a couple blocks behind Galleries Lafayette.  Checked to find the return bus stop, but the street was all torn up, so there was no way because the bus would have to detour for a few blocks.  That, of course, meant that we would have to take a taxi.   Walked down to, and through, Galeries Lafayette to Printemps, with a brief stop at H&M.  All the stores were very crowded.  We found nothing we wanted to buy, so walked back to Galeries Lafayette and got a taxi home.  On the bus, and in the taxi, saw restaurant Del Papa, which was recommended by a French friend.  Hope to try it one evening.

Around a quarter after six, we walked down past this school and these penguins, then got on the 93 Bus to the Grand Palais.  On the way to see this, we stopped to look at the sky, which was a lot prettier in real life than this picture.  Even though we were early (our tickets were for 19h00) we had no problem and walked right in.  The exhibit was huge and crowded.  I had no idea Monet was so prolific and I have to say, I much preferred the stuff he did before his impressionistic days.  It was kind of surreal to see right in front of us, paintings that we had only seen in pictures.  All of his most famous paintings were there, except the most famous, Impression, Soleil Levant.  But it was definitely worth the visit.  On the way out, we filled out a questionnaire and were given a key ring for our effort.

After the exhibit, we trekked down the steps to the Clemenceau métro station and rode to the St. Paul station from which we walked to Fontaine Sully for dinner.  It was good as usual.  The restaurant was also crowded again.  There seems to be crowds everywhere.  We've never seen Paris like this.

17 Octobre (Dimanche) - And the strike-to-accomplish-nothing continues.

No hint of sunshine and very cold.  Robb is not feeling well (he doesn't think he has a cold, but his nose is running and he feels out-of-sorts).  I had a terrible night of leg cramps and got very little sleep.

We walked to Pharmacie 24.  Talk about misleading names.  It's closed on Sunday.  It's too cold to do much of anything, and because it's Sunday, most everything is closed.

The guy across the street has his window open.  Somewhere in our building, someone is practicing piano.  When he/she plays a piece (he/she usually plays classical pieces), he/she is very good.  I guess "practice does make perfect".

Oh, by the way, did I mention the guy above us is renovating his apartment? Le sigh!

You can see all the Paris pictures here: Paris 2010

À la prochaine, mes amis.