24 Juin (Vendredi) - Between the jet lag, the room temperature (Robb thought it was too hot and I was freezing) and my leg cramps, it was close to 07h00 before we fell into a fitful sleep. When I awoke, it was about 15h00 (3 PM). Robb was already up and had made coffee. Again, this apartment doesn't have an electric coffee pot but a French Press. We had forgotten to get bread when we went to the Franprix yesterday, so Robb had to go out on his own. He made it there and back with no mishaps. Maybe the gingo biloba is actually doing something.
I just looked at the clock and it's 19h45!! I've spent the entire day writing about the last two days.
Ce soir, we walked down to Chez Clément which is only a block from Place de la Bastille. We had a great waiter; a young guy who spoke very good English. When we asked how he learned, he replied that he picked it up from talking to English speaking people. Most of the time he spoke to us in French, but we noticed that he spoke exclusively English with the Japanese couple at the next table. My dinner was the Pavé de daurade avec pommes (white fish with potatoes). Robb had the Pavé de lieu avec legumes de jardin (Fish with vegetables). They were both excellent. Pour au boire (to drink) we had une bouteille de Petit Chablis (a bottle of chablis). I can't remember the last time I had chablis, but it only took one sip to realize it shouldn't be that long until I have it again. For desert, we both had créme brulée.
After dinner, we walked down to Place de la Bastille and hung out for a few minutes. It was too cold to stay longer and we started the eight block walk back to the apartment.
It's supposed to be quite warm demain (tomorrow).
25 Juin (Samedi) - Paris Gay Pride Day.
Although I managed to get out of bed around noon, after another horrible, non-sleep night, it took several hours to do my morning stuff, drink a cup of coffee and eat a couple pieces of toast. The gay pride parade started at 14h00 in front of la Tour Montparnass at Place du 18 Juin 1940, which is in the 6e (6th arrondissement). The participants will walk and drive across the city, crossing the Seine by way of the Pont de Sully, then make their way by way of Boulevard Henri IV, to the Place de la Bastille, where (hopefully) we will be waiting to see it.
The problem was that I was so tired from the last couple of busy, sleepless days, we didn't even start walking to the Place until after 15h00. It wasn't really a problem though because I knew it would take the parade at least two to three hours to arrive at the Place. And I was correct, the first float didn't appear until a couple minutes after five. I tried to make a video to capture some of the feeling but it didn't turn out.
There was a huge crowd when we got there (around 16h00) and it grew by the minute. Where once I could see across the street, by the time the first float arrived, I could barely see a few feet in front of me. Luckily, we had a good spot and while we couldn't see everything, we could easily see the floats.
As in years past, there was a large bandstand set up by one of the local rock stations (HotMixOne - I think) and they were blasting sound. When they cranked up the bass, the whole area bounced. It always surprises me that some windows aren't broken.
After a couple hours, I was very tired from standing, and found a place where I could sit down. There was a young guy nearby who, according to his female friend, had already drunk a couple pitchers of beer and was drinking from a bottle of wine. He was very drunk, but he was a happy drunk. I called him "the dancer" because he was dancing to all the music, both from the bandstand and the floats, not to mention the stuff he was singing. He really was quite a good dancer.
I found a few videos on the internet. The first one includes the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (I simply LOVE that name) doing a circle dance and singing. The second one is rather short. The third one is about three minutes. The main theme of this year's parade was gay equality as can be seen in this France 24 article with video en Anglais (in English).
There was an ice cream truck, Snoopy Glace, near us so Robb bought us a couple of cones. The ice cream was good, the cones not so much. The final float rolled by around 19h30 (7:30 PM) and we started the very long trek back to the apartment. I was so tired, I didn't even want to go out for dinner, but around 21h45 we walked down to the place on the corner which indicated on its awning, that it is a cafe and a brasserie (both eating places). However, the waiter said they were serving nothing but drinks, though we had seen people eating there when we passed a day or two ago. So it was back to the apartment where we had toast, pâté and wine.
26 Juin (Dimanche) - Another sleepless night. I may have to resort to some kind of sleeping pill. I think part of the problem is the teensy-weensy little pillows they have in France. At least, today is Dimanche (Sunday) and most things are closed, so I'll have a chance to recoup some energy and catch up on yesterday's events. Robb walked up to the Franprix to get some more stuff around noon (Midi).
To find out what happened when I tried to make a video yesterday, I made a short video of the apartment. Of course, that turned out great. But you can get a sense of the large size the place. There is a strange situation with this apartment. It is at least twenty degrees cooler in here than outside. I also took pictures out the front door and the back door.
Dinner tonight a 'le bar à huîtres' on Boulevard Beaumarchais. The waiter brought out a huge lobster. It must have weighed close to ten pounds. I would have said "no way", but Robb wanted to go with it. I don't even like lobster, but what the hey. My dessert was three kinds of sorbet, and that was excellent. Robb had rhum cake (and again, the waiter left the entire bottle of rum, thankfully Robb didn't drink as much as last time). The thing that blew me away was the menu. It was on what I think was an iPad (I've never actually seen one, but Apple is very popular over here, so it could be). After the main course, but before dessert, I went out and took a video (with my phone) of the fish market just at the corner, because of the waterfall windows. If you don't mind being REALLY ripped-off, you might like to eat at this place.
We took the car over to Steve's last night so he could start it for us. We don't want to go through the whole replacing the battery thing again. We gave our apartment and mailbox keys to Dave, our neighbor across the hall. He promised to pick up our mail. The apartment key is just in case and we really hope he doesn't need it.
We had finished packing also last night, so we only had to put in our shaving stuff and we were ready for the taxi, which I had called last night, too. He arrived right around 13h00, loaded our stuff in and off we went to BIA (Broward International Airport). I have never before heard it called that, and I don't think it's "official", but that's what the taxi drivers are calling it.
The guy at the outside check-in area couldn't find our tickets in his machine, even though it brought up our names. He told us that happens all the time and we should just go inside to the regular counter. We had no problem checking in at the inside counter and headed to the gate, which luckily for me was only about a hundred yards from the counter. I say luckily because the wheelchair that was supposed to be waiting for me, was not. We boarded right on time and settled into our seats.
Then it all went to hell.
The first announcement came just before our scheduled take-off time; 15h15. Apparently, there was a bad weather situation over the Atlanta airport, and planes could not land, nor take off. It was supposed to clear within a half hour. We weren't worried because we had a three-hour window until our flight to Paris at 20h30. We finally took off around 17h30 and got into Atlanta around 19h45. Again, the wheelchair that was supposed to be waiting, was not there and we had to call for one to be brought down. It was a good thing I insisted on waiting for it, because the gate at which our plane was waiting was the very last one in the airport and there's no way we would have gotten there (once we found where it was) in time. As it was, we just made it. Or so we thought. Again, because of the bad weather that had finally cleared just before we arrived, had caused eveything to be backed up, and our plane didn't take off until around 21h30.
We thought we were flying Delta to Atlanta, where we would board an Air France plane to Paris. We were wrong. We flew Delta all the way. I'm not complaining, it's just that although Delta was nice and the stewardesses were friendly and efficient, it lacked the ambience of Air France. For instance, with dinner you could have wine, but you had to ask for it. And, unlike Air France, there was no champagne at all. When I saw our seats, I was a happy camper. We were just next to the bulkhead, which of course, means we had extra room. The only problem was that Robb was on one side of the aisle, and I was on the other. There was a French woman with a 20-month-old child sitting between us. The kid was very active and a bit annoying, but within an hour or so he fell asleep in his mother's arms. That brought up problem number two; we had not yet been served our dinner and she couldn't hold the kid and eat at the same time. Her solution was to lay the kid on the floor in front of her (and me). Robb gave her his blanket and I gave her my pillow for his head. He slept contentedly for almost the entire flight.
23 Juin (Jeudi) - When we arrived at Aéroport Charles de Gaulle at around 11h30, there was a wheelchair, but sadly it wasn't for me. It took almost an hour for them to bring me my chair. Again, it's a good thing I insisted, because it is a long, long way through customs, baggage claim and to the taxi station and I was extremely tired. While I didn't mind the French kid sleeping on the floor in front of me, it meant I couldn't really sleep because I was worried I might accidentally kick him if I fell totally asleep. I managed to doze off for a few minutes at a time, but it definitely wasn't restful. My wheel man was very nice and even made sure I got a taxi ahead of the other passengers standing in a long line. I'm sure they were pissed when they saw me just hop into a taxi and take off.
We got to the apartment around 15h00, and were met by Olivier, the representative of Ah Paris, through whom we had rented our apartment at 7, rue Saint-Claude in the 3e (le Marais). He showed us how everything worked and got us signed onto the internet. He went on his way and we acclimated ourselves. The apartment is a lot bigger than it appears in the pictures on the website. We were both so tired, we did something we ordinarily would not do; we napped for several hours. It was cold in the apartment even though it was about 19°C outside. Well, 19°C is around the mid-sixties in Fahrenheit. That's cold for me.
As tired as we were, we had no choice but to walk to the Franprix on Blvd Beaumarchais. We needed coffee, milk, bread and wine. But as we always do, we bought a few other things also.
A bit after 21h00, we decided (okay, I decided) we could walk to dinner at Fontaine Sully. We walked down rue Saint-Claude to rue de Turenne. We turned left and walked down rue de Turenne. I had done this walk digitally on Google Street View and I knew there are a lot of men's stores, but when you walk it for real, the number of stores is somewhat overwhelming. And of course, we had to stop at so many to have a look. We finally made it to rue de San Antoine, just a block past Place des Vosges and Fontaine Sully was about a half block to our left. The first thing we ordered was a picher du vin rouge (a small pitcher of red wine) because the house wine at Fontaine Sully is quite good. For dinner, we both had filet mignon de porc (pork fillets) accompanied by a large portion of linguini. After eating, we had un coupe de champagne (a glass of champagne) and finsihed with un café (a coffee). It was amusing to remember how we used to think we had to order a café noir (black coffee), when all that's really necessary is saying simply "café, s'il vous plait". Just after we ordered the champagne, Katy recognised us and came over to say "bonsoir" and do the French kissing thing.
After leaving the restaurant, I wanted to walk up to the Place de la Bastille and walk back to the apartment by way of Blvd Beaumarchais. The Colonne de Juillet was all lit up and I took a picture of it with my phone. Considering how tired and cold I was, it's not a terrible picture.
It seemed to take much longer to get back to the apartment than it had taken to get to the restaurant, but we finally made it. It was well after 02h00 when we climbed the short staircase (8 steps) up to the bedroom which contains only a double bed and a small night table.
Friday was my birthday. Robb took me, Wendy and Steve to the HiLife Cafe to celebrate. Actually, I guess it was more to commemorate than celebrate because no one celebrates being this old. We had a bottle of champagne and a good meal. Robb, Steve and I had a roasted pork dish which was very good. Wendy had a goat cheese salad. The goat cheese was lightly battered and fried. It was so good. I was the last to finish. I don't really mind getting older, and if it wasn't for the COPD, I would probably be in excellent condition. At least, that's how I feel. It's difficult to think of myself as old, except when I look at the skin on my arms. Yuck!
Since the drug companies here won't let me buy more than a month's worth of my medicine at a time, and since we will be going to Europe in another week and a half, I bought my drugs from a pharmacy in Vanuatu. Yes, I know all about the FDA's warnings about drugs from other places. I know, also, how the FDA will pass any drug from which they receive enough money. I have bought drugs from this company many times before. Never had a problem and don't expect any this time.
I spoke to a really nice guy at AT&T the other day. When I asked if he had ever been out of the country, he replied he had not but wanted to go to Ireland, when and if he gets the chance. When I told him about getting high speed internet, multi-channel TV, free phone service to nearly the entire world and all that for only €30 per month, he replied, "Wow, we're really ripped off in this country aren't we?"
Of course, since most of the people in this country never leave it, they have no idea how badly we are over-charged for just about everything. And when you tell them, they are in such denial (not the river) that they refuse to believe it. As the saying goes...none are so blind as those who will not see. Since that applies to at least eighty percent of Americans, don't expect any changes in your lifetime.
It’s Official: Google Can Sell Power Like a Utility. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has granted Google Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of the search giant, the right to behave like a utility. The order grants Google Energy the power to sell energy, capacity and services at market rates.
It has been an interesting week chez nous. We hired a maid to come in every other week. Her name is Carmen. She's from Brazil. Wednesday was her first day and she was here for about five hours. She is so thorough that she didn't even finish before she had to go, but promised to make up for it next time. There were only a couple things she didn't get to, but one of them was something we didn't think she would do at all because none of the other people we've had in would even think about cleaning our breakfront with all the glassware.
In other good news, I finally sold the four-wheel suitcase I bought in Germany. I had listed it a couple months ago in Craigslist. One guy called about it, but he didn't want to pay the $50 I was asking. I waited about a month and put it back in on Monday for $75. I had two inquiries and the second one came over on Friday and bought it for his daughter for her trip to.....Brazil.
NOTE TO MOBILE PHONE MAKERS: PLEASE, DO NOT PUT THE VOLUME CONTROL ON THE SIDE OF THE PHONE! THANK YOU.
Does anyone ever wonder why, in spite of the billions of dollars collected through various charities, no cure for anything has been discovered? You don't suppose it's because the drug companies, the insurance companies and the medical practitioners would lose millions if cures were discovered? Nah, couldn't be that.
Here is another example of how badly we're ripped in this country: "The annual premium for a policy providing replacement value for the house and its contents in case of fire, water, or storm damage was just 250 euros ($365). In California, we had been paying about $1500 (€1027) a year for similar coverage (which did not include earthquake insurance). I subsequently bought a car in Saint-Aignan and had it insured with AXA as well. Again, the annual premium for a full-service policy — liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage — was much lower than it had been in California for a similar policy." Americans will never learn! We are ripped-off in just about every way you can imagine, we are behind in just about every category used to measure the greatness of a country, and yet we go blithely on our way talking about living in the greatest country in the world. Some people, instead of waking up when reading this, will undoubtedly reply that if we dislike the US so much, we should leave. Well, just as soon as the dollar is worth more than fifty cents. Does anyone remember just a few years ago when the Canadian dollar was worth about fifty cents? Well, now it's the US dollar that's worth less. We have the slowest internet service in the world, but pay the most. We have the worst mobile phone service in the world, but again, we pay the most.
As if all that wasn't bad enough, Monday it was learned that the staffers of Congress family members are exempt from having to pay back student loans. Many citizens have no idea that members of Congress could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest is to exempt themselves from the Healthcare Reform... in all of its forms.
Dumb Law of the Week: In Arkansas, a man can legally beat his wife once a month!