Sunday, January 31, 2010

The 27th...Our Last Full Day In Paris

First, I made quick run back to the cemetery to visit an anthropologist.

Then we all had breakfast (ever more coffee, bread, butter, jam and a croissant) and then split up.

Pat headed to Pere La Chaise cemetery in search of Jim Morrison's grave. Chris and I headed to a garage sale which was awesome! It was all stuff from the 1950s and there were several venders in an empty "club" or crap dance hall.
I tried on the coolest glasses ever but then forgot to go back and buy them.

That's right...the left eye is completely covered with sequins. AND it's solid black plastic behind there. Essentially an eyepatch.

Chris and I next headed over to the Louvre which was PACKED (as it always is). We avoided the Mona Lisa and other "highlights" as we've (at least "I've") seen them before and there are many other wonderful things in that giant building. I did like the medieval Louvre which is in the basement of the newer Louvre (it HAS a basement...unlike the Alamo).

(go to the 2:20 mark to get the good stuff)

The basement:

We stopped at a restaurant Chris and I had tried for lunch the day before so Pat could try the cassoulet. Then, stopped in Notre Dame for a couple of minutes just to have a look see. The evening service was going on (projected on a screen...interesting).

And to the hotel not late so we could all make our trains the next day.

December 26, 2009 in Gay Paris

Sorry for the delay. I had a knife fight with a potato which caused some finger damage and I haven't been typing much for a week.


The day after christmas we head off to the catacombs. I had done some surgery on my foot that morning as I had a blister. Athletic tape is my friend.

Of course first we had a quick stop at a street market.

The catacombs were creepy AND cool so extra cool. No photos of skulls and bones but here are some carvings and a sign that were in there. There are something like 7million Parisians moved there from the 18th and 19th century cemeteries around town

Chris and I then headed out to a shop on the Ile de St. Louis to a shope where I go the bike lock. There were a few more cool things we wanted that we weren't seeing naywhere else. I think Pat went looking for the Bastille or something. I'm actually not sure whwat he was doing this day while we shopped. Probably none of my business.

Unfortunately, I REALLY needed a toilet and this interfered with Chris' shopping plans. Finally found one that was both open and CLEAN (something unspeakable was spotted in a cafe) in the Hotel Novotel. It took nearly an hour. Oh well, we still saw some sites and of course finished the day with a lovely dinner after meeting up with Pat. (Pictures will follow when I have better internet connection speed).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Creepy People For Angela

Ange requested a photo of the creepy couple who have a sculpture of themselves in the bed on their grave (and the grave of many of the descendants who are the result of activities in that bed...ICK!). Here you are.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Christmas in the City of Lurve

First, a photo of the SPECTACULAR view out my window! I could see the Sacre Coeur as well as the Montparnasse Cemetery. And much of Paris really. This is looking roughly North I think.

I started Christmas with a little excursion on my own. I went to meet and interview Jim Haynes (see He is a super cool dude who has been having people over to his house for dinner every week for almost 40 years. Not just people...50+ people that he has never met. Just email or call him (he likes email) and see if you can get on the list. He can have about 100 in the summer, but must cut back in the winter since he loses the use of the outdoor space. He's been everywhere and done everything. He knew Yoko and John before Yoko knew John. He accidentally stayed with Mama Cass and got picked up by the Beverly Hills police for the suspicious activity of going for a walk in that neighborhood. More recently he serves on the board of the Calcutta Film festival and on and on. He agreed to meet me Christmas morning and since we're both godless heathens that worked out great. Jim had forgotten I was coming despite me calling him the day before. Oh well. He was happy to host me in his robe and jammies while having coffee in his little loft bedroom in his atelier (that's like an artist's studio/loft thingy but in France). His current atelier-mate, Yarra (I don't know the right spelling! Sorry Yara/Yarra/Yarah/Yarrah/??), stays there as well while she decides what to do with her life. Jim talked about his life and the importance of putting yourself out in the world and meeting people. He's personally introduced over 130,000 people from all over the world. It seems to me that that activity goes further to promote global peace and harmony than many of the more overt things done in the name of peace.

Anyway, I walked to his place after getting SUPER detailed instructions off google maps. It was about a 20 minute walk from the hotel. There weren't many people out and about on Christmas day, but it was still lovely. The people who were out said hello (actually "Bon Jour" or "Bonne Fete" (happy holiday)). One guy appeared to be homeless and he said something more complicated while loading up his bike. I said (in French), "Sorry, I my French is not good enough" he repeated it IN ENGLISH! Lordy. Even their homeless people are more cultured than the average American.

On the way home I took a slightly different route but still found the hotel and even found the odd shop open. Nice.

After that I met up with Chris and Pat. After a quick exchange of very small gifts (literally need to lug big crap around the world), we started at the Montparnasse Cemetery where we visited some of our fallen heroes and one grave where the owners had perhaps the creepiest statue ever put on their's them in bed together having a chat. I could have been worse.

Jean Seberg, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre

At some point I saw this awesome car! Check out the tied on muffler...a little spot of Plummer in Paris.

Then off for a bit of time at the street fair on the Champs Elysees. Pat had canceled our dinner reservations so we could enjoy the street food on offer with out worrying about ruining appetites or having to stop and get a subway back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. I thought this a wonderful idea. I had a nutella crepe and some fries. The fries were not supposed to be mine but I partook anyway. Chris tried a tartine...sort of a tiny pizza heated up before they hand it to you. Pat had a wide variety of heavy delights. Both Chris and Pat enjoyed some Vin Chaud. That's "Hot Wine". Pretty much what it sounds like. Pat likes his fortified with rum, but did not think my suggestion of finding some hot Thunderbird was helpful.

Look who we spotted at the street fair! Or friend from yesterday. See how he has dressed down the coat with sweats and running shoes? That is one versatile jacket. It goes with EVERYTHING (that or he only owns grey, black, and white garments).

This is the only bidet I would ever have in my house. But if I spent that much on an item, I'm going to want it in the living room. I suppose I could put glass on top and use it for a coffee table....AND put fish in it. Damn. Totally should have bought this. It was at the street fair.

I'm pretty sure this is the day we rode the ferris wheel though my notes are lacking. That IS the date on my ferris wheel photos so I'm putting them in now.

The wheel (this is actually after we was more dramatic in the dark)

Chris and Pat were across from me. While taking this photo I became intrigued by the sign behind Pat's head....

Apparently there is no kneeing, punching, or kicking allowed on the ferris wheel.

We tried to find the Bastille but aren't sure what we saw. It may not exist anymore. Anyone want to bother googling that and letting us know?

We did some window shopping in the Latin Quarter and got home quite late.

All in all, a lovely Christmas.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Christmas Eve in the City of Lurve

This was a lovely day. I was pretty recovered from jetlag (largely due to the motivation to recover and thanks to getting out and about for a good amount of time the first day in town. We started the day with breakfast (croissants, bread, jam, and coffee (hot chocolate for Pat)) in a cafe. very nice.

Then to the Champs Elysees area to get Pat's watch checked out. They ended up putting in a new movement while we waited. Then shopping. Chris got a cute new watch and ring, both with swarovsky crystals, at BonBon watches. I got a phone at the Virgin Megastore on the Champs Elysees AND got to watch a Parisian have a sh-tfit oer what he perceived as bad service but was in fact just regular service. (more on this phone later).

If you look CAREFULLY you can see a small portion of the bottom of the Eiffel Tower in the background of the photo past the giant statue. It was foggy.

We saw these people walking along in the super ritzy shopping sections near the Champs Elysees. LOVE the coat on him (note formal black pants...dressing the coat UP) and the what-ever-the-hell-all-that-is on her! Remember them. There will be a quiz.

THEN Chris and I went to t
he BEST toilets in Paris at a Hilton. I saw a bride in a multithousands dollar dress getting photo'd in the lobby of the hotel. I would have been in the background but dashed to get out of the way (the last thing she wants behind her million dollar dress is my thrift store sweater and heavily worn shoes and eye bags).

THEN we went on a christmas rollercoaster outside the Grand Palais. Chris and I crammed into the back seat of the carriage and I think we took our relationship to the next level, but I can't be sure. It was a tight fit. Pat was basking in a moderate amount of space in the front seat. Getting out was a bit of a challenge but we made it. Since we were all on the coaster. We have no photos of us on the coaster, but I have a picture of a statue on top of the Grand Palais taken from my seat on the coaster.

Here is a blurry but less foggy photo of the Eiffel Tower. They light it up at dusk.

We had Christm
as Eve dinner at Montparnasse 1900. A lovely restaurant. I had duck. It was good.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

December 23...The Trip to Paris

So, on the 21st I went to Seattle on SWairlines. It was fine. I stayed at the Radisson across the street (from the airport...literally...wish I'd known that before I called for the van to pick me up).
I had a dinner of salsa, cornchips and an orange (all things I figured would be least likely to result in food poisoning. Food poisoning on an airplane is NOT a good thing).

In the morning I went to the airport 3 hours before my flight AS RECOMMENDED by the airline and the online airport update thingy. But there was no Air France desk to check in at. Turns out they don't open until 90 minutes before the flight. Interesting and would have been super information.
Oh well.

Eventually we all got checked in and because it was before the airplane shenanigans that would happen a few days later, security was no problem. I had a chance to grab a snack before we boarded.

Once on board I had a window seat. The side seats are in pairs. Next to me was a skinny chick about 29 or 30 years old. And yet she was bringing EVERYTHING SHE OWNED on the airplane with her. She proceeded to spill into my space the entire trip. I started just playing a game trying to guess what would creep into my space next and how many times I could shove it back at her before she noticed. The neck cushion (which was HUGE...I've staying in smaller tents) was the most frequent offender. She was a dip. And she had about 10 cognacs, a bunch of glasses of wine, and some other booze on the flight. Then she couldn't figure out why she was SO TIRED when she got to Paris. It's good to see that sorority girls stay the same.

And there were good movies on the plane. I watched L'Affaire Farewell and part of Le Petit Nicolas (finished the second one on the trip home). We each had a personal TV on the back of the headrest of the person in front of you. The person behind me thought that if the touch screen didn't work, then you should punch it. He (this was an adult who had both seat to himself) was apparently watching a participatory show on "how to kick box". I'm basing that on the frequency and force with which he kicked and punched my seat. I wanted to give him whatfor, but then thought what if he's developmentally challenged or a jerk. I don't want to cause an incident. At one point he was backwards in his seat with his butt forcing my seat forward. Weird.

Landing in Paris (at 8:45am on the 23rd) was no problem. There is no real "customs" check on the way into Europe. They don't care. Just a passport check and off you go.

I found the bus to the Gare Montparnasse (Montparnasse Station) and had only a 5 minute wait. On the bus, it's about a 45 minute trip, I met Marie. She's from France but teaches in San Diego now (after meeting and marrying an her exhusband). She might visit some day in Idaho as she loves biking and we have that. She was quite amusing to chat with and very understanding of the gaps in my French vocabulary.

The bus stopped right across the street from the hotel, Le Meridien Montparnasse. So that was handy. Uncle Pat had primed a woman at the front desk, Estelle, that it was covered and that I would be in early. She said my room wasn't quite cleaned so she just moved me to another and got Pat and Chris on the phone so I could say "Hello" and let them know I was there. I got the room. Took a shower, and we were off for the day.

(that's the hotel room...very nice (pretend the TV isn't on or that I was using it to study french, definitely NOT watching porn on Unca Pat's dime))

I was pretty tired the first day and begged off going for dinner. Between the ever expanding sorority girl and the kick boxer and the being excited to be on vacation, I had barely slept. But we still got quite a bit done that first day, the 23rd.

Horse poop on the street in Paris...made me feel like I never left Plummer (where I once saw a fat cowgirl driving a roman chariot down the street), except that it has 17million MORE people in it and they are largely French.

These are rental electric bikes in Paris. They are all over the place. You use a credit card or a velo-bike card and rent one that has a green light on the post (the red light means it's charging, green is charged up) BUT you need a European credit card with a chip in it. Can't use an american one without some shenanigans. Anyway, once you rent it you can ride it one way and drop it at a similar station with charging posts at your destination. How cool is that? I saw TONS of people riding them. They have a basket in the front, fenders, and skirt-guards on the rear wheels. I really wanted to try one out. We'll see.

This is the christmas display in a lovely hotel where we stopped to use the turlets a few times over the course of our stay. I'm sure the hotel staff were wondering what was up.

And this is just a super cool boat on the Seine. I want to live in a boat on the Seine. Or at least rent one for a vacation.