Wednesday, 25 June 2014

By request

It appears our three readers would like to read a little more about Paris.  Before giving a brief description of events I must mention that the post isn’t going to be a montage of Paris scenery.  Instead it will be a description of our observations, impressions and experience.

Almost the first thing we noticed was that whilst the apartment had two shower roses there was no system for fixing the rose at head height to have a shower. We were subsequently informed that the shower rose is for rinsing ones hair whilst having a bath.  Apparently the French prefer to wallow in their own filth rather than shower.  I leave you to imagine how we managed to shower whilst lying in the bath!

Next morning the first item on the agenda was breakfast.  Six flights of stairs and one large courtyard door later we’re on the street, and it’s busy with adults heading to work and children being taken to school.  The homeless drunk who had chosen our apartment door was dead to the world wrapped in a couple of old jackets and surrounded by empty wine bottles. He wasn’t the only homeless person we saw during our stay.  Initially I thought the French were ambivalent about the situation but I subsequently realized they had a solution.  Every morning the green men would appear with their hoses and brooms to wash down the pedestrian footpaths and gutters.  Mr Homeless either woke and moved on or showered instead of bathed.

We wandered into the local patisserie where I walked up and down the counter pointing to all the items that looked interesting.  Having made my selection I wandered off leaving Jan to deal with the mundane financial matters.

Jan got all excited when she realized the apartment had both a washing machine and dryer.  I left her to play with them whilst I went for another local trip to find a supermarket.  There was a Carrefour around the corner.  I recognised the name and logo from my time in that other country where they also have a presence.  It was interesting wandering around looking and as I don’t speak much French purchases were made by gestures.  Fortunately the apartment had a good stock of toilet paper.

The sons decided we should have dinner at a local restaurant and eat genuine Parisian cuisine.  Wandering down the the main boulevard we noticed Le Big Mac on one corner and Le Pizza Hut on the opposite.  However further down youngest son found what he believed was a genuine Parisian restaurant.  Three of us ordered steak whilst youngest son ordered a dish made from minced raw meat.  Then he went on to explain to the waiter in murdered French that he particularly wanted vegetables.  I didn’t understand the significance of this until our meals arrived.  His was the only meal with vegetables.  The rest of us had a steak and huge pile of french fries.  However he didn’t get it all his own way because the only vegetable he got was a large pile of string beans.  Subsequent comments about the meal elected a response from youngest son informing us that in Paris you usually don’t get vegetables with your meal.  No, I don’t understand either!

Next morning three of us had complaining colons whilst youngest son suffered diarrhoea.  Probably a combination of the raw meat and Algerian chief.

The plan for the second day was to wander along the banks to the Seine.  That’s the name of the large river which flows through Paris.  We caught the Metro (underground train system) to the Morsey Dorsey (Musse D’Orsay) because eldest son wanted a cultural ‘hit’.  The museum had some of those paintings done by the Dutch fella who cut off one of his ears. Outside was a row of scantly clad ladies all showing their boobs.  I subsequently realised that this wasn’t uncommon in Paris.

Can you see the row of black ladies with bare breasts.

Whilst eldest son pretended he knew something about art and went off to examine paintings the philistines in the family were more interested in the building.  It was mutually agreed that the building was probably a former railway station.

This seemed to be confirmed when examining the exterior from the river side.  The words PARIS –ORLEANS could be seen along with the names of numerous french cities.

Wandering along we reached the Eiffel Tower where a discussion took place whether to go up it.  No2 son and I have been half way up whereas No1 son has previously been to the top.  He told us that on the day he ascended there was only him and a nun at the top.  It was very high and the railing seemed quite low.  Consequentially he clung to the nun in fear almost tearing off her habit!

We decided to go up and joined one of the very long queues.  Shortly thereafter a voice behind us asked “Cuse me mate, do youse speak English?”  Australians… you can’t get away from them. No1 son said “Yo Bro!” (born in NZ)  Then we notice the large neon sign stating “Top temporarily closed”.  If we can’t go to the top then we’re not interested.

After all this walking we were getting a little thirsty.  “Anyone for a beer… my shout” (kiwi for I’ll pay).  Youngest son found a small cafe and in my best schoolboy French I ordered “Tray beer and tray glasses”.  I managed to conceal my surprise when the waitress delivered 3 beers and 3 ice creams.

Rehydrated we continued along the banks of the Seine.  Then No1 son announced “I know about this bridge!”

It didn’t look all that special until getting closer.

I’ve previously seen something similar on a bridge in Lithuania.  Couples place a padlock on the bridge as a symbol of their union in love.  But he had the wrong bridge!  The next bridge looked like this……

And so did the handrails on the third bridge.  What he remembered was a news article where the handrail on one of the bridges couldn’t take the load and fell off into the river.

Rather than have another colon attack the sons decided we would have a traditional Parisian evening meal of bread, cheese, pickles and cold cuts all washed down with fermented grape juice.  They went off to do all the purchasing

I got to point again and have someone else pay! Smile

That evening youngest son had an email advising that his train to Mons the following day had been cancelled.  Apparently the French train drivers were going on strike because a 36 hour week is too long!  He spent much of the evening attempting to find another way to reach Mons (successfully). Eldest son had the most exciting experience arriving at Charles De Gaulle airport just as the authorities blew up an unclaimed suitcase.  We had a mundane experience checking into the Eurostar and passing through both French and English immigration at the French end.


Jaqueline Biggs said...

Quel Excitment! Enjoying your blog per usual. FYI: if you can get hold of a bottle of apple cider vinegar (must be apple cider and not any other kind), place an 1/8thof a tsp. in a glass and add 6 ounces of water. Sip it slowly, wait 20 minutes and drink the same again. It will clear anything our of your colon in a very gentle and refreshing manner. It doesn't matter what causes the distress: food poisoning, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Lysteria, too much to drink, the flu (the real virus--not man flu. This remedy works every time. Friends in the Peace Corp in Africa swear it saved their lives. Never mind your American Express Card; Vinaigre de cidre--Never leave home without it!

Marilyn McDonald said...

I did enjoy that travelogue, Tom. It is good to know that you have taken on some culture! Isn't it amazing how pointing in a food shop is sufficient to purchase things? We did the same in Poland and it worked a treat, and I bet my Polish is worse than your French!
Jaq, useful news re the apple cider vinegar - I will remember that!
Tom, we are in Mercia and have had an engine service and the engineer spoke with the ex-owner - apparently the alternator has always had the effect on the engine of reducing the revs to minus 500 when loading the batteries! Would have been nice to have been told ... The engineer tells us that the alternator draws about 5hp, but because we never have the engine at anything like full revs to generate 36hp, it is probably taking about a third of the engine's power when we're underway. We will manage it now we know and will fit solar panels before too long.
Cheers, Marilyn

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Excellent - love the Musee d'Orsay but haven't been in years - must get back soon....

Marilyn McDonald said...

I spoke too soon, dammit! We have only 3 cylinders working, one with no fuel getting to it. After lunch (dinner over here) the guys will try to trace the fault. AAARRRGGGHHH!!! Marilyn