Wednesday, 26 October 2011 – Part II
Back to it, then. I emerged near the Charles de Gaulle Metro entrance. I knew I had to ride the Metro back to “my neighborhood” – the tired puppies just couldn’t take any more at that moment. I had walked roughly five miles, many times more than my knees and feet could take years ago. (And my knees didn’t complain at all – maybe those warrior boots were special and worth the trouble after all!) I did, however, decide to have a smoke break and take in the sights in this part of town for a last few minutes before heading on the last leg of my journey. (I hear Merlot calling!)
Believe it or not, my gypsy friends were not neglecting this part of town either. Almost immediately upon pausing after emerging from the tunnel, I was approached for my second personal experience out of approximately five exposures to the same trick, and I swear it was the same foul-mouthed fool I dealt with first (or maybe all male gypsies just look alike – and not at all like the whimsical artiste-types featured in movies like “Chocolat”). Anyway, I almost wonder if they have a “handler” (like a pimp) or have a quota and maybe that’s why I would be approached by him again (if it actually was the same guy). What I do know is he made absolutely NO attempt to hide the scam this time (or maybe I was just so onto it by then, maybe it was always obvious if you were looking for it and I just missed it the first time). But let’s just say, I watched as the ring rolled out of his sleeve into his hand and he pretended to pick it up. (Maybe they need some lessons from the Vegas magicians on the art of illusion!) He was quite persistent (and again eying my purse when I got out a smoke) so I finally just told him I’d already seen this trick enough times. He moved on to another younger gal who promptly maneuvered herself over to the bench where I was sitting to get away from him. Smart gal — End of story!
I took the Metro all the way around the West part of the city and got off at a new station – La Motte-Picquet/Grenelle to the south of my hotel and walked back past the Champ de Mars for a daytime view of the Monument to Peace, Ecole Militaire and Tour Eiffel. (It was still a chore, but my tootsies weren’t screaming too badly after the resting up on the circuitous journey.)
Being a creature of habit, I returned to the Café des Officiers for a rest and recap over a glass of merlot. As I started to make my request, the waiter abruptly interrupted with a nod and “Oui, merlot.” I must’ve made quite an impression the night before – HAH! Actually, I was quite impressed – I didn’t even realize it was the same server since they all looked alike to me. Attractive, younger (but not young), dark-haired, dark-eyed, fast-moving (unless you wanted to get your tab) males.
The day worked out with perfect timing. It had been a beautiful fall day with an incredibly blue sky all the while, but the clouds moved in and the breeze picked up shortly after I sat down. Not a problem with all the portable heaters and other bodies to block the wind.
And the good news? The boots have held up perfectly, with more miles than they’ve had in all of time prior! I wore them both Tuesday night and all day today – WOO WOO! Can Chris pick the shoe glue or what? LOL After all that, I needed a nap and a granola bar!
But first, an amusing episode… When I returned to the hotel, I honestly had a funnier experience than I could have ever imagined. Turns out my name did, in fact, have the anticipated (i.e., confusing) effect I always imagined it would in France (which is one reason I always thought I should learn French). I couldn’t help but think of the “Who’s on First?” Laurel and Hardy routine…
I walked into the lobby of the hotel to retrieve my key, per the policy already outlined, but, to my surprise, there was an unfamiliar face behind the desk. I walked in and slaughtered my room number. (Hmmm… was it the exhaustion or the merlot?) For some reason, I had wanted to say “neuf” (9) in place of “deux” (2) all day and finally did when I went to give my room number, then I stumbled to correct myself. This monsieur was clearly more dedicated to his task than the elderly man of the previous night and punched the number into the computer system to verify it. It went something like this:
He looks at the screen and doubt flashes across his face. Then he says: “Madame Rousseau? Non!” Pretty definite that could not be correct.
When I firmly and proudly replied, “Oui!” it was all he could do to try to conceal his surprise when he responded, with raised eyebrows and mouth agape, “Oui?” (I almost expected him to say “NO WAY!” from the look on his face.)
I proudly exclaimed, “Oui!” and promptly was given my key.
Anytime I tell this story, I still start laughing before I can even finish – it really is my favorite from the whole trip, I think (although there are many in the mix).
So, at long last, I put all my electronics on the charger (thanks again, mon sauveur at the desk) and crawled in bed. When I got up, I looked for more routes for sightseeing, in case I found new feet. Then, I went in search of food, as I hadn’t eaten anything other than the included breakfast and a few snack items since I arrived. After walking the whole neighborhood and looking at every menu, sometimes more than once, I finally settled on La Terrasse (a few doors down from my usual Café des Officiers) for a simple salade vertes and quiche lorraine with a glass of rose. One bite in I thought, “OMG! I wish I had more time to eat here. Now I know what quiche really tastes like!” – a melt-in-your-mouth mix of flavors, each layer adding to the next, readily discernible cheese, bacon, all fresh ingredients — mmmmm, mmmmm. Shame I don’t eat more… in fact, I have talked about this quiche many times since (and still haven’t tried the French bakery here in Vegas Chris recommended for it). And it only took 14 euro (about $19), between the quiche and glass of wine, to make my taste buds so happy!
After I finished, the waiter finally broke down and asked me “Want dessert?” after speaking French the rest of the time. Do you suppose it was my accent or the fact I kept using “y” instead of “et”—it’s been a problem ever since I learned some Spanish (a couple of years after I started learning French) darn it all! For all I’d heard about how rude the French are, I just haven’t seen it. Of course, I’ve heard more American than French in the touristy area I’ve been calling home and didn’t have much interaction with anyone other than those making a living off service. Then again, that doesn’t stop anyone in Vegas from being rude or inattentive.
Once again, though, I think being a woman alone helps. It seems quite rare to see here, with even passers-by seeming to double-take fairly often. There are, however, a lot of men alone, carrying flowers (lucky ladies somewhere!) and a lot of couples arm in arm. Paris is definitely the City of Romance from what I’ve seen. I’m starting to feel a little isolated. Even though I’m not much for idle chit-chat with servers, right now it might be welcome. But there are no pleasantries here – in French, much less English. It’s all business, at least with an American, it seems.
After eating, I stopped in at a souvenir shop in the neighborhood (that I had originally spotted when I was in search of a restaurant). There were a couple of cute things but nothing really special, and I just wasn’t in the mood to shop, even though the clerk was quite cheerful and friendly.
I went back to the hotel for a relatively early night, thinking I’d get some rest and try to head out for some last-minute sightseeing in the morning. I ordered wi-fi, went through what e-mail I could (I couldn’t get to my CreativeWildCard mail for some reason, and the service was a little sketchy, especially for the price), and reached out to a few people back in the States to help with that isolated feeling. Chris had also contacted me to let me know Mick wanted to take us out for dinner and drinks the next night if I was up to it when I returned from my Paris adventure. What did we do without technology! Anyway, given the service problems, it was midnight before I finished. Then I woke up around 1 a.m., congested and uncomfortable, and had trouble going back to sleep – so much for the early night!