Being Sucked

Rabbit holeIsn’t it wonderful that sites like Facebook, Netflix, and YouTube automatically launch the next video or post so I don’t have to do it for myself. When I click on YouTube it even lists videos that are similar to the ones I already watched. Unfortunately, it can’t distinguish between my viewing and Clay’s, so I end up with a lot of really weird s@#$% like “how to make knives out of nails”.

The joy of having these sites do all the work for me is akin to being led down a primrose path (which is perfectly defined as “a seductively attractive course that leads to disillusionment or a bad outcome”). The bad outcome in this case is being sucked into a vortex from which I can’t escape, and hours later I have to wrench control pied piper

from the Pied Piper (AKA Facebook, Netflix, Youtube). Even while writing this blog, my cell keeps blooping to get my attention.

Well, I have to go now because Wheel of Fortune just pinged me to return to the game.

Stay Tuned

Paris Day 8: Versailles

VersaillesParis was Clay’s dream, but since we were coming I looked to see what was important to me and Versailles was it. Remembrances from movies, books, and history class caused me to create my own story and pictures in my memory. For some reason, it was important to me to visit Versailles, probably because I have a major fascination with old architecture which caused Clay to stop frequently for me to admire the architecture all over Paris.

Versailles is such a dream that several wealthy Americans have attempted to recreate it. Of course, anything they do is a poor imitation, because they can only copy the structure, but not the essence of its history.  While looking at the ostentatious display of wealth, you can imagine the starving peasants storming the manse.

Curiously, many of the attributes of Louis XVI are similar to President Trump, his love for gold everywhere, “mentally dull, little understanding of the business of a King, awkward, and uncourtly.” But that’s a story for another time.

The only downside was that Tripadvisor had not fully clued me into this place or I totally missed the information. I didn’t know we could have taken a tram ride around the property instead of walking for miles in the hot sun with a tourguide. Also, didn’t know we could have rented a golf cart to tour the grounds instead of walking for miles in the hot sun. Plus, we could have purchased tickets for private tours of select parts of the building.

I’m disappointed because I do not expect to go back because there are way too many other places in the world to see.

Oh Well…. I enjoyed what I saw.

The next day is back to the real world 🙂

 

Paris Day 7: Another Rest Day

lidoPrevious day included touring Louvre followed by St. Chapelle and a dinner cruise. Each of these tours included walking from one to another. So this was a day of rest when we simultaneously lounged, read, and napped. The evening plan was to go to the Lido instead of the Moulin Rouge, because the MR had very mixed reviews. The Lido was incredible, beautiful and most importantly…. had dancing. If you know my husband, then you know that he is a dance fiend, fanatic, aficionado, salsero, and all-around dance lover.

The Lido is similar to a Las Vegas cabaret show with two extras… naked tits and a descending floor! When we were seated the server said the people in front of us would be lowered so we would be able to see. Thought I heard him wrong because of the French accent, but he was right. When the show started, all the people seated on the front third of the floorspace were lowered about 3 feet!

I frequently use the phrase “I’m not a prude”, but if I have to declare it…. then maybe I am. I’m so old (… how old are you) … I’m so old that I remember when women in Maidenform bras on TV was scandalous.

Like the penises at the Louvre, the Lido show was full of breasts. Since I’m not distracted by women’s breasts, I was able to view them functionally and practically. My observation was that each of the lady’s were essentially the same height, weight, and apparently had the same breast size, which must make for an interesting job description.

After the show, we checked off another of Clay’s bucket list items…. a walk down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

All is right in the world…..

Paris Day 5 and 6: Finally the Louvre

Clay and I next to seineBeen averaging 5 –  7 miles of walking each day since arriving in Paris. Our bodies screamed at us TAKE A BREAK… STUPID. YOU’RE NOT 25 ANYMORE. With a planned dinner cruise on the Seine for the evening we decided to simultaneously lounge, read, and nap during the day. Around mid-day, we went to a local sidewalk café for a light lunch where Clay ordered a crepe. It was filled with sugar and swimming in a liqueur. Didn’t taste great but Like Mikey… he ate it. Unfortunately, it stayed with him until we got on the dinner cruise where it threatened to exit. Thank goodness we left the boat before it left the dock. I called the boat company and they were gracious enough to make room for us on the next evening’s cruise.

The next day, Clay was now willing to accept that long security lines couldn’t be avoided so we went to the Louvre early in hopes of a shorter line (and in case you were wondering, we had a “skip the line pass” which did not cover security lines). But our early arrival worked out and it only took 20 minutes to get inside.

The Louvre was everything we heard and much, much more. Like in a maze you quickly find yourself retracing your own steps so we got directions to the Mona Lisa. Ended up with the herd of others who were determined to see the picture. Two days previously, our “free tour” guide [Paris Day 3: Getting in the Groove] explained that the reason for Mona’s popularity is

  • Her enigmatic smile? NO
  • The mystery surrounding her identity? NO
  • The fact she was painted by Renaissance pin-up boy Leonardo da Vinci? NO

What really catapulted the small, unassuming portrait to international stardom was her theft over 100 years ago causing her image to be splashed across international newspapers. Two years later the thief was finally caught and the Mona Lisa was recovered, becoming the best-known painting in a time before we shared images on TV, internet, and phones.

Even though we know “the emperor (aka Mona) has no clothes”, we still push to see and photograph this one picture. Below is a photo taken by Clay. As promised all pictures taken here will include pictures of others taking pictures because the crowd is at least 10 people deep.

Mona Lisa

The Louvre is not just huge, it is overwhelming, so after 3 hours we were ready to move on. But before I move our story along, let me say that I have never seen so many penises. Not sure what was going on in ancient Greece, but everyone, (men, women, and children) were nude. Hence, every statue and much of the art showed people in various poses but always nude or mostly nude. In fact, ALL of the male statues had exposed penises. I’m not a prude, but…. Enough already.

Next we went to St. Chapelle which was another find discovered from our “free tour”. The guide said it was on the beaten path but still not on most people’s radar. Letting Google lead the way, we found the old dusty building. (Oh yeah… everything in Paris is old and dusty.) Upon entering, you are looking at a lower level chapel which even in disrepair is beautiful. Then at the top of a winding staircase you find an unbelievably, incredibly beautiful, stained glass room!

NAP TIME….  time to return to our room and rest before our river boat ride.

The ride was beautiful… yada yada yada, but a weird thing happened on the boat…. an old friend from Dubai arrived with a lady (not his wife) and another couple. What made it weird was trying to figure out if we should acknowledge him or not.

Seine boat ride

He looked at me from across the boat and smiled. We hadn’t seen him in 5 years, so he could have divorced, but since we weren’t sure… we decided to play it safe and not acknowledge him. Now, I’m sorry, because I would have loved catching up. Oh well….. c’est la vie

 

Paris Day 4: Pièce de Résistance

louvre 2
BTW… what numnutz decided to put a 20th century pyramid in front of a structure built in the middle ages !!!

This is the day for our planned visit to the pièce de résistance – the Louvre! When we arrived, Clay took one look at the line and declared that he was not going to stand in a long line! Keep in mind that the primary thing he wanted to see in Paris was the Louvre and with all the recent terrorist attacks, there was no way he could cut the line without being hauled away by security. I left knowing that we would come back after he adjusted his mindset to the realities of security in Europe, we walked away.

Avoiding the security line provided an opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons. So we walked to the Opera, which provided a chance to see more of Paris. Didn’t know what to expect at the Opera House because it was not on our backup list so we were gobsmacked (always wanted to use that word in a sentence) by the opulence of the opera. There is so much gold there that it could have been designed for Trump. The most remembered event was when two “real opera” singers serenaded us in the lobby. What a treat that was!

Croque Monsieure at Cafe Pais

After touring the Opera House, we stopped at Café de la Paix for a croque madame. My daughter would call the place very “frou frou”, which translates to very expensive. (BTW… just found out that money spent on vacation is like Monopoly money. It isn’t real. So you can spend as much as you please.)

Left the Opera house and headed back to hotel for our afternoon siesta. (Naps are wonderful! May make them a regular part of my day.)

Upon awakening from our nap, we decided to walk over to see the Eiffel Tower light show. Typical crowd of Parisiennes laying on grass with many bottles of wine while waiting for the show to start. The show consisted of strings of Christmas tree lights wrapped around the frame of the Eiffel and twinkling off and on. Sorry but we’re jaded, spoiled Amercans and were therefore duly unimpressed by their twinkling lights.

Oh well… Stopped at sidewalk café for drinks before heading to hotel.

Even though we didn’t see the Louvre, we had a fantastic day!

Paris Day 3: Getting in the Groove

walkaboutOur last planned day of acclimation involved the equivalent of an Australian “walkabout”. No planned outings, just whatever came up. So, we had an opportunity to tryout Clay’s new toy, a camera. This was also an opportunity to be a good wife and not complain about the purchase of an expensive camera that I knew would be used a few times and then get tossed aside for the convenience of a cell phone camera… but I digress.

Walked to the Notre Dame cathedral so Clay could take pictures of the buttresses. While there, I stumbled on a tour guide speaking English and explaining the cathedral to a crowd of folks. I asked one of the tourists about how to get on the tour and she explained that it was free! Being a firm believer in  opportunities knock, I had to track down Clay so we could join.

Thanks to the miracle of cell phones,  I was able to join the tour and give Clay directions for catching up with us. What an incredible tour!

The guide was a thespian doing this gig between roles! Naturally, the tour ended in a café where we had the “opportunity” to buy more tours, which we actually did.

The tour was great! He took us to

  • Saint Michel Fountain
  • Notre Dame de Paris
  • Tuileries Gardens
  • Assemblée Nationale
  • The Louvre
  • Palais Royal
  • View of the Grand & Petit Palais
  • Haussmann’s Paris
  • Incredible views of Eiffel Tower
  • Latin Quarter
  • Pont Neuf
  • Place de la Concorde

 

Walked 7 miles….. Nap time again….

Paris Day 2: Working the Plan!

IMG_4332Awoke in Clay’s bucket-list city on the second day of our trip.  He’s been dreaming of visiting Paris for over 20 years. So, following our mantra of “do it while we can”, we decided to do Paris for his 70th birthday.

Now we get to test our “plan” to systematically see Paris without exhausting ourselves. So, our plan was to take the Hop on Hop off bus (HonHof), but Travelocity got it all wrong. We went to the address provided by them to pick up our tickets, but it was an apartment building with a buzzer system. Being in a foreign country, we weren’t sure if this was how they do things in Paris, so we decided to enact part 2 of Clays dream, which was to visit as many sidewalk cafes as possible. We selected a café within eyesite of the HonHof door so we could see if anyone opened it.

After waiting 20 minutes, we decided not to let no stinkin bad directions disrupt our “plan” so we began working on Plan B. We could try the next address provided by Travelocity but remembering the “fool me once…” saying, we nixed that idea. Thanks to Google, we were able to find a HonHof bus stop where we hopped on, traded our voucher for tickets, and began our tour of Paris…. Okay the Plan is working!

Originally, we planned on staying on the bus and just sightsee, but when we reached the Military Museum of the Army of France (Les Invalides), my bladder suggested that we should stop. This was my first opportunity to learn about the culture of toilettes in France which translates to “no tickie… no laundry”. In other words, you must pay to use toilets. In this case, we would have to purchase a ticket to the museum to access the toilettes ☹ A little ingenuity got us around the ticket problem….

After our HonHoff tour, we returned to our incredibly beautiful boutique hotel room where art decorated the ceiling and every wall!

Recharged after our afternoon nap, we started looking for evening entertainment and remembered the jazz club, Chez Papa. Naturally they were all booked up on a Saturday evening, but since it was so close we decided to take a chance and drop by.

A lady met us at the door (maybe owner?) and naturally she told us all seats were reserved. Not sure why (maybe it was the grey hair or the American accent), but she decided to seat us at a table by the front door which was far from music. She told us she could move us if someone cancelled. Being a skeptical American, I didn’t believe her, but was happy she seated us. Later in the evening, she actually moved us up front!

Hubby is very adventurous and he ordered Escargot (snails). I am not as adventurous, but I tasted them and they were actually good!

The club reminded us of Blues Alley, a jazz club in Washington DC. Chez Papa is intimate with seats within 1 foot of performers. The club is small (maybe seats 50) and has an upstairs half balcony overlooking the performance space. The night we were there, they had a 3-piece combo that played straight up old school jazz.

Chez Papa Is magical! If you like jazz, this is a place you must visit.

Great ending to our second day in Paris

Chez Papa

 

Paris Day 1: The Best Laid Plans

Blog - Seine

Maturity primarily means that the mature person has made mistakes from the low of 0 (no big deal and laughable) to a high of 10 (a story that we will tell in our rocking chair). Since we (hubby and I) count ourselves among the mature, we developed a loose plan for our Paris visit beginning with our “goto site”, Tripadvisor. Tripadvisor is where all mature people post their experiences, plans, advice and questions so others can learn.

Tripadvisor taught us to underplan because we would not be able to do all that we wanted, and we took that advice seriously. Additionally, we built time into our schedule so we could rest. This resulted in having three anchor activities…. the Louvre, Versailles and Notre Dame around which we built everything else.

Day one was our acclimation day when we allowed ourselves to begin adjusting to the 8-hour time difference. The only plan for the day was ticket purchases and strolling. It was a good thing we hadn’t planned anything because we laid down for a nap and disappeared into LaLa Land.

When we awoke, my cellphone said 10pm, but that was clearly incorrect because we could see that it was light outside. Apparently we were more tired than we knew and had slept through the night. Then our concern was that we would miss breakfast that was scheduled to end at 11am. I quickly dressed and went downstairs to grab breakfast and something for hubby.

When I reached the reception area, I confirmed with the attendant that breakfast went until 11am and went to the lower level for the buffet. When I reached the breakfast room there was not only no buffet but no people! Now I’m wondering what’s going on and go back to the desk clerk to explain that breakfast was in fact NOT being served!

He looked at me quizzically and explained that breakfast began at 7am and lasted until 11am. At this point, it began to dawn on me that something weird was going on and I asked him for the current time. He responded that it was 10:45pm. Oy Vey…. The time on my cellphone was correct after all!!! We hadn’t really slept through the night. We were fooled because it is still light outside at 10pm in Paris.

No one on Tripadvisor had mentioned that sunset is around 10pm in mid-June, with twilight lasting almost until 11pm. So hubby and I undressed and got back into bed 😊

Stay tuned……

Technicality

grandparents
G’Dad and G’Ma

Our grandkids would be embarrassed. G’Dad and I are constantly fumbling in the dark for a solution that is readily available through the Google. Yes, I said “the Google”. Youngest G’son laughed when I first used that term. It’s kinda like Trump when he refers to “the Blacks”. I am frequently referring to “the Google” which I think is appropriate because it is both a noun and a verb.

By way of background, G’dad and I work hard to keep up with technology, but it is impossible. He started out as a database specialist (i.e., data mining) and I was a computer programmer (i.e., systems engineer). Keeping up is not only hard for us but for others. Like the dog chasing the truck down the street, we’ll never catch up, but we have lots of company.

This morning I found myself lamenting that I no longer have a clock radio (an old fashioned combination of clock and radio used to wake people up for work.) so I can listen to NPR when I wake up. Oops, I forgot that I can get Podcasts.  Duh! That’s another thing…. They keep renaming things. A podcast is just a series of recordings so why don’t they just call them recordings. Like Aps are just “applications” that used to be called programs. And the one that tops them all is movie versus film versus video. Oy vey!

But I digress. This whole streaming thing is wonderful. Not only can I get NPR podcasts, but I can get just about anything that has been filmed, recorded or spoken for many years back. We used to lament having 800 channels of junk, but now we have streaming with Youtube,  Empire, Game of Thrones, Billions, and all my favorite tv shows that I missed. That’s the upside. The downside is that I now spend too much time bingeing on series/movies/films.

Oh well…. Have to get back to season one of Billions.

 

Ignorance is Bliss

Colson Whitehead, Author Underground Railroad

 

Being born in the semi-south (northern Virginia) and raised during the 50ties, I had a brush with segregation. I use the term brush because when compared to my more southern counterparts, my life was a piece of cake. I recall that I could not try on hats at the local Woodrow and Lothrop department store. I could not go to the movie theater one block from my house, and could not eat in local restaurants. Nor could I attend local swimming pools, skating rinks, and schools and neighborhoods were segregated. These were just a few of the many things that were part of my life in the semi-south. It was easy to view these things as “the way life is”. Then 40 years later my education about the system of slavery began.

My mis-education about the system of segregation and slavery was based upon the minute information disclosed during elementary school history class which was buttressed by the sanitized movies about the wonderful lives of slaves (aka Gone with the Wind). Even Bill O’Reilly said slaves at the white house were “well fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government.” Whitehead’s book, Underground Railroad, turned my thinking about the institution of slavery upside down and inside out.

I read Whiteheads’s book during an intersection of events. First, was a couples vacation to Charleston, South Carolina, which I learned was ground zero for the slave industry. The second event was the receipt of a Smithsonian magazine titled Black in America prompted by the opening of the  African American Museum. The third occurred because I was desperately looking for a good book to read, which led me to the New York Times book review where The Underground Railroad was listed. Finally, I joined a book club and naturally the book being read this month is The Underground Railroad.

I probably would have overlooked any one of these events and filed it away under miscellaneous knowledge soon to be forgotten. It was the convergence of the four events that has thrown me into a tailspin.

While visiting Charleston, I was able to view the history of the major center of the slave slave-posterindustry from a purely business perspective. How well organized it was with great record keeping systems.. At one point, there were 40 different auction businesses housing brokers with jail cells for the “enslaved Africans.” It was in Charleston that I learned the term “enslaved Africans” as the correct new terminology that acknowledges the humanity of people considered property. The auction houses were the terminus for a network of slave catchers, slave thieves, and brokers ranging across the southern states. When someone needed money they would simply sell some of their “property” through this network. Viewing this from a business perspective allowed me to ignore the emotional impact of selling children away from their parents and wives from their husbands.

When I returned home from Charleston, the Smithsonian magazine was there to continue my education. It was filled with stories from the new African American museum which addressed the contributions of Enslaved Africans to the development of the United States. It described the migration of enslaved Americans after the 13th Amendment was passed (12/6/1865) and the effects of that migration. Then when I picked up the Underground Railroad all the emotions began to flow as I read of the degradation, beatings, hangings, maiming, rape, and psychological damage inflicted upon my ancestors. His book is based upon “slave” oral histories captured by the Library of Congress wrapped in incredible creative writing skills.  The “business perspective” barrier that I had erected came crashing down around my ankles.

Now I am faced with book club where I will be the only brown skinned person in the room. This should be interesting.