Friday, September 5, 2014

Bus #69

We woke to the 6 am alarm we had set...the plan was to go to Giverney.  But both being somewhat exhausted we decided to put it off.  Getting there is not easy and it was recommended that we catch the 8:15 train, several metro stops away, or wait another 2 hours and bear the horrendous crowds.  We chose to go back to sleep and change our plans.

Rick Steves has a cheap tour route via Bus #69 which costs Euro .73 cents and goes through all the interesting neighborhoods and past many of the major attractions.  We figured out how to find the bus near the Eiffel Tower via metro and which direction and what side of the street to be on and off we went.  While on the metro I was observing how great Chuck looked standing there in his long sleeve back top, dark grey slacks and man purse.  And then my eyes went to his shoes.  Oh dear.  Hiking shoes.  Another American spotted!  French men wear very narrow, pointy, dress shoes.   Getting on the bus, we noticed it was practically empty and scored some great seats with a perfect view front and sides.  Believe it or not, we had yet to spot this steel hood ornament.

We enjoyed the bus ride but I had to keep reminding myself to stop smiling, another terrible American habit.  We jumped off the bus at the stop for the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, the next to the last stop at the end of the line.

We were quite impressed with the magnitude of this famous cemetery.  I had no idea how large the tombstones and crypts were.   Enclosed by a massive wall and lined with 5,000 trees, the population is 70,000 in 100 acres.  No wonder it's hard to find anything.

Our goal was to find Abelard and Heloise.  We were not disappointed, although it's quite a trick to find anything, even with a map.  The cemetery map was very different from the map in our Rick Steves Kindle version.  Neither was particularly helpful.  Frankly, I'm amazed we even found  our two favorite lovers.

This was different.

We searched all over in the appointed area for Chopin but had no luck.  Next up, Jim Morrison.  Rick Steves said to find the crowd and he was right.  The directions were useless, we just kept searching for the sound of a crowd and he was right, there they were. 

We gave up on all the others, like Oscar Wilde, Yves Montand & Simone Signoret, Moliere, Colette and Edith Piaf.

Walking home through the Bastille, we stopped at the G20 grocery store.  I had just finished reading The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz and remembered clearly the part about how pushy the French can be and how you have to push right back.  They'll do anything to cut in line or nudge you to move forward even though you're already on top of the next person.  He talks about the old ladies with their shopping carts who will cut off a one legged blind person to get where they want to go.  I was waiting in line when I felt someone bump into me hard.  I turned ready to give them a look when I realized it was a blind woman.

On the way back from the G20 grocery store (recommended by Thierry, our apartment manager), we ran into one of our neighbors, Uri.  He stands in front of the synagogue, basket in hand, asking for money for the children of Israel.  We give him some money every day.  He always shakes Chuck's hand but today they've graduated to cheek kissing, once on each cheek for each of them.

After lunch and a rest, we decided to go to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.  All 234 steps.  It was almost a breeze after our 3 flights of stairs up and down to our apartment 3 or 4 times a day.  The weather is still perfect, cloudy and what I call "no temperature."  You don't even feel it.  We really enjoyed the views.

Next we decided to go out to La Defense.  This is the area where all the business and skyscrapers are located.  The city of Paris wisely decided to keep them out of the beautiful old parts of the city.  This is a happening place on a Friday night.  Live music, a comic doing something we couldn't understand and lots of people sitting on the steps and just hanging out.

I'm so glad we went; I've always meant to get out here and check out this enormous arch.

By now we were pretty tired and had to stand for half of the 14 stops home on the metro.  So we decided to find a nice place to eat.

We walked around and checked out several places near our apartment, settling on Equinox on rue des Rosiers, our favorite street.  They had a "Menu" which is a fixed price meal with entree, plat and dessert.  We both ordered the tomato mozzarella salad to start.  It was the best I've ever tasted, even in Italy.

View from our table outside.

Chuck ordered the pork and said it was exquisite.

I ordered the chicken with mushrooms.  Delicious.

Dessert was chocolate mousse.  I didn't know you could make it this good.  Incredible!  It was like eating a dark chocolate candy bar.

We had a very satisfying day.


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