Chapter Eight: That Was The Week That Wasn’t

P1070669Chapter Eight: That Was The Week That Wasn’t

DAY EIGHT – Cough Till I Drop, Drug Run, Camille Is The Deal, Turn For The Worse, Is There A Doctor In The House, 50…No 70…No 90 Euros, Cancellation and The Power Of Pringles

Well, we really didn’t need the light of day to know this was going to be a bad day. I woke up at 2 a.m. with a cough that wouldn’t stop. I’m sure by 6 a.m. everyone else in the apartment complex was harkening back to the good old days when they just had to put up with the wails coming from Dennis.  Tracy, on the other hand, was contemplating methods of snuffing me out with a pillow.

With a temperature of 101 and a cough that the “Incredible Smoking Woman” would have envied, suddenly a vineyard in Montmartre didn’t sound so good. Tracy made a pharmacy run and plied me with drugs to try and turn this thing around.

A little after noon the drugs kicked in a bit, and I attempted a comeback. I’d be damned if we paid all this money to get here for me to stay in bed, so I showered and dragged myself into the sunlight for the first time. The day was gorgeous, just the kind of autumn day we dreamt about before we left.

We walked a short distance to Camille (24 Rue des Francis Bourgeois). In order not to scare the other clientele, I loaded up on cough drops and talked in short sentences.

P1070611Lunch was surprisingly excellent…surprising because my taste buds had reached cough drop overload stage. Tracy tried a Salade Niçoise, while I enjoyed a Cheese on Toast and a salad.

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The pommes frites were, as usual, delicious, and I even had a “Wow” dessert; a Crumble aux pommes that was perfect for a raw throat.

P1070609Tracy loved her Glaces Berthillon Salted Caramel (2 scoops).

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Sadly, it took only a few blocks for me to revert to sickly old man tourist (I sort of looked like the image on the door below).

P1070614I managed a few photos, but soon we had to get back to the apartment where I started coughing for about an hour straight. It was at this point that we knew we would have to cancel our dinner plans with Kim and Mary’s daughter and her friend at Chez Janou. I could still taste that mousse au chocolat from 2012, so I was rather depressed.

The coughing droned on continuously for another hour or so, and my temperature shot back up to 101, which set off a minor warning light. For those who might not know, I spent 105 days in the hospital in 2010 and nearly croaked a couple of times…and it all started with pneumonia. Since then, a really bad cough commands our attention in a hurry.

Fortunately, Thierry had left us the number of a doctor who was on call for those who stay at the apartment. On the directions it said the physician would charge €50 for a house call. No problem. When we called, he said it would be €70, but for our piece of mind we agreed that an extra €20 was no big deal.

When the doctor arrived at the apartment, he notified us that the house call would cost €90. By this time, he was starting to remind me of my car mechanic, but since he was here I let him look under the hood anyway.  He told me I had a virus, but that my lungs sounded good. Content that I wouldn’t die by morning, I quickly paid him his €90 before he decided to up the cost.

Pringles-OriginalOn our trip to Rome in 2009, I came down with a bug one afternoon, so Tracy and I dined on Pringles, Panettone and melon liquor (she’s a lucky girl). The store across the street from our Paris digs only had Pringles, so Tracy had a wonderful meal of those perfectly shaped chips and some vin rouge, while I just coughed.

 

Finally, Tracy attempted to get some sleep, but I’m sure my non-stop coughing allowed her to enjoy just a little more sleep time than I received. Although I only totaled about two hours of shut-eye once again on Monday night, I was determined to give it a go on Tuesday.

 

Short-term, that plan worked pretty darned good. However, in the scheme of things, it might have been one of my worst all-time decisions (and I’ve made a lot of those).

DAY NINE – Rally, Tom You Idiot, Locks No Bagels, The Eerie Canal, The Hunt For Red September, “Good Place For A Mugging”, A Day At The Opera, Vin & Whiskey, The “Twiggy” House, Are Six Enough…Are 18 Too Many, In The Chill Of The Night and Paris Leaves Me Speechless

Powered by a little more than a total 4 ½ hours of sleep the past two nights, amazingly I felt better this morning, so we walked down to the Rives de Paris for a rather expensive €28 breakfast (or about 1/3 of a doctor visit) before taking the metro to the Canal Saint-Martin (sort of).

P1070617In the Hôtel de Ville metro station, Tracy saw a poster for a play that she believed was named after me.   Sleep deprivation can be a terrible thing.

P1070620I wanted to see the Parc de la Villette, but didn’t feel I could navigate the entire walk from Republique, so we took the metro to the Jaurès stop. I’m pretty sure we missed the best part of the walk, but it was interesting nonetheless.  Hell, I was just happy to be outside.

Walking out from the Jaurès metro, there seemed to be a lot of people just hanging out, smoking (of course), with nothing to do. Some might call this area a little sketchy, but being from L.A., we didn’t perceive this area to be unsafe.

P1070622We walked toward what I believe was the Place de la Bataille-de-Stalingrad (remember, I was self-medicated, so if anyone contradicts me, I’m happy to listen) and we saw an interesting building that turned out to be the Rotonde de la Villette.

This building, constructed in the late 18th century, is where merchants had to pay a toll (or maybe taxes) for bringing their wares to Paris.  It’s a great looking building and was designed by Claude Nicolas Ledoux.

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Also near here were some locks that provided some nice photo ops.

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There were a couple of cool looking bridges, too.

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I gathered my strength and off we went.

P1070628The weather was crisp and beautiful, so we decided to walk up what I thought was still the Canal Saint-Martin toward the Parc de la Villette (although upon further review, I think we were actually walking along the Canal de l’Ourcq).  In any case, there was water.

P1070629We passed by a couple of people playing a mean game of ping-pong.

P1070631Outside of the ping-pong people, it was a little eerie on this walk, because it seemed Tracy and I were the only ones in this part of Paris. Oh well, the path less traveled and all.

P1070636There were some colorful boats, and it just felt good to be in fresh air instead of watching French music television…

…(although the video of Boum Boum Boum by Mika caught my attention more than once).

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I stopped into a little church whose name escapes me, and then we headed toward the park.

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Usually Tracy writes these things down, but due to her lack of sleep, I cut her some slack. Besides, she didn’t smother me with a pillow in the middle of the night.

P1070638We finally reached Parc de la Villette, and after awhile we came upon a partially submerged submarine.

P1070639I think we could have gone on it, but I was afraid I might have a terrible coughing spell and doom my fellow passengers (transportation foreshadowing).

P1070641Just just like our walk along the canal, the area was pretty much devoid of people.

P1070640Nearby was the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, which is one of the largest science museums in Europe.  Had we not wasted a day and night coughing and eating Pringles, we might have visited.

P1070642We also walked by the Géode, a spherical dome that has an IMAX theater inside. Since Star Trek: Wrath of Khan was not showing so we kept on walking. I have my standards.

P1070643Outside of a couple of women, the park also had very few people wandering about. As we turned a blind corner, Tracy said, “This is the perfect place for a mugging.” I really have to curtail her Law & Order rerun viewing.

We arrived back to civilization, and decided to hop on the metro to somewhere (anywhere). As fate would have it, our line had a stop at “Opera.”  It just so happened that Tracy had said before we left on this trip that she wanted to take a tour of the opera, so our mind was made up for us.

P1070645Napoleon III wanted an opera house built in the 1870s, and Charles Garnier was chosen as the architect. Although not originally called Palais (Opera) Garnier, to honor its architect’s work and design, that’s what’s it’s known as today.

P1070646Walking by the front of the opera house, a group of people was listening to a man channeling his inner Chopin at an outside piano. I was about to request Crocodile Rock (hey, it’s a classic), but Tracy whisked me away.

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The façade of the Opera was restored in the late 1990s.

P1070649There are beautiful sculptures and statues that adorn the sides of the building.

P1070651We walked quite a ways before entering the correct door, and once inside, it looked like the guided tour wasn’t going off for a greater length of time than we wanted to wait. However, the line for the audio guide was non-existent. In we went.

P1070654We passed by The Pythia, a work by the Duchess of Castiglione Colonna (who had to work under a male pseudonym), an acquaintance of Garnier.   Garnier liked the work, so it was placed under the Escalier Grande.

P1070656They don’t call it the Grand Staircase for nothing.

P1070657There are two large sculptures at the top. They are The Portal Of The Carytids, which represent Tragedy and Comedy, sort of like my trip reports…well, without the tragedy, and for many the comedy aspect is sorely lacking, also.

P1070659The ceiling above the Escalier Grande was painted by a military painter, Isidore-Alexandre-Pils, who was Garnier’s second choice, but who did a pretty good job don’t you think?

P1070664We stepped inside the auditorium….

P1070667..and were immediately dazzled by the incredible ceiling painted by Marc Chagall.

P1070669In the 1960s, the French Minister To Culture commissioned Chagall to paint the new ceiling.

P1070671Back in the hallway we passed Box #5 that had inscribed on it, “Loge Du Fantôme De L’Opéra.” Over-the-top organ music started playing in my head. Having fallen asleep twice during the play, I know it has something to do with an underground lake, a falling chandelier and some dude with a mask stalking a woman.  I was more of an Evita guy.

P1070672By the way, that large chandelier you saw in the auditorium at the Palace Garnier weighs approximately eight tons, so be careful.

Our audio guide tour continued, and there were quite a few beautiful tapestries along the way.

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Then we hit a room that should give one another reason to perhaps not schlep out to Versailles. The Grand Foyer at the Opera Garnier is nothing less than astounding.

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This room might have vaulted the Opera ahead of Versailles, the Hôtel de Ville and the Palais Luxembourg.

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Gorgeous paintings by Paul-Jacques-Aimé Baudry highlight this incredible room.

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Turn your head just a bit, and there you’ll find another beautiful ceiling and wall medallion. The only thing missing was an Aria rug.

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From his earliest sketches until completion of the Grand Foyer, I believe I remember this took about eight or nine years, however cough syrup has dulled many of my memories.

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Stepping outside the foyer, I looked down and there was Billy Joel Jr. still tickling the ivories for pedestrians walking by the opera house. “Give us a song, you’re the piano man.”

P1070689We walked by a painting that I had taken a picture of on our 2006 trip here, and for some reason I had to know what it was.

P1070695It turned out to be Henri Lucien Doucet’s painting of Celestine Galli-Marie, the mezzosoprano who created the role of Carmen.  It’s probably only knowledge worth knowing if you’re going to be on Jeopardy, but I felt better that my painting quest had been fulfilled.

P1070696Walking down some stairs, we ran into a few seated composers in the Grand Vestibule. I had a Handel on who the first guy was and a slight inkling about Rameau (iTunes can be your classical friend), but did not know about Gluck or Lulli.

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We bid Lulli “bye,” passed a pink tutu that Tracy wanted to buy for our female corgi (remember sleep deprivation can cause your mind to think weird thoughts)…

P1070699..and we circled the building one more time before departing…

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…while marveling at more of its marvelous exterior.

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As we left, Tracy wistfully took a photo of the Galleries Lafayette, knowing that her wish for shopping could be derailed by impending disease-doom at any moment. P1070700Right at this moment, however, I was feeling pretty good.

We took about a 45-minute nap, showered, and we were back on our way to meet a couple of people from the Fodor’s Travel Board that we had set up a wine hour with before departing for Paris.

P1070710We were off to a place called VIN et WHISKEY (place Monge 7) in the 5th arrondissement that they had recommended (with that name as a meeting spot we knew they were our kind of people).

I believe our metro stop was Cardinal Lemoine, and by the time I had walked all the steps to the street, I was in search of a cardinal, because I felt last rites might need to be administered…and I’m not even Catholic!

P1070708I asked Tracy to take out a few handy wipes for my face so our Fodor’s friends’ first impression of me was not one of utter fear. Tracy reminded me we had seen them a few days before, but I believe I had a slight case of the bends due to our rapid ascent up the 1,837 stairs (perhaps a slight exaggeration).

P1070709Kathy (KTtravel) and Paul were a delight to spend time with, and the folks at VIN et WHISKEY were great to us. We shared a platter of cold cuts and cheese that paired nicely with our bottle of wine that the woman at VIN et WHISKEY chose for us.  They were great to talk to, and the time flew by.

P1070707Around 6:30 we all went outside, and Paul showed me the skinniest building I had ever seen. I don’t even think a super model could fit in that end room.

P1070712After a few more minutes of walking around the neighborhood…

P1070711…Tracy and I bid farewell to Paul and Kathy and made our way to our dinner destination area… Montmartre.  Yes, sometimes I am logistically impaired when I make plans for the day.

We arrived at Chez Toinette before our scheduled reservation time, but our greeter said, “No problem.  It’s the people who show up late who annoy me.”

P1070722Chez Toinette is a very small, cute restaurant (maybe 14 tables) with a small staff. Our server was nice and helpful, but after about 90 minutes I think he was a bit overwhelmed when the place was jammed.

We were seated at a small (seems to be a theme here) table in the corner, and Tracy said, “I hope there’s not a fire.”  Maybe I better take Chicago Fire off her TV viewing habits list, too. It was, however, very hot in the restaurant.

P1070716Dinner here was excellent and certainly garners an “honorable mention” among our choices.

P1070720Tracy had two scallops on a bed of eggplant “caviar” to start and then sea bass with pesto and risotto.

P1070715Mr. Escargot started with you-know-what and then went for the canard with honey and rosemary. It was served with scalloped and mashed sweet potatoes. Both of our meals were delicious.

I then made an ordering faux pas. On the dessert menu were prunes. I harkened back to that delicious prune I tried earlier in the trip at Les Papilles. Thinking I was ordering something similar, I went for the prunes.

Instead out came a bowl of what looked like about 18 prunes (pits and all). Had I eaten them all, the trip report might have received quite an infusion of low brow humor (I guess it’s too late for that anyway).

As we chatted with a great soundtrack playing at just right decibel level in the background, I realized something not good was happening. I was talking, but nothing could be heard unless you were a dog. My voice was nearly completely gone. I started writing on a napkin to Tracy.

P1070726Dinner was just over 100 euros, and we stepped outside of the hot restaurant into a rather cool night.  That’s when the trip turned for the worse again…fast.

It was like a nor’easter (without the snow) hit me within two minutes because before you could say “Maybe we should have taken it easy one more day,” I had a case of the chills like I haven’t had since I was a kid.

We got on the metro, and I attempted to put on a happy face for the unsuspecting riders so they didn’t think I had the plague. Back at the apartment, the chills combined with the return of my nonstop cough kept me (and I’m afraid my beloved traveling companion) up for almost the entire night.

Our Viator Tour to Château Fontainebleau and Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte would now have to be cancelled, as would most of the following day.

The next two days would see us making sporadic moves out of the apartment, but the best two days in Paris would not go down as our finest hours on vacation.

NEXT: Days Ten & Eleven – Barely Hanging In There, The Late Afternoon Is A Little Rosier(s), Not Ricky St-Gervais, Yet Another Sleepless Night, Hédiard Herbs, Another Dinner With Friends Cancelled, Sorry I Threw That Cigarette On Your Shoe Monsieur & The Worst Dinner In Paris

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