Day Ten – Barely Hanging In There, The Late Afternoon Is A Little Rosier(s) and Not Ricky St-Gervais
This turned out to be our worst full day in Paris (you’ll notice I didn’t say it was “THE worst day of the trip,” because that didn’t happen for a couple of more days).
First of all, I was up all night. Unfortunately, unlike home where I can be banished to all corners of the house, a small apartment afforded Tracy no respite from my coughing onslaught. On Wednesday morning, instead of a sight for sore eyes, we were a sight with sore eyes.
My temperature was up, and the coughing was non-stop (which reminded us to check the iPad, and our Saturday flight was still on schedule and not yet affected by the strike). The cough became so persistent that at one point we were attempting to find nearby hospitals just in case I needed a breathing treatment.
We spent the entire day in the apartment. Tracy only left to accumulate more medical supplies and a jambon/fromage sandwich from the corner pâtissière. As the afternoon dragged on, the fever once more returned to near normal, so at about 4 p.m., we ventured outside for a little bit.
We headed down the Rue des Rosiers, the center of the Jewish quarter. The Rue de Rosiers was packed with people. There was a good reason…it was September 24th, and at sundown Rosh Hashanah would begin.
Then we passed the old Chez Jo Goldenberg, a restaurant we had learned about back in 2006 (above) when we were on the walking tour with our guide Michael Osman. In 1982, six people were killed inside when attackers opened machine gun fire and threw grenades inside the restaurant.
(Update: Just a few days ago, a judge in France issued arrest warrants against three men who are believed to have been part of a Palestinian terrorist group who are suspected in taking part in the Goldenberg attack.) The restaurant closed in 2006, and today it’s a fashion store. We walked by a memorial on the outside of a building that was dedicated to the memory of the director, personnel and students of a school located here who had been arrested during World War II by the Vichy Police and the Gestapo. They were taken to Auschwitz concentration camp and killed.
We continued on…
Turning a corner, I saw an old familiar face in a rather peculiar place. There was Santa Claus. For a moment I blamed the cough syrup, but once again Tracy assured me I wasn’t seeing things.
I was weakening, but you know the old saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough eat gelato.” We had been told that Pozzetto was better than Berthillon, so, of course, even in a diminished capacity, I needed to find out.
The first thing we found out is that the person working at Pozzetto could barely get off his ass to take our order since he was busy conversing and laughing with his buddies. Maybe he was the brother of the grocery store slacker clerk. “Hell, I can get crappy service like this in L.A.,” I told Tracy. Yes, my mood was not at its highest pinnacle on this day, so patience was entirely out of the question. The gelato (coffee/vanilla and chocolate chip) was good (once finally served), but not stupendous.
A short distance away was Église St-Gervais-et-St-Protais, which has been around since the 16th century.
The church was damaged in World War I when a shell from a long range German weapon known as a “Paris Gun” hit it, killing 88 people.
We walked around the inside for a bit, but the handwriting was on the wall, because I was leaning against it. I was done. Tracy went to our nearby pâtissière for provisions.
Tomorrow, we had plans to rendezvous with friends (former neighbors who we had not seen in years) for dinner. I would get out of the apartment earlier, but sadly by dinnertime I was in no shape to see or converse with anyone, which led to one of the worst meals we’ve ever experienced in Paris.
Day Eleven – 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
If you thought yesterday was exciting, my condolences. Today would be no better.
By sunrise, I had basically gone about 48 hours without sleep, except for a couple of times when my body shut down for about ten minutes. I could have had a guest-starring role in The Walking Dead.
We seriously considered the hospital on this morning, but I somehow fell asleep for nearly three hours.
Although all other shopping had been postponed due to illness, Tracy would not be denied her #1 quest when she comes to Paris…buying the Herbes de Provence at Hédiard. She pretty much puts those herbs in every dish we cook.
Tracy actually wiped out the entire supply of Herbes de Provence that Hédiard had left.
As Tracy bought her herbs, I just wandered around scoping out their fresh fruits and veggies, plus lots of kitchen stuff.
It was a shopping success!
If comfort food is good for a cold, then the French Onion Soup and frites did as good as they could, but I was fading again…quickly…so we walked to the metro to head home.
Back at the apartment, we checked online and our flight to Los Angeles was still scheduled for Saturday morning. I thought that if we relaxed the rest of the day and evening and then went out for a quick dinner, I might be able to rally tomorrow to at least see a few last sights before departing.
About 7 o’clock we left the apartment and walked over to the Place des Vosges. Looking at the photo, I can’t believe I looked as good as I did (for an old guy), because I was incredibly tired. Then I made a really stupid decision.
Instead of looking around for a decent place to eat, we selected an empty outside table at a restaurant with no other table very close to it. Not only could I avoid infecting anyone but I figured no smokers would be nearby to exacerbate my already weakened lung condition.
The closest table to us had to be six to eight feet away. Sitting there was a single woman (well, she might have been married, but she was there alone). She was smoking, but far enough away that I couldn’t smell anything. Of course, I barely had any sense of smell anyway.
As we were ordering, the woman, not paying attention to anything but her extremely long phone call, tossed her cigarette. As far as cigarette tosses goes, this might have set the record. The remaining butt actually landed on my shoe, and settled right next to my foot.
I looked over at her, and she was momentarily oblivious to her lack of restaurant etiquette. A few seconds late, she did see where she had tossed the cigarette, and to her credit, she did apologize.
Sadly, her Herculean cigarette throw turned out to be the highlight of the meal. I had a less than satisfactory steak with Bearnaise sauce (good frites again though) while Tracy started with a not-so-tasty cucumber and green bean salad, and then a pretty poor lentils with ham main course.
My only solace was that I felt just a tad better, and, maybe, with a little sleep, our final full day in Paris could be better. We quickly put the air conditioner on to drown out Stairwell To Heaven by Dennis. Eat your heart out Robert Plant!
Tracy and I had lunch planned at Chez Fernand (our traditional last lunch stop) and dinner reservations had been set up at L’Ange 20. If we paced ourselves, maybe we could see a couple of more things in between.
As my head hit the pillow, I was psyching myself up to make our last day in Paris as enjoyable as possible under these less than ideal circumstances. It seemed like that could become a reality…that is until I received an email at 4:30 in the morning that would set the wheels in motion for 36 hours that seemed to last an eternity.
Next: DAY TWELVE – Strike Two, The Disconnect, Confirmed, I Go Hugo We Go, Goodbye Mickey, Is There A Doctor In The Queue, Confirmed My Ass, Tracy Plays Her Cards, The Waiting Game, “You’re On”, Dead Man Running, Tracy Gets Us In A Little Jam, Tracy The Sherpa Returns, The Passenger You Want To Kill, Bad News From The Finger Puppet, Breath Of Fresh Air, Is There A Doctor On The Plane, The iEKG, Over My Dead Body, Home Not Sweet Home and Strike Three…I’m Out!