Europe in review

Random crap that comes to mind

Leaving Chicago, Arriving in France

I love this place Chez Paul. I do not know what possessed me to order a hamburger. I don’t even eat them in restaurants in the US. Although possibly our adorable waitress who spoke perfect English inspired me. She did her semester abroad in…wait for it…Milwaukee!!! The hamburger came essentially raw, topped with essentially raw bacon on top and ESSENTIALLY RAW SALMON on the bottom, I discovered this after I’d eaten a few bites of it. I removed the bacon and salmon and choked down another bite or two. This was the only food that The Royal Indian Mounted Food Police and I did not share. I got sick after this. I’ll spare you the details but it went on and on and on and on. Possibly this is why I did not gain weight in Paris. I can tell you the location of every toilet between the Bastille and le Place de la Concorde.

This is the statue at the top of the Bastille a block or two from Chez Paul where this copy of lovely fellow, The Spirit of Freedom (indeed!), graced the counter above our table.

Fondation Louis Vuitton was the site of a spectacular exhibition of Impressionist paintings owned by the insanely wealthy Mozorov family in Russia. The insurance for this show cost $1,000,000,000. Seriously. The collection was amazing, chock-a-block (an expression I feel is not used as often as it ought to be) with stuff like this.

Unfortunately the reality of it was mostly this.

What I thought was truly amazing was the display of the process of the design and construction of this SPECTACULAR Frank Gehry building, if I can even call it that, structure, maybe. On the left is the maquette he presented to the design committee. It looks like someone emptied out their wastebasket after an upscale birthday party.

We took a brief detour to the fabulously glorious city of Bordeaux.

My view the entire way back to Paris on the train.

Back in Paris we had dinner, a pre-nuptial extravaganza at Le Train Bleu the glorious Belle Epoch restaurant in the Gare de Lyon. I had eaten there 10 years ago and while I loved the place, I recalled the food as iffy. The place is stunning, the food and service less so. We don’t recall exactly what the amuse bouche was but I don’t think my bouche was very amused by it. Our saltless food was delivered and we never saw the waiter again. Ever. I had lime curried monkfish—salt free, in tapioca. This is not a good idea, tapioca, in case you’re planning a menu like that. The dessert was good, if you like that sort of thing. It’s worth a trip to the bar. Don’t eat there. Bring your own salt shaker if you do. And for god’s sake, skip the tapioca.

One exciting thing I discovered at Le Train Bleu was that in the glorious mural on the ceiling was Hyéres, the town where I had my apartment. It was the termination of the Train Bleu line and a favorite resort area of the jet set, I suppose you’d call them train set, of the time.

Some puzzlements in Germany

Pflegeleicht, indeed. You figure it out if you’re so smart.

Copenhagen has a kind of peace that is not found in Paris or Berlin.

Germany, hither and tither

We met most days at Galeries Lafayette near Brandenburger Tor after work (He worked, I swanned about) for drinks in their wine bar with the unpleasant German bartender. Really I don’t know why we went there, you needed a flare to get his attention.

Last day. This is the spectacular National art gallery. The architect, Mies van der Rohe was in his 90s at the time. Apparently the largest collection of contemporary art in the world. Surprising since not that long ago they were burning contemporary art.

Bye bye Germany, bye bye husband

Mo’ Bordeaux

I have the idea that there is something sacred or holy about making the Camino de Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage. This is a walk that several people I know have done. But I thought it was a specific walk in Spain. It turns out that these walks are all over the place You can start in Russia if you want to. But maybe it is not even a pilgrimage. It’s a trek tho. From Bordeaux to Santiago de Compostela it is a 198 day walk. There is nothing holy about this to me. Well, yes, wholly insane. So I did my pilgrimage in Bordeaux. It was just a few blocks but I’m pretty sure I get the points. There are no real written rules that I am aware of, at least not ones handed down from St James, so, you know, it counts. There are various organizations, societies, clubs and legions to which you may attach yourself in some way, shape or form, the most common one was started in 1987. Mm hm, just sayin’

I’m happy with the French Card-Carrying Covid Club (valid in all EU countries) into which I’ve been inducted. There is a document of some sort you get at the end of the Camino but, again, I have my FCCCC document and that’s good enough for me.

Anyway this little clam shell dealio in the street is what makes it a part the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, so, you know, verified in my mind.

Oh Bordeaux

Such a fabulous place. As I understand it the architecture of Paris is based on the architecture of Bordeaux. And you can see it. In fact the whole place is stunningly beautiful and looks more like Paris than Paris does. And it does not have the billions of scooters, insanely crowded sidewalks and the hyper-commercialism of Paris. So gorgeous.

Le vaccin c’est ma bite

It had seemed to me that all of France was pretty sanguine about the vaccine and wearing of masks. Of course, I am not seeing French news which might be a clue as to the mood in France about such things, but no one seems to have to be aggressively forced to put on a mask before they enter into ANY venue at all (you must wear a mask in every store no matter it’s size).

And you cannot go into any restaurant or museum without a health QR code which you get when you get the vaccination. Restaurants are fierce about proving you’ve had it. You are stopped at every single door. I could not get even near the train to Bordeaux without showing my French QR code (insert tooth sucking noise) to get onto the platform.

Imagine my surprise in Bordeaux when I saw this imbecile’s car. Of course the spoiler on the back of this expensive Mercedes was sort of a clue to the workings of this guy’s mind, and we know it’s a guy because this literally means “The vaccine is my cock.” The side says, “Without mask, without hood.” In this case “capote” means condom. I hope to god he’s not breeding.

Resistance indeed, Mr Tough Guy.