Paris, Wednesday, September 22, 2011
The check-in process at RDU was rapid and easy, the two-hour wait for departure was quiet and comfortable - no background music and the CNN TV loudspeakers were relatively quiet. The trip on Delta from RDU to ATL left a few minutes ahead of schedule and arrived in ATL ahead of schedule. The wheel chair for Colette arrived quickly and we were off from terminal B to Terminal E at a dead run. We were among the first passengers in the large and uninspired waiting room, no nearby coffee or food available, and again the almost two hour wait was relatively comfortable. We asked for pre-board so when the departure was announced we were the first to board and to get settled before the crowd arrived.
Our seats were two abreast just behind an emergency exit - row 22 F & G, and the toilets were just ahead. By one row. As the passengers came onboard the cabin crew turned on the music, ghastly noise in a minor key sung by woman with no voice to speak of in a minor key. We complained to the flight attendant who said “other don’t mind it.” The passenger next to us, in front of us and behind called out in chorus “We don’t like it.”
The flight was scheduled to leave at 8:35 PM, and we left about 10 or 15 minutes before that. When cruising speed reached dinner was served followed by the drinks. The dinner was approximately the same as the last trip we had on Delta, a choice of chicken or pasta. Not bad, uninspired but it was hot.
In-flight TV was too far away to be seen, so Colette curled up and went to sleep, I read a little then pulled on a mask and also fell asleep. Eventually breakfast was served, an egg scrambled with cheese and green pepper, very well warmed, but not very good. We landed at Charles de Gaulle 40 minutes ahead of schedule it took more than 10 minutes on the ground before the plane was parked at its gate, and, again, Colette’s wheel chair was waiting at the door of the airplane. Our pusher loaded Colette’s little wheeled overnight case under the chair, Colette took my shoulder bag with the laptop in it on her lap, and off we went.
For once we were relatively close to the central terminal, our luggage arrived, oh happiness! Among the first, and the wheel pusher had us in a taxi and on our way at 12 noon instead of 12:30 PM or 1 PM as we had expected. Traffic into Paris was relatively light and we were at the apartment in about 40 minutes and Euros 50.
Saturday, September 25, 2011
Since our arrival on Wednesday the excitement in our lives on our return to Paris includes housecleaning, TV, cell phones, laptop WIFI and a dishwasher. The housecleaning is a result of the renovation work going on in the apartment above us. It is owned by a little old lady who permitted her big, fat, unpleasant movie projectionist son to live there with who ever was his current live in girl friend. Our early problems with him when we moved in in 1998 was the volume of rock and roll and his then girl friend who vacuumed at midnight wearing what sounded like high heeled shoes and an occasionally barking dog. As these problems diminished as Colette harassed them into turning down the volume, quieting the dog, changing girl friends (the new one continued vacuuming at midnight wearing high-heeled shoes) new ones developed - more serious ones. A leak developed in his kitchen that he refused to have corrected. The property management company was ineffective in its intervention and the leak became more pervasive. Eventually part of the kitchen and bathroom ceiling began falling and rot developed in the beams.
One of the important charms of our little apartment is the beams. When the building was built - and we do not know where, the beams were hand carved from hardwood trees with dulls cutting instruments and they show it. As a result of the water damage one had to be replaced. The mother evidently decided that sonny should fend for himself and he was relocated (with girl friend) and the mother has let a contract to modernize the apartment and to sell it. A lot of the work involves drilling something and, as result, bits and pieces of the century’s old plaster ceiling showers down into the three room. On top of that problem major plumbing work was done in the courtyard this last winter. Happily we were not here! The original plumbing under the court yard, probably dating from mid-1800’s, had to be dug up and replaced and this involved cutting a channel through the cement paving. Our friend and neighbor was kind enough to do an initial cleaning up of our apartment with our little vacuum broom. From his description it was not comparable to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the dust fall on Pompeii and Herculaneum but it was significant. Even after the valiant efforts of Ricardo there is still plenty of dust for us to play with and to keep us from doing other more important things, like resting from the trip.
The TV does not work. It took passive detective work to learn that Paris has been rewired and if you do not have cable - we did not - we need a little black box. This was not easy and involved a visit to a nearby Darty, theFrench equivalent to Lowe’s without lumber and with electronics where our problem got no sympathy whatsoever. I took our friendly bus 75 to one of our favorite stores, Bazaar de l’Hotel de Ville, VHV to the initiated, escalators to the 5th floor where, after three interviews with reasonably sympathetic sales persons I learned that what we needed was alternate TNT. Sorry, we don’t have any and none are expected until next week, perhaps, try another store such as Darty or FNAC. Darty was out of the question so I went to FNAC is the Forum. This involved taking the escalator down 5 flights, three blocks on the Rue de Rivoli, then a right-hand turn and about 4 blocks through throngs of tourists to the Art Deco area of Le Forum which is now being torn down.
Into the Forum, underground, I found FNAC where every teenager of Paris was buying CD’s. After inquiries and another escalator ride up one floor I found the TV show area where the first inquiry lead to a second, and the second inquiry lead back to the first, an Alternate TNT was located, Euro 24. By this time my aged back was aching. I found my way out, not easy, located an exit sign and followed it to fresh air and sunshine. I passed the Beaubourg Museum, crossed rue de Beaubourg, another block to rue du Temple where I was beckoned by a friendly café where I collapsed and order a glass of red wine (Rhone) to rest.
After a glass of wine I thought I could manage the walk home and I found my way to the apartment 30 minutes later.
Now to install the Alternate TNT. It was easy, the directions were clear, and the TV still does not function. Unhappily there is no little shop where such things can be repaired!
The dishwasher has to have a visit by a qualified mechanical psychotherapist as after prolonged absence, it will not work. It has to have it front removed, various pieces pulled and pushed before it will work again. So we wash by hand.
The Paris-wide free WIFI is still in place but I cannot get into it and I can’t find anyone to help. I have renewed my membership in Espace Public Nurmerique (EPN) but the person I need to see is not there. So I cannot use my laptop in the apartment, and the EN is opened only during the week, so week-ends I am forced to come to the nearest café, the Café Leopard, and spend Euro 5.20 for a glass of red wine, and use its WIFI. The drawback here is the Paris addition to really awful American music but I have found a corner where it is less loud.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
First impressions after an absence of 10 months are the visible numbers of what appears to be public works programs. Driving in from the airport we passed a wonderful little park, our first sight of Paris and traffic jams. However at lunch time the traffic is not as bad as during the early hours of the morning commute. But at the cross streets traffic moves slowly and to the right a corner of the park has become a heavy equipment depot and supply center. Large earth moving machines and stack of long and big pipe that are destined boo be buried in the appropriate holes at regular intervals around which traffic winds its way. The sewage system of Paris is entering at least is second century of use and it is now being replaced. 20 minutes later we are circling the Place de la Republique and then into rue du Temple and a right in to rue de N.D. de Nazareth and home.
No public works programs here but later I walk back to the Place de la Republique to get my cell phone turned on and find that along the side walk wide and deep ditches reveal large cables, small cables, mostly black and large diameter orange ones that are a common conduit for many smaller cables.
I watched in wonder as the operator of a small backhoe picked up a very large sack by one tang of his fork to open the mouth of the huge sack wider. Here dirt is not piled on the side of the hole, it is put in these big sacks and carried off somewhere for storage.
Monday, September 26, 2011
The week-end went quickly. Saturday afternoon I took my laptop to the Café Leonard and wrote the above and drank a glass of red (Rhone) wine. Colette had purchase a frozen dinner at Mr. Picard’s shop (one of more than 200 spread across France) so preparing dinner was evening. We still do not have television so I read a mystery set in the Renaissance in Rome and Colette looked at back copies of Antiquaties.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
After breakfast I pulled out the 2007 Paris yellow pages looked for Television, Arrondisement 3, and found a repair person. First number dialed had been discontinued, and second number had an answer. We discussed my problem and he man seemed to understand what our problem is, we fixed a time for this afternoon, cost of the house call (E35), and we hope that the situation will be resolved.