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27 July 2003

As I mentioned in an earlier journal entry, with no work to go to every day, and no work sitting here waiting for me to do every day, I have become obsessed with Fotolog. I've been taking pictures for Fotolog, and scanning photos for Fotolog, and checking out other people's pictures on Fotolog. When I did my massive clean-up yesterday, I came across a box of old photos I'd forgotten about, so it allowed me to scan some and post to Showbiz, Water, Spans, Weddings, and my own fotolog site.

I'm not an exhibitionist in real life, but I do play one on the Internet...

In going through some of the old photos, I found pictures of our trip to Paris in 1996. What a fun whirlwind day that was.

We were staying in London and decided to go with our friend Sian and her friend Ann and take the Chunnel under the English Channel and into Paris. It was my first time in a non-English speaking country and I was wondering how much my long-unused French would come back. (I was a French major, so I was hopeful that I could at least make myself somewhat understood.)

We began the day at the only logical place: the internet cafe in the Pompidou Center (Well, we did first ride the escalator up to the observation deck and take pictures of the city...

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...but then we went to the internet cafe). We all had to send messages, just to say we had sent messages from Paris. The thing was that the keyboard was French. I knew that there were Japanese keyboard and Chinese keyboards, and I'm sure other keyboards that use different ways of writing, but it never occurred to me that there would be a French keyboard. Nothing seemed to be where it should be and we had to get the attendant to switch it over to an English keyboard. (We completed that transaction in English, I think).

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Next was buying stamps. We hadn't really seen anything in Paris yet, but I was already prepared to send post cards (unaware that postcards, as well as everything else in Paris, were atronomically expensive). In halting French I managed to buy a few stamps.

Finally we were out on the town, map(s) in hand, and the unerring direction of Walt and Sian to get us where we wanted to go.

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(a split second before I snapped this picture, Sian was pointing in the opposite direction)


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We first went to Notre Dame cathedral, and were disappointed to discover that (a) it was closed for 2 hrs, and (b) it was covered in scaffolding.  When we returned later, and were able to go in, I was still disappointed.  Accustomed to the cathedrals of England and Ireland, I was unprepared for how dark Notre Dame is--black walls from centuries of dirt.  Also, the crowd was so thick it was like trying to get through rush hour on the subway.

When we left, we discovered there was not even a gift shop--you had to line up at a window and point to things you might like to purchase.

We went to the Eiffel Tower where we had a beautiful, clear day to get a city view.   But when we started to return to the ground, there was a mixup in communication.  I wanted to go to the second level to catch the elevator.  Sian and Ann thought I meant I wanted to walk down to the bottom, so they took off like a shot down the stairs. 

How hard can it be to go downstairs?  Very!   By the time we'd finished going down all of these switchbacks to the bottom, we all felt like death warmed over--and I think Sian and I wanted to kill each other (until we compared notes and discovered the misinterpretation!

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We enjoyed the rest of our day, which included ordering a late lunch in a little bakery (everything else was closed).  I wasn't exactly fluent, but I did manage to get what I ordered. As evening approached, we headed to Monmartre.  By this time I had hit the wall, as had Sian, so she and I waited at the bottom of the famous steps to SacreCoeur, while Walt and Ann climbed up the the church. 

By the time they returned, we had no time for a "dinner" per se, but only a quick snack and a rush back to the train.  Here we were in the gastronomic capital of the world, the place famed for sidewalk cafes and where did we end up?  McDonald's.

Well, I figured that going to Paris and eating at McDonald's was unique enough.  While Walt and the others were looking at the menu and ordering our food, I stood back to snap a photo. 

When the flash went off, the manager's head jerked up and he began pointing and shouting, people started heading angrily in my direction and I quickly put the camera away, shouted an apology and quickly exited the restaurant. 

We decided that it was probably the hangout for international spies and someone thought I was the police or something.  I halfway expected Interpol to be chasing me back to the Chunnel train.  I also expect to be stopped at the border if I ever enter France again.  I'm sure my photo is posted on all McDonald's around the country.


What do you think spies are: priests, saints and martyrs? They're a squalid procession of vain fools, traitors too, yes; pansies, sadists and drunkards, people who play cowboys and Indians to brighten their rotten lives."

- 1963, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, John le Carré

Yesterday's Photo

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Infamous hamburger afraid; be very afraid

For more photos, please visit My Fotolog and My FoodLog

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