08 May 2011

Europe Days 3-5, Still in Paris

Day 3

Sunday was a restful day, sort of.  It's Labor Day here, but as our concierge told us, that's a "light holiday" in France - no special festivities or cook-outs.  We started late with brunch at one of our favorite hang-outs, Cafe Vito.  I had orange raisin bread, baguette, butter, and jam.  Tom had a soft-boiled egg.  Nothing about which to get excited, but it served its purpose.

We spent the afternoon at Pere Lachaise cemetery, home to Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Chopin, Collett, and thousands more.  In addition to Montmarte, this has to be one of the hilliest parts of Paris.  We ended our tour in the section with many monuments to the many thousands of French Jews who were Nazi victims.  We study this stuff in world history in high school, but seeing these monuments and memorials really hits it home.  Don't miss the pics on my "The pictures" section.

Day 4

Today's agenda:  A day at the opera.  Or at least a visit to the famed Opera Garnier.  You may have heard of the phantom.  (Never mind that its author is an Englishman.)  We suspected that one of the escapees from Pere Lachaise cemetery was probably the phantom.  The opera house itself is pretty, but most of the lobby was closed.  We got to peek into the theatre from one of the balconies, but we were pretty disappointed with the visit.  At least the queue was short.

We decided on an impromptu dinner in the Marais -- we'd just amble about until we saw a place that looked good.  Bad idea.  9:30 PM and everything that looked good was packed.  Finally, on the far-east side of the Marais, almost to Bastille, we came across a cool-looking spot with a couple of open tables.  We're in!  I had not had my foie gras fix for the day, and the only thing on the limited carte (menu) with foie gras was a salad.  No kidding.  Foie gras salad.  It was interesting, and really pretty good.  It reminded me (in concept, not flavor) of when I was in Australia and had fettucini with chicken livers and cream.  I never would have put those two together, either, but each worked pretty well.

Apparently, the salad threw me for a loop and I lost my sense of direction.  We headed on foot back to the hotel, or so we thought.  As we got into sections of town we had never seen, I figured I'd better pull out the 'Pad to see where we were.  It oriented us, and we headed in the other direction.  Or so we thought.  After five more minutes, so no recognizable sights.  I fired up the 'Pad again, and we were even further away.  Yikes.  TAXI!  We were back at the hotel shortly.
Oh...  16,212 steps today.  These dogs were tired!

Day 5

After so much walking yesterday, we slept in.  Our Fodor's guide suggested a Taiwanese dim sum spot for lunch.  So after showers, we headed out for Zen Zoo.    How did we navigate before our devices and GPS?  Zen Zoo was hardly dim sum -- more bento box than bite-size Taiwanese -- but delightful nonetheless.

We spent the rest of the afternoon at the laundromat.  Actually, the laundromat was in the Marais, so after depositing the dirty clothes in the washer, we ambled some more.  Since we've had automatic dryers my entire adult life, we were not good estimators of how long things took to dry.  Thirty minutes?  YIKES, that industrial dryer must be powerful.  I bet 10 minutes would have done the trick.

For dinner, as is our tradition when we travel, we returned to our favorite spot of the trip -- Le Hangar.  And it was on this night that I reached gastronomic orgasm -- foie gras soup.  It was a creamy mushroom-based puree from heaven topped with 3 or 4 bites of the best goose liver this side of France.  Oh wait...  We ARE in France.  My main course of seared scallops was sumptuous as well, but I don't think that soup will ever be toppled from my gastronomic pyramid.

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