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Kicking It: A month in Paris, Days 6-8

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal

Special to The Village News

Sunday, October 7, 2012: This sunny morning we stroll along the quay to the D’Orsay Museum. Once a train station, it now houses the great masters, along with several collections of delicate furniture saved through centuries, and an extensive assortment of larger-than-life stone sculptures.

Because it is the first Sunday of the month, it’s a free Museum Day across the city. Which is why when we line up at 9:00 a.m., about 100 people are already in que. By 10:00 a.m., when the doors open, it looks like another 500 people are here.

We take advantage of our wait by scouring through the museum pamphlet to map out our strategy. Impressionists are on the fifth floor, so unlike the masses, we make our way to the top to work our way down.

VJ and I have different viewing styles. He likes to read every word on each wall placard, while I scan the artist’s name and move on. Which is why we agree to meet at 13:00 at the restaurant for lunch. That said, even after reading every last artist’s wall-mounted plaque, we both finish early.

Waiting in line to be seated, I greet a young woman standing behind us and discover she is from Ashland, Oregon. We continue our visit when she is seated at the table next to ours. Predictably, VJ orders fish and chips, while Geri and I both order French onion soup. The restaurant is elegant and dripping with crystal chandeliers.

With full tummies, we take a second look at more of the displays on the ground floor and then wander back for fresh baguettes before climbing to the apartment. Phooey, I feel like a cold is coming on.

Monday, October 8, 2012: Filled with self-pity, I am greeted by the pharmacist who immediately recognizes my symptoms. In my best pidgin French, I share the details of my malady. The lady pharmacist is taking mercy on me because she sets out a few packets of a mystery flu-curbing medication for my la fievre along with separate tubes of cough syrup, not the traditional bottle. Then she adds some aspirin for the body aches associated with this ague.

Trudging back across the street and up these damnable stairs, I can hardly wait to crawl back into bed to feel sorry for myself for the remainder of the day.

Meanwhile, knowing I am down for the count, VJ goes exploring. Actually, he says he is going to find a wall plug for my computer. The idea is to avoid another meltdown like the Waterpik.

When he returns several hours later, he said he searched a few stores looking for a wall plug. Only I know in male speak – he went into one store that did not have a plug and from there possibly got directions to an internet café thinking they might sell plugs for computers. Not having any luck there, they in turn probably told him about another store, which is how he ended up catching the # 63 bus down Boulevard Saint Germain.

In his telling it goes like this, “I caught the #63 and rode it from one end of the line to the other.”

Before coming back to the apartment, bless his little heart, he did grab food for dinner and a couple of baguettes. After which, we settled in for the night playing gin rummy until bedtime.

Tuesday, October 9: Next morning, now that I’m feeling better, I’m rethinking VJ’s story about his ride on the #63 bus yesterday. It sounds suspicious. Actually, what I believe happened is he went into one store that didn’t have a wall plug and was redirected to the place that might.

True to form, VJ boarded the #63 bus headed in the wrong direction. Of course, he wouldn’t know that until it got to the end of the line which then forced him to catch the same bus back to rue de Bac.

Why would I challenge his story? First, because I know him. Points in my favor, he is too embarrassed to speak bad French coupled with his hearing loss; it is nigh impossible for him to sort through English words spoken with a strong French accent. It is just my hypothesis, but it’s his story and he’s sticking to it.

It’s early, so after breakfast, my cold and I crawl back in bed just as VJ tippy toes down to do some more exploring on foot.

Over dinner he recreates his day sharing his adventure on the lle de la Cite just in front of Notre Dame. After crisscrossing the island a few times, walking across the Pont Neuf bridge, and hours later, he finally makes it to familiar ground. Over dinner we agree that getting lost in Paris is a new skillset.

To be continued…

Elizabeth can be reached at [email protected].

 

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