After lying awake for some time because of pain in my ear, at 5:30am I took a painkiller. I must remember to go to a pharmacy to buy more. 20 minutes later, the pain has subsided somewhat so perhaps I can get a little sleep yet before it is time to get up and start the day.
The day, incidentally, is my birthday, and this trip was intended as a special one to mark a “landmark” age. It is a pity for me that this ear business threatens to spoil the trip and a pity for you too, dear reader, as hearing about my health problems is boring and threatens to spoil your enjoyment of this account.
For this reason, I will not mention my ear troubles further unless there is any change of condition or related event that deserves to be noted. I am sure that you “get the picture”, and do not need to be reminded of it at every turn.
The last stabbings of pain have now melted away (it is not until you are ill that you realize what a boon good health is) and I will try to doze off for a while and will take up the narrative again in due course.
It had rained during the night, making it cooler. Paris time is an hour ahead of us, so it’s like adjusting to summer time at the wrong time of year.
The people in this area seem very argumentative and there is a lot of shouting in the street, especially at night. It was too warm in the room when we went to bed so we had the window open, reducing insulation from the shouting.
We had our first hotel breakfast this morning: juice, bread, croissant, butter and jam, coffee.
French coffee has always been my favourite. When I used to come to France frequently, one of the first things I would do was go to a cafe and order a coffee. Back in England I would dream of French coffee in those thick green and gold cups.
I would buy French coffee beans and take them back to London but it was never the same. French coffee had to be drunk in France.
French coffee seems to have changed – or is it that Parisian coffee is different from what I am used to elsewhere? They serve it in tiny cups like thimbles and call it “Café express”. It is so strong that I wince nearly every time I drink it. Maybe I should start ordering café allongé.
Nonetheless, we drank a lot of coffee, so I must be getting used to it.
The rest of the day is hard to describe in any narrative form as we spent it going aroung on the tour buses (the green and yellow routes), getting off here and there and going rambling on our own account.
Some of the places we visited were Porte St Martin, Porte St Denis L’Opéra, La Madeleine, La Comédie Française, Montmartre and Le Moulin Rouge. We got off the bus in the Champs Élysées because Tigger spotted a Virgin Megastore there and wanted to buy some DVDs about Paris.
We decided while we were there to have lunch, which was probably a bad idea as it’s an expensive area. We chose Pizza Pino, an Italian restaurant (as you might guess from the name). The food was reasonable but the service slow and glum.
We discovered some more interesting back streets which we explored with pleasure noting their names for future reference. Oh yes, and we found a Starbuck’s! – one of many in the city. (Who said Starbuck’s wouldn’t survive in Paris?)
Finding ourselves back at the Louvre we planned to take the tour bus to as near to our hotel as possible only to find that the service was ending for the day. We thus began a long and leisurely walk back, stopping to look at, and perhaps photograph, anything we found of interest on the way.
Using the map she had recorded on her phone, Tigger guided us impeccably until we had enough of walking and so waited for a number 65 bus which took us the rest of the way.
Back in the room (which is again very warm, requiring us to keep the window open), we made tea and went over the days events.
As our tour bus tickets are valid for two consecutive days, we plan to spend part of tomorrow riding the tour buses on the blue and orange routes.
On the way home we picked up two free newspapers, not so much to read as to use on the tour buses. How? Well, some of the buses have padded seats covered with plastic material. This gets cracked or slit and on the open top deck the sponge filling absorbs rain and any other available wetness. When you sit down, this squeezes out the moisture and you end up with a wet bottom. We hope that sitting on newpapers will go some way to alleviating the problem.
We saw that there is soon to be an exhibition entitled “Soldats de l’Eternité” (Soldiers of Eternity) which are better known to us as the Chinese Terra Cotta Army.