Paris, Day 1:
There’s two types of travellers in this world: those that bring a fox-shaped toothbrush head cover and those that don’t. It’s mentioned nowhere in the Rick Steves’ guidebook, but a whimsical toothbrush head cover puts everything in perspective. For instance, when we hit rough air over Greenland, I thought, “Well, if this 757 smacks into the Arctic Ocean, at least some stoic Icelandic Search-and-Rescue member will get a smile out of my cheery, fox-shaped toothbrush cover bobbing among the flaming wreckage.” It’s thoughts like these that keep me going when things get rough.
I’ve made it, alive, to the Hotel Bosquet here in the 7th. I mention the “alive” part because some poor bugger jaywalking across Rue Tocqueville today had far less luck and ended up in the middle of the street and quite the polar opposite of alive. Such a sight would draw a crowd in America, but here in Paris, barely a shrug was given. Vive l’difference.
Speaking of Rues, apparently no one gave Marcon the memo no real French people inhabit the Rue Cler because he lives at the end of it. A delightful collection of heavily armed police and special forces now block his part of the street and woe to anyone carrying a blue-and-yellow book who “bonjours” them looking for directions. Some people have no sense of humor and they’re generally highly-trained machine-gun toting men in body armor. You have been warned.
Speaking of Rick Steve’s guidebooks, since we’re speaking of speaking of, I met a lovely young couple, while being crammed into the cattle chute that is the loading ramp at KEF, on their way to Paris for their first time. They spotted my Paris 2015 guidebook and told me they’re received a more recent edition as a gift for their trip. We were then herded on to a bus and dropped in the middle of Iceland where we had to fight our way through waves of Polar Bears to reach our plane. Not really, but being herded on to and off of busses after being stuck in an airplane for 7 hours seemed kinda low-rent. Whine, whine, whine.
The Rodin Museum: Not to be confused with the Rodan Museum, which is dedicated to a giant rubber Japanese monster. The museum highlights the fact that Rodin was a prolific son-of-a-gun, knocking out paintings, sculptures, and various other knick-knacks that folks bought in droves. Highlight of the museum is giant set of metal doors titled “The Gates of Hell”. Were I stupid rich, I’d install these as the door to my mansion. Not that I’d want to show off my great wealth, but I’d like to give the Mormons something to think about when they come knocking. Topping the gates is the famous figure of The Thinker, that pensive, ruminating figure who either represents man’s quest for reason in suffering, or the need for a good laxative following the “Plat du 8 fromages”.
(Incidentally, I found that museum in an oddly Parisian way: while looking at my map, a distinguished older gentleman walked up, and in gently-accented English, asked where I wanted to go. I explained I wanted to see the famous Rodan Museum, and he correct (gently) my terrible pronunciation, then walked with my wife and I for a few blocks to set me on the right course. He gave me his card, which explained he was a mathematician. He then thanked US for visiting Paris and sweetly bid us adieu. What a wonderful re-introduction to what Paris can be once you stop thinking every Tom, Dick and Henri is a scam artist.)
Now it’s night in the City of Lights and the cafes on Rue Cler are humming, the patrons apparently on the same mailing list as Macron -- the unknowing fools! I just spent 98 euros on one of the best meals I’ve had in my life, complete with a pot of wine and cheese that was so rank it drew whispered comments from the couple at the next table (Le P’tit Torquet on Rue de l’Exposition, should you be curious). For the princely sum of $3,000, Paris is mine for nine days. And you're along for the ride!