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Monday, August 17, 2009
Pt.5 First Date in Paris - the Grocery Store
Story begins here: Part One. This account was written in 1998 on our return from a 2-week vacation in France.
You know it's going to be a short day when you don't get out of bed until after 5 pm. The Nikko Hotel Accommodations Day 2 of the vacation, Thursday afternoon /evening had officially begun. Joyce woke up, and took a shower — they had shower caps, and a little washline that hung over the bathtub. The hotel room, now that there was a chance to look at it without falling over, was very comfortable. One wall was covered with plush maroon velvet. The crown molding around the ceiling, and wood moldings around the doors and windows gave the feeling of an old-time luxury hotel. The picture windows looked out on an endless vista of Paris — we could see no end to it. There were two or three other hotels visible from the windows — 27th floor to 27th floor. Another building, labeled “CLF” was an all-glass structure. On one side, a three-block-long plaza was divided into tennis courts, a running track, and a walkway alternating brick and stone diamond patterns, that looked like it was built to enhance the aerial view. Through the other window, we could see a shopping complex, labelled “Beau de Grenelle”. Everything was named after “Grenelle”, and like typical ugly Americans, we never asked “Who was Grenelle, and why are they naming all this stuff after him?” Somewhere under all these stone plazas, ran Rue Linois.
I explored the room while I was waiting. Windows could be blocked by a scrim curtain, or heavy blackout drapes. There was an indirect lamp, with variable dimmer. A round coffee table made of chrome and 1/2" thick glass stood between the two low-back lounge chairs. A radio mounted into the end table offered five different channels of music, all in French. There was jazz, a pop channel, alternating with French “Chansons”, classical, and a rock channel, circa 1980s. Television channels appeared to be “pay only”, so we left that alone for the time being. I was thirsty — the lukewarm Paris water was just not “doing it”.
Paradise - for a Brief Moment A large writing desk, stationery in the drawer, and a cupboard door. I opened it — there was a refrigerator in there, stocked with beverages! There was Diet Pepsi! Iced Tea, Bottled water, Beer, mineral water, Coca Cola, Tonic Water. And BOOZE! There was Beefeater Gin for Joyce, Johnny Walker Scotch for Gary (Black Label, of course) also, wine, cognac, and rum. Unable to believe our eyes — we were about to party down, when I found a blue writing pad on the top shelf. — explaining how much it would cost us to re-stock the fridge — Johnny Walker 63f ($12.00 for one stinking OUNCE) — Coca Cola — 33f ($6.00 for one magical can). Well, after that brief elation, we were back on the ground again, kicking each other in the ass. Did we really think that something kind would happen to us in France? I told Joyce, wait — there are low prices and kind faces over at the Monoprix. Let’s go.
Monoprix - At Last We Feel Welcome We walked back to the Monoprix, it was now the last hour of daylight. Joyce was delighted with the Monoprix — we decided to get some fruits for breakfast, and the more she looked, we decided to get something for supper and eat in the room — as long as we had such a convenient refrigerator. Surely Mr. Nikko wouldn’t mind if we moved over his expensive beverages to store our food in the refrigerator. We got some cheese, packaged swiss, but it was French-made — the stuff in the bulk counter just seemed a little too — cheesy — for the way we felt. We got a little tub of butter, some nectarines, some chocolate with noirsettes, some apricot cookies, and some bottled water — it seems after sweating for twelve hours that our bodies craved some moisture. Joyce was sorry that we had no way to try some of the fabulous seafood.
We figured that the sumptuous French cooking on the upcoming cruise would make us long for the simplicity of these bread, butter and cheese meals. And, we got a 9-franc bottle of French table wine. ($1.80) We checked out the groceries, and went to the bakery counter. They were about to close, so the selection was limited. We saw somebody ordering a hunk of bread, so we pointed to that, and motioned how much we wanted. It was originally a bread about the size of a manhole cover, about 4 inches thick. The clerk hacked off a hunk of it, about a pound, and put it through the slicer.
We went upstairs to the department store. We looked for a power adapter for Joyce’s coffeepot, so she could make her own tea, and not have to pay who-knows what plus tips to hotel room service. The tips would hurt the most. We didn’t find the power adaptor — there were many different fittings and extension cords, but none for converting the 220v power to 110v — because I forgot to buy one in the United States. Joyce looked briefly at clothing, and miscellaneous cosmetics, etc., and then we headed back to the hotel. We stopped at the Shell station on the way home, because we forgot to get the plastic knives, and didn’t want to hassle with that simpy little concierge for a lousy butter knife.
Dinner at the Nikko Hotel It was good. We opened the cheap French wine - it was real good. We remembered the corkscrew — came in handy to open up the $1.80 bottle of French table wine. That wine was as good as a $10 bottle stateside. Had another. It was just bread, butter and cheese. It was the best bread ever — crispy crust on top, and that real, chewy crust, from prying it off the of the bottom of the oven. The inside was really wholesome, chewy whole-wheat, perfect texture. Butter - Real Butter. And the Swiss cheese — great flavor, like Wisconsin cheese. It was good, hardly room for dessert - cookies and chocolate. Listening to the French music over the radio, and looking out over the lights of the City of Lights — It just doesn’t get any better than this. We had another glass of wine. We got sleepy — it had been a short six-hour mini-day. That’s enough. Joyce was getting ready for bed in her favorite bathroom, and, seeing no further use for the wine on future days — we didn’t want to carry that around with us — I swigged down the rest. We slept REAL GOOD.
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