Saturday, November 2, 2013
My de Feet in Paris
Notes from Paris -
The weather has been superb. It is, according to locals, Indian summer. Except they never have Indian summers. Until this year. Mornings are overcast, but the sun shines by late morning. Everyone sheds coats and enjoys the balmy weather. Evenings remain warm.
My feet hurt. Or more accurately my thighs, residual pain from a stupid fall taken this summer. I thought it healed, but after four days on my feet this part of my body is rebelling.
It does not matter. We (me, my feet, and three friends) are in Paris!
Frenchmen, or at least the Parisian men we carefully observed over the past few days, are thin, and most are also tall. The women, young ones as well as older ones, are slim too, with beautiful figures. Few overweight people, and the overweight ones we see are tourists.
Even our own lovely lady, the Statue of Liberty, which we viewed In all her French bronze glory, is thinner than our lady in New York. She obviously gained a few pounds crossing the Atlantic on her way to America, indulging perhaps in too many cruise ship midnight buffets. But she also grew taller by the time she was installed in New York harbor.
Speaking of tourists, they are all over the city. Tour buses maneuver narrow cobblestone streets as pedestrians scatter. There are numerous Japanese tourists. Guides with flags and banners lead groups of these visitors through museums and other sites.
Everyone has been nice, except one extremely rude waiter encountered in a cafe. Even if they do not speak English people try to help you. Show them the map and point to where you want to go and they will do their best to direct you.
Actually there were two bad waiter encounters. One was simply rude and apparently stressed attempting to handle a busy lunch crowd.
The second took advantage of four tourists.
This is the tale of how I - all four of us, actually - got screwed in Paris.
We had a very nice dinner in a rather expensive restaurant called Georges located at the top of the Pompidou Museum, the contemporary art museum. We sat outside, heat lamps above us taking the chill out of the air, observing the lighted Eiffel Tower, with a spotlight at the top that circled the city. We saw The cathedral of Notre Dame below us, lights welcoming Evening strollers. Street lamps, cars, apartment lights, all illuminated the night.
We ordered our meal, relaxed with drinks, and enjoyed the parade of dinner guests passing by our table. Our reservations were for 8 p.m. We arrived a few minutes early and the place was empty. Parisians dine late. First seating at many restaurants is 8 p.m.
Slowly the place filled. Small groups of tourists, couples, businessmen soon occupied tables, slightly raising the decibel level. But it was not bad at all - people speak softly (we were far from New York, land of loud verbal exchanges!).
We enjoyed great food and leisurely dining. Then the problems began.
I was elected to settle the bill. I divided what I thought the total was and the others put their cash on the table. The waiter came over - by now just Kathe and I remained at the table. He counted the money and said in English, in his cute French accent,"No. Not enough money."
I pointed to the total on the bill and he said, "No, wrong total. That is not for your or for me. THIS is the total. " And he pointed to another figure on the bill, higher by about 20 American dollars.
OK, I could see where I made the mistake. I dug through my wallet and placed the additional Euros on the table.
The waiter counted and said, louder this time with some anger in his voice, "What about me? Nothing for me?"
I was getting upset and frustrated. "Tip included in total."
"No," he insisted.
Now I was angry and too upset to argue. I threw some euros on the table - a paltry tip, but still additional money - and we left.
Thinking about it later, I believe the grand total probably included the tip; the first total was most likely the food, drink, and tax total.
And so I found myself with fewer dollars feeling foolish.
That is sometimes how travel goes.
If in Paris, avoid Georges. And tell anyone who recommends the place why.
More adventures abroad to come...Having problems loading pictures. Will try again, or may have to wait until home again.