Tuesday, October 30, 2007

the collector

Day 17

ahhhh Vienna...

we woke in splendour
to a complimentary breakfast
served in our room
we ate like kings
and piggies
hot chocolate
fresh-squeezed orange juice
fresh fruit and omelette's
Gavin had “pancakes”
which was actually the best French toast i've ever tasted
of course he wouldn’t touch it and ate
guess what?
bread instead
now that's our Mr. Bread!
Jayme and i were now ready to have a nice relaxing day
in Vienna
but the first nagging thing on my mind
was calling the promoter of my show
to let him know we wouldn't be staying at the hotel
he'd arranged for us to stay at
from the instant i first spoke to him
he started making plans to hang out
he wouldn't take "no" or "maybe" for an answer
it was nice
but also slightly weird
i hung up the phone still feeling like
the hang out situation was unresolved
even though i'd told him we were fine spending the day
on our own
we then walked out into Vienna and fell immediately in love
it's the most beautiful major city i've ever seen
Jayme agreed
it basically ate Paris' lunch
the architecture was unbelievable
clean and friendly and even in the tourist area not over-crowded
we walked toward the center taking photos
of cathedrals and buildings
i also began being pestered every ten minutes via cellphone text
by our eager wanna be friend
to come and please spend the day with him
it was seriously distracting
i just wanted to get him off of my back
so i could relax
after talking it over with Jayme
we reluctantly agreed to meet him for lunch
(this is a personality flaw of mine coming to full fruition)
we met up with Klaus and his daughter
in front of the main cathedral
and headed with him out of the city center
he insisted that we not eat in the tourist area
even though he said he wasn't hungry
it was "too expense there"
as we passed by the many cool and scenic outdoor cafes
my heart sank a bit
i knew this was a bad idea
we followed special K with more than a bit of trepidation
all the way out of the city center to a tiny café
25 minutes away
the setting was horrible
but we were tired
and starving
Jayme had some kind “Italian” dish
which consisted of dumplings swimming in some kind of milk
that was probably supposed to be sauce
Gavin started yelling, “what is that smell???!!!”
as soon as my dish was brought to the table
my lunch was horrible too
some sort of turkey curry
i had two bites
the worst meal of the entire trip
it ended up being about 22 euros too
not exactly cheap
we were now firmly in the grasp of "the collector"
it turns out that K has been collecting musicians
since the '70s
and he's quite a pro at it
"no" is simply not a word he understands
we agreed to follow him to a local park
only because it was in front of one of the churches Jayme wanted to see
we let the kids play for a bit
and then suddenly, his daughter had to pee
K insisted we come to his place
which was only “5 minutes walking”
we hesitantly agreed with silent glances at each other
of course, Klaus’s place was 20 minutes away
once inside his flat i was immediately taken aback by his
huge vinyl collection
probably the biggest i have ever seen
literally thousands of records
the man had truly dedicated his entire life
to collecting
and i was honored to be a part of it
but i also now wanted to leave
it was already 4:00 and we still had so much more of Vienna to see
G had a perfectly timed bathroom accident
and we practically ran from Klaus’s back to the city center
we were able to walk around for about another hour and a half
before we had to head back to the opera house
to stand in line for “standing room only” tickets
for that night’s performance
we'd read in our guide book
(and been told by our friend, Sarah Jane)
that if you got in line at a side door 80 minutes before a performance
you could get opera tickets for only 2-3 euros!
that was a steal compared to the 100 to 200 euro seated tickets
we had just enough time
to run back to the hotel and get dressed up before the show
i wore my suit and tie
G his "Charmis" suit jacket
Jayme looked fetching in her new mod dress
we had so much fun at the opera
it was packed in the standing area
but we found a place with a view and watched about 30 minutes of the performance
before Gavin had had enough
he was very polite and quiet though
we had to take turns holding him so that he could see
but it was still enjoyable
i have no idea what the opera was about
there was a king, a queen, some priests and a be-heading
but i really didn’t care
the stage setting was incredible to look at
and just being inside this famous opera house was impressive enough for us
we ran out of the opera and crossed the street to the famous Sacher hotel
home of the Sacher torte
and ordered one Sacher torte
one apple streudel and some drinks.
the restaurant was playing dance music
and G money could barely contain himself
he jumped out of his chair
and started to boogie
he had us and everyone else in the place doubled over with laughter
he even whipped out his famous “thumb move”
and did a little Michael Jackson crotch grabbing
i have no idea where he got that from
but it was a hit to the serving staff
we still had a little bit of time left to walk around the city center
before i had to run back to the hotel for Klaus to pick me up
he'd kindly offered to take me to my show
to save me from taxiland
Jayme badly wanted to re-visit the church she was in
when lunch with Klaus interrupted our day
on the way we met a nice (?) clown
who we'd managed to avoid earlier in the day
and Gavin picked a balloon shaped like a big flower
the clown was a little baffled that Gavin hadn't chosen the balloon sword
so he gave him that too
G was thrilled
we then got him some strawberry gelato
and he was in kid heaven
we made it back to the beautiful church with about 5 minutes to spare
just enough time for us to go inside and take some photos
about 30 seconds in
as we were standing in the back waiting for Jayme to take photos
a loud bang
that sounded like gunfire
stunned the silent church-goers
screams and gasped followed
with everyone in the previously instantly turning around
to glare at me and my son
standing in the back
like two sheepish criminals
yes, poor little G had somehow managed to pop one of his balloons
which promptly scared the living %$^&!! out of everyone in the place
my wife pretended to have never set eyes on us before
and we high-tailed it out of there
as Gavin burst into tears
the priest and the altar boys came running out from a hidden door
near the front
in a full panic – thinking there was some kind of terrorist activity taking place
“das luftballoon, das luftballoon” was the last words i heard
as we exited in shame

Thursday, October 25, 2007

now bring on Vienna

Day 16

we left St. Gallen and headed toward Austria around noon
i wish we'd had enough time to stop in Liechtenstein again
and see more of it in daylight
but we had at least 6 hours ahead of us
and were off to a late start
the drive through Austria was absolutely beautiful
the most scenic i have ever experienced
we drove through some incredibly long tunnels
that went straight through mountains
including one that has to be one of the longest in the world
at 60 miles an hour it took us about 15 minutes to get to the other side
it was bizarre
for lunch we stopped in the world renowned ski resort
it's a quaint, very pretty town surrounded by gigantic mountains we found the city center and walked around the town a little
there's a turquoise colored river running through the middle
with beautiful bridges crossing it
and some very old buildings on either side
we found a little street fair where a polka band was playing
and some very drunk Austrians were singing and dancing
of course there was another merry-go-round that Gavin had to ride
he chose the choo-choo train and yelled,
“i’m winning! i’m winning” the whole time (???)
we then drove for a few more hours and neared Salzburg where
the Sound of Music was filmed
unfortunately Jayme only had a Vienna guide book
or she would have been crawling all over that city looking for the convent
the big white house, the gazebo etc.
apparently the Austrians have never heard of the Sound of Music
and are completely baffled by American tourists
looking for movie landmarks
she did have time to research where the hill was that “maria” ran up
singing the title song
it was in the town of Mondsee which was about 10 km outside of Salzburg
we didn’t know which hill it was as the entire countryside is made of
big rolling green hills
but we are pretty sure we saw it from the highway
you have no idea how badly Jayme wanted to find that particular hill
and run up it singing that song
can you imagine how many Americans must have done that to the utter confusion and amusement of the locals?
well, we finally got to Vienna at about 8:30
in the dark
starving and exhausted
luckily our GPS guided us straight to our hotel with little confusion
we knew that at this point in the tour we might be needing
some pampering
Paris was nice but it is a hectic city – much like New York –
and definitely not relaxing
we were beginning to suffer from travel fatigue
as we rolled into our posh Vienna hotel
i could write pages about the Meridien
jaw dropping cool from the second you walk into its ultra-modern lobby
filled with glass walls red mod sofas
modern art by local artists
and the coolest lighting i've ever seen
the elevator was all glass
mirrors and comforting lighting
with the sound of water coming in through speakers overhead
the hallway to our room had big squares of pink lit up beside each door
when we entered our room Jayme and i both gasped
it was a room fit for Bowie
the nicest place i'd ever stayed in
on the left was a wall of frosted green glass with an almost invisible door
leading to the bathroom
straight ahead were two huge floor to ceiling windows
which looked out onto the beautiful trees and buildings of the Openring
we were literally 100 yards or so from the main opera house
a king size bed to the left with a tall glass headboard
that had gothic cathedral arches etched into it
and was lit up by hidden lights
the bed linens were all white with the biggest, fluffiest pillows i have ever seen
Gavin had his own little bed with the same pillows
there were two big armchairs, a desk, a table or workstation,
a coffee table and a gigantic plasma tv
there was the coolest sculpture on one of the tables of a white hand
holding two big green apples
the glass closet door behind the headboard of the bed
had the coolest industrial handles
i spent at least 5 minutes examining them
wishing i could take the design and make some at home
there was a free minibar
a coffee/tea/hot chocolate station plus a safe
behind a large floor to ceiling mirror in the hallway
there was an ironing board, iron, pants press and hairdryer
the bathroom was freakishly cool
all of the walls were this green, frosted glass
the sink was a big glass bowl
the shower was a room of green glass with a shower head that had three jets
one regular, overhead massage jet, and two others that basically sprayed your back
and your rear quarters
one of the best things about this room was that it had beautiful hardwood floors
and really, really, clean carpet
i can’t tell you how good it felt to lay some bare piggies down on this floor
after seeing the grotesquely filthy carpets
on the floor of every single hotel we'd been in so far
we decided to order room service at 9:30pm
which was only 3 Euros more than it would have been to just go downstairs
and eat in the restaurant
it was luxurious
we sat in our monogrammed bathrobes and pigged out
Jayme had fish and chips and i had some kind of ciabatta sandwich
we finished it off with crème brulee
topped with berries
we all went to bed that night
in rockstar luxury
with full tummies and dreams of exploring Vienna
the next day

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

get back to Liechtenstein

Day 14

you might ask
"where is the glamour?"
today i'll show you where the glamour is...

laundry was the first thing on day 14's agenda
(so exciting and glamorous, isn’t it?)
we found a nearby laundromat
and went there via our hi-tech GPS system
it's always amusing/maddening doing laundry in a foreign country
i have to say that in Germany it is particularly odd
because they have WAY too many high-tech things going on
we always just try to figure it out on our own and usually do a pretty good job
this time it seemed to be a simple 2-step process –
washing machine, drying machine
no sweat!
no third spinning machine to throw us off like the last place
so Jayme put some money into a slot in the complicated thing on the wall
thinking she was turning on the machine
only to have detergent start shooting out at her
ok, clearly she was in over my head this time
i left her to use her womanly guiles to figure it out
and ran Gavin quickly back to the hotel for a #2
Karlsruhe was actually a semi-cute town
but we couldn’t stick around and explore
because we had exactly 2.5 hours to get someplace
that was 3 hours away
we were heading to St. Gallen Switzerland
but had also made plans to make a side trip to Liechtenstein
to visit Jayme's friend and ex-coworker, Mario
after we nearly ran out of gas
we drove through some amazingly beautiful countryside in southern Germany
and northern Switzerland
i love the Swiss countryside – every inch looks like a postcard
the grass covered rolling hills look like someone just finished mowing them
how do they do it?
there are the cutest black and white cows dotting the hillsides
and big puffy white sheep
it really just looks fake
along the way we purchased the required
Swiss driving permit for $50
slapped it on the windshield
to then notice the same sticker right below it
hell - why not blow more money on something we already had?
maybe if the Swiss police pull us over we can just show them
we're double protected?
so we got to St. Gallen passing what i believe was the factory
where they make the little pine-scented cardboard trees
that hang from every rear-view mirror in America
it was a big building with very excited looking lettering on the side
and those trees in giant sign form everywhere
it seemed to say
”yes! this is the place that makes those fabulous cardboard trees!!!”
we'd been told by the desk clerk in the Karlsruhe hotel
that St. Gallen was going to be a very uptight “richy-rich” place
we couldn’t tell on driving in though because like other Swiss cities
we've experienced
St. Gallen was a mess of confusing lanes
oncoming trams and random one-way streets
i'm trying to nail down exactly what it is about driving in Swiss cities
that make us crazy
i think it must be that the lanes are marked all exactly the same
so you can never tell if you are on a one-way street
in a bus lane
tram lane
turning lane etc.
even with a GPS system it is frantic crazy driving
until you finally end up on what looks like a sidewalk
but turns out to be a one-way alley and you absolutely CAN NOT PARK ther
you are dodging suicidal bike-riders
pedestrians and trains
i jammed our microwave car in a narrow alley
completely blocking off anyone unfortunate enough to come up behind us
while Jayme jumped out of the car to try and find the hotel
(which is part of her "job" as tour manager)
she came back a few minutes
and 2 pissed off Swiss people later with nada
it was supposed to be at number 7 in this alley sidewalk thing
yet the numbers inexplicably went from 5 to 9 to 22
we were parked in front of 22 so we asked someone inside and were told that this was it
ok. i get it. ???????
we lugged our bags up 3 flights of stairs
to our colorfully decorated room and told the nice bar manager
we would be back at 8:00
we were off to Liechtenstein
she looked a bit confused
then we sped off to meet our friend
here is some Liechtenstein trivia for you:
it is the only country named after the man who bought it
it is the third smallest country in the world being about the size of Manhattan
only Monaco and the Vatican are smaller.
it is ruled by a tiny little mouse
well, no it isn't but its monarch is apparently a little eccentric
he lives in a castle on the mountainside
but comes down into town every Friday for pizza
he also happens to have the world’s second largest personal art collection
the cows in Liechtenstein were fed hemp until 2003
to make them more “mellow” so they would produce better milk
the mountains were getting larger and more beautiful
we crossed a river and BAM – we were in Liechtenstein!!
it was so cute
i could almost swear i saw a yellow brick road
and a chocolate filled river
Jayme and i just kept staring at everyone
and marveling at how weird it must be to be a Liechtensteiner
they looked like normal people
but i'm pretty sure they were some kind of elves
we met Mario at his office
which was literally across the parking lot from a field full of cows
then we followed him and his friend, Lara, to a restaurant
he told us the restaurant was “on the mountain”
but we had no idea it would be on the top of the mountain
we drove for 30 minutes almost straight up
on the smallest, windiest paved mountain road i've ever been on
off to my right nothing but air and some tiny dots way down below
i thought of my grandmother Edna
and how terrified she would have been
she absolutely HATED heights
we met some more of Mario’s friends at the restaurant
which was at the far end of the country in a town called Merdun
the restaurant was this old house that looked like it was straight out of Hansel and Gretel
the food was incredible
Gavin finally had something besides bread – fishsticks!
Jayme had some kind of Liechtensteiner dish
that was similar to hash-browns with vegetables and herbs and cheese all fried in a skillet
i had Spaetzle
which is this funny little noodle dish with cheese that we had on our last trip
we ate and then had to hurry back to Switzerland to make my show
the other potential title of this tour could be
"nourallah shows up just in time to play '07"
the trip back was like a bond chase scene
with us speeding behind Mario's Audi sportscar through the dark winding roads
we pulled up right at 9:00 and i immediately jumped onstage to start playing
the Engel was a small
smokey place
it was packed to capacity
but capacity is only about 30
the rest of the bar wrapped around the side
where people could talk and hang out
without having to hear music
that area was packed too
it kinda reminded me of the old Barley House on Henderson
Gavin and Jayme made it through about 3 songs
then had to split because of all the smoke
i had a fun
with a slightly rowdy set
at times the noisy crowd threatened to overtake
the volume of the P.A.
but i noticed they were all smiling
and having a good time
that's what counts
they even got yelled for me to play 3 encores
afterwards i hung out for awhile
with Mario and his friends
several people wandered up and bought cds
it was a nice night

Sunday, October 21, 2007

european blog rudely interupted by american

i'm interrupting the euro travel blog
because i'm just not feeling it this morning
i'm in the here and now
right now
so many things happening
i want to write about october 21
not september 21
the memorial show for carter
happened last night
at the granada
it was a huge success
tons of people attended
the slideshow commemorating his life
was beautiful
the whole event was pulled off with style
and grace
everyone who played last night
was at their very best
pleasant grove
the slack
the drams
reed easterwood
the old 97s
but the most touching performance for me
came from sorta
they played some of carter's classic sparrows songs
like men possessed
it was a powerful rock'n'roll moment
the likes of which i have never seen before
carter would be proud
i still can't believe carter is gone
i'm still in total shock
and disbelief
as i stood in the back of the dark theater
i kept waiting for the lights to come on
and his low voice to come over the P.A.
saying"ok - the joke's over.
i'm not really dead...gotcha!!"

i feel completely worn out today
mentally exhausted
the second we got back from europe
i went straight into 12 to 14 hour days
trying to get the studio ready
for the old 97s
we were still working on it
15 minutes before rhett arrived
the renovation turned out better than in my wildest dreams
but there's still work to be done
before we unveil the new pleasantry lane
at the party you will be invited to
the last week was a beautiful blur
of long days spent recording
the old 97s
we're off to a really good start
and i've loved every moment of it
but it's taken me away from jayme and gavin
in a time of need
i'm sad to tell you
jayme's had a miscarriage
it's so hard to not think of the life
that could've been
i don't feel like saying too much more
i just wanted you to know
we'll be ok
we're just trying to get through it right now

i hope all of you are doing ok



Sunday, October 14, 2007

cafe NUN

Day 13

today we head back to Germany
i'm ready
ce la vie Paris
gimme Karlsruhe babee!!!
from what we've heard it's not exactly an exciting town
but who cares?
i love Germany
after that we go to St. Gallen, Switzerland
with a short trip to Liechtenstein
then Vienna, Prague and back to Hamburg
on a technical sidenote:
our US to Euro power adaptor has once again blown a fuse
this trip has been one malfunction after another
video camera still dead
thank you Cannon
for not capturing the memories
but in an unbelievable stroke of good luck
we happened to have Europe’s second handiest power
adapter store
right around the corner from our hotel
Jayme bought, literally
their last fuse
and extra adaptor
of course the adaptor cost something ridiculous like $50
which would have been $17 at home
but we really didn’t care at this point
we had already gotten used to the fleecing that
one gets in
aw, well, gay Parie

and we needed electricity, dammit!
we then made 12 trips from our hotel to our car
which seemed to be about 47 blocks away
paid $100 dollars for 3 days of parking
then had one last coffee in a little café before hitting the road

the drive to Karlsruhe was uneventful
except for the $80 worth of French tolls
we racked up
on their highways
(still fleecing you even on the way out!!)

Karlsruhe is a small town on the border of Germany and France
we really weren't expecting much from this place
but when we rolled into town we found out we were staying
in a cool old hotel
with a great room
huge by European standards
and it even had a balcony
the place looked like it had once been a large stately house
the woman at the desk was also very nice and advised us to walk to the venue
as it was only 3 blocks away

Cafe NUN turned out to be really nice
with wonderfully friendly people running it
they called it a “culture center”
just like my other favorite German venue
Rastatte in Aachen
i think NUN is also funded by government grants
they grow most of their own produce
all its employees live in the building
that houses the downstairs restaurant/club
we had the most incredible meal
i don’t remember what it was called
but they made us this very thin-crusted pizza/tart things
topped with goat cheese, onions, and some kind of herbs
it was definitely one of the best meals i'd eaten here
they also made us some kind of concentrated fruit drinks
that are apparently very common in Germany
they were excellent too
we had great conversation with the guy who runs NUN
Mark R.
he even had a tub of train toys for G to play with
as i soundchecked
G made a track on stage
and actually cried (for once)
when we told him we had to go back to the hotel
my show was great
NUN holds about 50 people comfortably
i think there were about 45
so it seemed almost full to me
they were a great audience
totally quiet while i played
and really with me emotionally all the way
on every single song
i ended up doing 3 encores
and stayed up late talking to Mark
and Denis
this was an evening i will always fondly remember
truly beautiful
i love Cafe NUN and Karlsruhe
thank you for the great memories!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

last day in Paris

Day 12

more cloudy weather in Paris
well, at least it wasn't raining
and it wasn't as windy as the day before
cold but bearable so we decided not to take the metro
but to brave a VERY long walk (2.5 hours)
to the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre
this turned out to be one of the best decision we'd made
It was well worth the walk
even through the seedier neighborhoods we accidentally traversed
we arrived at the Sacred Heart Church and the sun magically came out
the weather was now dreamlike
It was perfect timing
we sat at the bottom of the hill for a while and watched Gavin chase birds
then we let him ride the carousel
on the way to the top we took a couple of nice breaks
just sitting and looking out over the city
it was idyllic
i finally felt relaxed here
this was well worth the wait
after the church we then walked to a tiny southern French restaurant
Jayme had the best French onion soup of her life
and i had something we thought was going to be a tart
but turned out to be more like the French version of cheese fries
Gavin had bread
we thought about taking the metro back since it was still pretty cold
and a very long walk
but decided it would be more interesting to walk
so we did...
3 hours later we made it back to the hotel
i gotta say
the last thing i felt like doing today
was playing a show
i was really worn out from hoofing it all around the city
i caught a cab around 8
i noticed the meter started at 6.50 euros
by the time we got there it was about 25
as a staggered out of the cab with all my stuff
i hadn't taken 5 steps when a guy approached me
and exclaimed "salim nourallah!!???!!!"
that's me...
maybe i was bigger in france than i'd expected?
was i gonna be mobbed by adoring fans once i
entered the Fleche d' Or?
don't worry
i wasn't
it turns out that my new friend
was apparently my biggest french fan

he owned everything
including pleasantry lane and a way to your heart
which i didn't even think were available in france
he said there was a cool indie shop in Paris
that stocked them
nice to know
anyway i invited him to have dinner with me
and we sat at the most absurdly uncomfortable
low mini table on a weird low couch thing
in the fashionable but not very functional restuarant
it was nice to have someone to visit with
otherwise i think this gig would have been really lonely
there were 3 other bands on the bill
and they were all good
chapter 9 from france
edison woods from new york
then david mead http://www.davidmead.com/
(whom i'm actually a fan of)
his debut cd "the luxury of time" is excellent
i was the only act on the bill playing solo
and up until this point i hadn't wished once
that i had a band
but tonight it felt like that would have been the
much better move
it was somewhat daunting standing in the middle
of the packed fleche d' or watching david play with his commandeered french
backing band
the stage and lights were so cool
a giant picture frame literally framed the stage
it was a great place to see a "band"
during my lonely acoustic set
there was a small group huddled toward the front of the stage
while the rest of the people toward the back
carried on and talked loudly
it was definitely the most uncomfortable gig of the tour
because the audience seemed at odds with each other
i didn't really enjoy witnessing it
afterwards it took me an hour to hail a cab
they just kept speeding by
my new english friend scottie
ran out into the the road
jumping up and down
while 3 drunk japanese girls intermittently wandered up
to me and awkwardly tried to make conversation
when scottie finally hailed a cab
he mumbled/explained he had no money
but was going to ride with me to my part of town
and then figure out how to get home
i'm glad he did
it somehow made me feel safer
it was a strange ending to my last day in

Saturday, October 06, 2007

french fried

Day 11

it was overcast again this morning
and also extremely COLD
we had 85 degree weather
that turned into 60 degree weather
that turned into 40 degree windy, rainy weather
not so great for walking around in
so today we took the metro
this was going to be the big “touristy” day
we HAD to go to the Eiffel tower
of course i had never been
and Gavin is all about big tall buildings
once there it was kind of a drag
stand in line for 30 minutes for tickets
cram into line for the elevator to level 2
freeze your ass off
stand in another line for 45 minutes etc.
by the time we finally got to the top i was too cold
and tired to care much
it kinda felt like the obligatory "gotta go to the top of the Eiffel tower"
now i've been there
done that
Gavin loved it
that's what counts
i began to worry a little about Jayme
she was freezing
and looked kind of pale and drawn
this is why our Eiffel tower photos were kind of lame
and done in 10 seconds
the wind gusts were killing us
i suggested that we take a boat ride along the Seine
so that she could rest awhile and warm up
about ¾ around the loop and got off for a walk through the Marais
i really liked this part of town
narrow winding streets lined with fu-fu boutiques
we ate in a popular falafel shop that we picked out of Jayme's tour book
it was really good
but it turns out they have a separate menu for tourists
we had two falafel sandwiches
a plate of fries, a coke, a lemonade and an orange juice
and it cost 30 euros or $45
on the regular menu it would have been 18 euros
there's the menu on the wall that shows the regular prices
but as soon as they figure out you’re foreign
they give you the “other” menu
when i questioned them politely about the bill
they were rude and spoke french
it was actually the first time we had encountered any rudeness or shittiness
we have had a great time communicating with them and dealing with them
after our “falafel incident” we trekked over to the Bastille
then headed home again
on the way we stopped at the Jardin des Plantes
and had a nice walk
Jayme was snapping a quick photo of G in the park
when Gavin suddenly announced
“i have to pee right now!!” and then peed in the middle of the sidewalk
(see photo for exact moment of flood)
so there we were
in the middle of the botanical gardens
with no wipes, diapers, napkins or towels
and a little boy who has just filled his own shoes with personal water
he was not thrilled when he found out he had to walk all the way home
soaked in it
we made it back and added his clothes to the rest of the sink-washed laundry
hanging on the balcony.
that night we went to a Tibetan restaurant Jayme remembered
from her last trip
it's called, Tashi Delek and we had a nice meal
she even had butter tea
which is definitely an acquired taste i had no desire to acquire
i gotta admit
(and for some this might be travel sacrilege)
i'm not that enamored of paris
maybe it's the feeling that at every corner
they just want your money
and nothing else?
maybe it's the whole "attitude" here?
maybe it's just been the so-so weather?
i'm having fun
a blast
so don't get me wrong
but the fun is mainly coming from being with J
and G
not from this place
it's too crowded
and did i mention
too crowded?
i'm really glad i finally got to see it
but this is definitely not the place
where i belong

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Charmis loves Paris

Day 10

today was a walk-o-rama
paris style
we started out at the bakery
of course
buying some chocolate croissants
(health food)
for breakfast
then we headed for the Luxembourg gardens
trying to start out with something
that would entertain Gavin a bit
so he would let us look at the “boring” cathedrals
and museums later
unfortunately the main part of the gardens was blocked off
for some kind of film crew
we couldn't get very close to the overlook without a French PA
with an afro and headset
who looked like he was in a french pop band
shooing us away
we sat on a bench and entertained ourselves by watching all the tourists
come unwittingly too close to the park's inner sanctum
only to be brushed away
we ate our croissants and watched Gavin kick his feet in the sand
chase birds and squeal with delight
i lamented the death of our video camera
(thank you Canon)
the film crew eventually left and we enjoyed a casual stroll around the park
next we decided to walk to Notre Dame Cathedral
once there
Jayme wanted to climb the stairs to the top
she was thinking of the spectacular view
i was thinking of
the heavy camera
extra heavy lens
broken video camera
and child
i thought it might cause me to drop dead
which was not worth the risk
so we crossed to the other bank and headed to the Pompidou
the weather was not nearly as good as it was the day before
it was very cloudy and kept threatening to rain
so a museum seemed wise
the Pomidou was fun
although it took us a full 15 minutes to figure out
where to actually go to get in the exhibits
there was a hilarious and stupid exhibit
in the main lobby that i will call “bag of boobs”
there is a section in the main floor that looks down into the floor below
with a railing
suspended above this were several black nets or bags
about the size of an armchair
that each held a giant overstuffed body part made out of colored vinyl
there was a bag with two red arms
a bag with one big red hand
a bag with black legs and a butt
and last but certainly not least
Gavin’s very favorite
a bag of 3 large red boobs
every once in a while one of the bags would drop to the floor
almost touching it
and then would slowly rise back up to the top
Gavin was mesmerized
every time we tried to go see something else
he would start whining and saying “no no no!”
"i want to look at the bo-bo's!!"
we were finally able to see the rest of the museum
and enjoyed it very much
i kinda hated the rest of the “bag of boob” art
it was not disturbing enough to provoke thought
not interesting enough to provoke anything beyond an urgency to move
to the next room
and it felt like someone was trying really really hard to be
“out there” and to “blow our minds”
it felt completely contrived
i could not find the exit door fast enough
after the Pompidou we walked to the Louvre
not IN to the Louvre
just to it
we decided to admire it from the outside
we then sat in a slightly dodgy café
because it was getting cold
and had some over-priced slightly crappy coffee and hot chocolate
but hell
we were in Paris!!!
it was now 3:00 and we were exhausted
we had been walking for 7 hours and could not take anymore
on the way back to our hotel
Jayme popped into a little store that happened to be playing
G's favorite
Charmis Cocker
she ran outside to get him to come in and listen
he was very impressed
as, you see...
i had previously informed Mr. G money
that Charmis lives in Paris
so we'd just begun a 3 day hunt to find him
Gavin was convinced Charmis would be waiting for us
around the next corner
possibly sipping a cappuccino in a crowded cafe
or ordering an Indian take away
either way
we were gonna find Charmis baby
and hang out!!!
we got back to the hotel around 5:00 and rested until dinner
it started to rain so we decided to go somewhere close
luckily there was a highly recommended Indian restaurant around the corner
it was magnificent
i had the best spinach paneer ever
and Gavin had his usual Mr. Bread fiesta
poor little bugger
he's eaten mainly pretzels
croissants and the occasional PBJ sandwich during this entire trip
we're worried he's going to end up with an impacted colon

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

the road to paris

Day 9

we got up early and hurried out of chilly little Frauenau
3 degrees celsius
we drove through beautiful mist covered rolling hills and forests
all the way down to normal elevation
and finally hit the autobahn
we were able to stop once again in Heidelberg
for lunch
and chose a "Mexican" restaurant from Jayme's guide book
it was run by some Lebanese men
so they also served kebabs
i fell off the veggie wagon
and ordered “chicken fajitas” which was quite good
but not in the least Mexican
and Jayme ordered the “vegetarian tortilla”
which was essentially a toasted tortilla
filled with shredded lettuce and some kind of white sauce
maybe sour cream maybe kebab sauce
who knows?
it was food and it was fun
and hey
we were in Heidelburg!
of course we stopped in again at the bakery
and this time got 3 fancy desserts
instead of the chocolate balls
we ate two of them in the park
Gavin spat one of them into momma's hand
not a fan of nuts
after a relaxing hour we pointed our microwave on wheels
back toward Paris at about 100 miles an hour…
after about 50 dollars in highway tolls
we slowed to a crawl around dusk
on the outskirts of Paris
the traffic was not so "ooo-la-la"
we inched along for two hours
motorcycles speeding between the lines of cars
in the inner city
complete and total CHAOS
just shy of what i imagine driving in Manilla to be like
Jayme jumped out and ran in to check in our hotel
while i double-parked on a very narrow and busy street
we were told parking was either
A. in a parking garage (32.00 USD a day) or
B. “somewhere on the street”
we circled the block once
got lost
circled again
got lost again
and never saw a single parking space
so we took the expensive le garage option
it had been a beautiful day coming into the city
80 degrees and sunny
the evening was perfect weather for café-sitting
the hotel we were staying in was not our tour manager's first choice
but was literally the last hotel we could find under $300
anywhere in the city
we were actually very happy with it
located in the 5th arrondissement in the Latin quarter
it is close to some seedy neighborhoods
but in the other direction the walking is very nice
right around the corner is an unbelievable bakery
and several restaurants
it is also very close to a metro stops
the lobby of the hotel is decorated via grandma
doilies, creepy dolls in overly fancy dresses,
fake flowers and fake antique furniture
there is also some kind of glowing light made of glass grapes
that is so hideous that Jayme can not cross the lobby
without staring at it
we ventured out around 9
and ended up in a Greek restaurant
that we somehow thought was French
it was a bit expensive but the food was amazing
we sat outside
of course
the weather was perfect
we revelled in the fact that
we were in PARIS
it felt good
and Gavin suggested a toast