Friday, April 27, 2018

France – Day 6 – 4/3/18

After breakfast, we headed out on the Metro for Musée d’Orsay. After seeing the lines the first time we went, we made sure to arrive early. The museum was supposed to open at nine-thirty, and we got there a little after nine. We still had our museum passes, so we didn’t have to stand in the line for tickets. The entry line only serpentined for two loops instead of the dozen we’d seen before.

So, we waited…and waited… Nine-thirty came and went. The line grew even longer than on our previous visit. Fortunately, we were near the front of the line. Finally, the people ahead of us started moving. We got through security and entered the museum a little after ten o’clock.

To begin with, the building is a converted train station. (If you saw the movie Hugo, it was supposed to be set in this station. Instead of one huge clock, it actually has three.) The architecture alone is worth the visit. The building also used to house an elegant hotel with a restaurant.

We headed straight to the top floor for the Impressionists and soaked in the gorgeousness. Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, Cezanne, Pissarro, Sisley, and many others are represented.

The museum featured a special show with Van Gogh, Gaugin, and the Neo-impressionists, Seurat, Signac, etc. We took our time and enjoyed our favorites.

Since it was Larry’s birthday, we had already decided to have lunch at the museum restaurant. We had eaten there on our last trip and enjoyed it. They have replaced the chairs with very modern ones. They look a bit like shattered glass, but they are comfortable. We enjoyed the food—and the desserts.

We took our time exploring the whole place. This is probably my favorite museum in the world. Unlike the Louvre, which is overwhelming and crowded, the Orsay is accessible and easy to maneuver. I also love their collections.

By this time, Bob had become our navigator in the Metro. I had told him how easy it was, and he figured it out. Since we left the museum in the afternoon, the trains were pretty full. We nearly lost Bernie on the return trip.

Quite a few people got off, so we didn’t have much time to board. Larry and I got on, Bob followed. As he reached back for Bernie, the doors closed. She was left on the platform looking terrified. With her total lack of sense of direction, being lost in a foreign city represented her very worst nightmare.

As we pulled out, Larry held up one finger. He hoped she’d get the message: get on the next train and meet us at the next station. But we weren’t at all sure she’d understand.

All the way to the next station we worried about her. I expected her to be in full panic mode. But she surprised us all when she was on the next train. We joined her and made it back to the timeshare together.

Since we’d had a delicious lunch, we decided to have apples and cheese again for dinner. We decided on an early evening since we planned for a busy following day.

Monday, April 23, 2018

France – Day 5 – 4/2/18

After our usual breakfast, we headed out on the Metro for the Louvre.

We found a LONG line waiting for the security check. When we finally got through this, we came up to another super-long line to enter the museum. Despite our arrival at the time of museum opening, we spent nearly an hour waiting in line. Our passes helped, but the wait was exceptionally long. Once again, we felt the increased security impact.

Welcome to France with enhanced security—and LONG lines.

We went through several galleries. Lots to see, but the whole museum is a maze of convoluted routes and dead-ends with up and down stairways.

By 11:45, we were tired and hungry. We were near the museum restaurant and decided to stop here for lunch. As we were waiting for a table, I suddenly felt light headed. Fortunately, I didn’t pass out. They didn’t have a table for four available, but we were able to get two tables for two. Ours was near the dessert display, so Larry selected his before he even started his meal.

Bob and Bernie were seated near the window with a nice view. Even though we weren’t sitting together, we all ordered Caesar salads. Larry had a terrific Napoleon for dessert, and I had a wonderful lemon tart.

After lunch, we set out again. We realized we hadn’t seen the Mona Lisa. So, down hallways, up stairs, down stairs, around corners, into another building, we encountered more and more people. We finally reached the gallery which housed Da Vinci’s masterpiece. Just as four years before, we couldn’t get to within twenty feet of the painting. She is now behind two layers of glass, and railings keep visitors several feet away.

After spending hours walking through the museum, we were ready to head back. We enjoyed the day, but none of us felt the need to return.

We had enjoyed a great lunch, so we went to the store and bought apples, cheese, crackers, Sun Chips, and tea. The lighter repast hit the spot.

We went to bed early because we had another busy day planned for the following day.

Next post: Musee d’Orsay and Larry’s birthday.

Friday, April 20, 2018

France – Day 4 – 4/1/18 – Easter Sunday – Part II La Tour Eiffel

After church, we decided to walk the few blocks over to La Tour Eiffel (the Eiffel Tower). We were energized by the wonderful Easter service, so the walk wasn’t as daunting as the day before.

Before long, we spotted the top of the tower. At last, we looked down a side street, and there was the iconic symbol of France.

Unlike our previous trip when people strolled around the tower, kids played and walked in the park behind it, and dogs ran freely, now, just as at Notre Dame, Saint Chappelle, and other places throughout town, the entire area around the tower was surrounded by fencing and barriers. Security checks were necessary to gain access anywhere nearby. Even though the icon is still most beautiful, I felt sad to see it isolated because of safety issues.

We got as close as we could. The cherry blossoms were in bloom. We could still see the lovely, lacy ironwork. It appears so fragile, and yet it has stood since 1889. Of course, it has been updated and strengthened, but its delicate beauty remains.

Since lunchtime arrived, we decided to go to a restaurant we had eaten at on our last trip and which was a favorite, La Terrasse. Three of us ordered the quiche Lorraine, and Larry ordered the penne pasta. The food was just as good as we remembered. Although we were quite sated, we had to try the crème brulee again since it was our favorite on our last trip. So, we ordered one serving with four spoons. Memory served well. It is still the best we have tasted on this trip.

After lunch, we returned to our place. When we entered, we realized that the area around the toilet was dry. We assumed the maintenance man had come during our absence and fixed it.

When we looked at the TV, we realized the old one had been replaced. This one was quite a bit smaller—about the size of one of the monitors on my computer at home. BUT, the English-language stations worked. Some of the French ones didn’t, but the ones we were interested in did. Of course, the selections are quite limited: Sonlife Broadcasting (Jimmy Swaggart’s channel), Bloomberg (economic reporting), CNBC International (Primarily business reporting), BBC World service International (mostly economic news mixed with occasional breaking news stories around the world), and two Al Jazeera stations (Al Jazeera International and Al Jazeera England). Not a great selection unless we were focused on the stock markets around the world, however we might be able to get some up-to-date news. A big improvement from the two days before.

We were running short on clean clothes, so, while I wrote a blog, Larry and Bernie went downstairs to use the laundry. First, they had to get some change for the machines. The only place to get change was at the desk. They only had 10.00 in change, so we took it. We were able to collect enough coins to run our loads.

They went down to the lower level and located the laundry room. The cost was posted as 5 per wash load and 2,50 to dry. Bernie placed her clothes in the washer and put in the money. Nothing happened. Larry put ours in a different washer, put in the money, and it ran. They put money in Bernie’s washer again, and this time, it started.

They went to the desk to report the lost money. The manager said they have nothing to do with the laundry facility and could not refund the lost money.

The wash cycle ran okay. When it was done, they decided to combine the two loads in the dryer since it appeared large enough. They put in the coins and the cycle began. After the stated time for the clothes to be dry, they opened the door. The light-weight items, which should have been dry, were still wet. A couple of items—heavier and thicker—were nearly dry.

When they closed the door, they realized the cycle stopped when the door was opened and would not re-start. So, they put in more money and started the dryer again. This time, they waited for the cycle to stop by itself. Still, most of the clothes were wet or at lest damp. They pulled out the driest pieces, added more money, and started the machine again.

When this load was finished, they brought the damp clothes upstairs. We hung them all over the place, putting the wettest on the radiators.

We decided to go out to reconnoiter some dinner. We looked at the restaurants in the neighborhood and realized most of them were closed. Of course, it was Easter Sunday! So, we stopped by the store and picked up some cheese, crackers, and apples. This proved the perfect decision after all the fabulous food we had enjoyed.

We were quite tired after all the walking and decided to turn in early. After all, we had plans for the next day.

Next installment: France – Day 5 – 4/2/18

Monday, April 16, 2018

France – Day 4 – 4/1/18 – Easter Sunday

As we prepared for breakfast, Larry noticed water on the floor in the toilet room. (This is separate from the shower room.) Clearly, the toilet was leaking.

After breakfast, we told the concierge about the leak and reminded him we still had no English-language TV stations, despite the efforts of the maintenance man the day before.

The last time we were in Paris (four years ago), we were also here on Easter Sunday. We decided to go to the local church near our hotel to celebrate the holiday with the locals. What a disappointment! No music, no indication of a special day, no flowers, just a regular Mass. When we returned to our hotel, we saw another member of our tour group. She said she had gone to The American Church, and the service was wonderful. This time, we decided to follow her lead.

To make sure we arrived on time, we asked the concierge call us a cab—well worth the cost (16.36).

I was surprised to find the church—a cathedral really—located in the middle of a residential block. However, the illusion was shattered as soon as we entered. What a beautiful edifice.
The only seats remaining were either in the balcony or down the side. We were pretty well over climbing stairs from the day before, so we opted for the side seats. Although there were posts in our way, we were able to maneuver so we could see nearly everything.

The Prelude featured several soloists performing sections from The Messiah, accompanied by the magnificent organ and trumpet. What a great way to start to the day.

Following the Greeting and Call to Worship, the choir entered to a marvelous arrangement of “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today” with “Thine is the Glory”. (Here is a slightly different arrangement from Duke Chapel in 2012, not the American Church.

Following the Prayer of Confession, the Youth Choirs sang “Our Lord is Risen!” (This recording doesn’t do the song justice. The kids did a much better job.

Following the reading of Acts 10:34-43, The choir presented the anthem: “Let the Bright Seraphim.” (I couldn’t find the Malcomm Archer arrangement of this one with three trumpets, organ, and choir.) Magnificent.

The reading of Mark 16 1-8 was followed by the sermon. Wonderful message, appropriate and applicable to today.

Next came “Exsulatate, Jubliate” from an a cappella group, Lumina. (

More prayers were followed by the offertory: “Passacaglia” performed by the bell choir under the direction of music director, Fred Gramann. (Much of the music, including this piece, was written and/or arranged by him. What a talented guy.)

The Doxology followed. Then came the invitation to communion. The usual words of institution were sung to “From All That Dwell Below the Skies.” (This tune was used What a delightful change. The congregation sang the first and last two verses. The lyrics in the middle were changed to the words of institution, sung by two of the pastors. I could imagine Bob using this way of beginning communion during his days as a minister.

The communion service was efficient, despite the number of people in attendance. During communion, we were treated to Bach’s “Sanfte soll mein Todeskummer” from the Easter Oratorio. (All the versions I found were played by chamber orchestras.) This was followed by “My Lord, What a Morning,” sung by Nichole Taylor. What a magnificent voice!

Another prayer was followed by the hymn “The Day of Resurrection”

After the benediction, those who wished to were invited to join the choir for the singing of “The Hallelujah Chorus.” They close their Easter service this way each year, appropriate since “The Messiah” was written for Easter.

I had to. I just had to. We had sung this on Christmas Eve in our church in Kobe, Japan (in addition to many other times). So, I simply had to sing it in Paris when given the opportunity. Larry, Bob, and Bernie also opted to join. I loved it.

The Postlude was one of Larry’s favorite organ pieces, “Toccata” from Symphony No. 5 by Charles-Marie Widor.

I was in ecstasy throughout the entire service. What a wonderful contrast to our experience four years ago. This time, we had an abundance of gorgeous music, a communion service, and a fabulous sermon. One of the most perfect Easter celebrations I have ever experienced.

After church, Bernie and I went in search of the toilets. When we located them, we found a pretty long line—as usual. As I always do, I began a conversation with the gal behind us. She asked where we were from. When we said, “Dana Point,” she laughed. “I was there just a week ago.” No one ever knows where Dana Point is, so this was a real surprise. She said she visits there quite often. We exchanged cards, and she said she’d contact us the next time she is in California. Small world, indeed.

We left the church about ten-thirty with time still left in the morning.

Next: France – Day 4 – 4/1/18 – Easter Sunday Part II

Friday, April 13, 2018

Slick Deal From Guests Janet Lynn and Will Zeillinger

This week, Janet Lynn and Will Zeillinger, another husband and wife writing team, join me to tell you about their latest Skyler Drake mystery, Slick Deal. They write about Los Angeles and other areas of the west in the 1950s. They especially enjoy researching the details. Welcome, Janet and Will.

Our latest book, Slick Deal, begins on New Year's Eve 1956 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Clues to the first murder lead to Avalon on Catalina Island, off the coast of Southern California.
Santa Catalina Island was named after St Catherine of Alexandria in1602 by Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino. Before 1891, the city of Avalon was called "Shatto" for George Shatto, the second owner of the island. His sister-in-law Etta Whittley suggested the name be changed to Avalon.

We researched the name Avalon and were amazed by what we found.

Avalon is the mythological Celtic island where King Arthur's sword, Excalibur was forged. King Arthur was taken there to meet his death after being fatally wounded in the battle of Camlann, where he clashed with the witch, Mordred.

Like all mythical places, the island has been sought by scholars in many locations.
Some say it is on the hill of Glastonbury Tor in Somerset, England.
Others say it exists in Burgh-by-Sands in Cumbria, England. Many say it is in northwestern France on the legendary Isle of Avalon. Spain declared it was in their country on Mallorca (Majorca) Island. Still others claimed it was the connection between Avalon and Helheim, the kingdom of the dead, in Scandinavian mythology.

In all locations where Avalon is said to have existed, a sea journey would be required to reach it. The island is associated with mythical peace and magic. Perhaps it is an earthly utopia, a harmonious bridge between the terrestrial earth and the celestial kingdom bridging what is real and what it could become in the presence of brave heroes, rulers, and kings.

The Avalon on Catalina seems like a magical city. After an ocean journey from Los Angeles, it provides a place to relax and enjoy the peaceful ambiance. It also presents a dichotomy between magic and peace and the return to real life upon departure.

Slick Deal presents these concepts as a metaphor for the clash between two affluent families. This is the fourth in our Skyler Drake mystery series.
Authors Will Zeilinger and Janet Lynn write individually. Together, they write the Skyler Drake Mystery Series. These hard-boiled tales are based in old Hollywood of the 1950s. Janet has published seven mystery novels and Will has three plus a couple of short stories. Their world travels have sparked several ideas for murder and crime stories. This creative couple is married and live in Southern California.

Their next Skylar Drake Mystery, fourth in the series, Slick Deal, will be available April 16, 2018 and yes...they are still married!

Website for Janet Elizabeth Lynn
Website for Will Zeilinger

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

France – Day 3 – 3/31/18 Part II – The Long March

After lunch we should have returned to our place for a rest since we were all exhausted. It’s what we should have done.

However, Bob insisted we had to go to the Musee d’Orsay. I checked Google Maps, and found it was about a mile and a half away—a 30-40-minute walk. We could also get there by taking a one-minute walk to the Metro, a three-minute ride, and a two-minute walk.  We all agreed to this plan. At least I thought we had.

Bob charged ahead of us out of the restaurant and started walking. According to my map, the Metro station was in the opposite direction. I tried to tell the others we were going the wrong way, but no one was listening. When I finally got them to stop so I could show them where we ought to have been, we’d already walked several blocks. Bob insisted there had to be another Metro station if we kept going in the direction we were headed. “Just follow the river, and we’ll get there.” There was no other station.

So, we trudged along. I was overheated. After about a year out of pain, my knee hurt. Larry’s hip bothered him. Even Bob said his heel was sore. But onward we slogged. We accused Bob of leading us on a forced march, but he was determined to get there.

After about thirty-five minutes, we arrived at the entrance, where we found two very long lines. We had our museum passes, so we didn’t have to buy tickets. We were able to bypass the first line. But we had to stand and wait in the second one. This one looped back and forth on itself at least ten times, and it hardly moved. Welcome to Paris, where slow lines and long waits are the norm.

Larry and I voted to give it up since we knew we’d be back on Tuesday, but Bob insisted we had to go inside after the long walk. We got in line. It crept toward the door at a snail’s pace—or slower. About halfway to the door, I said I just wanted to find somewhere to sit down and let the rest of them continue on, but no seating appeared in the immediate area.

After about an hour and a half, we finally reached the entrance and discovered what the slowdown was all about. Just inside, we found a security check almost exactly like the TSA ones at the airport. We didn’t have to remove our shoes or jackets, but our bags had to go through the x-ray machine, and we had to go through a metal detector. Unloading our stuff into the bins, running it through the machines, walking through the metal detectors, and then gathering our possessions again meant only one person could make headway at a time. Therefore, the line outside barely moved.

At long last, we got through the security check, showed our passes, and entered the museum. To the right, I spotted a chair and said I would wait there until they were finished. Larry joined me. It felt so good just to sit down and rest my aching feet.

Bob and Bernie continued into the museum. They returned about forty-five minutes later, having seen the impressionist exhibit.

We made our way to the Metro station, boarded a train, and headed back to our place. When we arrived, we discovered the closet doors still didn’t move. The English language TV stations still weren’t available. We called down to the desk, frustrated that the issues remained.

Not long after, we heard a knock on the door. The maintenance man finally arrived. He fixed the stuck closet door fairly quickly. However, although he fiddled with the TV, made several phone calls, tried a number of different options, the English-language stations remained elusive. After about half an hour, he left, saying he would be back. He never returned.

We all lay down and fell asleep from sheer exhaustion.

We woke about eight o’clock. I said I had no intention of leaving or walking anywhere. The evening before, Bob and Larry had gone to the store for coffee and returned with two chocolate and two coffee eclairs in addition. We decided they would be our dinner. Even though they were a day old, they still tasted good.

Despite our naps, we were ready for bed, so we called it a night. Well, until about ten when the fire alarm went off and we had to evacuate to the lobby. We stood around for about half an hour. Then we were told there was no fire. Someone on the 6th floor had been cooking and set off the alarm. We were finally able to return to our room after about an hour. Another fun evening...

The next post on this blog is from friends who are announcing the publication of their new book, but the France trip will continue afterward. The next installment: France – Day 4 – 4/1/18 – Easter Sunday

Friday, April 6, 2018

France – Day 3 – 3/31/18

We got up early to go downstairs for breakfast at 7:15 only to discover that, although they open at 7:00 weekdays, the time changes to 7:30 on weekends. So, we spent the fifteen minutes talking to the off-duty night manager. Interesting man.

While we were in the lobby, we told the manager about the closet doors that didn’t open, and none of the English language TV channels worked. We had reported these issues to the manager the day before, and she said the maintenance man would come the next day (that day). We reminded the morning manager again, and he assured us the problems would be fixed.

Breakfast was not included in our base cost, so we were charged €12 apiece per day. However, given the limitations of the place, we felt it was our best option. The selection of choices was adequate: a variety of breads, eggs (boiled only), yogurt, cereal, fruit, juice, cheese, and deli sausage. However, they have a great coffee dispenser with lots of choices. I had mocha. Yumm!

We got ready and headed out toward the Metro station. This was our first venture into the world of the Paris subway system with Bob and Bernie. We remembered finding it very easy to travel using the Metro on our last trip, and our memories proved accurate.

The first stop of the day was Sainte-Chapelle, the beautiful gem of a church in the heart of Paris. We remembered the way from our visit in 2014. However, evidence of heightened security was apparent everywhere. A police presence was visible all around the area. (The chapel is located on the Île de la Cité in the heart of Paris.) Our museum passes allowed entrance, and we were able to bypass the regular ticket line.

We entered the lower level and made our way to the narrow two-story circular stairway leading to the upper floor. The climb was daunting, but worth the effort when we emerged at the top to the sight of the gorgeous windows soaring above us. When we were there in 2014, a major renovation/restoration project was under way. Most of the building was covered in scaffolding. Some of the panels had been removed and replaced with white glass. This time, all the windows appeared in their glory. We arrived shortly after opening, so early morning light shone through the colored panels.

Unfortunately, no visitors’ guides were available in English, so we explored the windows on our own. A video provided information on how the repairs and restoration had been accomplished.

On the way out, we strolled by the museum souvenir stands. Bernie found a lovely Christmas ornament for the exchange at church. While she was purchasing her ornament, I spotted some real finds. Each year, we have given our nieces and nephews ornaments from wherever we have visited that year. Now that they are grown, we continue the tradition with their children. The last time we were here, we got some miniature Eiffel towers on key rings and converted them to ornaments. What caught my eye were gargoyles on key rings. We have several grand-nephews, and I thought they would love these. The little girls will enjoy them, too. I also found a coloring book for the youngest, our great-grandniece.

Larry said he needed a toilet, so we went to where we remembered them being located. Despite a large sign on the side of the building, the area was surrounded by barricades. A guard stood smoking just outside the building, so we asked about them. He shook his head and then gestured for us to go outside, turn to the right, then go left.

We followed his directions and discovered we were headed toward Notre Dame, second on our agenda for the day. Nowhere along the way did we see any signs for toilets.

As we neared the cathedral, the crowds grew huge. It was, after all, Easter Saturday, and many people wanted to be there during Easter week. Also, the area around the church was completely surrounded by fencing and barricades. Entrance was possible only in three or four locations. The only signs we saw for toilets pointed toward the church, and they appeared to be blocked as well.

We approached three young gendarmes, who were smoking next to their vehicles, and asked about public restrooms. A nice young lady pointed across the street and indicated we might find some in that building. We left Bob and Bernie to stand in the several-blocks-long line while we went in search of the toilets.

We crossed the street and entered the building. We asked the guard. He shook his head and pointed farther down the block. Once outside, the only signs we saw were, once again, inside the cathedral grounds and inaccessible.

We continued down the street. At the corner, we looked to the left and spotted two round grey buildings sitting on the sidewalk with lines of half a dozen or so people queued in front of each of them. I turned to Larry. “I think these are the self-cleaning toilets.” He grimaced. “I certainly hope so.” It had been well over half an hour since he had expressed the need, and we had walked quite a long way since.

Even though the signs said only one person could enter at a time, most friends and couples entered together. The line on the second one from the end shortened faster than the other. “Looks like that one is moving.” A man standing at the end of the first line pointed toward the other one. We followed him. Of course, we started to talk. His name was Peter, and he was from Melbourne, Australia. He was a teacher in a private school and was in Paris for a conference starting on Monday. He decided to arrive a few days early for some sightseeing. We had a nice chat while we waited. He took his turn, the toilet cleaned itself, and then we entered. We did our business and then the toilet cleaned again. (It performs cleaning after each use.)

Feeling much better, we headed back to locate Bob and Bernie in the entrance line. On the way, we tried to call them to let them know we would be entering from the far side from where we had left them. No answer. But a second later, my phone rang. It was Bob wondering where we were. They hadn’t gotten in line, but had waited near the police vans. We said we’d meet them there.

The guys decided they didn’t want to wait in the long, long line for entrance but would walk down the side and take photos from the outside. However, the sidewalk along the side was also blocked. We passed through security (a much shorter line on the side) and then got in line to enter the church. Welcome to Paris, the city of long lines and waiting.

We finally got inside and were able to walk around the cathedral. The artwork is impressive, even though some of the paintings are nearly illegible because of the centuries of candle smoke. They could have used a good cleaning, but I have the feeling cleaning and restoration are never-ending processes in a building this old packed with so many old treasures.

Larry wanted to go out to the side to take photos in the gardens. However, all exits were blocked except for the front doors. We returned to the front and made our way outside. We walked parallel to the church, headed for the back. Once again, the first block behind the church was completely surrounded by fencing and barricades. However, we were able to cross into the park at the second block. Larry and Bob took a few photos. Then we continued on to the bridge across the river.

On the other side (the left bank) we walked back toward the front of the church, and Larry took a photo from a distance. The street vendors were starting to open their stalls, so we looked at the artwork, books, magazines, and other wares for sale.

We spotted the restaurant where we had eaten the last time, the Café Panis. Since we had enjoyed it, it was now one o’clock, and were hungry from all the walking, we decided to eat lunch there.

We enjoyed our meal. Bob, Bernie, and I all ordered quiche, while Larry ordered the tortellini. He remembered it from our last trip. Unfortunately, they only had two orders of quiche left, so Bob changed his to the carrot and sweet potato soup. (He and Larry both finished our quiches.) The food and service were as good as we remembered.

Next time: France – Day 3 – 3/31/18 Part II – The Long March

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Paris – Day 2 – 3/30/18

Larry and I woke early and went down to the dining room for breakfast. Service started at seven o’clock. When we arrived at about seven-thirty, a few others were there ahead of us. We found a table for four, and then set about filling our plates.

What a delightful selection to choose from. The first station had scrambled eggs, sausage (the European variety of boiled, not smoked, sausage I don’t like), bacon (near-raw like we saw in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand—not a favorite), tiny crepes, lots of toppings like cheese, tzatziki, and several others, but no syrup. Since I didn’t use any of these, I don’t remember all the choices.

Another area held several varieties of bread (brioche, sliced for toast, baguettes, rolls, croissants, etc.), sweet rolls (chocolate croissants, filled pastries, etc.), jams, butter, etc. In another area, we found fresh fruit salad, prunes, a variety of cereals, yogurt, granola, etc.) The beverage bar contained several varieties of juice, water (with and without fizz), and whole fruit. The wait staff served hot beverages: our choice of several varieties of coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. Breakfast was included in the price of the room and was delicious.

As I returned to our table, another couple approached heading for the food service area. “American?” I asked. The gal laughed. “How did you know?” I chuckled. “I think we all have a sort of befuddled look.” She smiled, nodded, and went on her way with her husband.

We savored our meal while waiting for the Schwencks to come down. When they hadn’t arrived by about eight forty-five, I called their room. Twice. No answer. We continued to wait, but they still didn’t arrive.

We people-watched and savored our coffee while we waited. Many of those we saw appeared to be business people. Several families also ate breakfast in the dining room. We watched one little boy, who flirted with all the wait staff. What a cutie. Another family arrived with two little girls. They were adorable.

Finally, Larry went up to the Schwencks’ room and knocked. Bernie was still getting ready. He asked if they had heard the phone. Bob had his hearing aids out, so he hadn’t heard. Bernie said she heard something, but she couldn’t identify what it was. They arrived in the dining room about nine-twenty, finally got their meal, and began to eat.

I decided to find out if the hotel would hold our bags until the afternoon when we would be able to check into the timeshare. They were happy to do so and pointed out that they were doing it for another group at the time I asked.

As I turned to return to the dining room, I saw the other Americans, Kathy and Ron. Turns out they were from North Carolina. They had spent a week in India visiting their daughter, who was there on a mission. They decided to stop for a few days in France before heading home. They had arrived the day before, were on their way to Nice, and then back to the US. We had a nice chat, and I returned to the table.

The dining room staff were lovely and friendly. They went out of their way to take care of everyone. One of the men, in particular, joked with us each time he came by. Everyone at the hotel was more than accommodating. Many thanks to Julie at AAA for the selection of Hotel Le Littre. We loved everything about it. The Schwencks had a corner room, so it had an additional sitting area. Ours was large and more than adequate.

We went back to our rooms, packed, and took the bags down to the lobby to be put into storage. When we walked out in front, Bob spotted a steeple in the distance. We had time before we would leave, so we decided to take a walk.

A few blocks from the hotel, we spotted a street market. What fun. Lots of different vendors with beautiful produce, fish, meat, cheese, olives, plus scarves, fabric, jewelry, and a variety of other items. We had a terrific time just walking along and looking at everything.

Bernie spotted a lovely scarf with swallows on it. I liked it but continued on down the row. We started back, but I decided I needed the scarf. So, I headed back and bought it. I plan to wear it when we speak about San Juan Capistrano, for which the swallow is the symbol since they return to the mission every St. Joseph’s Day. A special scarf and a wonderful souvenir from the trip.

Halfway to the distant steeple, we grew weary, but Bob was determined to get there. Exhausted after our forced march, we finally arrived. Turns out it was the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, about a mile and a half from the hotel. Bob was thrilled to be in his first church in Paris.

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at the post office, and I bought a couple of stamps. We also stopped for lunch at Le Saint Placide. I had onion soup. Larry had eggs with mayonnaise. Bob and Bernie share a croque monsieur. We had eaten the same sandwich the evening before, and Bob really enjoyed it. The one the night before was served open-faced. This had two slices of bread, more like a sandwich. They decided it was good, but the one we’d had for dinner was better.

We returned to the hotel, retrieved our bags, and asked the desk clerk to call us a cab. It arrived in just a couple of minutes, and we were off to the timeshare, Aparthotel Adagio Paris XV.

When we arrived, we discovered the only way to get the outside doors to open was with a numeric code, which we didn’t have. Bob pushed the button near the keypad. Someone answered, but then we heard nothing more. We grew cold standing outside. Bob pushed the button a couple more times. Finally, someone answered. Bob told the person on the other end we were checking in. They asked for his name, and he told them. No further response. After about ten minutes of standing in the cold, another guest spotted us and opened the door from the inside. I hate to think about how long it would have taken the staff to open it.

Several other parties were waiting to check in, too. So, we sat down and waited. And waited. (Welcome to Paris, where waiting seems to be the normal state.)

When it was finally our turn, Bob showed the clerk our reservation confirmation paperwork. I have to say, I had a great deal of respect for the folks who worked here because, while we waited, a group from Italy and another from Germany checked in. The poor clerks had to be able to communicate with people from quite a few countries. (Most weren’t English-speaking.)

The reservation said we were to be in unit #611, but we were assigned unit #520. Bob had spent a great deal of time on the phone with the timeshare exchange people. They assured him he would get a two-bedroom unit. When we arrived at unit #520, we discovered it was a one-bedroom unit with a sitting room containing a convertible sofa. He went to the desk and tried to explain the issue but was told he had a two-room unit as opposed to a studio. For them, this was considered a two-bedroom unit. After all, there were two beds. Well, three because the sofa made into two twin beds.

It took all of us, including the engineer, about fifteen minutes to figure out how to convert the sofa. The process was convoluted and not at all user-friendly. The paperwork stated we’d find a manual with instructions for everything in the unit. There wasn’t one. When we asked about it later, the gal at the desk said no such thing existed. The bed was just our first challenge.

Storage became another. Each of us had only one small carry-on suitcase and a second small carry-on bag. However, with the bed out, there was nowhere to put our bags. (And we had no intention of trying to assemble and reassemble the darn thing every day. It stayed out.) The bedroom had a closet, but the doors wouldn’t open. The bedding for the sofa was stored inside. We had to force the doors enough to squeeze out the pillows and duvets.

When we turned on the TV, we discovered none of the six English channels (out of about sixty—as one would expect) worked. Neither did the Spanish-language ones. We called and reported both the stuck doors and the TV issue to the desk clerk. She said their maintenance man had left for the day, but that he would take care of these items in the morning.

We decided to go to the store for a few items (like coffee) and to stop on the way back for dinner since, with the bed pulled out, there was nowhere to eat in the unit. The “table” was about two-feet wide and just long enough to squeeze two chairs on the side. It butted up against the kitchenette wall, and there was nowhere to move it to accommodate the four of us. The desk in the bedroom had a third chair, but no fourth was in evidence. (When the closet doors were finally fixed, we discovered a folding one in the closet. Still, the unit did not have enough room to deploy the bed as well as pull the table from the wall.)

Bob and Larry had located the store a few blocks away earlier when Bob realized he’d need an extension cord in order to plug in his CPAP machine. After we bought our coffee, we stopped at Dolce Vita restaurant for dinner. Since it was a pizza place, each couple ordered the four-cheese pizza. Not great, but adequate for our needs.

We returned to the room exhausted from our long day and long walk earlier. Fortunately, the toilet had its own room. The tub and sink were in another. This was a good setup since one person could shower while another used the facilities.

About ten o’clock, we settled in for the night.