Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tuesday, June 6: From MSM to a terrorized Notre Dame

Even though it was only a few days ago, I don't recall much of the trip back to Paris. I didn't get lost. Wasn't threatened by lethal farts. While waiting for the bus, the wind whipping through the trees across the street reminded me of the trees in my hometown, Yorkton, when its trees were similarly annoyed by the wind. When I get on my train and seek my seat, I have to pass by the person in the aisle seat. Pardon, Madame, I first offer. Then I change it to Pardon, Monsieur. I'm not sure. The seated person doesn't seem to mind. What can be expected of a non-Francophone? I'm back at Montparnasse by 2. I'm starving, so grab a quick Croque Monsieur on my way back to my hotel. I was planning to see the Arab museum   this afternoon. It's only a few blocks from my hotel, yet the concierge has never heard of it. My interest in the building again is the outside. I seek the great brain-clanging experience I got from the Moorish buildings in Spain. The outside of the building lends itself to that aesthetic, but it is raining. I go inside. It's a bunch of euros. I'm asked which exhibit I wish to see. Can't I see them all? No. Switching to English, the ticket seller suggests I see Islam in Africa. Should fit in well with the African art I saw on Sunday at the LV Fondation, as well as the recent PBS series I saw called Africa's Great Civilization. The exhibit is excellent. More cartoony modern stuff 

along with beautiful objects of great age. Outside of the exhibit, I try and get into the museum itself but am told my ticket does not permit me to do so. That turns out for the best. Dramatic as the Islamic patterns are on the outside, within the building they are stunning. One of the great aesthetic experiences of my life. 

Outside the museum, I find blackberries at a nearby store. I will dine fine tomorrow morning. I begin to walk the few blocks back to the Esmeralda hotel. Police vehicles appear. Then, a lot more. Cops are suddenly everywhere, machine guns cocked. Along with everyone else on the sidewalk, I am ordered against the wall, out of sight lines. A woman with a young daughter asks the closest cop, in English, what is happening. The cop answers, in English, to my astonishment, that 2 shots have been fired at Notre Dame, which is very close to my hotel. Every cop seems very nervous. The English speaking cop tells the woman and her daughter that she has goose bumps. This is the day after the killings in London. Everyone is very scared.
By back streets, I make my way back to my hotel. A fellow guest is speaking about how loud the 2 gunshots were. No one knows what's happening. Thankfully, through the phone, Fumiyo is able to give me some information. The shots were fired By the cops at an attacker, not By the attacker. We needn't hide in our hotels, though the streets outside are cordoned off. I had reservations as a fish restaurant I had to cancel. Instead, I prowled the nearby places for something that looked good. I saw Poire Wiliams at a nearby restaurant chalk board. A drink I'd loved in first Euro trip in 1980. The food sounds good too. Gratin, fish stew. What could go wrong?
Gratin is a common meal in Japan. Macaroni, shrimp, scallops, fish, mushrooms, onions, peppers and cheese. Baked. Fumiyo and friends make fine versions. You can get it as frozen food in any Japanese market. Common food. Should be better in France, right? Uh.. Well. It's edible. No Mac and veg. Limited cheese. Some of my least favourite shell fish but, it was Edible. And then the stew arrives. Potatoes. Salmon. Big Prawns. Mystery Fish. OK, I'll start the with salmon. How bad can salmon be? I was unprepared for the answer. And I thought I knew bad food. My palate was under assault. I gobbled a bit of potato for relief. Ah. Now the prawns. It's impossible to have bad prawns. I had thought. This restaurant is reaching for the record books. Worst Food Ever. Has the terrorist poisoned my food? The mystery fish retains its mystery. I recall having A Lot of bad food in France on our two previous trips. Until I discovered fine French dining in Vegas, I didn't know there was such a thing. My anti-meal, after scary terror and a 2-day trip to Mont St. Michel that should have been a day trip, though the shower and high thread count sheets were vastly appreciated, is making me wonder what I'm doing here?


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