Now Normal Chronicles or: The Hard Rock Day

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Salutations™!!

Today is a big day in music releases, but for today, I’m only going to focus on hard rock albums that came out on this day. The UK release of Scorpions’ In Trance turns 45 today. Unleashed in the East from Judas Priest turns 41. Use Your Illusion I, Use Your Illusion II from Guns N Roses and No More Tears from Ozzy are all 29 today. That’s a lot of hard rock! I have always loved this song and think this is an amazing version, all things considered. This performance involves 21 students who range in ages from 5 to 16. The poor kid who is playing drums can’t be any bigger then the kick drum and does a great job. However, someone needs to introduce him to a stick bag or stick stick caddy as he dropped a stick twice. Also, I have to say it’s cheating a bit to play a high note instead of the squeal harmonics but again, none of the kids are over 16, they probably hadn’t mastered that yet. I think Zakk needs a wah pedal to get it to sound like he does. Anywhat! Enjoy!

Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
Scorp out!


“So now that it’s over can’t we just say goodbye? I’d like to move on and make the most of the night. Maybe a kiss before I leave you this way. Your lips are so cold, I don’t know what else to say. I never wanted it to end this way, my love, my darling. Believe me when I say to you in love I think I’m falling here. No more tears.” – “No More Tears” (Osbourne/Wylde/Castillo/Inez/Purdell)

Now Normal or: Oh No!

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Salutations™!!

Today is the 35th anniversary of KISS’ 13th studio album, Asylum. It’s the youngest of the “triplets” that includes Lick It Up, Animalize and this one, in that order. While I think it is overall the weakest of the three, it did have the best single (to me) from the three albums, and this is that. The funny thing about this version is that it’s the Monsters Of Rock festival and other than some appearance in the background, Gene, who is probably one of the two most important members, is never shown in this. I just find it strange. But, they do a good job of it. This is from 1988. Enjoy!

Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
Scorp out!


“I read your mind like an open book. You lost the fire in your eyes. You turn to me with a different look. And then it’s raining; looks like it’s raining. Oh no, tears are falling.” – “Tears Are Falling” (Stanley)

Now Normal Chronicles or: Which One is Pink?

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Salutations™!!

Today is the 45th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here. I love this album and I couldn’t leave a tune off of it. I could possibly shorten “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1-157)” but not eliminate the song altogether. However, my favorite tune on this album would have to be this one. I always loved the way the Charlotte-based band GreenLight did it and I didn’t find a video of them so I tried another approach. I think this is a fantastic version.

Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
Scorp out!

“I’ve always had a deep respect and I mean that most sincere; the band is just fantastic, that is really what I think, oh, by the way, which one’s Pink?And did we tell you the name of the game, boy? We call it ‘Riding The Gravy Train’.” – “Have a Cigar” (Waters)

Memories Lane or: Six Starts Part 11

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Salutations™!!

I promise that this is the last of the “Honeymoon Chronicles” retelling. That means that September 13 and 14 from six years ago is this…

So, last we visited we had had a very beer-filled day in Bruges; high gravity and The Beer Museum and what not.  Well, this is Bruges – Belgium, I say – so beer was going to be a recurring theme as long as I can help it.

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Sex shop on the left/Toy shop on the right

After buying our chocolates and animal-fat-cone-shaped jelly candies, we made our way back to the hotel to drop off the goodies and then went out to get some dinner.  We wandered around looking for a place to eat.  Trying to not go back to the “Ol’ Standby” De Vier Winden, we stopped and looked at several menus before stopping in a cute little bistro type place, that in a completely rookie mistake we forgot to document with either pictures or writing it down.

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Kneeling at the Beer Wall

Anywhat, as I said, there was more beer.  I had a Pauwel Kwak, which is a lovely 8.4%ABV Amber Ale.  It’s charm also includes, as does most European beer, its own specialty glass. However, this glass was bulbous at the bottom, wide at the top, long in the middle and fits into a wooden handle.  The idea is the handle is there to ensure your hands don’t warm the glass.  The first bit is annoying because I thought the glass was going to move, but the design is true and the glass moved nary a bit.  The BCPF had some wine, a rosé, I believe.

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Coconut beer

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Kwak

We had had a great deal of food and beer for the day so we skipped appetizers and just ordered main courses.  She had rabbit with cheese croquets and I had shrimp in a saffron sauce.  Both were tasty, perfectly prepared and as is the case with just about every other dish on this trip, nothing but fabulous flavors abounding. Afterwards, we just walked back to the hotel and had our now-routine Grand Marnier and Sprite in the Oud Huis de Peellaert bar.  Early to bed, early to rise.  Well, we did watch some BBC (the only English speaking television there) news, reality and game shows.  We actually, talked about how we miss those, just this week.

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Neptune in Koningin Astrid Park

Our last day in Bruges we got up and found some lace to buy for our mothers and some other Bruges-made souvenirs before we stopped in front of a very strange combination of toy/hobby shop on the right and a sex shop on the left.  They weren’t really “together” but the wall between them was barely wider than me.  Then we moved down the street to the famous “Beer Wall.”  Said huh…?  Wall o’beer?  For serious?  YES for serious.  Holy dang!  At the end of this wall was a tasting station.  I say tasting, you paid for the beer, but there was a huge selection.  One that I saw that I just could not pass up was Mongozo’s Cocunut Beer.  It was only 3.6%ABV but holy dang! it was some fabulous beer.  Light, clean, very refreshing and very coconutty.  I loved it.  The BCPF, at this point, had had enough, I think.  She did taste mine but that was about it.

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Swans in the pond at Koningin Astrid Park

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Picnic in Koningin Astrid Park

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Statue of Koningin Astrid

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On an old bridge in Bruges

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Bonne Jovi

We wandered a bit more through the old city and came upon the beautiful Koningin Astrid Park which has a statue of Neptune (as far as I can tell) in the middle of a little pond.  The thing that I thought the most awesome about it was there were actual swans and a little swan bridge that enabled them to get out of the water easily.  The whole thing was quite serene.  A group of about 8 college kids brought blankets and picnic baskets and set up a mid-afternoon picnic, with wine and snacks. They were laughing and drinking and it was just cool to watch that.  Felt good to watch the scene.  We had stopped along the way at a little candy shop so while sitting on a bench watching the kids and swans, we ate a little of the goodies we got. Great stuff.

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Belfort at Night, Bruges

Then came more beer.  We stopped for a few and they were potent.  After that we walked through the streets taking pictures of many of the old canals and bridges.  Then we ended up back in the square where we stopped at, you guessed it, De Vier Winden; we just couldn’t stay away.  We had our “very best friend,” Vincent, again.  We had more beer and some fries.  We watched as a group of guys (and some young ladies) carried a guy to the square, and left him standing in the middle.  That’s not odd, but the fact that they had him tied to a lamp post, plastic-wrapped with a sign and wine and dolled up in make up was.  It turns out he was getting married the next weekend and this is somewhat a tradition.  The sign translates to “I’m Good Jovi. Half nun half Bon Jovi.”  I’m not sure what “the faith” part at the bottom was.  He was taking it well and laughed it off.

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Apple Pie

More walking and looking until that night we ate in the square (not at De Vier Winden).  As we approached the square we hear the bells in the Belfort and it sounded like it was being accompanied by other instruments.  It seemed like it never stopped.  As we sat to eat dinner at a street cafe called the Golden Stretcher Café or La Civière d’or Au Petit Café we asked the server (don’t remember his name) about the bells.  He said it was the closing night of the bell tower concert season.  He said there were accompanists and if the entire song was performed it would play over 24 hours. Wow. Anyway, it was beautiful to hear and beautiful to look at from our seats.  Whilst eating there The BCPF had croquets (she wasn’t ready for full-on dinner, yet) while I had a steak, rare.  We, of course, had beer and I opted for dessert. She wanted the apple pie but didn’t know that she could eat it.  I wanted something and even though I’m not a fan of apple pie, I got it so she could have some.  It was really good pie.  Off to the hotel, and up the next morning to head to one of my least favorite cities in the world, Brussels. But first, more Grand Marnier.

The train was on time and we were in “first class.”  The ticket, however was an “any Belgian train” ticket and we left earlier than expected.  We arrived at the Brussels station two hours before our driver was to pick us up.  So we waited in a little food court and waited until the time we were supposed to be picked up and went back to the platform we arrived at and did what the instructions we had said to do.  We never saw this driver. We even begged someone to tell us how to find the hired cars and they were rude. We ended up having to get a taxi to our hotel.  Strike one for Brussels this trip.

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Manneken Pis

We get to our hotel and I must say that if you ever get the chance to stay at a Sofitel, do it!!!  I’m a travel agent and I recommend them anytime I can (note: I am no longer a travel agent but I STILL recommend Sofitel). That hotel was one of the nicest in which we’ve ever stayed.  I can’t really say what it was about it, but it just felt cozy.  The room was spacious, had a great view of a neighborhood street, the lobby was immaculate and the staff was so very friendly. We went up and put our luggage away and went to the only place that I enjoy in the city, The Grand Place.  We had to find our way to the “Metro.”  We didn’t even know that Brussels had a Metro. The metro station didn’t look like it was in any good shape; like they were just building it but I understand that it has been around for a long time.  It was a big construction zone and it was hard to traverse. Strike two, Brussels.

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Salmon appetizer

We finally got there and unlike last year, they had flowers out and the place was really nicely decorated.  It’s majestic and historic. Full of shops and restaurants, the Grand Place is a bright spot in one of the dirtiest, most miserable cities I’ve ever been in.  We decided to eat at a restaurant called La Chaloupe d’Or.  The BCPF had a goat cheese, honey and rosemary pie that came in a filo shell and I had a meatloaf in savory sauce. The food at this restaurant was fantastic. The BCPF talks about that being one of her favorite meals.  Of course, there was beer.  I have to say while this restaurant was fabulous when it comes to food, the service was kind of crappy and to even use the restroom you have to pay €.35 just to be in there.  That ticked me off. After this, we skipped dessert and went exploring.

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Main course at BE Cafe Marche Jourdan

We ended up in a record store where The BCPF purchased a CD that included Ric Ocasek teaming up with Billy Corgan. She also bought a Band of Horses disc.  We then went to the Hard Rock Cafe and looked around. I saw Vinnie Vincent’s (one-time guitarist with KISS) boots and a set list from a David Bowie concert.  We wandered down to to the Manneken Pis (the statue of the little boy that is taking a pee) which happens to be one of the nation’s landmarks.  We made a point to see it last year, too.  We then made our way back to The Grand Place and had waffles and lambics, cherry and peach, at a place called Aroma.  We made our way back to the hotel, including taking a wrong turn trying to get to the correct Metro station.  I HATE BRUSSELS!

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Amuse Bouche – BE Cafe Marche Jourdan

We relaxed for a bit for our last night in Europe and did our airline check-ins and all that jazz.  We then decided to walk down to the restaurant, BE Cafe Marche Jourdan, to have dinner.  It’s a 4 star restaurant with the prices to match, but as with everything else on this trip, we didn’t hold back.  We looked over the menu and ordered the salmon appetizer, trout with cauliflower sauce and shrimp and a selection of sweets for dessert.  Here’s the funny story about this: the prices were up there and we overheard a neighboring table talk about getting bread or an appetizer.  Out to our table came a very, very small piece of salmon on a thin slice of cucumber.  The BCPF and I looked at it and looked at each other and then looked back, again, at the small ramekin containing the itty-bitty piece of fish.  We laughed.  We couldn’t believe this was the appetizer, especially at these prices.  We wanted, so badly, to tell the neighboring table to not expect much.  We ate the sliver of fish-on-a-cuke and said we didn’t know what we’d do if the entree was that small.  Again, we reiterated to each other, this can’t be the appetizer.  Well, it wasn’t. It was an amuse-bouche. Then we laughed harder.  The appetizer was a good size portion and the entree was as well.  And the fish (the waitress commented, “so, fish and fish?”) was perfectly prepared, tender and delightful.  We had plenty of beer, again, knowing that this was our last night in Europe. The last night of our honeymoon.

Not to give so much away or TMI, I ran a bath for The BCPF and we just enjoyed holding each other in the water.  Nothing too graphic, just enjoying each other.  We slept very well that night.  We got up, got showered, ready to go and received the call that our car was waiting for us downstairs.  They took us to the airport and somehow we had no problems (this is Brussels after all).  The flight back was uneventful, which is always the best way to fly.

And, so, Dear Reader, we concluded our honeymoon, our wedding trip. Here we are, five months later and all is well.  I love that woman with all my heart and she really is my saving grace.  We both hope you enjoyed reading about the honeymoon and wedding.  I know it was long (this one is well over 2000 words) and it was a journey.  I hope you felt like you were there with us.  If you have any questions, comments or want to take a trip like this for your self, please let me know.  I love to talk travel and this trip was so wonderful, I’ll talk your ear off. The whole trip was amazing – a dream – and writing this for you was great; being able to walk through those memories again. It’s hard to believe The Honeymoon Chronicles have come to a close.  Thanks for reading about it.

So, there ya have it, all the honeymoon. I love my wife and I am so glad we got to have this trip. It was the last big one that we took. Hopefully, we’ll get to do it again soon. And, hopefully, the world opens back up so we can, too. Thank you, Dear Reader, for reading this. I truly appreciate it!

Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
Scorp out!


“A country like Belgium, or socialist countries in central Europe spend more money on art education than the United States, which is a really puzzling thought.” – Mikhail Baryshnikov

Spinning Sunday or: The Haul 9/12/20

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Salutations™!!

A good but long week for The BCPF and me led to a good weekend, including a fantastic trip to Underdog Records. I don’t have a lot to say about it other than, here’s the haul:

©Sub Pop

The first two are of the TimeLife – The Story of Great Music collections that I ordered from Discogs and told you about a week ago.

Various – The Opulent Era — Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Wagner, and one of my favorites, Camille Saint-Saëns, and more line this 4xLP collection. NM.

Various – The Music Of Today — Shostakovich, Sir William Walton, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Aaron Copland. NM.

The rest is yesterday’s haul:

Prince – Dirty Mind — #206 on the RS List, this is Prince’s third album and the first one to really get him any recognition. Looking at other albums out in 1980, this cover had to have gotten some desperate housewives hot and flustered. He’s in his leather banana hammock and trench coat and not much else. New.

Marilyn Manson – We Are Chaos — The new Manson album, this is a solid listen front to back. It’s a little odd for the usual Manson fare, but there’s enough of it in there that you know it’s him. I liked it. New.

Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes — The debut album from the folk punk heroes. a lot of popular tunes from this album: “Blister in the Sun,” “Kiss Off,” “Add It Up,” “Gone Daddy Gone” and more. New.

Hootie & The Blowfish – Cracked Rear View — This album, like the band Nickelback and heck, Hootie, too, is chided and I can’t really tell why. The snooty know-it-alls will say because it’s this reason or that reason or whatever and it “sucks.” Well, it was the best selling album of 1995 and is the 19th best selling album of all time. I mean, 21 million copies sold, it couldn’t have sucked that bad. That just means that those same know-it-alls are just blowhards who just want to hear themselves talk (or type). Now, that being said, if you just don’t like it, I can live with that. I think it was just overplayed, but if you’re the artist, isn’t that what you want? I’d give a lot to have a “hit” that was played so much it was considered “overplayed.” I’m indifferent about it one way or the other, I just wanted it in my collection. New.

Marilyn Manson – The Pale Emperor — Manson’s ninth album. I don’t really know much about this one, but it did have three singles: “Third Day of a Seven Day Binge,” “Deep Six,” “Cupid Carries a Gun.” 2xLP. New.

The Head And The Heart – Let’s Be Still — I know nothing about this band. Have never even heard of them. But, it’s indie folk rock. Who do we know that is a fan of that genre? That’s right! And, she is the one who picked this up. 2xLP. New.

Pavement – Crooked Rain Crooked Rain — Straight up indie rock that sits at #212 on the RS list. This is Pavement’s second album, their debut, Slanted and Enchanted is also on that list. The debut was a bit lo-fi where this is more accessible, straight-ahead indie rock. I liked it. New.

Superchunk – Foolish — We bought the acoustic version last year and I have to say I enjoyed that one better. Mac McCaughan’s voice rakes on me sometimes. Overall I like the band, I’ve seen them twice in concert, but this is a bit much. New.

Nirvana – Bleach — When this album came out, I was in a spot where my preferred music was in danger of being dethroned and I was anti- that. I talked badly about Nirvana (and Grunge in general), Cobain, the music, the fans, everything. I thought it sucked. I thought it was awful. I thought it was scourge of the Earth. I said bad things that I regret about Kurt Cobain. Over time, though, I came to respect all that Nirvana was. Nevermind, which was my bane when it arrived, has come to be a great album in my eyes. I had never heard this album (which was their debut) and this thing rocks!!!! I was dumb. I was an idiot. I was blind but now I see. Man, this is even better than Nevermind in my opinion. I loved it. New.

Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights — I have never heard anything from Interpol that I know of. I asked Jonathan about it and he said they were just a straight rock band with a bit of a darker side. I said, okay. NM.

Joe Jackson – Joe Jackson’s Jumpin’ Jive — 1981 album from Jackson of a lot of swing and jump blues tunes. I like Joe Jackson. I like jump blues and swing. VG+.

Mussorgsky — The Philadelphia OrchestraEugene Ormandy – Pictures At An Exhibition – Night On Bald Mountain — VG+.

We started the music section back on this week’s episode of The Less Desirables which is sponsored by Underdog Records. Don’t forget to register to get in on the lottery for RSD Drop 2 coming September 26. Use Discogs to track your collection and buy albums to add to it.

Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
Scorp out!


“When I’m out walking, I strut my stuff and I’m so strung out. I’m high as a kite. I just might stop to check you out.” – “Blister In The Sun” (Gano)

Memories Lane or: Six Starts Part 10

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Salutations™!!

I know it’s Saturday but I need to get through this. Honestly, it gets hard to keep up when I’m skipping and chopping up the days. But, that being said, I’m really enjoying my own blog walking down this path. The BCPF and I talk about our honeymoon all the time but these accounts from when it happened, is fascinating to me. I honestly don’t go back to read my own blog much, so this is funny how I chose to word things. Anywhat! Back to the story. And I will warn you, this is a long one.:

So, Disneyland Paris and Dinner in Bespin down, the last day in Paris was a welcome change.  Yes, there would be walking but that’s okay, it was a little more relaxed than what we’d done up to then.  We had a tour scheduled for that day, A Bohemian Walking Tour, and we had to meet up with the group at The Pantheon.  That fact alone was great; it’s a world famous landmark in, and of, itself.  But, first, we had to get there.

We took the Métro from Opéra to Maubert-Mutualité station and emptied into a street market, conveniently called Maubert-Mutualité Market.  Now, we can maneuver Métro routes like nobody’s business, but once we get off the rail and onto the streets, that’s the only time I have trouble getting around.  Orientation is the problem, not map reading. I can read the maps but figuring out which direction is east/west/north/south is the problem.  We decided we were early enough before our tour that we could afford to explore and wander about (we were about an hour and a half ahead of time).  The BCPF picked a direction and we went that way.

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Produce Shop in Latin Quarter

This is was the mother lode of the stuff we look for: neighborhood streets, shops, bakeries, butcher shops, apartments, flower shops, etc. I have said it before, we look for the neighborhoods, to see how the natives live.  That means more to us than sightseeing, although, that’s fun, too.  That’s why we take the walking tours, we get to see how lives are lived as well as history.  That’s what we had, here. Commercialism and tourist areas were at an absolute minimum, here; right in the Latin Quarter. Parisian life, indeed.  So upon looking for The Pantheon we figured we’d eat.  A street crossing lent a number of options, including a bakery where people were piling in and out (quite quickly, may I add).  We decided on Le Petit Cardinal and sat on the sidewalk watching schoolkids walking in small groups together to school with their backpacks, young executives on bicycles going to work, men and women in business attire riding scooters; a bit of everything.

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Croque Madame of The BCPF

When the server came to take our order and before she could say more than bonjour, I told her immediately, “je ne parle pas français (I don’t speak French).”  She stopped in her tracks, turned on a dime and went back inside, only to reemerge with an English menu.  The BCPF took the usual, croque madame, and I took a flatbread pizza.  We ate, taking in the great sunny day, watching life hustle and bustle by – hectic, yet subtle – whilst the lunch crowd moved in around us.  Between bites, I noticed a directional sign across the street indicating the direction of The Pantheon… BINGO! We paid and moved on towards the landmark.

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Scorp and His Twin

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The Facade of The Pantheon, Paris

 

 

 

 

Up a few hills and past a school, in which a shload of high schoolers were sitting about with books, bag lunches and being cool little Parisian hipsters.  We finally made it to The Pantheon.  The Pantheon is an 18th Century former church dedicated to St. Genevive. It also serves as a necropolis and has since become a memorial to some of history’s greats including Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Louis Braille, Alexandre Dumas and Marie Curie.  It’s of Gothic architecture and looks quite Greek, at least to me.  We wandered around it because we were still about 20 minutes before the tour.  There was this crazy statue that was a temporary exhibit of a very large, naked, Asian-appearing man.  Oddly, enough, he is shaped just like me, so here’s a picture of me standing next to it.  I wish we had taken a pic of what it was, but we didn’t.

So we meandered around the gates of The Pantheon until we saw other people who appeared to be tourists and we inquired if they were waiting on a tour. They were a group of 7 friends (some couples) from Australia.  They said they were and then a short, but personable young man popped up and indicated that he was our tour guide.  He asked if he could finish his cigarette and coffee as he had been eating his lunch, mixing with the other locals enjoying their surroundings.  None of us had any problems with that and after he prepared himself, we learned his name was Arthur.  That was my grandfather’s name, so I found it pretty awesome.  He gave us a little history of The Pantheon and told us that university was only about $150 per semester, which is depressing, really, knowing what I owe for college and I’m feeling more and more and more like my degree is not only useless, but a scam.  Enough of that, though.

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The Gardens at Luxembourg Palace

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The Honeymooners’ Kiss

 

 

 

 

Arthur took us through the streets of the Latin Quarter and told us stories of architecture, history, landmarks. We stopped at the French Senate that is inside Luxembourg Palace located at Luxembourg Gardens.  This is one absolutely beautiful building, garden and, obviously, popular destination for Parisians and tourists, alike.  It was a massive expanse of grounds that truly was an immaculate garden.  Benches and people lined the stroll ways. Picnics were also happening. It was lovely.  Then there was the jolie fountain area pictured here where Arthur said it was rated one of the 10 best places to kiss in Paris. Well, I don’t know if it was connerie (French for BS) or not, but it was a great place for us to do so, I’d say.

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The First Guillotine Test was Supposedly Performed Here

He led us through side streets and past what he said was the oldest café in Paris.  That’s nice, but then he took us to a side garden where the first-ever test of the Guillotine was performed.  Macabre maybe, but cool, I think.  From there he led us to the oldest church (at least one of the two vying for the title) in Paris. Inside, The BCPF lit a candle, which has become a tradition for her in the historic churches we visit.  I usually stand to the side and hold things for her so she can have her time. Being non-religious, I am still respectful of others’ views and customs. One of the last places we crossed in front of during this tour was a hotel.  It was, in a way, the hotel: supposedly, the former apartment building that Jim Morrison died in.  I was never a big fan of The Doors, but still, it’s very interesting.

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Ma Salle a Manger (My Dining Room)

We then made our way to a small (and by small I mean minute) eatery called Ma Salle a Manger (My Dining Room).  I think my dining room is bigger than this. Don’t get me wrong, it was a lovely little place but I’m a big boy, even going to the bathroom was hard – lots of ducking and sucking in to maneuver.  We, along with Arthur, had wine and beer with our new Australian friends, of which we remember no names.  Included in our tour price was charcuterie and fromage.   Arthur knew the girl that was minding the shop and got us a few little extra cheeses in there.  It was very good.

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Our Tour Guide, Arthur

One thing I remember talking about was the money.  We all paid for our alcohol with cash.  The Australians told us that they hated American money.  Not for any political reasons, mind you, but because of its appearance.  They said that it was all the same color and all the same size. Euros and Australian monies are all different colors and sizes for different denominations.  We hadn’t really thought about it, it’s what we’ve always known.  There are a few variances in the money now, of course, but for the most part, it’s all that forest green and gray.

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The BCPF Drinking Ricard and Playing Pétanque

Arthur, then took us to a little courtyard and proceeded to mix up Ricard and water, to cut it. A licorice-like flavored thing, it was quite strong and quite fun to drink.  In this courtyard he introduced us to Pétanque, a bocce ball-esque game where you toss semi-hollow metal balls as closely as possible to a smaller, wooden ball. We all played, we all had fun.  Arthur then gave us the opportunity to continue the tour or to disband.  The Aussies had other plans to go back to the hotel and get ready for and they all opted out.

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Scorp Circling Point Zero

We asked if we could continue with him and he basically gave us a private tour for the next 45 minutes or so.  He took us past sanitariums and landmarks, eventually getting us back to Notre Dame, yet again.  He took us to Point Zero and told us the tradition of standing and turning on it. Doing so will ensure the circling individuals will return to Paris. Again, could be more connerie, but we didn’t take a chance, we circled it.

Before Arthur left us, we inquired about recommendations for dinner.  He gave us “instructions” on how to get to where he thought would be good for us and we said our goodbyes.  Arthur was fun and we glad that we got to take his tour.  We made our way toward the Métro and prepared to head where Arthur told us.  

(Arthur) had given us the info for a restaurant that he recommended as a good “closer” for Paris. He recommended Le Relais Gascon. Told us how to find it and sent us on our way.

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Le Relais Gascon restaurant

We took the Metro to the Pigalle station and exited to the street.  Because it was hard to understand every word that Arthur said , we basically were going to be winging it once we got off the train.  I did hear him say something about  a hill.  We looked around and noticed a hill. So we walked up it – by then we had gotten really good at hills. At the top of the hill and at a crossroad, there stood Le Relais Gascon.  We had found it.  We sat outside, as we did just about everywhere in Paris.  It had gotten a wee bit chilly.  I once more indicated Je ne parle pas français and they said, no problem and brought us English menus.

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The BCPF and Scorp having rosé.

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Avocado with grey shrimp and Russian dressing

 

 

 

 

One thing that we got on our Honeyfund fund raiser was “Wine in France and Beer in Belgium.”  So to satisfy that and to have a picture to thank JayCo & JenCo with, we had a nice rosé and we enjoyed it.  We then ordered appetizers.  The BCPF had a whole avocado covered with grey shrimp (basically bay shrimp) and a house-made Russian dressing.  She said it was great. I had pâté and it was quite flavorful.

Then on to the entrées. The BCPF had chicken with mushroom gravy and potato chips (not like the crisps we eat out of a bag, but grated potatoes).  She didn’t really care for that, she said. I had steak tartare. 4 nights in Paris, 3 nights of steak tartare.  I was addicted to that stuff.  Three different restaurants with steak tartare and three different ways of preparing it.  All three tasted different.  This one was more Worcestershire based. That’s not a bad thing, I like Worcestershire sauce.  I’m not really sure if that’s what it was but it did taste like it. It was delish!  However, I’d still say out of the three this was my least favorite; but still delish.  On to some dessert!

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Chicken and mushroom gravy

The BCPF had chocolate mousse and, as she sits here while I write this, said it was go-oo-oo-oo-ood!  I had a banana  split and it was yummy but nothing spectacular.  As usual, I finished my meal off with a snifter of Grand Marnier. Overall, we enjoyed the restaurant but it wasn’t our favorite of Paris. We made our way back to the Metro station and back to our hôtel (the proper French way to spell it). A great end to a great day.

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Steak tartare

The next morning we make our way down to the lobby where we awaited a driver to take us to the train station so we could move on to our next destination.  We got to the train station and had some croissants and coffee.  Something about French coffee, it doesn’t wig out my Tourette Syndrome like caffeine-laden American coffee.  Which is good, because I didn’t want to be jittery at that time. The reason for that is there was a presence of armed French officers, either military or police carrying the machine guns, just like under the Eiffel Tower. I’m supposing the ISIS threat at the time in Europe led them to that, but I’m not really sure. We also saw the apprehension of a thief. Thievery is apparently an epidemic in the train stations. I know we told the same beggar woman “allez!!” several times and the same to another bum. Homeless people I feel for, bums, I don’t.

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Banana Split in Paris

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Chocolate mousse in Paris

 

 

 

 

Finally, our train arrived and again, we had first class tix.  We put our bags in the racks and rode on to Brussels so that we could take the connector to Bruges.  Whilst riding we had come pastries, tea (me) and coffee (The BCPF).  It was about an hour and a half and quite peaceful.  I spent time trying to update my blog, but the WiFi on the train was spotty.  Present, but spotty. 

We arrived in Brussels and had to figure out where we were supposed to pick up the train to Bruges.  The train station in Brussels is but one reason why I hate that city; it is so darned confusing. I had to ask one of the rude workers in transportation which train I was supposed to get on because the only thing that they have that indicates trains is the Departures and even though we were departing we couldn’t find the right train to be on.  Anywhat! The worker told me to just get on ____ train (I can’t remember which one) it leaves at ____ time.  I thanked her and she just nodded.  Anyway we wait and wait and wait for the train. It arrives and we get on in a bum-rush of people.  Stuffing our luggage under and in-between seats, we sat down breathing heavy and worn out but ready to move on.

We arrived in Bruges and worked our way out to the taxi stand and waited in line to get a ride to our hotel.  The driver loaded our bags and drove us to a lovely old hotel.  On the way there, all on cobblestone streets, he pointed out several churches, a brewery, pointed us in the direction of the square, etc.  A very good driver, he was.  

Checking into Oud Huis de Peellaert, we marveled at how beautiful the hotel was. There was much to marvel at in this old place, mostly good, and some truly odd.  The view from our room was something just out of a storybook, or what you’d think a small Belgian town would look, historic and timeless.  The floor of the bathroom was heated.  As is the case with most European hotels, you had to use your room key in a slot to enable the lights and other electronics.  The odd thing about this one was that it was a true key on a weighted dongle and not a credit card-like passkey.  Also, we were to leave the key at the front desk when we left, which, if we forgot something, then the desk attendants, who never complained, certainly didn’t look pleased. It’s okay, they dealt with it, fantastically.

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Braces in the halls of Oud Huis de Peellaert

Another odd thing in this hotel, not in our path, but the opposite end of the hall, there were structural braces in the hall.  Not just there, but THERE! See the picture, won’t you?

Well, we settled our stuff in, took in the view and decided to go out and see what this small town held for us.  We dropped off the key and walked out the front door.  We glanced toward the skyline and looked for a clue as to where to go. We saw what were looking for and headed to the left.

We passed by a few small restaurants and came to a small square.  In this square there were a few police officers. They were setting up seats in front of a trailer/stage where an orchestra would play later that day. Let it be known that that was the only time we saw any police during our entire Bruges stay.  We moved on down a street. Street is a misnomer as there was no cars in this street, although some horse-drawn carriages were.

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Belfort, the Bell Tower of Bruges

We passed by chocolatiers, lacemakers, lace sellers, more restaurants and a beer museum.  Mmmm hmmm, a beer museum. But, that comes later.  We heard and saw what it was we were looking for. Bruges is visually best known for one thing.  It’s primary landmark, and if you’ve seen the film In Bruges, then you know it already, is the Belfort, or Belfry of Bruges.  It’s a 13th Century bell tower and has 366 steps to the top, in which I am way too lazy to climb. It’s the center attraction in the Markt, a market square that is full of restaurants, shops, a post office and some government buildings.

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Beers at De Vier Winden, Bruges

As we were now getting a little hungry we decided to sit down for a small snack and, of course, Belgian beer.  So, we ended up at a restaurant to the right of the Belfort called De Vier Winden (German for The Four Winds) where we had frittes with both mayonnaise and ketchup and Leffe Braun.  We also had a great server named Vincent.  He liked us, as well, because we ate there more than once and he kept calling us his “very best friends.”  The frittes, french fries – after all true french fries were created in Belgium, not France – were delicious and hit the spot and the beer, well Leffe is awesome and hard to go wrong.  We then decided that we were ready for a nap.  C’mon, we’ve at this point been going, non-stop, for 11 days, straight.  It was quite needed.

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The BCPF and Scorp on their horse-drawn carriage ride in Bruges

 

 

 

 

We returned to the square later that evening and after walking about a mile (plus) out of the way to find an ATM, returned to the square, yet again, to pay for a horse-drawn carriage ride through the historic city.  This was no ordinary carriage ride. The driver and her friend drove the horse quite quickly. At one point the horse was actually trotting and not just strolling through the city. It was probably the fastest carriage ride we’d ever taken. The driver stopped halfway through the tour to feed the horse and let it get water.  We took that opportunity to get some pictures and enjoy the rest.  It was a fun, but strange ride.  We ended back at the square about 45 minutes (the ride was fast, not the tour) and we went back to De Vier Winden since we were already familiar with it.  Vincent was waiting for us there and greeted us as his “very best friends,” yet again.

The BCPF had some wine whilst I had the biggest glass of Hoegaarden Raspberry known to man.  It was hugantic! She had shrimp croquettes and I had cheese croquettes for appetizers.  They were both spectaculicious!  For dinner, she had a chicken florentine stew and I had rabbit.  Dessert was, of course, a Belgian waffle for The BCPF and crème brulèe for me.  All was very delicious. She was especially taken by the croquettes and got them, when she could, from other restaurants.  We then returned to the hotel and stopped in at the bar for a night cap. Any guesses as to what I had?  Have you been reading, Dear Reader? I’ll give you three guesses and first two won’t count.  Okay, okay, I’ll tell you, it was, of course, Grand Marnier and The BCPF had Sprite. She was living dangerously.

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A bridge in Bruges with The BCPF

Breakfast the next morning was a cold/dry bar with cereals, lox, toast, etc.  Basically, it was the same shite we’d had everywhere else.  Nothing, really, to remark about.  Then, we were out and about. We had a 2pm appointment for one of the city tours with earphone guide, but we were up and out early so we had time to kill.  We did what we do and took a different turn and walked the streets to see what else we could wander upon.  We crossed some bridges that are older than most everything we have here in “The States,” walked the streets, doing some people watching and ended up at a little market square. At this square there was a few different things: fish (because why not?) and other seafood, scarves, t-shirts, etc. The BCPF loves some scarves, as I think I’ve mentioned, and these were actually made by the people that were there selling them.  They had a large loom there that they used to make said scarves.  She wasn’t going to buy one but I kind of insisted.  She loved it.

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Drinking a Straffe Hendrik by Brouwerij De Halve Maan Brugge

 

 

 

 

We made our way to the Markt again and whilst waiting on the tour bus, we had a few beverages. The BCPF had a Belgian cafe mocha with hot chocolate and coffee and I had a few beers. These beers were Straffe Hendrik by De Halve Maan Brewery in Bruges, a fantastic 11% ABV monster and the Tripel Karmeliet from Bosteels Brewery, a great 8.4% ABV Tripel.  One thing that I noticed about Belgium and their restaurants, when they serve beer, they serve it with glasses that have logos that match each and every beer.

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Bonne-Chière Windmill

We then walked across the square and got on the tour bus.  It was really a run-of-the-mill tour, nothing major.  We saw a couple of things like the Bonne-Chière Windmill, two more bell towers, including those older than the Belfort. There was also a VW Microbus carrying a wedding party. Interesting.  Then back to the square where we exited the bus.

We walked up the street to The Beer Museum. See, I told you I’d get there.  Admission included walking up a  ridiculous amount stairs to grab an iPad of some sort that would play the part of tour guide for us.  It showed the history of beer, both in the world and in Bruges. It showed the positive and negative aspects of beer in history. The highlight of the museum tour, though, was the three tokens each we received to exchange for beer samples.  And, yes, The BCPF drank beer! She says that it was Belgium that fully turned her on to it. We tried Kriek (cherry) lambics, hefty high-gravity beers and other smooth and strong Belgian beers.  Quite delish, all.

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Drinking beer samples at The Beer Museum, Bruges

Feeling quite sluggish and more than slightly inebriated, we stumbled about looking for things to buy for souvenirs and found a chocolate factory that tickled our fancies. One thing about Bruges, it’s known for a few things. Specifically, it’s known for its Belgian lace (especially bobbins-made), Belgian chocolate, Belgian beer and Belfort.  Anywhat! We proceeded to purchase a 36-pc box of chocolates (variety assortment) and a dozen “animal fat jellies.” Basically, jelly- (like jelly beans, not as in PB&J) filled candies that are shaped like noses and are called “neuzekes” (noses), oddly enough.  I mention the animal fat because the girl who sold them to us was quite adamant about informing us due to the fact that she sold some to a Muslim couple and they didn’t know. We got them in a tin and have finished those off, definitely. Remarkably, those things (and the chocolates) held up quite nicely.

That’s what’s we were doing on September 10, 11, 12 six years ago. Sorry it was so long, but I didn’t want to get any further behind. I will finish the whole story on Monday, which was the end of our honeymoon trip although the honeymoon is still happening.

Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
Scorp out!


“It’s like a f***ing fairytale or something.“ – Ken (Brendan Gleeson), In Bruges (2008)

Memories Lane or: Six Starts Part 9

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Salutations™!!

I messed up yesterday, Dear Reader. I stopped before I was done. But, it was a long post and this one is, too, so we will double up next time I post about it. This is from six years ago yesterday. Briefly before that, though. Today is the 19th anniversary of finding out that my ex-wife and I were going to have our first (and only) child. That turned out to be 3B. So, yeah… Anywhat! Here’s the recounting.

When we last left off in Europe, we visited Disneyland Paris. That same day we decided that we were tired and wanted to get some food and then go back to the room and relax. That had been a long, long day.

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Capucine Café

The BCPF was put in charge of picking a location.  She said we were going to go in a direction, stay within a few blocks and just see what we saw.  There’s restaurants in every direction in Paris.  Well, except the direction we walked.  Don’t get me wrong, there were some restaurants but they were few and far between while nothing looked like it was special enough for us to spend one of our Parisian dinners eating at or in.  We wandered down a few more streets, changing both direction and area until we found a more populous rue (street en français).  Surely, something would be on this street.

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Lobot (Photo© Star Wars Wikia)

As we walked there came a loud roar and wail of sirens and flashing blue lights of motorcycle cops, leading the way for a black sedan with black tinted windows, followed by more motorcycle cops.  We looked at each other and asked who might that be?  We neither one knew.  So we stumbled upon a cozy looking restaurant called Capucine Café.  We stood looking at the street menu, trying to decide if this was the place or not.  One of the older serveurs (yes I spelled that correctly) motioned us to a table outside.  OK, we’ll take it.

We took our seats at small tables and after what seemed like 10 minutes someone finally brought out menus.  We didn’t know what to think.  We were tired so we weren’t going to get up and look for something else.  This or bust! Out came a serveur who very closely resembled Lobot from The Empire Strikes Back.  Not only did he look like Lobot, he had the same facial expression(less). I wish we’d taken a picture of him.

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The BCPF’s Soup

So we ordered beverages, wine for The BCPF, beer for me; sad to say I don’t remember which one.  She ordered a glass of wine.  They brought a bottle. Here’s the thing, the ladies who sat beside us – sisters, one from Oklahoma, one from Nebraska – kept ordering bottles of wine but Lobot would only bring them glasses.  This should have let us know something was up.  We ordered our appetizers: soup for her, tuna tartare for me.  We ordered our entrees at this time, too, but we’ll get back to that.  Lobot left and brought back the silverware. He put the soup spoon in front of me and the small fork in front of her.  Um, it’s backwards hoss, she got the soup.  So we switched the silverware and sipped our libations.  Then the apps arrive and Lobot sets the soup in front of me and the tuna in front of her.  We informed him of this and with a blank look on his face, he somehow managed to look confused at the same time.  He switched them. He had also left some bread on the table for us to share.

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Line of Security Bikes

All of a sudden, a bevy of motorcycle cops and a certain black sedan came back down the boulevard and stopped on the street in front of where we were.  The bikes got up on the sidewalk, lined up and parked.  Gentlemen in dark suits and earpieces all got out of the car.  We wanted to get the camera ready to take a picture in case it was Johnny Depp or Brangelina or Lady Gaga or whomever.  No one that we recognized was there.  The “secret service” detail promptly marched in to the restaurant and, from what we can tell, started drinking.  The sisters told us that the hubbub had just come from their hotel as the President   of Czech Republic was staying there and they had gone through that earlier.  This was just security detail, I guess.  Which begs the question, why weren’t they protecting him?  Was he having a meeting? Perhaps a “meeting” that required his “full attention?”  Conjecture.  I don’t know.  Anywhat!

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Mussels for The BCPF

After the importantish people went into the restaurant and we finished our appetizers, Lobot took the app plates and went away after I ordered another bottle of delightful barley and hops.  Then in about 3 minutes he came back, took away the silverware that was still on the table, took the bread and asked us if we wanted dessert.  The BCPF and I looked at each other, half thinking this was a joke and half confused beyond measure.  We informed Lobot that we hadn’t even eaten our main course, yet.  He nodded as if he understood.  Then, he still walked off with the bread and the silverware.  The sisters were laughing and said he was acting weird with them as well.  In another 2 minutes or so, he brought the bread and sat it on our table along with silverware.  My lady and I did all we could to keep the snickering to a minimum by covering it up with coughs and what-have-yous.

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Crepes

The mussels she ordered and the scallops dish that I ordered (this was the only dinner in Paris that wasn’t beef tartare for me) finally arrived and were all quite flavorful.  We were almost finished with the main course when the battalion of security came marching out single file and placing themselves upon their bikes, in their cars, to their positions.  They then proceeded toward the direction from whence they came.  Lobot returned to inquire (again) if we wanted dessert. A chocolate ganache for Mrs. Scorp and a crepe with Grand Marnier/sauce of some sort for Mr. Of course, as is customary for me in Paris, a snifter of Grand Marnier was ordered  We ate up our lovely desserts and I ordered a second Grand Marnier.  In a move that was totally un-Lobot-esque, when I requested the second, he not only nodded (which was his signature move) and actually glanced at my eyes and threw some weird creepy smirk at me; more like a “yeah drink up, buddy!” look that anything.  I just chuckled as he walked back in to get my bev.

Again, some of the best food we’ve had, as was all of Paris, but this has to be the weirdest, most peculiar dining experience we have ever had, together, or apart.  I guess Lando Calrissian had Lobot on standby all evening and that distracted him.  Who knows, but it truly was bizarre; totally.

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Lando: I think she had the soup. Lobot: Whatchyou talkin’ ’bout, Lando!?

Well, that’s the ending of a pretty good day.  Disney (even if it was less than perfect) and Lobot – hey! He’s now a Disney character… coincidence?  Hmmmm.  The BCPF and I speculated that perhaps Lobot was part of the security detail and was mixing in.  That could have been his awkwardness.  I doubt it, though.

That was crazy, but so darned good. Like I said, I will catch us up over the next few days. Tomorrow is 9/11 so I may or may not post about this. We’ll see. 

Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
Scorp out!


“Well done. Get them to the security tower, and keep it quiet. Move.” – Lando Calrissian to Lobot, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

Memories Lane or: Six Starts Part 8

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Salutations™!!

In this post, I talk about what happened when we visited Disneyland Paris, six years ago today. Copied from the original “Honeymoon Chronicles” post.

Bonjour, mes amis. This is Day 3 in Paris! Oui, oh oui!

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Beautiful older couple on Paris sidewalk

When we last left the blogosphere of The Honeymoon Chronicles, The BCPF and I were wandering through the streets of Paris seeing the Eiffel Tower and watching some dude water the ivy on the garden wall.  One thing I did forget to say was in our street touring we ended up behind an older/elderly couple that were walking through the streets holding hands.  They seemed to be natives and looked happy and content. I told The BCPF that that would be us in about 30 years.  I had her take a picture with her digi-obscura and you can see the result here.

This day was something that I had been waiting on. We missed the opportunity last year and this year, we weren’t going to miss it. I’ve touted myself as a Disney guy over and over and over, and I’ve been to Walt Disney World fifteen times! So, it just seems natural that I’d visit other Disney theme parks. And, that’s what we did on this, the third Parisian day.

The way to Disneyland Paris is to find the RER A Train. RER means Réseau Express Régional or Regional Express Network. This train serves from the city proper into the outlying suburbs. This particular train was going to the Marne-la-Vallée – Chessy. That station is right at the gates of Disneyland Paris. So we took our tickets that we pre-purchased and walked up to the main gates of Paris’ “Happiest Place on Earth.” Disneyland Paris is made up of two theme parks in one: the “Magic Kingdom” part and Walt Disney Studios, which is DLP’s version of WDW’s Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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Scorp really excited about Disneyland Paris

When we arrived, there was a giddiness that had already taken me over. When we got to the turnstiles I was about to hop them before they took the tickets. But, I didn’t. I held it together. Once through, though, I had settled down a bit. It looks a lot like the Magic Kingdom: firehouse, confectionery shops, outlet-like shops, and even a Casey’s Hot Dog shop. Casey’s doesn’t open until 11a there and we were about 10 minutes early. The BCPF and I have a tradition of going to Casey’s as the first thing-to-do on every trip to WDW so why not carry that tradition on to DLP? A couple of things that are different was that the dogs – all of which are foot longs – came prepackaged and there was no “fixin’s” bar. They came how they came, either with melted cheddar and bacon or without, and that’s pretty much how it is. Paris apparently doesn’t know what yellow mustard is, only Dijon mustard. While I love me some Dijon mustard, I want yellow mustard on my hot dog. So, a couple of dogs (mine with cheese and bacon, hers without) with fries and bottled sparkling water and we’re ready to move on.

Once you move off of Main Street U.S.A. (yes, that’s its name) the similarities to Magic Kingdom get a bit weird. Not dissimilar mind you, just weird. Did I mention it’s weird? Anyway, just like its Anaheim counterpart, this Disneyland’s castle is called Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant or Sleeping Beauty Castle (WDW has Cinderella Castle). As you can see the castle is pink. The inside of the castle has a few shops – glass and crystal making shop and a Christmas shop. The upstairs features stained glass windows and a spinning wheel, like the story. Underneath it there is an animatronic dragon in a grotto that is supposed to represent Maleficent. It’s actually pretty cool. You can then step out to the side and be under the bridge that connects the castle to the “land” and that covers the “moat.” A pretty and relaxing waterfall is present here as well. Not as spacious as Cinderella Castle, but appealing and interesting nonetheless.

Surrounding the castle, as is the case in both Disneyland California (DLC) and WDW, is a collection of “lands” that represent various themes. In WDW (the one I’m familiar with) there is, clockwise, Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. In DLP the lands are (in the same order): Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland and Discoveryland. There’s no equivalent for Liberty Square, which is the counterpart of New Orleans Square in DLC. Confused, yet? It’s not rocket surgery, but more info than you’d probably ever want to know. Some other oddities to me are that the haunted house ride is called the Phantom Manor instead of Haunted Mansion, the storyline is entirely in French, and sits right next to Big Thunder Mountain; and this after you pass the Legends of the Wild West which looks like the fort on Tom Sawyer Island in WDW. Those sit in Frontierland. Then we moved to Adventureland where we saw the DLC version of Swiss Family Tree House called Le Cabane des Robinson. The Pirates of the Caribbean ride was closed.

Moving on to Fantasyland there were some familiar rides like Blanche-Neige et les Sept Nains (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, a carousel called “Lancelot’s Carousel” and Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (Cups, in DLP). But something we don’t have, which to me seems redundantly similar to Snow White, is Les 

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It’s a Small World Ride – Disneyland Paris

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Scorp and The BCPF on It’s a Small World in Disneyland Paris

Voyages de Pinocchio. I don’t know, it just seemed like it was rehashing her ride. Also, there’s Le Pays des Contes de Fées (Land of Fairy Tales), a mostly useless boat ride around a loop that shows models that represent various fairy tales. I know that sounds kind of harsh, but really, it seemed like they just needed to stuff something in a space and this was it. The theming was nice, but really, meh. The main attraction in this land, though, was It’s a Small World. The queue is actually outside and there’s an open court that, I’m sure, lends to queue management during the busy months. The DLP version actually has some American theming that you don’t see in the American version (at least not at WDW). Overall, there were several things that matched the WDW, but overall it kind of fell flat.

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Space Mountain: Mission 2 in Disneyland Paris

We moved on, then to the Tomorrowland equivalent: Discoveryland. There was Space Mountain: Mission 2 and Star Tours, Orbitron – Machines Volantes (Astro Orbitor) and touching on some Epcot action, Captain Eo starring Michael Jackson. There was also a very strange 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea thingy called Les Mystères du Nautilus that was basically a “life-size” model of The Nautilus that Capt. Nemo sailed in the story/film. It was a cool, shady distraction but really I don’t get why it was there.

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Les Tapis Volants – Flying Carpets over Agrabah Disneyland paris

 

 

 

 

So we decided to head over to the other park, “Walt Disney Studios,” which is kind of like a misnomer because there aren’t any studios there; not working studios, anyway. There we did ride the Studio Tram Backlot Tour which is very similar to the now-defunct ride of the same theme in WDW. We skipped around inside looking at some of the rides and comparing/contrasting with WDW. We also rode the Les Tapis Volants – Flying Carpets over Agrabah that are also in WDW. There’s a Twilight Zone Tower of Terror there. I’ve never ridden the one in WDW and wasn’t about to this time, either. Some of the other rides were Ratatouille: The Adventure (which we didn’t know anything about it so we didn’t get in line for it), Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop (like a drop zone/Tower of Terror-type ride), Rockin’ Roller Coaster featuring Aerosmith (just like in WDW), Crush’s Coaster (not riding roller coasters) and Cars Quatre Roues Rallye (bumper cars). Interesting things, yes, but nothing I wanted to ride.

I’ll be honest here, I was just going through the motions mostly at this point. We’re not really “thrill ride riders” as much as we are “experiencers.” There was something of a letdown when it came to the whole “Magic Kingdom” and Studios aspect. Parts of my problems were as such: The park opened in April, 1992. It seems that most of the park was still stuck there. In Disneyland Paris you can see ceiling tiles, a/c units, cobwebs where they shouldn’t be, etc. There was no attention to detail and “keeping the magic alive” happening. They were fleecing money from the consumers and tourists only. I’m not naïve enough to believe that’s not what is happening in WDW but when I’m there, I get that air of mystery; mystique. Unless you’re really looking for it, you’re not going to find many things out of place. Notice I don’t say all, that’s virtually impossible, except Disney does a darn fine job of it. The ceiling tiles in It’s a Small World are painted black with other decorations giving the perception of depth and infinity. DLP there were tiles missing and you could see the a/c above holes in the drop-tile. I know I’m repeating but the illusion is lost there. The paint jobs on the attractions are old and tired. I’m thinking there should be a push in the Disney Company to capitalize on the fact that DLP is finally profitable. You’d think they’d want to do what WDW and DLC are doing, updating, renovating, refreshing their parks.

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Bride and Groom at Disneyland Paris

Now, all that being said I’m glad I saw it. Truly, even knowing what I know, I’d really hate to have missed seeing it. If my son wants to see it, I’ll definitely take him, in a heartbeat. However, as I said, I’ve seen it. I don’t ever have to go back. Been there/done that. I was so done with DLP that we didn’t even eat anything else there. In WDW, food is the main highlight of my trip. So that’s saying something.  But, hey! I was with my new bride, so that’s awesome, too.

One thing that I found cool outside of the parks proper was the inclusion of benchmarks of the other Disney parks in a “compass” and I’ve included them here.

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Walt Disney World Benchmark

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Disneyland (California) Benchmark

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Hong Kong Disneyland Benchmark

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Tokyo Disney Benchmark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We decided to go back to Paris to see what we could find and where we could explore. That’s part of the next blog. This is already long, as it is. Next up in The Honeymoon Chronicles, it’s the most bizarre experience I’ve ever had at a restaurant.

Like I said, I would have always kicked myself for not going if we didn’t, but I am glad we did, even if I didn’t really care much for it. This is primarily the reason I don’t get excited about Disneyland in Anaheim. If it’s not WDW, I don’t want it. Anywhat! I’m out for today…

Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
Scorp out!


“I’m a big Disneyland nut.” – John Lasseter

Memories Lane or: Six Starts Part 7

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Salutations™!!

Yesterday we finished in London and moved on to Paris. This is the full retelling of the blog post for these two days – Day 7 and Day 8 of the Honeymoon Chronicles. Enjoy!

Enchanté, Paris.

The first of these honeymoon blogs was started on the trip from London to Paris via the “Chunnel” or Channel Tunnel under the English Channel. So, yes, a tunnel underwater; and no, you don’t see under there, it’s just about a 15 minute tunnel. The weird thing is that you see so many tunnels leading up to the big one that it’s almost hard to tell when you’re in the chunnel. The only reason I knew we had done it was because my phone told me: “Welcome to France.”

Paris is definitely one of our favorite cities. The BCPF and I have both decided that if we win the lottery, we are going to buy an apartment in one of the Arrondissements that allows us a visual of the Eiffel Tower. Speaking of the tower, this trip marked the first time that we actually visited it. We didn’t walk nor ride anything to the top, but we did stand underneath it. We happened upon it by chance after doing our customary Metro to outlying neighborhoods and traversing our way back toward the city center or whichever other destination we’ll be looking for. The oddity about that was it was the place (other than the train station) we saw an abundance of soldiers/police with machine guns. Last year, there was a plethora of police with semi-automatics canvasing the area. Kind of off putting, but it was cool, nonetheless. We also saw what I call the “Eiffel Tower Flip Out,” or a flashing/”sparkling” light show that goes nuts on the tower itself. That’s what happens every hour from sunset until 1am and lasts for 5 minutes. It started for the millennium celebration in 2000 and was supposed to only be temporary. It turns out that it was so popular, not only with tourists, but Parisians, as well, they left it. We saw this on an evening riverboat cruise of the Seine River right through the middle of the city.  You can see the video right below.  But, I kind of got off track; let’s get back to the beginning of Paris.

Paris is called the “La Ville-Lumière” (City of Light) and it’s not because of the shload of lights that are all spread all about this beautiful city. No, dear reader, it is because it was once – and to some extent still – the center of learning and enlightenment. See? We feel enlightened every time we come here. We arrived at Paris Nord Station and were picked up by a driver to be taken to our hotel. I will say this, to get it out of the way: The Best Western Premiere L’horset Opera was the worst hotel that we saw this entire trip. Supposedly, they’re a three-star resort, but that’s pushing it. I equate it to staying at The Cow Shed in Pineville, WV two years ago, but L’horset Opera was pretty bad. The room was smaller than we had stayed at any other location on the trip. The Wi-Fi (I like to Skype with 3B and mon mere when we’re out of the country) was shoddy and that’s putting it nicely. It would come and go; work then not work, all the time I tried to use it. The showers in Europe – we’ve gotten used to this – often only has covering, usually using half-glass large enough to protect just the part where the shower head is. This had a wall, but it was very shallow and nothing else. The water would bounce off my plump body and spill onto the tile floor. We used the floor towel that one steps out on but it was usually soaked and did no good. It was always slick. The actual WC was really no bigger a hall closet. Again, to a large man like me, that makes it hard to be comfortable. The kicker for it all, however, was the morning after the first night. We went down for the free breakfast that was included with the hotel. There was an array of meats and cheeses, most of which were under a serving case, different breads, cereals and a toaster for toasting any of said breads. As I was going to get some of the cheese and meat to put on my plate, I noticed a HUGE fly sitting on a wedge of cheese and it was trapped inside this case. That turned my stomach as I have a phobia with food being old, wet (not liquid; meaning food that has gotten wet), etc. The fact that the fly was encased with the cheese made me not want anything. I had a hard time getting even my breakfast tea down. Add that to the nonchalant attitude of the front desk the day before and the other things mentioned above, and it’s obvious that this was definitely a bad choice for our stay. We chose it and I know better than to allow my clients or me to stay there again. I’ve been an advocate for Best Westerns, especially their Premiere category, but this was horrible. The only plus for it was the bed was very comfortable. But, other than one more thing that I’ll touch on in the last installment of the “Chronicles,” and that may be worse or better according to my mood when I write it, this was the worst thing for the whole trip. Let’s talk about being out and about in gay ol’ Paris.

Shakespeare & Company, Paris

Because we were there last year, we had a respectable knowledge of the Metro and how it operates and how to navigate it. So, we bought 5 day passes (we only used four) and set off to explore the nooks and crannies of this town. Step one, head toward Notre Dame to start a tradition. We make our way to and around the famed cathedral, took in the sight of it and then crossed the river to the Left Bank. We wandered through the streets and found a music box store where The BCPF purchased a little music box that plays “Champs Elysees.” And, because I like to make sure she gets to one of the most famous bohemian bookstores, Shakespeare & Company, the music box store was a strategic coursed distraction before heading to the bookstore. It’s famous for being a hangout for Hemingway, Joyce and Pound. No, it’s not the same location but opened in a new location as an homage to the original and is still storied and famous.

Beef Tartare

Beef Tartare, Le Lutece, Paris

Croque Madame

Croque Madame, Le Lutece, Paris

 

 

 

 

We wasted away that day (and loved every minute of it) and decided it was time to get some vittles, or victuals if you want to keep with the literary theme, and found a nice little restaurant called Le Lutece. I had a Grimbergen Blanche which is a white wheat, and it was delicious. I never found it again across Paris, I’d go back to Le Lutece just to have it again. The BCPF had rosé and she seemed quite giddy about it. One thing about Paris, the house wine (really a lot of wines) is generally cheaper than either soda or even water. House wine can be about $2-3 where a Coke is about $3-4; bottled water, still or sparkling, is also $3-4. For food she had Croque Madame, which is a giant piece of bread with cheese piled on it and toasted and then a fried egg on top. For me, I will just say that I am a huge fan of beef and I’ll say that I’m a HUGE fan of raw beef. We were in Paris for 4 nights and 3 of those nights I had steak tartare. Each one tasted different and each one delicious. That’s just good shite. A good start to the stay and then we went back to the room so I could keep track of the Steelers game (it was opening day). That’s how I know she loves me, she let me track it on the computer… in Paris. Luckily, she was tired.

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After Placing the Lock, Paris

The next day was a day of exploration as we had a tour later that night. That tour was on the Seine River cruise and observation of the “Flip Out.” But, that day, it was a lot of walking and exploring. Another thing we did was put a lock on the infamous “Lock Bridge.” This is something that I told The BCPF last year that we would not be doing. Well, even though I wear the pants in the family, she tells me which ones to wear. We put a lock on the bridge. We understand they cut them off periodically but the symbolism is strong enough to be worth it. Now there are several lock bridges in Paris, I think we counted up to 8 on the cruise tour. The bridge we picked was one that was slightly behind Notre Dame: Pont de L’Archevéché. Once it was fastened, we had a nice gentleman (who had a professional camera) take a pic with our camera of me tossing the key into the Seine; also symbolic.

After that we made our way, via the Metro to the Place de la Concorde, which is where Marie Antoinette and others met their demise via the horrific guillotine. This is also an avenue to step onto the famous Champs-Elysees, which is probably one of the most famous streets in Europe, if not the world. At the other end, there is another famous Parisian landmark, Le Arc de Triomphe. We walked from Concorde to Triomphe, stopping in on some of the shops and even had lunch at a little restaurant tucked away back in a small shopping center. That’s about a mile and a half and it’s a 3 foot higher difference at Triomphe than at Concorde so there was a grade. It was a good walk.

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The BCPF and Scorp at The Eiffel Tower, Paris

The BCPF had some things in mind that she wanted to purchase and we looked for some of these things. That’s how we ended up at the Eiffel Tower and then strode a long, long distance looking in shops and then to find the location of the tour company. We found that but had about 90 minutes before we had to be back. So we visited an old favorite. Last year we stopped, oddly enough after a tour with this same tour company, at a charming restaurant called Royal Opera. We did so again, this year. It was the only “repeat” we did. Again, beef tartare for me and duck for her. With beer and wine, we’re happy campers.

Then the river cruise. The river cruise was cool but really nothing to talk about that isn’t just a lot of stuff on a river. Stories was translated for us and we were told what some of the buildings and structures were. The remarkable part about this tour, though, was twofold. First we’re on a double decker bus traveling through the Place de la Concorde on the way to the Eiffel Tower and here, against a wall in the (the garden of tiles and garden that is adjacent to the Louvre), was a man answering nature’s call. There. In front of traffic and this double decker tour bus with people looking on. The funny part about that is his girlfriend (they were both dressed fairly nice and casual) was standing behind him just smoking a cigarette like nothing was happening. He finished, tucked away Mr. Happy and then turned around – facing the public – to close, button and zip his pants and then buckle his belt. We felt that was ridiculous and ridiculously funny. The other part of this twofold tidbit is the fact that there are very few traffic lanes marked in Paris. What we would see as about 4 lanes were, at times, 12 cars wide. In that, the scooters, mopeds and motorcycles were weaving through all the traffic, in front of cop cars, buses, each other. It didn’t matter if it was at a traffic light, stop sign or while traffic was moving. It blows our minds. After the river cruise we took a tour around the city, in the dark, on the bus. We saw parts we saw last year, this year and things we hadn’t seen before. Man, we love that town.

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Jardin deTuileries

I still love that town. I am so glad that The BCPF and I got to see and enter Notre Dame prior to its severe fire damage in the burning of April 2019. I’ll be back on track tomorrow, I think with the days. 

Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
Scorp out!

“London is a riddle. Paris is an explanation.”
― G.K. Chesterton