Our thoughts are with the people of Paris.
Bubba has been increasingly obsessed with finding the little person he first saw in a garden in Paris who he refers to as “The Girl”. While we were preparing for another trip, Bubba just roamed around looking for the girl. Bubba came up with an idea and I’ll let him explain it to you.
I had to do something to find “The Girl”. I think she is out there somewhere. I even feel she must be looking for me. I suddenly got a flash of inspiration. During my travels, I saw how people get their faces out there so they could become well known. We saw this guy in Nice, France. He had his picture painted and became Emperor of France.
This guy in Florence, Italy, stuck himself up on a horse in the square and before you knew it, he owned the place.
I decided to find the best artist in the world to paint my portrait. I searched high and low and interviewed dozens of candidates. Then I found the greatest painter that exists today . . . Millie.
I sat in the chair and she started right away painting my portrait.
She wouldn’t let me look at the painting but she had a look of total concentration.
She sketched out the basics.
Then she picked me up so she could fill in the details.
When she showed me the finished portrait, I fell over in my chair I was so impressed.
The portrait now sits for all to see.
When I told her why I was getting the painting done, she grew interested and asked me to describe “The Girl”. She is about one and three quarters of an inch tall, brown hair, black eyes, and smooth yellow skin. Her measurements are 2-1/2, 2-5/8, 2-5/8. Millie said she sounded familiar and that she remembered “The Girl” because her name was Millie too.
Is The Girl’s name really Millie?
Millie Velasco is truly a talented artist. We asked her to pretend to draw Bubba’s picture and she jumped right into the spirit of things, completing the portrait.
She has produced some very impressive works, some of them using wine as a pigment. Her work can be seen at SmugMugz.com
As you may recall, Bubba had a little problem with using a bicycle without permission. We were summoned to the Palais de Justice to help him sort things out. Paris is The City of Love and everyone was very accommodating when it was explained that he was just trying to catch up to a young (plastic) lady. Bubba explains what happened next.
Don’t listen to them. I didn’t have any problems at all. I spent the night in a nice hotel called Palais de Justice.
They explained that the Bastille was booked up. I searched all over the city for that vision of loveliness I had glimpsed the day before. I searched down by the river.
I searched in the art galleries.
Well, I thought it was an art gallery. I found out it was really a department store. It was absolutely stunning. It was almost hard to shop or look for anyone with your head looking to the ceilings.
I looked underground in the catacombs. But of course my delicate flower would not be seen here.
I got lost in the underground maze of tunnels under Paris. I asked this man who is a pilot on one of those cut rate airlines and he pointed the way for me.
I searched the rooftops and scanned the city.
By evening I was beat and tried this big light pole thing. It lit up so I could check out the crowd for her.
I decided, if I were going to find her, I would have to cover more ground so I went in search of a motorcycle the next morning to scan the city with some speed. I asked for directions in French, but I think I may be a bit rusty. They sent me to this motorcycle shop. Maybe these weren’t for rent.
I saw these bikes around town and people seemed to get out of their way. Maybe it was the lights and the noisemakers. I saw they all came with a microphone in the front.
And a telephone in the back.
I found my old motorcycle parked here. It had been impounded when someone tried to smuggle it in from Pisa where I left it. I was pretty happy to be on my way, but maybe I should have used a little more caution. On the way out of the garage, I had a close encounter with a man in uniform. I may have worn out my welcome.
In trouble again, I called on my Parisian friend Phil, who could do anything. He helped Chief Scott from California come over and make a deal to set me free. Scott drove as fast as he could and got there in no time.
Unfortunately the deal they worked out meant I had to cut my vacation short and head home. They had a special flight for me called “First Flight Out”. This one didn’t go home, it just went as far as New York. The Paris Police must have put in a good word for me because the customs people were much nicer than usual.
While we went out sightseeing, Bubba spent a day out on his own. I told him to be careful, but Bubba is Bubba…
It was suggested that I might not need a car. Of course I rejected that recommendation and rented a Bubba sized car. I found a slick model with a blue bumper and, the night before, I found a parking place at the end of the street. There was no room for anyone behind me and I felt I would be able to get the car on the road easily the next morning. I was wrong. Someone found a way to box me in.
I saw a motorcycle with the keys in it and thought maybe I would borrow it but a large cat beat me to it.
I heard the Metro was good but do you know how many feet there are in there? Besides, I couldn’t jump high enough to read the map. Wait, is that Blair reading the map?
I tried walking but got lost right off. I met some wonderful people from England, Steven and Marion, who tried to tell me what streets to use but I just couldn’t get it. They ended up putting me in the map so I could understand.
Rick and Spider had no problem finding their way around Paris but I was not as lucky. This is a pedestrian friendly city in most places but the distances were too far. The Metro is great; fast and efficient. The trains run about five minutes apart so there is little waiting, but that third rail was way too intimidating. I just had to jump in and go. Maybe find my old motorcycle and use that. I found a place to work out my problems.
They had some exquisite wine called Chateau Egouts. It was a little strong so I took it easy. This guy, however, had a bit too much and took the term “plastered” one step too far.
I tried to pull him out but just couldn’t get the strength.
It was while walking through a lovely garden that the event happened that would change my life. I was wandering from flower to flower when I saw HER. She was across the flower box from me. A Parisian vision of beauty. A bon jeune fille if ever I saw one. I had to meet her.
In my best French I yelled, “BONE…JER” which I think means good morning. She ran off down the street and I couldn’t catch up to her. The big dog got in my way.
I found a couple of unattended bikes and grabbed one. In hindsight, that was a BIG mistake.
Possibly Bubba’s biggest mistake to date. He did not get far as he couldn’t reach the pedals and was apprehended. He was taken to the Palis de Justice and we were summoned. Bubba’s future freedom was on the line.
Oh, and Chateau Egouts? Not so good as Egouts is French for sewer.
The stop in Switzerland was long enough for Bubba to hurt himself by eating too much chocolate and to embarrass us all by attacking a statue. The next morning we got on the train for the ride to Paris. Returning to Paris was bittersweet. Paris is a wonderfully modern and ancient city all at the same time. Any time spent in Paris is time that will stay in your memories.
But our second stop in Paris also meant we would be heading for home soon. Bubba wanted more time to explore the city so we stayed a bit longer.
I love Paris!! It is a laid back city with cafes where they sell coffee in little cups. A person, even one my size, can stroll through the city and stop to sip a cup. Rick and Spider met up with some friends from home, Fred and Marilyn one morning. Marilyn stopped drinking her coffee and I took the opportunity to add five cubes of sugar to sweeten it up for myself. I was stirring the cup when they noticed me. I don’t think she minded but Fred took his cup and dropped it right on top if me. It got dark in there.
After escaping the cup, I took a walk around the Montmartre district where many famous painters lived, worked and played. There are still many artists who work in the area.
They all shouted and begged me to sit for a painting. Some of the biggies of French art like Picasso, Monet, and Van Gough hung out here so the standard is high. I looked at all the painter’s works and I choose the best of the bunch. In turn, I was rewarded with this great painting.
It is now hanging in the Louvre. We then visited the Pere Lachaise Cemetery. Even if you don’t like cemeteries this is a place to visit for the sculptures.
But I was here to visit the grave of Jim Morrison from the Doors.
I thought it was time to and go back to the hotel when this guy asked me how to spell my name.
Bubba once again takes foot to keyboard to narrate the story of his travels in southern France. As usual I will correct him if he strays too far off course.
Before I set off to Italy I decided to go for a bit of luxury and visit Cannes for the film festival. Cannes is the playground of the film stars of the world. They have some world class hotels that have attracted visitors from royalty on down for a century or so. These are the most ultra luxurious digs on the planet and I wasn’t allowed to set foot in any of them.
Instead my hotel was back in Nice. It was located on the top floor in the back of an apartment building. My room in Nice left a little to be desired. The people who ran the hotel were wonderful; it was just the facility itself that suffered a bit.
Aside from the fact that someone in the building needed to cook stanky stuff at midnight every night, the bathroom was the major flaw. It was even small for me and was located just a couple of feet and a louvered door from the bed. Anyone sitting on the bed would share the experience of anyone sitting in the bathroom. When the toilet backed up, that was it. I grabbed the plunger and set to work.
But my day was to be spent in Cannes. I arrived in my vintage chauffer driven Mercedes…
…sipping on my adult beverage.
No Limo, no Mercedes, Bubba came by train with the rest of us.
I spent the day hanging out with movie stars and walking the red carpet to the famous Cannes Film Festival.
Well, Bubba was in the city, there was a Festival, but it was a little different from the Film Festival.
With all the excitement and all the stars, I had to stop for a glass or four of wine. I don’t know if it was me or the wine but one of us got a little tipsy.
I then boarded my yacht and sailed back to Nice.
Nope! He took the train again. The next day all three of us boarded a train and left France for Italy. Going from the luxurious Cote d’Azur in France to Italy was a culture shock even though they are only separated by a few miles. Italy is easier on the wallet, and a lot more laid back. For example, here is a picture of the train station in Monte Carlo. All shiny chrome and polished marble.
And just a few miles away is the first stop in Italy, the Ventimiglia station.
Bubba has finally mastered the art of jumping on the keyboard to the point where he feels he can take a turn at writing his own blog.
Heading out on the TGV from Paris to Avignon in the morning put me on the train before I had a chance to eat. I felt like I had an empty space in my body. My epic battle with the multi- legged prawn the night before where I slew the beast and devoured his tail left me craving something a little less animated. The standard “petit dejeuner” provided by the train complemented the scenery whizzing by at breakneck speed nicely.
To squeeze the jelly from the packet onto the bread involved proper positioning of the bread and packet and a high flip off the plastic knife in the background. My finely honed gymnastic skills, coupled with rock hard muscles, made this a simple trick and a warm up for the day ahead.
In about two and a half hours we reached Avignon, the home of the Popes and the Catholic Church between 1309 and 1378. In the walled city is the old palace which is described as the biggest gothic palace in all Europe. It is built from real stone and not the plastic bricks I am used to.
Waaaay up at the top there are some hideous carved gargoyles. These are frightening beasts, sometimes used as drains and sometimes used just to frighten off small beings like me. You can see two of the beasts in this picture.
I was inspired to climb the wall to confront one of these evil demons. I would show them who the more powerful inanimate being was. With a little help from my traveling companions, I threw my grappling hook and rope (a bent pin and string) up the wall and began my ascent. When I reached the beast I put on my fiercest face but he was just a little too big, too old, and too hungry looking for me so I rappelled my way back down the wall.
After that adventure, I took a break and confined my climbing to the post card rack so I could drop a line to the folks at home. I bought a few cards but after gluing myself to the first card with the stamp, I decided not to send the rest. The postal authorities here have stickier stamps, I guess.
All that exercise whetted my appetite so I chose to stop in at a quaint French café just off the main square. The name seemed to mean that they would get you in and out quickly. For some reason, those with me thought otherwise and ate elsewhere.