Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Washing Machine Chronicles

So when we moved here, we bought a washer and dryer (and had the landlord build us a laundry room on the back porch) because there is no such thing as a laundromat here and my people have lost the ability to hand launder more than our dainties.

In the two years since then, the washer has given out, one small piece at a time.

Stupid stupid washing machine.

First the cold water intake stopped taking in. I had a repair guy come look at it. No clue.

So we got around it by turning off the hot water heater in the laundry room and routing all the cold water laundry through the hot water hose. Good enough.

Then the cycle between "G" and "H" stopped cycling. For the uninitiated, that means the wash and rinse water would drain, but the spin cycle wouldn't start. So the laundry doer had to go out and manually move the knobby deal to 'spin' so it would finish the load.

Repair guy summoned. No clue.

Lest you be thinking that I need to replace my repair guy, let me say he (or they- there's a squad of them) are usually geniuses. They fix my generator and my air conditioners, they stop leaks, they re-wire lights. But this stupid stupid washing machine had them stumped.

Meanwhile, the plastic hose attached to the plastic fitting on the plastic back of the stupid stupid washing machine would pop off regularly since there was no way to make the plastic collar that held the plastic hose onto the plastic fitting fit tightly enough to withstand more than a few days of water pressure in the line.

So if the laundry doer forgot to turn the water off (and I would never name any names here, but his initials are C-O-O-P-E-R) there would be an eventual flood on the laundry porch...

This was all part of life Chez Us (notice how fluent I've gotten in French since our recent trip), until this week.

Cue Mark at the door.

"Madame," (that's me) "the washer is not right."

Cooper was theoretically doing laundry (he made a deal with me a couple of years ago that if I wouldn't nag him about his dirty clothes, he would do his own laundry. I thought about it for two seconds and then said, "DEAL!"), but he had gotten interested in something else and completely spaced on his load of washing.

Unfortunately, the washer chose that load to go ballistic on.

It had been sitting out there on the the porch, for way too long, filling a tub full of drain holes, waiting to become full so it could agitate, in a machine that had lost the ability to shut off the outflow of water from the tub.


Mark had noticed the flow of clean cold water coming from the pipe that goes from our house to the storm ditch out front and followed it back to the merrily pumping washing machine.

The washer we left behind in the U.S. is the one we purchased from Sears in 1986. Is there a reason why the one we purchased here should only last two years???? Gah.

Anyway, that was the last straw.

When Ted got home, I gave him some space, a haircut, a clean towel and a smooch.

Then told him I was going to pound the stupid stupid washing machine into tiny pieces of stupid stupid plastic and we would need a replacement ASAP.

He wisely agreed with my plan (after talking me out of the actual physical destruction of the SSWM), and Thursday morning Duke and I went out to buy machine #2.

Of course, the silver lining is the Ghanaian rule regarding large purchases (and this has been true of the washer/dryer, fridge, satellite dish, desk, kitchen island, et al). You buy it and the merchant asks if there is someone at the house to take delivery.

Like right now.

Sometimes, the delivery truck just follows us home. Sometimes, we don't even get home before they arrive with our purchase.

None of this "we have you scheduled next Thursday between 1 and 5..." business.
You buy it, you get it. Right now.

And as I've mentioned before, nothing in this country that plugs in is sold without proving to the customer that it actually works, and that goes for washing machines. The guys brought it, hooked it up, ran it through the cycles, and... voila! I have a washer that works again.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Engagement, Ghana Style!

Last Saturday, we were invited to the engagement ceremony for Jane's younger sister Jennifer.

We could live here the rest of our lives without getting to participate in so much of the Ghanaian culture if we didn't count Duke and a few others among our friends.

Duke came and got us and drove us over because even after driving there, we had no idea where we were, except Accra. Maybe. ;-)

There were four shade tents set up, two facing each other were for the families of the bride and groom. Here's the groom's side...

and here's the bride's side...

(Click it bigger and you can see Jane standing sideways, Jane's mother sitting in brown, and the bride herself)

The groom's sister had a tray that she would fill with gifts- liquor, envelopes of money, stuff like that and she would let the family preacher examine the gifts, discuss them, make jokes, etc. and then she would present them to the bride's family.

Then a crate of Coca-cola, a crate of Malta, and a gift wrapped suitcase were brought out. Duke informed us that the suitcase was full of underpants, brassieres, and nightgowns- her trousseau provided by the groom's family so she wouldn't bring her raggedy old underwear to the marriage. (There were many jokes and comments about this suitcase and its contents- even Jane got into the act...)

Although it was all in Ewe (Jane's family is from the Volta region and speaks Ewe), it was pretty easy to tell when they were having a good time, and Duke said we were freaking them out because we laughed in all the right spots and they kept asking him if we spoke the language (it's the rare obroni who masters even Twi, let alone Ewe or Ga).

Then the bride and groom were paraded in front of each other's family tents so everyone could get a good look at them...

Note that their outfits match. :-)

Then they were seated with their families again and asked separately by their family ministers if the other person was the one they wanted to marry. When they each said yes, everyone whooped.

Once they had agreed to marry each other publicly, the bride was given a ring box attached to a gift wrapped bible, and the groom placed the engagement ring on her finger...

...then they made their way from the bride's tent to the groom's tent together...

...and sat to listen to both family ministers and assorted family members give them advice and well wishes.

They are a lot happier than they look in these pictures. We asked about it and never got a coherent answer, but they both kept suppressing smiles and laughter, so apparently they are supposed to be serious and somber whether they feel happy or not. (the groom actually has a great set of dimples)

After all the talking was done, and after we all stood while the prayers were sung, there was a happy dance in the center of the yard.

The betrothed couple danced and were surrounded by anyone who felt the spirit move them, and occasionally, someone would dance up and throw money which the sisters of the bride would gather to give the couple. That lasted about 10 minutes.

(note the fabric in the yellow dress nearest the camera- it's Ghana's 50th Anniversary fabric!)

Meanwhile, the Obroni contingent (that would be Ted, Cooper and me) sat in our assigned places and tried not to be intrusive in any way (although obviously I moved around a little to take pictures. When I checked with Duke to make sure it was okay to take pictures he was very enthusiastic and said they would be pleased if I took lots of pictures), and we were happy just to have been included in a family event like this.

(that's Christa over on the edge- she sat on my lap sometimes, but eventually fell asleep in that chair)

What we didn't plan on was another culture clash.

Since we had been invited to an engagement party we brought a small gift (a picture frame that we hoped they could use for an eventual wedding photo). But in Ghana, the groom's family gives all the gifts and ours was the only non-family gift offered.

This required that the three of us troop out into the middle of the yard to stand with the bride and groom who were holding our wrapped gift, and have our picture taken.

If you check the picture where Tomås gives Jennifer the ring, you will see half a dozen "photographers" with cell phones. They were all present for the "gift" picture too, in addition to the hired photog and the videographer. We felt like celebrities as all the cameras clicked away. We also felt really stupid. ;-)

Talk about feeling like a spectacle.

Then Jennifer's sisters passed around soft drinks and Malta along with small "Thank You" bags containing a vegetable pie, cookies, and cake.

Now it was time for the dancing and partying to begin, and Duke very kindly told us we could leave anytime.

When he repeated the invitation to leave, we realized we were putting a little bit of a damper on the celebration- everyone felt they had to be a little subdued while we were there.

So we thanked our hosts and congratulated the happy couple and headed for the car, which we couldn't get into right away because a few people wanted their picture taken in front of it, both with us and by themselves.

We were a pile of melted sweaty obronis by this time, but really truly glad to have been included in this happy day for Jane's family. How often do you get a chance to do something like this?

Duke told us Monday that his family left about 5 o'clock, but that the dancing and celebrating went on into the early evening. Can these people celebrate, or what?

Friday, April 13, 2007

France, or "Bonjour Ya'll!", Part Trois

In the morning, we headed for the coast, to see the English channel and maybe see Omaha beach.

We got lost.


Good thing we have so much fun being lost. We never did see Omaha Beach. But then again, another vacation day spent someplace so full of sadness for so many people during WWII probably wasn't a good idea anyway (remember Dachau?).

But we did make it to the English Channel and the beautiful coast of Northern France.

And here's mostly the same picture, much improved, because my guys are in it...

If you turn the other direction, you see this...

...which was captured in this painting by Claude Monet.

And a little farther down the coast...

These pictures don't do the water justice. It is the most beautiful color, clear as glass and COLD!

We stuffed our faces some more at a beachfront café and then headed out to Rouen, also known as the town Joan of Arc saved and then died in.

Rouen is a fairly large, fairly busy city, and it's loaded with one way streets, no left turns and lots of the cute, frustrating two way "alleys" that they call streets and that are only wide enough for one car at a time. We found them in every single city, town, and village we went to in France, much to our delight and dismay.

We were looking for a hotel Mercure that we had read about because it was near the city center cathedral and it seemed like a good place from which to do our exploring.

Insert hysterical laughter here.

After circling downtown, the Cathedral, and the Beaux Arts school, trying in vain to find a right turn, or a street wide enough to drive on, or in fact ANY way to get to our hotel, including accidentally crossing the river, and then purposely crossing the river, we were just about to give up (and Ted was just about to die of stress and frustration), when we decided to make a quick left into a narrow cobblestone alley we hadn't been on before.

After a block or so there was actually a signpost for our hotel! We followed it around the corner onto an equally narrow cobblestoned alley complete with pedestrians who politely, if casually, scattered for us to pass, and suddenly, there was our hotel, and a garage door marked 'Parking for Mercure Hotel'.

Whoopeee! Ted pushed the button on the wall next to the garage door and begged entry. The door opened and we entered a sloping driveway less than a foot wider than the car on each side and at the bottom was a sign that said "Large cars left, small cars right". Being big stupid Americans, we considered our little VW rental to be a small car, considering that our two suitcases and three people filled it trunk to steering wheel, and went right.


We were a large car.

After some jockeying around in seriously tight, enclosed
concrete spaces, we had arrived!

This is the view from the Cathedral looking back at our hotel room window. We are the second window up, just left of the pink part of the Mercure sign. Perfecto!

We set off walking to find the spot where the end had come for poor voices-in-her-head Joan of Arc. The area where she was staked and burned is nicely preserved and very low key. Even with the new buildings around it's easy to imagine a crowd of people gathered to watch her burn in that charming way the French (and most everyone else in history) had of using executions as entertainment.

That day, we were the only people whose business was this site. All the other people around us were local, and busy doing other things- no one spared a glance for us or the historical site until we took our camera out.

We couldn't guess whether the looks we got then were understanding ones or grimaces. It was a strange moment in time.

Anyhoo, as we wandered in our usual half brained way just looking and absorbing we stumbled across this place.

Did you really look at the picture? Because we were standing in front of the building trying to decipher the sign on the right side for quite a while before Ted finally said, quietly,

"Those are bullet and mortar holes."

Take a closer look...

Isn't that amazing?

We still haven't got a satisfactory translation of the sign, but the gist is that for four years during WWII the French resistance put up a fight here and were eventually imprisoned or executed for their trouble. The building was preserved in its besieged state - something Cooper sincerely appreciated, as you can imagine.

Here's the sign, in case you want to take a crack at translation yourself. We can't find any resource to translate the word 'bagnes'. Good luck. :-)

Finally we had to head back toward Paris to catch our plane home. As we approached the west side of the city, we decided to give Versailles a look, even knowing that every tourist and school group on the continent would be doing the same thing.

The place is such a monument to excess you can't even get a picture of the whole thing without a panoramic camera, which we didn't have, so you'll have to settle for this shot at an angle (including some scaffolding for work they are doing for the soon-to-arrive summer crowds).

Then if you turn slightly to your left you see this...

I'm telling you this place makes Hearst Castle in San Simeon look like a hillbilly house. William Randolph Hearst had nothing on Louis and Marie. They rent golf carts to the tourists just to get around the grounds.

We are all willing to bet folding money that the royal couple never even saw all the rooms in their palace, let alone all of their yard. Let them eat cake, indeed.

To the right of the palace is one of several ornamental gardens...


We were overwhelmed pretty fast and hot footed it to the exit, thinking fondly of our empty Chateau Chambord and our enigmatic rocks in Carnac- much more our speed. ;-)

To get up to the palace, we had walked a section of the grounds that was graded into the hillside and popped out near the fountain in the picture of the 'front yard'. When we left, we took the stairs next to the ornamental garden.

Actually, Ted ran down them first in order to look back and snap a picture of Coop and me at the top. You can barely see us, but I'm in white, waving goodbye!

Au revoir ya'll!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

France, or "Bonjour Ya'll!", Part Deux

Bright and early the next morning, we picked up our rental car and headed for the Loire Valley.

That's the succinct, grown-up version of events.

In reality, we stuffed our little Europcar rental with our suitcases and paraphernalia, opened our two ton spiral bound Michelin map book (3 miles = one inch and 400+ pages), and promptly drove the wrong direction through the rental car area ending up in a dead end facing a forty foot concrete wall as a helpful Frenchman motioned us to do a 180 in order to exit the lot.

Not our best start, and unfortunately prophetic.

French highways all have a number and letter. A4, D286, N42, etc. When you are looking at a map made by French people, you can find these numbers next to the line that represents the road.


If the area is busy, with lots of intersecting roads, they just leave the route numbers off.

No problem, you think, we'll just follow the road signs.


France considers road signs "frills". Not that there aren't beaucoup signs on all the roads, giving all kinds of information, but none of the information is uniform (e.g. D982 will list Lillebonne and St. Arnoult, then at the next exit/roundabout D982 will list two completely different cities. Further on, the route number will be gone and the cities will have become some combination of the original four- but rarely the one you are headed for).

There is not a single sign in France that says "A4 East" or "D186 North". Geographical direction is a useless concept to French drivers, apparently. So if you are on one freeway and want to switch to another, you must know your French geography very very well because you will be given a choice between "A4 Rouen" and "A4 Lille" and you'd darn well better know which city is where because if you don't your navigator will be frantically thumbing through the city index desperately trying to find the cities in question and determine which one is, indeed, East- the direction in which we would like to go.

Add to this our complete lack of French language skills and it's a true wonder we aren't sitting in some French incarnation of a Mayberry RFD Pokey trying to explain to the local gendarmarie why we were driving aimlessly in the wrong direction on a well signposted no trespassing property.

So. We left Charles DeGaulle airport on the north east side of Paris and attempted to take the outer belt to the south west side. We managed to exit the city fairly near our target after a confusing and rapid introduction to the aforementioned road maps and signage.

Just as we relaxed a little and started to breathe normally, we passed a large blue road sign that said a lot of stuff we didn't understand, but enough stuff we did understand to let us know that we were headed for a toll booth.

PEAGE. (a conjugated form of "pay up")

Whoops! How much?

Don't know. There are no signs, French or otherwise.

In another burst of panicked activity, we begin emptying pockets and wallets into a central tray on the console hoping to have enough money to proceed. As I'm counting up our Euro coins Ted says,

"Oh. They just want us to take a ticket."

Disaster averted for the time being, but what do we do with all this adrenalin???

Onward to our first chateau in the Loire Valley, a place liberally peppered with chateaux. We had read about Chambord and decided it was the place for us- the largest chateau in the whole valley, built for Francois I (or II, I forget) and used heavily by many aristocrats and a couple more kings since then.

This is the first view you get of it...

Pretty cool, huh? Your admission price gets you access to the chateau and grounds so you can just wander all over, inside and out, until you are Chateau-ed out. And we did.

From the inside, this is one of the views of the grounds...

This is the double spiral staircase inside- one of Leonardo Da Vinci's ideas. People going up one spiral can pass people going down the other spiral.

Really, really cool.

At the top of the spiral staircase, you can look straight down to the people on the ground floor...

That's five people down at the bottom with no premonition of loogey danger.

Silly people.

Lucky for them we are over our need to spit off high things.

When we finished wandering Chambord, we headed out to Amboise to see the last house Da Vinci lived in. He was buddies with the French King and they had a tunnel between Leo's house and the palace so they could visit without mixing with the hoi polloi.

Then for a total change of pace, we headed off to find the Stones of Carnac. The French call them "The Alignments". They are large randomly shaped stones, arranged in fields, and they go on for miles. Like this...

We love this stuff.

No one knows what they are. What they are for. Who used them. Or even who put them there.

But they are way too orderly to be an accident and they have occasional crypts along their edges- the significance of which no one knows either.

We just wandered along wondering and speculating and marveling.

They are older than Stonehenge, yet we had never heard of them before. Just sitting there in Brittany, almost to the coast, all lined up with no one to use them because no one knows what the heck they are for.

You can't make this stuff up.

All this cool sightseeing was broken up by our inept attempts to navigate French highways and backroads, our frantic scrambling for money when toll roads suddenly end without any indication of the cost until the toll booth lady says the numbers in incomprehensibly fast French, and lots of really good food.

On the toll roads, since you naturally have to stay on them until they end, there are
occasional rest stops with gas stations and restaurants. These are exactly what you expect them to be- gasoline, toilet, convenience store, diner type restaurant.

We loaded up on the garbage kind of food you get at the On The Move stores in the U.S. - packaged sandwiches, pre-packaged cheese and crackers, little bowls of fruit or pasta or green salad, and cans of Coke.

Except it wasn't garbage. It was delicious. The sandwiches were fresh and full of flavor and special touches, the cheese was to die for, the pasta salad had tons of little fresh shrimps in it, I'm telling you- the French really, really get food.

And as we ate and navigated our way through it all, the French people we dealt with were uniformly kind and patient and cheerful. No one ignored our pathetic attempts to speak French, no one refused to speak English if they were able, we were applauded when we got things right and gently guided when we simply didn't comprehend. It was true in Paris- it was true in Brittany, and later in the week it was true in Normandy.

Maybe all the rude French people are in the south. Or maybe it's a big lie concocted to keep crowds away. But France, as in most everywhere we go, people are friendly and helpful and willing to laugh with us as we bumble around.

We bumbled our way to a place called Mont St. Michel which is a monastery/cum fort/cum prison with the attending medieval village surrounding it.


(and by the way, they really do say Voila! all the time- when they finish doing something, or set something in front of you or anytime they want to punctuate an action they yell VOILA!)

The island is in the middle of a tidal flat that has such surging tides the water moves faster than a horse can run when it comes in and goes out. Hence this sign at the entry...

click on the picture to make it bigger and you can read the warning in your language of choice!

...telling you in no less than five languages that if you parked where the Ps are, your car will be swept away on the incoming tide. A helpful board nearby lets you know when that incoming tide will be so you can plan you time accordingly. We had five hours.

Here is the view from the base of the island...

And here is the view looking back the same direction from about 2/3 of the way to the top of the monastery...

It's a wild and crazy place. Narrow walkways, millions of stairs, houses, buildings, stores, cemeteries, gardens. And wind like nobody's business. Cooper was thrilled to face the wind and lean forward about 20 degrees without falling on his face.

Forget the history, forget the architecture, forget the views - you could lean into the wind without falling over. And he'll proudly tell you that was the best part of Mont St. Michel.

After that, we found a place to spend the night and next morning we found a perfect little village called Honfleur.

Honestly- could you resist this? We sat at a Cafe near the green awning on the left side and ate Croque Monsieurs. It rocked.

Then we headed off for the Normandy coast across this bridge...

Next time, more adventures in Normandy!

Monday, April 09, 2007

France, or "Bonjour Ya'll!"

Bonjour! We have just returned from a week in France.

I have to say here at the very beginning, that I apologize to the people of France for all the things I thought and believed and said about them before ever even visiting their country.

We never bought into all that stupid garbage about 'Freedom Fries' and boycotting Yoplait, especially considering that we were on record with NIMN as opposed to the war in Iraq even before France objected to it, but we were guilty of a generalized prejudice concerning the French based on other people's assertions and experiences.

Perhaps we are too easily pleased, perhaps we are too childlike in our approach to people, perhaps we are just clueless and don't notice things that other people do, but from the very first guy who flipped through our passports, looked up at Coop, shot him a big grin and said, "Coop-air?" we were treated very kindly and patiently by the French people.

And believe me, we needed a LOT of kindness and patience from just about everybody. We had resisted this vacation for a long time, based in part on our irrational bias, but there were a few things Coop had mentioned that he would like to see in France, and we finally agreed to this trip on the condition that he act as translator for us (with almost two years of Lincoln Community School French under his belt).

Apparently he thought we were kidding.

Ted had beaucoup years of French in high school, complete with a trip to Quebec his senior year, but soon after our arrival it became apparent that he knew about as much as I did- which, in his words, was enough to make any Frenchman's ears bleed.

Swell. Every time we asked Coop how to say something or to translate a one word sign for us, he would get this pained look on his face, roll those teenaged eyes, and with a big impatient sigh say,

"I don't know!"

Our fourteen year old tour guide was a bust.

Our only hope for translation and understanding was a slim phrasebook with pictures. And the French are a proud people- the amount of English they use in their public signs is practically nil. We accept this- it's their country and the lack of language skills entirely our own fault- but it still made things...interesting.

So the first 48 hours were set aside for Paris. We napped off our red-eye lack'o'sleep and then boarded the Metro train for Notre Dame. We got off the train, took the escalator up, and popped out right in front of the Cathedral. Not too shabby.

I know you have seen millions of shots of this cathedral, but never one that I took, so here you go...

and the famous rose window around the right side, facing the river Seine...

I have lots of pictures of details (the saints and gargoyles carved on the facade) that I will spare you, but it is a swell place, loaded up with flying buttresses in back and everything.

After Notre Dame, we got on a boat to cruise the Seine. Even though it was chilly, we sat outside at the front of the boat. Here's my guys enjoying the view...

and here is our first view of the Eiffel Tower (from the boat)...

After the boat ride, which was really informative and gave us a good overview of Paris, we just wandered the streets of Paris until dark, stuffing our faces and exclaiming over how good everything tasted.


The French definitely get food.

The next morning we got back on the train and headed for the Louvre, and its "side door" entry- one we had read about at an online tourist site where people share tips. There was a line about a bazillion miles long into the main entry, and by using the carousel entry way we managed to avoid it completely. Yay us.

Here is the plaza where the line forms at the main entry...

There is no way to see all the Louvre has to offer in less than a week, so we made deliberate choices and set off to see what we could see, concentrating on paintings. We discovered that the way to interest a teenaged boy in Renaissance paintings is to show him evidence that the painters were once teenaged boys themselves.

To wit, this painting...

and the detail from under the first woman rowing...

That image got Cooper to laugh out loud, and caused him to scrutinize a lot more paintings a lot more closely, just in case they too had 'good bits'.

Hey, everyone appreciates art in their own way.

Here's a shot of the courtyard inside, from one of the higher floors- the place is massive...

After a couple of hours, we agreed that we probably needed to try to see the Venus de Milo, if for no other reason than she was there, so we joined the teeming masses and made our way to her.

Ta Da!

After the Greek Antiquities last summer she was less than awe inspiring, but it was nice to get a close look.

Then I was forced by my engineer husband and his progeny (read: man who avoided all Art History and Humanities classes clear through graduate school and his chip off the old block son) to endure the walk of shame to the Mona Lisa.

Let me say right here, for the record... puke.

The Mona Lisa is probably the most overrated painting on the planet- it's nice enough, but hardly Da Vinci's best or most important work. Nice shading, enigmatic subject, blah blah blah.

9/10ths of the people who were there to see it only wanted to see it because it's one of the only paintings they know. I agreed to accompany Ted and Cooper into the crush of people streaming to see the painting, but stayed back at the entry waiting for them to get their close up look in order to keep myself from cold cocking the first moron who was sure to say,

"Gee, I thought it would be bigger."

No pictures here of La Gioconda- you'll have to find them somewhere else.

That was the end of our trip to the Louvre, which we enjoyed (overall) pretty well, but at risk of offending the French people and lovers of the museum itself, I have to say I think the Prado in Madrid has a much better collection, at least of paintings. Just one woman's opinion.

Our next idea was the Musee'd'Orsy (much of Monet's work is there) and the Rodin museum (Cooper is familiar with 'The Thinker', so it seemed like a natural), but when we emerged onto the plaza in front of the Louvre and took a good look at Coop, we just couldn't make him endure any more culture that day.

He was dazed and mute.

Too much art, too much history, too much book learnin'.

He's young, he'll get another crack at artistic enlightenment in Paris someday, I'm sure.

Onward and upward.

We headed down to La Place de Concorde and walked the length of the Champs Elysee to the Arc'd'Triomphe. Lovely views, terrific people watching, and great fun to be in the middle of something that we had seen pictures of all our lives...

I know, yet another one-of-a-kind photo. But we liked it.

From there, we had to complete our collection of less-than-unique vacation photos by going to the Eiffel Tower, so here it is, up close and personal...

And for sticking with me this long, you get the bonus shot straight up from underneath the tower itself...

Pretty cool, eh? Well, we liked it.

As I mentioned, it was chilly, but the day was bright and sunny and we were pretty comfortable most of the time, especially when we spotted the many early blooming flowers all over the city...

Our day in Paris was approaching the twelve hour mark and we were pretty much touristed out, so we headed back to the hotel, stuffing our faces again all along the way.

Next time, France outside Paris, and maybe even some pictures of places you haven't seen a million times before. :-)