Absolution

“It was at Oxford, however, that (Christopher) Wren first encountered his sole vice – coffee. One of the first coffee houses, John’s, was set up in Oxford in the 1650s, and here Wren would develop a taste for the Turkish liquor that would last a lifetime.” The Phoenix page 37.

Wren was the architect of the great St. Paul’s Cathedral. Central London landmark.

However, for my money, nothing beats the noon communion at Westminster Abbey. I like that particular god. A lot. I took communion and the heavens weren’t rent asunder. Received absolution for my sins, all of my sins, of which there are so few, and I even got to tease one of the priestly dudes, “Any rules? No chewing tobacco, no gum, no swearing?”

Paris: in pieces:
Eurostar (Rail Europe) is the way to go. Now, there is a matter of money, currency varies, and there is the matter of language, and then, there is the tourist factor.

Texas border patois crashes into college French. It can only get uglier.

Such a lovely town, hated to leave, had the expected language problems, too. “Low sin gaz,” I smoothly ordered. “L’eau,” or l’eaux, would be water in French. “Sin” would be “without” in Spanish, and “gaz” would be implied carbonation, again in French, but the vernacular.

In line to get to the top of the Tour Eiffel, and one can easily bet I did that, the line snaked around, and there was a large group of adolescent, mostly male, Spanish-speaking youths. I’d guess from Spain, not from Mexico, based on my appraisal of the accent.

What was odd about the scene of those youths? To the letter, each and everyone of them wore an American-themed T-shirt. California Surfing, Arizona Jeans, Levi-Strauss, Jack’s Burger Joint, and for a country that gets ripped for our style choices? Seems like a lot of young people all want to dress like us. I’d suggest, the predominate style among young people, on the streets in Paris? America. Odd when many of them don’t speak English as a native tongue.

Never claimed I understood it.

Something really stood out about Paris, too, and the people who live there, love there, and eat there, not that there is much difference. I watched as a young alpha male was posturing, smoking a cigarette, chatting on a cell phone, cradling a helmet, sitting astride his mighty, manly ride.

Where else can 50 cc moped be truly macho?

I should leave that alone. But I can’t. My usual Starbucks order is larger than that, and probably has more kick. Not as much style, though, that kid was cool. Certainly cooler than me, and I’m pretty cool. Still, a moped?

I never saw a Starbucks. Not that I was disappointed, but after a week in London with a Starbucks on every blessed corner, to go a few short miles and have there be no branded logo, anywhere?

There’s a good reason why there isn’t a Bucky’s on every corner because there is a Bistro or Cafe, or something, where wine, tiny shots of exquisite espresso, artful crafted, hand-pulled, properly served. It’s a wonderful thing. Not that poorly roasted, urine-infected swill from Bucks.

The Hotel? Hotel Prince, got some kind of an internet deal that was good. A little strange by American standards, but by American standards, Starbucks is good. The room itself was about the size of large walk-in closet. The bathroom gets the vote for the smallest bathroom I’ve ever used. I could lean forward, on the toilet seat, and rest my head against the closed door. Or turn on the shower. As a point of reference, most (American) travel trailers, I’m thinking of a small Airstream, have larger bathrooms.

Complaining? Oh, hardly. It’s a cheap – by Paris standards – motel. With the Metro less than a half a block away, and, of course, right on the edge of the plain for the Champ du Mars (Eiffel Tower park), doesn’t get much better.

Continental Breakfast was included. I had a small pot of coffee that had the foam just like espresso. That, in and of itself, was worth the price of admission. But on top of that? To have a warm, buttery croissant, right out of the oven?

Two different Americans came down at breakfast, and then, there was a French couple. The French couple, he showed up first, she came down moments later, she was greeted with the kiss on each cheek, and a lingering breakfast that out lasted me. The other Americans? Dine and dash, quick cup of coffee and out the door. That French couple was still there, discussing politics and plans for the day.

Then, at night? With the front window, or door, open to the Paris night? Cigarette smoke mingled with wine and coffee, the sound of glasses tinkling in the Paris twilight, conversation, laughter of an older woman, varied vehicle traffic from the 50 cc moped to trucks, and flatulent autos, it all tinged the air. Just another summer’s eve in Paris.

Coffee Cup (image).

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ssmith04 Jun 30, 2008 @ 12:32

    So, Kramer, tell us how you really feel about Paris.

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