December 16 - Alex’s Dog

Despite being absolutely exhausted, we could not get much sleep, because there was - somehow - a mosquito in our room.  We kept trying to kill it to no avail, kept turning on the light, couldn’t find it, kept turning the light off, trying to fall asleep, and repeating.  After quite some time, we finally got back to sleep.  How there was a mosquito flying around in mid-December we have no clue.  We eventually were able to get back to sleep, and woke up around 08:00.

We spent the morning doing practical stuff, like figuring out the COVID requirements for our flights on Saturday.  Hungary wasn’t checking for squat on any cars or trains coming into the country, but was requiring negative tests for people flying in from the USA.  We were from the USA, but not flying in from the USA, so we weren’t sure.  Also, there was an exception for anyone having a digital vaccination certificate issued by the EU, which our pass sanitaire theoretically was.  We couldn’t find anything definitive, even after both of us doing a lot of web searching.  

So Crystal called Lufthansa USA, then Lufthansa Germany, and finally Lufthansa Hungary, and she was told that our vaccine QR code would be sufficient.  We weren’t sure whether to trust this, however, and it occurred to us that Beverly would need a test on Friday anyway (for her flight to the US), so the only burden to us would be the cost of getting our own test at the same time (and a positive result, we guess).  Beverly had two of the Binax tests that could be proctored, and volunteered to give us her two tests, since the day before our return was Christmas Day, and we figured getting a test on Christmas might be tough.  

So when we finally left the Airbnb, our first stop was at a testing spot, for Beverly, to make an appointment for the next day.  But they had no appointments until Tuesday, which was a head scratcher.  We fiddled with our phone trying to figure out what to do next, and then Crystal had the idea to have Beverly use the proctored Binax test after all, and we’d figure out whatever for Christmas Day.  Crystal didn’t want to waste any more time on one of our two days in Paris futzing around, and Justin agreed.

We took a short walk up to the Champs Elysees and checked out the Arc de Triomphe from just outside the traffic circle.  We got on the Metro there, and headed across the river, to the Left Bank, getting off right to the Catacombs.  We got some food and drink at Bar de Rendezvous, where we were waiting to rendezvous with our private tour guide that Crystal had arranged.  We had just started eating and drinking when our “private” guide told us that our group was about to leave - so much for our private tour.  So we chugged the last of our drinks, and put the food in bags.  We decided to toss the bags once we were away from the cafe, which was a bummer.

There were maybe 15 or so people in our tour group.  We stayed in the back for most of the tour.  The guide had a ton of dad jokes that were not funny at all, so we weren’t missing anything being back there.  There were way more bones than we thought in the ossuary portion of the catacombs.  The whole area had an interesting backstory, both with limestone quarrying being the original reason for all the tunnels, and also with getting rid of so many bodies in cemeteries into the tunnels being done on the down low for quite some time before it was officially sanctioned by the government.

Once done in the catacombs, we took the Metro to the Notre Dame area.  We’d seen Notre Dame from our boat cruise back in 2011, but that was the extent of what we saw.  Right by Notre Dame, on the Left Bank, there was a fancy but tiny Christmas Market called Marche de Noel.  We checked that out for a bit, then went over to Notre Dame.  It looked pretty sad, kind of a bummer, actually.  We didn’t dwell on it, and walked north right past it.  We kept heading north towards a bunch of the bars recommended by the Bar Ran folks.  Our plan was to do a bar crawl this afternoon.

Our first stop was at Candelaria.  The bar itself was closed, but the restaurant portion up front was open, and we could get frozen margaritas, so the two of us (and Beverly too) got barbacoa tacos and a frozen margarita.  The place was tightly packed, as people arrived just before and after us, even though it was around 15:00.  Our next stop was Cambridge Public House.  The bar was pretty chill, and we had a comfy couch that we basically sank into right by the front window.  Since it was pretty empty and we were chit-chatting with the bartender, we asked him what he’d recommend for getting to the airport on Saturday - taxi, Uber, or Metro/train.  He told us it was probably best to use Uber, so we decided that’s what we’d do.  The bar was an awesome place, but it was bar number 2, and we had plenty to go, so we didn’t linger too long.

The third stop was Little Red Door, just a couple blocks north, which we found out after the fact is one of the top 50 bars in the world.  We couldn’t get in at first, until a person nearby on the sidewalk told us the actual door wasn’t the red one, but a different one on the left.  The inside was fairly large, and this bar was pretty full.  The menu was interesting, as the drinks were all based off of French companies that specialized in some specific fruit or ingredient.  From the descriptions, we really had no clue how any of the drinks were going to taste.  Crystal got the Walnut drink, Justin got the Olive drink, and Beverly got the Creme Fraiche drink, which she said was probably the best drink she’d had on the entire trip.  At Little Red Door we started a conversation with Barney, a bartender from Ireland.  He asked about where we were going next, and we mentioned Dirty Dick and also Lulu White, which is right next door to Dirty Dick.  Barney told us to ask Alex about his dog if/when we went to Lulu White.

To get over to the Pigalle area, we walked a bit, then hopped on the Metro for a couple of minutes.  Beverly was wearing her KN95 on the trains today, as we think she was a little wary of how packed the Metro was yesterday, particularly with an impending Covid test to return to the US.  Dirty Dick was just a minute or two from the Pigalle Metro station.  Crystal had been to Pigalle for work several years ago, but hadn’t gone out to the local bars whilst in the area.  We snagged three seats at Dirty Dick and started perusing the menu and also the shelves.  To our surprise, not 3 feet in front of us was a False Idol mug.  We told the bartender that we go to False Idol most every Friday when we're at home.

The bartender was German, but he sounded French.  He did some tricks where he lit alcohol on his finger and lit it, putting it out before it burned his finger.  He also chugged a bunch of 151, lit something, and then spit out the 151 to create a huge flame.  He told us that Alex wasn’t a big fan of him doing that.  We heard Alex, and that reminded us that we were supposed to ask about Alex’s dog.  The bartender told us Alex would be right back.  When he got back, we asked him about his dog, and he showed us a bunch of photos of Mahogany, who is super cute.  We chatted for a long time with Alex about dogs and other things.  We asked Alex and the German bartender about places to go for Christmas Markets, and they both recommended Strasbourg, so we committed that to memory.  They also mentioned Trieste and Genoa in northern Italy.  At some point Beverly started laughing about something - we never figured out what - so we determined maybe we should call off the Pub Crawl, or at least call it off for her.  She’d kept up pretty well with our drinking, but maybe five in a relatively short amount of time is her limit.

After leaving (and not actually going to Lulu White), we remembered that the Alex we were supposed to talk to was at Lulu White, not Dirty Dick, so we’d randomly met a different Alex who randomly had a cute dog - go figure.  We walked a couple blocks to Moulin Rouge to check out the ambience, and Crystal went into a Starbucks to get yet another mug for her collection; Crystal hadn’t started collecting the mugs when we visited in 2011. Beverly got one for hers too-a slightly different type of Starbucks mug, which she collects.   We got on the Metro yet again, for the fourth time today, and came up where we’d started, right next to the Arc de Triomphe.

Crystal wanted to eat somewhere with a view of the Arc, and we saw some available tables at the LE Drugstore that fit the bill.  It was expensive, but the view was good (the Arc de Triomphe was 500 feet away, it's i the background on the left photo above), and the drink and food were surprisingly good as well.  Crystal got a French 75 and Justin got a Paloma to drink; Beverly got a Moscow Mule, so maybe she can do six.  To eat, we shared a foie gras pate for an appetizer.  Crystal got a “wok of duck,” basically a duck stir fry.  Justin had a fried chicken breast with cajun sauce.  Beverly had a seafood sandwich with crisps.  The walk home from the restaurant was only about 10 minutes, maybe less.  Beverly told us that she was up past her bedtime.  Justin wryly responded “You’re on our time now.”  She agreed, and then went to sleep.  We stayed up a bit longer, doing our Duolingo lessons.

Previous Entry
Next Entry