August 7, 1997

Yes, we're back in Paris. Initially I didn't think I'd be able to take vacation time this summer because of various products due at work. However, things seemed to be proceeding well, so Betty Lou started calling to find out where we could go cheaply. Paris seemed to be the place this year. And I've now managed to get my laptop working from our hotel.

I figured I could handle most anything, even if I had to unscrew a wall plate and use alligator clips, but the phone cord disappears behind the headboard, which is bolted to the wall! However, Betty Lou noticed a phone outlet on the opposite wall, into which my Radio Shack French phone plug fit. I couldn't get the modem dialer to work properly—even though I told it there needed to be an initial zero to get an outside line, it didn't then wait for the second dial tone. However, when I dialed from the regular phone then connected from the modem it worked fine. MITRE has a connection to the Compuserve network which has local phone numbers all over the world, so I'll be checking in every so often to see what mail I get.

We left Wednesday, and everything worked fine getting here. Although we were flying charter ($512 RT), Tower Air had announced that they would sell seats in business class for an additional $50 cash, first-come first-served. No additional services—e.g., you still had to pay for booze and headphones if you wanted them—but you got the additional legroom, seat size, and service. We were five hours early—this departure was at midnight!—and were third in line; the third group, that is. The first group thought they were leaving at 7:23 so they had arrived at 4. They didn't know about the upgrade deal and when we persuaded them it was a good deal, they had to scramble to find $150 cash. They thanked us profusely afterwards.

The flight came from Miami and there were still 25 "business class" seats left. We got seats upstairs—on a 747, first class—and since they let us "business class" passengers board first we found a convenient place downstairs to put our luggage (one wheeled carryon each). We had our own steward for the 16 of us. Among other things, this meant that we were enjoying our dessert when we heard the announcement that coach service would begin. We were in the first group, busload, to get off the plane, they opened a new line in immigration just as we got there, and there was nobody staffing the customs line when we passed. We walked the few hundred yards to the RER train station and got off about three blocks from our hotel.

The room is pretty small but the location is great—on the left bank not far from the Sorbonne and St. Germain, and the air conditioning works fine. The Clos Medicis is a recently remodeled small hotel composed of several adjacent townhouses, with a charming courtyard for breakfast. It's pretty warm in Paris, but there was a little "liquid sunshine," as my father calls it, when we arrived. Hardly enough to use our "parapluies" and the sun soon came out while Betty Lou checked out the Entertainment Book for nearby restaurants. (You're probably familiar with the half-price Entertainment books in the US; they also have them for Europe and we're staying at our hotel that way.)

So far we've had two dinners from the book which turned out to be great; of course we cross-check them with Michelin and Gault-Millau. We have reservations next week for our anniversary at Alain Ducasse, Paris's newest three-star restaurant, generally agreed to be the best in France, and possibly the world. You may imagine that's not half price! Other than that, we're not sure what we're going to be doing; so far we've had a great time just walking around and people-watching.

© Copyright 2000 Jack Ludwick - All Rights Reserved