What We Did on Our Honeymoon
Daniel Emberley, October/November 1997
Thanks to everyone for their best wishes for Michael’s and my commitment ceremony. The celebration went very well - the worst I’ve heard is that some people couldn’t hear everything that was said. Most of my friends would say that was a blessing right there where I’m concerned <grin>. Many folks have expressed curiosity about our honeymoon. If you’re interested here’s the full text. Feel free to reed or trash. Thanks again to all for your support, it means a lot to both of us.
Apologies for spelling: am too lazy to look things up. You should have heard what we did to the pronunciation!
An uneventful flight from Dulles (okay, plane was three hours late arriving at the gate at Dulles) got us into Heathrow around 8:30AM Greenwich, 2:30AM EST. Scorning the bus ride that British Airways had arranged for us due to rush hour traffic, we hopped onto the Piccadilly Line and surfaced at Russell Square. Lugged our bags to the hotel, checked them in, and tried to find something to do that would a. keep us busy until hotel check in and b. keep us awake. Walked downtown, checking out Gray’s Inn, the outside of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Monument. The Monument is by Christopher Wren, in honor of the Great Fire of London. Walked the steps to the top - were exhausted, but rewarded with an incredible view of the City (Not the city, the City. Look at a map.) On descent were happy to discover that yes, they DO give out diplomas, or at least certificates, for braving the steps up and down. Finally. made our way to the Tower, our original aim. Joined a tour with a Beefeater, checked out the jewels, Traitor’s Gate. the ravens, the White Tower, and the whole town that lives under royal warrant within the Tower’s walls. Walked past the old London Wall, with its varied layers of brick and stone constructed by the Romans. Took the underground back to our hotel, the Tavistock, which is the least expensive hotel option British Airways offers. Is an Art Deco gem that at one point seems to have been used as a dormitory for the University of London. Room nothing to write about, formica furniture left behind sometime before 1972, but clean, and almost had water pressure. Jet lagged; foot sore, but psyched to be in London, we collapsed.
Started the day with breakfast at the Tavistock: tea and toast, butter and jam. Ended up with the same thing every day, a nice low fat breakfast! Then a major walk: Green Park. Buckingham Palace, Belgravia, Eaton Place (hello, Rose and the crew from “Upstairs. Downstairs”), Harrod’s (loved the food halls and Egyptian Escalator, of course, and found a copy of the Hong Kong version of Monopoly. Had to pay for the first time (but certainly not the last) for a bathroom. On to South Kensington: Brompton Oratory, and a major visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Michael discovered the work of Hogarth in a special show of prints of ‘The Rake’s Progress’’, and we strolled the cast galleries and Frank Lloyd Wright’s office for Edgar Kaufman. We had tea in their cafe; Michael noted that it took a number of utensils and dishes to serve. We decided to keep track for the rest of the week in an informal “tea cozy contest”. Afternoon in Kensington Gardens, only to discover that Kensington Palace was closed for the month of October. Wandered through Hyde Park and Marble Arch, checked out the evening shopping in the department stores on Oxford Street and caught Disney’s “Hercules”. The Brit’s seem to be about a month behind us on Hollywood releases. Obviously, nobody had told them that Herc was a flop, they showed about 30 minutes of commercials before the feature, which definitely made the experience worthwhile. I guess if the nation makes you pay for TV and only offers you BBC, you may as welt catch your ads at the movies (at $12/ticket)!
At breakfast Michael noted that only three utensils were used, probably the minimum possible. Checked out Smithfield Market, the Victorian and current meat wholesale market, on a walk over to the Barbican and Museum of London. Discovered we both really liked it, spent several hours checking out the history of the city from pre-Roman times to today. They had a special exhibit of royal fashion. Underground to Westminster, where we walked around the Houses of Parliament, into Westminster Abbey, 10 Downing Street, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square (found several all-you-can-eat Indian and Chinese buffets - satisfied dinner for several subsequent evenings), Soho, Chinatown, Carnaby Street (hello, Mary Quant!), Piccadilly Circus, and the Tottenham Court Road back to the hotel.
Checked out the church of St. Pancras, a wonderful Greek Revival church with two porches based on the Erectheum, Continued up past Euston Station to Camden Town, where we enjoyed the crafts market and leather goods <ahem>. Up the old Regent’s Canal through the Zoo and Regent’s Park. In St. John’s Wood we went to the Saatchi Collection of contemporary art. Saatchi is housed in a former auto assembly/repair shop, and was showing trendy German art of the past ten years. For this we had an art market? Back downtown by way of the old Beatles’ recording studio on Abbey Road (Elgar used it too. but I don’t think that’s why there was a line of camera-toting tourists) and a double-decker bus to Baker Street. Caught the underground over to the home of Victorian artist Frederic Leighton. who created a Moorish fantasy in the then-suburb of Holland Park. Up the Kensington High Street, through Notting Hill and down through the Portobello Road, just in time to see the antique and junk dealers close up their stands.
Caught BritRail from Vauxhall out to Hampton Court,
Cardinal Woolsey and Henry VIII’s palace up the Thames. The palace is in great
condition, with the largest extant medieval kitchens, fine state rooms, and
excellent gardens. Got lost and found in the hedge maze. Very cool. Michael
clocked tea in the cafe/garden at five utensils. Back to Vauxhall, watched
balloonists over the city, then crossed the bridge over to the Tate Gallery of
British Art. HATED ITI What a disappointment. Perhaps the collection will be
more enjoyable, and shown better. when they get their new building opened over
in Southwark. For now they’ve had to be so selective that we ended up not
enjoying most of what they had chosen to hang. Put up the David Hockneys, please
Walked to the Tube via Chelsea and the King’s Road, another disappointment.
Perhaps we needed to be twenty years younger, or drunk, or both?
A cold and cloudy day to take in the work of Inigo Jones, the architect who brought Classicism to England under the Stuarts. Checked out Cleopatra’s Needle on the Embankment on our way to Jones’ Banqueting House, all that is left of Whitehall Palace. Incredible interpretation of the fall of Charles I via the Rubens paintings on the ceiling. Saw the changing of the guard at Horse Guards. Caught the Docklands Light Railway through the Docklands. This was the major wharf area of the city from Victorian times until the Thames Barrier was built at Woolwich in the 1970’s, essentially closing the river to major shipping, The abandoned docks were then developed into a Maggie Thatcher white-collar boom town, most famously at Olympia & York’s Canary Wharf, for almost a decade the tallest building in Europe. DLR gives an aerial view of all the developments, including the building bombed this year by the IRA and still under plastic. The railway leaves you at the Thames across from Greenwich. There’s a pedestrian tunnel there that’s the last of those built 100 years ago to take workers to the docks under the Thames. Less spooky than we feared; well lit and frequently used. Made the river crossing a quick walk to Greenwich, where we saw the MaritIme Museum, Observatory Grounds, Royal Naval Academy’s Painted Room and Chapel (wonderful Baroque structures), and crafts market. The Queen’s House in Greenwich is another Inigo Jones masterpiece, with incredible interiors and views through the grounds to the city. Took a Thames ferry upriver to Charing Cross. A short walk through Seven Dials took us to an all-you-can eat Indian buffet off Leicester Square.
British Airways included a bus tour of London in our package. We used it to review where we’d been, and also as transport across the river. Made a quick stop to check out the interior of St. Paut’s. then on to Southwark This neighborhood had been an independent entity under the Archbishops of Winchester in the Middle Ages, and is famous for its Elizabethan prostitutes, Shakespearean theater, Victorian factories and redevelopment in the last few decades as London rediscovers its river. Walked around Southwark Cathedral, one of the oldest and largest in London, and once parish church of John Harvard, who gave a little land and money to a school in colonial Massachusetts. Hays Wharf has been redeveloped into a successful office and galleria. Passed the ruins of Winchester Palace, and the reconstructed Golden Horde, ship of Sir Francis Drake. Just down a wharf/river walk is the reconstructed Globe Theater, where we toured the facility and tried out the view from the galleries and pit. Building has the first thatched roof built in London proper since the Great Fire in the 1700’s, complete with sprinklers peeping up through the thatch. Caught the tour bus up to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery of Art, where we did the “grand tour” of the best art of the west since 1200. An incredible collection, where Michael got to check out a few more Hogarths. His favorite series was “Marriage a la Mode”. Had tea, four utensils used.
Morning in Lincoln's Inn Fields for the Sir John Soane House. Soane invented the Daniel Emberley school of decorating (“if you can bang a nail in it, hang a picture on it”). He was the 18th century architect of the Bank of England and Dulwich Picture Gallery, the first building built specifically to house a public art collection. To our delight, Soane had bought and hung on folding panels Hogarth’s original oils of “The Rake’s Progress” and “The Election’’. From there to the British Museum, tracking down the Rosetta Stone, Elgin Marbles, Lewes chessmen, and other great British plunder. Caught the Underground out to Osterley Park. This bad been built as an Elizabethan country house, then modified by Robert Adam in the 1700’s. Perhaps our favorite home of the whole trip. thank you, National Trust. The rooms inspired us for the new bedroom on Seaton place. Wonderful gardens. In size, large enough to be grand and small enough to imagine a family living there and throwing decadent Evelyn Waugh parties in the Roaring ‘20s. Osterley’s tea room came in at four pieces, but we gave them extra credit for serving tea in the former stables.
Spent the morning doing laundry and a post office run in the neighborhood. In the afternoon, on to Highgate. Passed the spot where Dick Whittington and his cat heard the bells of St. Mary-Le-Bow calling him back to London, where he became head of the draper’s guild and one of the more famous mayors of the medieval city. Great view, would have called us back even without the bells. Uphill through Highgate Cemetery, as famous for its state of ivy-covered decay as for its rosters of the notable dead. Across Parliament Hill and Hampstead Heath, with more great views of the city, ending up at Kenwood. another great Robert-Adam-designed country house. Picked up some pastries in the scenic village of Hampstead (Bethesda as done by Laura Ashley), then prowled the hills of the town. Toured 2 Willow Road, built by Modern Brit architect (as in, that’s why you’ve never heard of him) Erno Goldfinger, with the estate of his wife, heiress to the Cross & Blackwell pickle fortune. A very cool house, but a very bad architect. with a large responsibility for the uglier concrete highrises built in London after WWII. Ah, if only he had lived in the apartments he built! Great private collection of the Hampstead school of modern artists (Moore, Hepworth, surrealists). Rested in the Elizabethan gardens of Fenton House. On the way home shopped on the Tottenham Court Road. Liked Terence Conran’s store Habitat, but went crazy at Heal’s, a houseware department store with the most progressive design we’ve ever scene. We took notes of the furniture/ideas we want to duplicate here.
A fast early walk through Covent Garden, where we cased the tombs of theater greats at St. Paul’s Covent Garden (Inigo Jones, again), and the stores in the Rousse-ified former flower market. Tipped our hat to Eliza Doolittle, went shopping at the Doc Martens Store. Michael was very disappointed (and Dan confirmed his opinion) with the “Planet Hollywood” style of retail - the very antithesis of what Doc Martens originally stood for. Back to the hotel, where we checked out and caught the bus to Heathrow. Very nice duty free shopping, including a convenient Harrod’s presence. An uneventful trip across the Channel. getting from Charles de Gaulle by bus to the Garnier Opera House, then on to our hotel in the Place d’ltalie, the Campanile Gobelins. Turned out to be similar to a high rise Holiday Inn: clean, new, pleasant, inexpensive, with great water pressure and an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet with food worth eating. Croissants. cold cuts, pate, yogur, cereal, fresh fruit, and an International Herald Tribune gratis each morning. We approved. Also, free Cartoon Network, in English! Sky News. Rupert Murdoch’s version of CNN, came and went, sometimes on the same cycle through the stations. When received, it offered continuous coverage of the Louise Woodward trial in Cambridge, the ONLY American news we got. Odd to see the courthouse on TV in Paris, I used to work across the street. The hotel’s neighborhood is well off the tourist track, with a pleasant middle-class movie/department store/supermarket/shopping complex across the street.
Okay. I caught a cold, which started surfacing on the flight and was full-blown by this morning. AAARGH! Never one to let a little physical reality interfere with the fact that we were In Paris, we caught the Metro up to the Ile de Ia Cite to check out the windows at La Chapelle. Walked around the outside of Notre Dame having our first experience of gypsy beggars (uggh). A pleasant stroll on the Ile St. Louis where we got our first (but certainly not last) tastes of glacee and pastry. Across the Seine and south via the funky modern Arab Institute, ancient Roman Arene du Lutece. and the street market on the Rue Mouffetard. I was bushed at this point, so Michael got me back to the hotel for a nap, and he took a walk around the neighborhood, getting as far afield as the Jardin du Luxembourg. Together we headed up to the Arc de Triomphe in the Place Charles de Gaulle taking in the fabulous views from the top. An ice cream on the Champs Elysees, then a stroll down it as far as the Place de Ia Concorde, which apparently pedestrians don’t cross at street level (so, who knew?).
Place Bastille and the new Opera House there, the Marais, Place des Vosges, ending at the Carnavalet. This is the museum of the history of Paris. I think we had such a great time at the Museum of London that we were let down by the Carnavalet. The collection is superior; housed in palaces once lived in by Madame de Sevigne, with rooms and artifacts from all ages of Paris from the Romans forward. The interpretation, though, is inferior. More a lot of stuff hung in a room and less explanation of how society worked and why. Perhaps if we’d bought the English-language catalogue we would have had a better experience. Cheered ourselves up at a cafe. then the escalators at the Pompidou. The Center is closed for much needed maintenance. but we were able to enjoy the view from the top of the escalator bay and the reconstructed studio of sculptor Constantin Brancusi below. Sat by the Tingley/Nikki de St. Phalle fountain/sculpture in the Place Stravinsky. and checked out the Fountain of the Innocents. Las Halles was the main food market of Paris; it was replaced in the early 1960’s by a major shopping mall complex anchored by a Toys-R-Us. Unimpressed, despite some cool public sculpture, we went into St. Eustache. where we were blown away by the Gothic beauty of the church. South through the Palais Royale to check out Dan Buren’s column sculpture (Michael unimpressed, Dan loved it - maybe you have to have seen other Buren?) and Cardinal Richelieu’s former digs, then through the Jardin de Tuilleries. one of the most beautiful parks we’ve ever seen, thank you, Le Notre. Ended at the Orangerie’s fine collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist canvases, including Monet’s waterlilies downstairs.
Having skirted the Louvre yesterday. we figured was time to give it the full treatment. Entering through I. M. P’s Pyramid, cased the Egyptian, Assyrian (Code of Hammurabi), and French sculpture collections. I covered French and Northern European painting, while Michael gave the ancient collections an extensive view. Got back together for Islamic and Greek, hitting the Winged Victory and Venus de Milo, and Italian painting, actually getting up close to Mona, something I didn’t think was possible. Felt sorry for the Titians being ignored on either side of her. Found a whole gallery of masterpieces by David, and the apartments of Emperor Louis-Phillipe, still in their original splendor after a century of use by the Ministry of Finance. What is it about Treasury departments that results in great architecture? Couldn’t have anything to do with holding the purse-strings, could it? Finally. found ourselves in the new shopping mall under the Louvre, with an excellent food court, and great view of the medieval foundations recently excavated around the base of the building, now incorporated into the mall. Shopped on the Rue de Rivoli, walked along the Seine by the Grand and Petit Palais, and past the Pont d’Alma. Seeing a crowd gathered on the embankment around Bartholdi’s model for the flame of the Statue of Liberty, and knowing that that could not be that big a draw, we hit ourselves on the heads in recognition and joined the crowd to pay tribute to Princess Diana, who had died there a few weeks before. Checked out the Art Deco magnificence of the Trocadero Palace and across the Seine to the Tour Eiffel, where we postponed going to the top given the long lines. Down the esplanade of the Champ de Mars to the Ecole Militaire, where we caught the Metro back to Place d’ltalie. Discovered Parisian supermarket shopping at the Champion SuperMarche, which we found in the mall across the street.
Decided to get out of town, so caught a RER train southwest to Versailles. The palace is magnificent, but crowds so great (tour groups of Japanese, Chinese, Americans, English, Italians) that we really couldn’t enjoy it. I wonder it anyone can? What do you do with a place that demands great attention, but is so popular that no one can spend more than a few minutes in any one room? Then again, maybe the whole Louis XIV thing is so over the top that we wouldn’t like it even if we had the place to ourselves. Seemed to be more than one gilded cupid too many, if you know what I mean. Had a pleasant picnic and stroll in the gardens, which were beautiful even this late in the season and with most of the fountains off. Wandered up to the Grand Trianon, checked out the gardens and palace. Found this much more sympatico, perhaps due to crowds, perhaps because the Rococo appealed to us more than the Baroque? Over to the Petit Trianon, which we like best of all - maybe Empire is our style? Caught the train back through the Parisian suburbs to town, and spent the evening checking out the mall across the street. Anchored by a branch of the grand magasin (department store to us Yanks) Printemps, we were pleased by the whole experience. Department stores in Paris remain what they once were in the U.S. Not only do they sell clothing for women and men, but have large children’s, housewares, toy, book, music, and even art supply departments. I had forgotten why I used to like department stores in the first place, and why I so rarely go to them now. The coup of the day was finding the Casino cafeteria in the mall, which serves very good, standard Parisian fare at reasonable prices. Best of all. if you have a good pointing finger and can cough out a “s’il vous plait” you needn’t speak much French.
Made a quick and respectful trip into St. Francis Xavier near the Invalides, then on to see the Dome and Church, the two churches joined at the altar so that the king could attend the same service as his retired troops but not actually be in the same building with them. The complex includes the Musee des Plans-Reliefs, a collection of models of French towns and fortifications that had been classified secret until a few decades ago. The models themselves are amazing, and well displayed in a recently renovated wing of the building. On to the Musee des Egouts de Paris, or Sewer Museum. This is one of the best museums of civil engineering we’ve ever seen. Physically in active sewer mains of Paris by the Seine, the museum covers how cities grow, live and die by the ways they provide fresh water and dispose of the aftermath. Galleries either are the sewer mains or are in them, raised above the rushing effluent on steel grids. The stench was not so bad, aIthough as we caught it on future days walking on the streets we realized we had a souvenir in the new sensitivity of our noses. From the sewers to the trains, as we covered the national art collection from 1850-1910 at the Musee DOrsay. We agreed that the adaptation of the train station to galleries is interesting but overall not well done. Some incredible Art Nouveau furniture. I loved the academic/salon art of the I 880’s. Michael hated it. but we both enjoyed the models of the Opera by Gamier. Dan’s view: Impressionist mastershlock, but great collection of paintings by Bazille, and of course Whistler’s mom. Michael’s view: loved Cezanne’s still lives and van Gogh’s self-portraits. Walked along the book stalls on the Seine, got into Notre Dame and quickly into its crypt, and walked back north by way of the Hotel de Ville. Had our second department store exposure at the BHV, which in addition to the departments we found at Printemps is rightly famous for its home repair section in the basement. Picture the most complete Home Depot ever seen in the basement of Marshall Fields, and all next door to city hall downtown, and you’ve got the picture. Amazing. Stopped by the Tour St. Jacques. where Pascal experimented with physics, on our way home.
First stop was the Pantheon, where we found the Joan of Arc murals by Puvis de Chauvannes a bit much. Might have enjoyed the crypt of great Frenchmen more if we were more in tune with their history. Although there was a nice discussion of the Radical Republican Gambetta and why he is important, all of which we’ve forgotten, so there you go! Also, for a place of recognition of Frances great, seemed heavily biased towards the political, with few artists, writers, scientists, or other great cultural leaders. Where was Jules Verne? Coco Chanel? Jerry Lewis? I think Washington and London do the same job better in our respective National Portrait Galleries. Nave was taken up by a nice reconstruction of Foucault’s pendulum, which was first set up in that same space. Down the Boulevard St. German, to the Swiss Village. The guide book said this was built by the Swiss government for a turn-of-the-century Worlds Fair, and later moved into by artists and antique shops. Well, they need to do a re-run: the neighborhood has been replaced by I 970s high rises, with the antique shops relocated to their first floors. A disappointment, but a fun one. Braved the line to get upstairs to the top of the Tour Eiffel, then walked up to the Palais de Tokyo, an Art Deco palace from the Exhibition of 1933 that now houses the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris. A great collection, with contemporary good (retrospective of Gilbert and George, the Brit Pop artists of the 1980’s) and bad (what does a room with plants growing out of bubble gum on the gallery walls have to do with art?) art. Michael corrects me, he liked the plant room, as piece that showed “nature in your own living room”. Can you imagine Marion Barry budgeting for a museum for great modern art, and benefactors actually giving him a collection for it? I praise Paris if only for that. Not to mention the pastries and walkable streets, of course <smile>. Walked up the fashion centers of the Avenue Montaigne and Matignon to the Galerie Jerome de Nairmont. This private gallery had a small but representative show of contemporary artist Jeff Koons. I love him and hate him, but he drew us to this cool neighborhood, so I can’t complain. No giant billboards of him naked with his Italian porn star wife, but one or two of everything else: advertisement appropriations, basketballs and vacuum cleaners in vitrines, stainless steel casts of the banal, etc. Off down the ‘‘grand avenues” to the Opera Gamier, where we cased the lobby while refusing to line up for rush tickets for ‘Swan Lake’’. Don’t care if it was Nureyev’s choreography. it is a bad idea to wait in line when there is a city to be seen. Finally off to our third and greatest department store event, the Galeries de Lafayette, with its wonderful stained glass dome.
Friday, 10/31, Halloween
The retailers of France have discovered ‘‘Alloween”, but the people haven’t. Had all our cool kids costumes and stuff in the stores, and a fake pumpkin patch by the Tour Eiffel, but we didn’t see anyone in costume all day. Maybe the French will take to it someday; maybe it was all a marketing error. Took the Metro up to Parc La Villette, the former slaughterhouses that have been transformed into a Post-Modern park, science center, and music pavilion. Skipped going into the science and music buildings, but had a blast checking out Bernard Tschumi’s cool red “follies’’ scattered around the grounds. Checked out an impressive Ledoux barrier tax building from the 1780’s. Then down the Canal St. Martin to the Place Republique and a major Metro haul across town to Auteuil. This former suburb has a great collection of Art Nouveau and Deco apartment buildings. It also houses, down a green alley, the Fondation Le Corbusier, where the Modern architect is worshipped in two of his urban villas, one of which is open to the public. Lots of space, much of which could not be put to a practical purpose. Honestly, compared unfavorably to Goldfinger’s 2 Willow Road in London, although I never much liked Carpenter Art Center at Harvard, Le C’s best known work in the U.S., either. Then, across the Seine to Parc Andre Citroen. This was an auto assembly plant that has been reborn as the most beautiful park we saw on our trip. From the Seine the site is crossed by industrial rail yards and surrounded by factories and office buildings. The park is a green oasis in this space. a major grass square in the center surrounded by theme gardens (silver. bamboo, water, scent, etc.), and topped by a large fountain display between two modern glass conservatories. Very cool.
Saturday, 11/1, All Saints’ Day
British Air had gotten us tickets on a bus ride of Paris, too. We decided to try it on our last day, and see if it would be as useful as our London jaunt had been. Unfortunately, this was sort of a bummer: the kind of tour where they repeat the same banal facts (“The Eiffel Tower is made of steel and took many workers to erect’’) in five different languages, then stop for 15 minutes at each site so you can get your picture taken in front of said object. We bailed at Notre Dame and checked out the Latin Quarter, the outside of the Roman baths at the Musee de Cluny, the Church of St. Julien le Pauvre, a modern tapestry show at the Sorbonne, and the Jardin du Luxembourg (another great). Had another opportunity to praise the installation of coin-operated, self cleaning toilets on the streets of Paris, as Michael experienced an urgent need (he made me put that in here. really!). We walked south past the Observatoire de Paris, where the Cassini family initiated the first scientific survey of any nation, and deprived the king of a good chunk of what had been thought to be France (it had been mapped too many degrees out into the Atlantic), Another Ledoux barrier at Square Nicolas Ledoux, where we discovered that under our feet were most of the Peristan bodies which Hausman had uprooted in relocating cemeteries out of the city center 100 years ago. Parc Montsouris is a lovely park in the blue-collar neighborhoods (but still good pastry!) in the southern part of the city. The park flows across a major road into the Cite Universitaire, a neighborhood of nationel dormitories for students tram foreign countries who come to attend the universities of Paris. Two more Le Corbusier buildings, both horrible. Fun. From the southern edge of the city a Metro ride almost to the northern border, where we climbed the bluffs of Montmarte and entered Sacre Coeur. the church the French built in expiation of their sins, which had clearly caused their loss in the Franco-Prussian War. Ya gotta love ‘em! Tourist city, but fun. A walk south took us back to the Opera Gamier, south on the Rue de Ia Paix to the Place Vendome, where we checked out the Ritz lobby to complete our homage to the late Princess of Wales. A farewell walk down the Rue de Rivoli and through the Palais Royale.
Up early for the only real problem we had on our whole trip: getting back to the States. Western Europe was cloaked with fog, and you’d think we Yanks had never invented radar. British Airways routed us from Paris to pick up a transAtlantic connection from Heathrow to Duiles, and demonstrated just what a horrible state bureaucracy they are. Michael said it best: ‘‘You’d think the British would be used to fog.’’ In any case, our plane was an hour late coming into Paris, then we sat on the ground for an hour and a half, so we were three hours late out of Paris. Of course, we missed our connection in Heathrow, and took turns waiting in line for an hour for an understaffed Brit Air desk to figure out that we would be on the 4PM flight to Dulles that I had seen with one look at the monitor. Thank goodness for duty free shopping in Heathrow, which cheered us up a bit. A pleasant flight on a Boeing 777, which has to be the most comfortable jet I’ve ever been on. On arrival in Dulles we waited until all the bags had been picked up before finding the British Air agent with the tote board that said that we shouldn’t have bothered waiting at all: our bags had never left London. Given that we were on 4AM Paris time in a 9PM Washington time zone we filled out our little form, scowled, and took the bus into town. Our bags arrived at my place only slightly the worse for wear late the next night. Given everything. we were lucky to have the problems happen at journey’s end, rather than beginning.
All in all, a fabulous trip! Mjchael’s one word summary of the food of Londoners: “Starch!” Winner of the contest to see who could require the use of the most dishes to serve a simple cup of tea: the Victoria and Albert Museum, with seven. GoaI to eat as many Parisian pastries as possible: met.