It wasn’t too difficult to avoid a dish of snails since we knew the word escargot. But duck l’orange did not become a favorite just because we recognized it–and poulet–on the printed menu. Too oily for my taste. Of course the wait staff made no effort to help us with our selection or service from the start so we knew we were on our own. In observing a couple of matrons at a table-for-two, we quickly caught onto the proper Parisian manner of picking apart the hard roll, one dainty piece at a time. Wouldn’t we have disgraced ourselves royally had we broken a roll in half, buttered it, and proceeded to wolf it down American style?
On one of our “free time” jaunts we ended up totally baffled as to how we could get back into our Japanese-run hotel, the Nicco, which seemed to be totally surrounded with temporary construction scaffolding and fence–no entrance in sight. It was deemed advisable that I remain with the Australian couple from our tour group who had showed up and admitted to being every bit as baffled and frustrated as we were. My dear husband, never hesitant to problem-solve and put others at ease, volunteered to walk up a block to the news stand he had spotted. Well, he tried and tried (he eventually reported) to get some kind of answer to our predicament. The man just shook his head in “no speak English” mode. Then my husband resorted to asking the same questions in his halting Sicilian speak and voila! He got the information he needed. In English! That incident soon became one of my husband’s favorite anecdotes.
Our time spent in The Louvre had to be a high spot in our second visit to the famed city. DaVinci’s Mona Lisa was in residence at the time, so that was a highlight. But just to show that my artistic tastes are not all that high-brow, I must admit the sidewalk artist’s version in chalk–to me–was downright awesome. Looked to me (and I spent plenty of time ogling the works-in-progress)–to be a fantastic facsimile. Of course for my album I took a photo of that and the Charlie Chaplin beside it in black and white. And my mate who of necessity handled all the monetary obligations from country to country, tossed coins into the box and hat. “Merci!”